The cost of living in Montreal isn’t cheap, but the good news is that it isn’t as high as that of other major cities like Toronto or Vancouver.

From Old Port to Laval, Montreal has many communities to call home, each with a different flavour and style, places to eat and drink, and people to meet. To enjoy the best of Montreal, you’ll need to shell out some money, especially if you have kids, own a new car, and have a detached home. 

Singles renting homes in Montreal have more flexibility when balancing fixed (regular and unchanging) and variable (irregular and/or adjustable) expenses in their budget.

They are more likely to choose public transportation over car ownership, have their utilities included in their rent, and have some extra time for a side hustle.

In this article, we dive into the cost of living in Montreal and give a detailed example of what a communications technician for a local Montreal moving company is paid and what he pays in taxes in Vieille Capitale (the Old Capital).

What Does Living in Montreal Cost?

Nailing down exact living costs in Montreal is like nailing Quebec maple syrup to the side of a tree. It’s difficult because many variables affect our budgets here in MTL City.

But one thing is certain: this animated city likes to LIVE, so we suggest leaving room in your budget for fun experiences with new friends.

To help you picture the cost of life in Montreal, we have broken down some of the most common things that Montreal residents pay for monthly and investigated prices, the average prices, and some ideas for where you can splurge. 

1. Cost of renting in Montreal

Many newcomers to Montreal rent before they buy. According to the real estate rental platform Zumper, the median rent for all units in Montréal is $1,900, up to $3.06 per square foot.

The average rent for a 900 sqft one-bedroom apartment in Montreal is around $1,689 per month, while for a two-bedroom apartment, the rent can vary, averaging $2,155 per month.

A 480 sqft furnished studio in a mid-range neighbourhood rents for about  $1133, but if you want to scale up to a 900 sqft furnished apartment in an area of high-end real estate, the prices will be close to $2557 monthly.

Renters must also purchase renter’s insurance, which starts at about $12-18 per month.

2. Price of owning a home in Montreal

An average home in Montreal will cost over $500,000, steadily going up each year. 

Homes at this price include 778 sqft condos, chic historic building condos, 2-bedroom bungalows, and 7,800 sqft 4-bedroom split-levels, and they exist all over the city and its suburbs. 

To buy a detached house, you would need a minimum down payment of $30,000; a condo apartment would have a minimum down payment of $19,750; a “plex” would have a minimum down payment of $48,950. You’ll need at least this money to buy a home in Montreal and qualify for a mortgage.

In addition, there are closing costs, like the land transfer tax. In Montreal, we call it the “welcome tax.” Tax rates start at 0.5% and rise to 4.0% based on the home’s purchase price.

Hiring a real estate lawyer to help close the house is worth the expense. We found one homeowner who paid $2,500 for their Montreal real estate lawyer.

This included $1,000 for legal fees, $250 for title insurance, $380 for a full title search, and $250 for a unity (real estate law-related software) transaction levy.

We suggest shopping around because there are lawyers who can help for less.

3. Hourly maids in Montreal

Homeowners and some renters may require cleaners to come regularly or on occasion to keep things tidy.

It’s typical for renters to hire professional cleaners in Montreal to do a deep clean before moving out. Cleaning services start at $25/hr through most companies.

4. Hourly lawn services in Montreal

Hiring Montreal lawn services cost between $50-100 per hour, depending on the type and frequency of service. The more often you have your lawn cut, the lower the price per visit.

5. Montreal groceries and toiletries

Here is a standard Montreal grocery haul for one week, plus pharmacy items, to give you a snapshot of grocery prices in Montreal.

This example includes prices from Montreal’s most common supermarket chain stores

1 pound of boneless chicken breast $9
Half-pound beef round $7.99
1 litre of milk $3.21
12 eggs $5.46
1kg tomatoes $5.42
500 grams of cheese $10
2 lbs bananas $1.02
1kg potatoes $2.74
2 litres Coca-cola $2.67
1 Baguette $3.99
Artisan loaf from the bakery $6
Deodorant $5.79
4 rolls of toilet paper $5.52
Toothpaste $4.08
Average: 1 Month $291.56

Your grocery list will be unique to you, and you can always attempt to save money by shopping sales at multiple stores or stocking up on bulk necessities at Costco.

6. Household utility prices in Montreal

Renters moving to Montreal can expect utilities like water, heating and sometimes even electricity to be included in their rent. If not, you’ll be responsible for your own.

Electricity ($78 for 1,000 kWh/month) is priced well compared to other major cities in North America. If you know where you’re moving, you can use this Montreal electricity estimator tool online to get ahead of your utility budget.

Montreal banned natural gas in new buildings, but many old buildings still use natural gas for heating and cooking.

One central home of 2,900 sqft may pay much less ($160/month) for natural gas than another in a fringe Montreal suburb that pays much more ($400+/month) to heat their home with propane.

Homeowners will find that their water is included in your city tax bill and other municipal taxes in Montreal.

7. Wifi and mobile phone prices in Montreal

Montreal’s average internet plan price is $52.39 from local service providers like Allo, Axio, Telcan, Oricom, and Bravo.

Unlimited plans with a high download speed are usually more expensive, although it makes sense to pay more if you’re working from home in Montreal.

The main Montreal cell phone providers are Bell, Rogers, and Telus, but Fizz, Chatr, Fido, PhoneBox, Lucky Mobile, and Koodo offer the best mobile plans at good prices.

Plans start at about $24/month, but unlimited plans start at $34/month when you already have your own phone.

8. Owning or leasing a car in Montreal

A recent study by personal finance service Hardbacon calculated that the price of a car in Montreal is $1,310 per month to $15,720 per year, including loan payments for a car that costs $68,350, like an SUV. 

The estimate also includes insurance, maintenance, parking—all of which have increased in price in the last 12 months—and gas, which costs about $1.67 per litre today. 

We spot a 2019 Honda Civic leasing for $161/month in Montreal and a 2020 Tesla Model 3 for $705/month.

Car loan prices will fluctuate, but to make it easier to create a budget, just put the car specs through this vehicle lease or loan calculator to compare each price and make a smart decision.

9. Public transportation and share programs in Montreal

A monthly Montreal public transit pass (OPUS card) costs $98 and allows unlimited metro and bus use.

It’s the best value for your dollar. A single adult fare is $3.50, and the STM (Société de transport de Montréal) has a complete schedule of fares, including children and seniors rates.

For trips to the mountains or just to Costco, rent a car from Communauto with monthly memberships as little as $5 to borrow at $6.75/hour or $50/day and $30 to borrow at $3.05/hour, or $21.65/day.

When the weather is good, explore Montreal’s surroundings on one of the many bike paths via the Bixi program.

A single ride ($1.35 unlocking fee, plus $0.20/min) is already cheap, but you can save time and money if you ride them a lot by getting a monthly ($22) or seasonal ($96) pass.

10. Cost of entertainment in Montreal

Dining out

Montreal is a social city, and much socializing happens over food. Montreal has food from around the world, with prices ranging from petit (small), like the classic poutine ($11) at Poutine Bishop, to gros (big), like the Alain Special ($58) at Alexandre et Fils in the Montreal business district.

Tipping for meals in Montreal

To eat out here, you must add une pourboire (tip or gratuity) or risk being shamed by your dinner mates. 

The standard tipping percentage in Canada is 15-20% for servers. If you are dining with a large party (a group of more than five people), it’s customary to tip 18-20%, and some restaurants will enforce this with an auto-grat (automatic gratuity). 

By contrast, your morning cappuccino and fresh croissant will cost you about $5 at the café, where tipping isn’t mandatory but appreciated.

Music, Film and Sports

Montreal truly has entertainment at every price, with pubs featuring free live music during certain days of the week.

Here are some examples of entertainment venues and their entrance prices:

  • The cinema costs about $14.50 for general admission. On Tuesday evenings, at some of the city’s Cineplex theatres, it’s half-price at $7.25.
  • One ticket to a stage show like Les Miserables at Salle Wilfred Pelletier costs about $80-120.
  • Live music has a huge range of prices but acts like Pink Martini, Zucchero, and The Teskey Brothers cost between $80-135 for one ticket.
  • Tickets to a Montreal Canadians game can range from $68 per ticket to over $1,000 if you want to be close to the action. Expect to pay double that if the Toronto Maple Leafs are in town.

Unlike many large cities, we didn’t find services offering cheap last-minute tickets, but if you are a student or senior, you can hopefully find some deals.

11. Recreation and joining a gym

Getting fresh air in Montreal is free, but some recreational activities will cost you. For example,  joining a cycling club ($50), a Tennis Montreal membership ($45 for residents), or soccer club ($250 for the season). 

In winter, a day on the slopes at Mt.Tremblant will cost $135, while ice skating at Old Port ($10 for the day, $39 for the season) is a reasonable alternative that combines the great outdoors with the charm of historic Montreal.

Then again, many people prefer an indoor gym to keep them fit and full of endorphins during the year’s bleakest months. Some new condos offer a free gym as part of the amenities.

The rest of us pay a monthly rate at a gym that typically starts at $50/month for a single person.

12. Vices in Montreal: Alcohol and tobacco

Hosting friends for a night in? Visit the SAQ (Société des Alcools du Québec) to buy a bottle of wine or some beer. A decent dinner wine will cost about $16-21, while a six-pack of beer costs about $18 for an imported brand.

Having drinks out is always a little cheaper during “happy hour” from 5 to 7 pm when prices for a beer range from $6 to $10 before adding a tip. Otherwise, a fancy cocktail at a downtown club will cost about $19.

A cigarette smoker in Montreal will pay about $15 for mid-range cigarettes.

13. Cost of renting a tempo

Montreal winters require houses to have temporary carports draped in transparent, polycarbonate sheeting, and this structure is called tempo. 

Some locals say tempo season is from October 15 – April 15, but there are no hard rules for tempos unless the Montreal suburb you live in has created a bylaw against them.

Starting at $449 for a new single-car tempo, you, too, can erase the burden of shovelling snow from your driveway and scraping ice from your car windows in the winter.

How Much Do People Make in Montreal?

Although Montreal is a major city in Canada, workers can expect to make less here than in other large cities like Vancouver and Toronto. 

To illustrate a real worker’s wages and the taxes they pay, we’ll create an example of a male worker named Joseph.

Joseph, the Communications Technologist in Montreal

Montreal is recognized as a major player in information and communication technologies, so we’ll make Joseph a full-time communications technician at a local moving company in Montreal called Let’s Get Moving.

According to the current estimate found on Indeed, the average communication technician in Montreal makes $28.68 per hour and works 40 hours per week for a total yearly salary of $57,360 before taxes.

Income tax rates in Montreal

In Montreal, workers pay provincial and federal taxes and contribute to social programs. We’ve added the amounts in brackets that will automatically be deducted from Joseph’s paycheck.

  • Federal tax deduction (-$568)
  • Provincial tax deduction (-$541)
  • EI deduction (-$57.36)
  • Quebec Pension Plan (-$276) and 
  • Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (-$23.61)

Next, let’s put all the information about the cost of living in Montreal into a real-world example. 

Joseph’s cost of living in Montreal

If Joseph makes $57,360 a year living in Montreal and will be taxed $17,589 annually, his total net pay will be $39,771 yearly. After taxes, Joseph will take home $3,314 per month.

Joseph spends $1,689 on his one-bedroom apartment, takes public transportation, is a gym member, and spends about $300 monthly on groceries and toiletries. 

That leaves him with a little over $1000 each month to spend on leisure activities, eating out, paying off debts, adding to his RRSP, giving to charity or putting toward a vacation to escape Montreal next winter.

In conclusion, the Cost of Living in Montreal is Nuanced

The cost of living in Montreal will ultimately depend on what you are willing to sacrifice to save money and what lifestyle purchases you simply cannot live without. 

While Montreal is less expensive than most major cities in North America, it still demands a substantial budget, especially for those with families, homeownership, and automobile needs.

The breakdown of monthly expenses we’ve included, like rent and mortgage, groceries, utilities, transportation, entertainment, and other necessities, provides a practical overview for prospective newcomers.  

Like any major city, living comfortably here requires making informed decisions and maintaining a balanced budget.