One of Greater Montréal’s assets is unquestionably its affordable cost of living. Whether for accommodation, food, clothing, medical care or raising a family, costs in Montréal are far less than in other major cities.
- The Québec health system is based on the principle of universality, thus ensuring free basic medical care to every resident in the province.
- Public education is also free of charge from kindergarten to college, in both French and English. Greater Montréal also has four first-class universities where tuition fees are among the lowest in North America.
- The metropolitan area also benefits from daycare fees that are among the lowest in North America.
- Montréal is one of the large cities in the world that offers the most affordable prices according to Prices and Earnings: A Comparison of Purchasing Power Around the Globe, a study conducted by the Union des Banques Suisses (2008).
- Compared with other major cities in North America and Europe, Montréal is one of the few metropolitan areas in the world where the cost of housing remains affordable. Housing prices in many American cities are double those in Montréal.
- The metropolis ranks 1st in Canada for its low housing prices and apartment rentals (CMHC, 2008).
“Canada has the most livable destinations in the world.” says the Economist Intelligence Unit , which ranks cities’ livability worldwide for international companies.Canada consistently ranks very highly in the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) . The most recent 2004 ranking puts Canada number 4 in the world after several years in the number 1 spot. By combining factors such as the cost of living, adult literacy, job opportunities, life expectancy and school enrollment, the UN determines the Canadian standard of living to be among the highest in the world.
- Toronto, in particular, is routinely in the very top tier of livable cities in the world, ranking 5th (out of 132) in the world in a 2007 EIU report, having come 9th in 2005 and tied for 4th in 2002 in the same series of reports; another series of similar surveys, by Mercer Human Resources, put Toronto 15th out of over 200 in 2007 and 14th in 2005 . Both studies put Toronto well above any US city.
- Even with such a high quality of life, the annual Mercer Human Resource Cost of Living Survey continues to show that it is less expensive to live in Toronto than in most large American cities. Toronto currently ranks 89th in the world with a score of 71.8 whereas New York continues to be the most expensive city in which to live in North America (in 12th position with a score of 100). Other more expensive North American cities include: Los Angeles (ranked 27), Chicago (35th), San Francisco (38th) and Houston (73). A more recent 2007 survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit gives very similar results, ranking Toronto only 43rd out of 132 cities worldwide in expense of living, well below New York and below even Montreal and Vancouver.
- The Canadian dollar typically trades lower than the American dollar but the current purchasing power of the two dollars is virtually equivalent. The 2005 OECD figures show that there is Purchasing Power Equity when 1 $US is worth roughly $1.22 CAN.
- Cost of living analyses bear out these arguments. For example, the International Salary Calculator shows that the standard of living enjoyed on a salary of $US 50,000 in Chicago is roughly the same as one would have with a salary of $CAN 53,500 in Toronto.
- As expected from these figures, the quality of life in Toronto is excellent. Education standards are high (the University of Toronto ranks in the top 7 in North America for most engineering disciplines, the Canadian Health Care system is available to anyone who has residency in Ontario for three months, and crime rates are lower than almost all major U.S. cities.