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Budget Savvy: Top Affordable Cities in Canada for 2023

Affordable living is highly prized in Canada, and for good reasons. Despite being widely considered a great country, some aspects of Canadian living compare unfavourably with the rest of the developed world. For instance, the prices of Mississauga homes for sale can be incredibly challenging for new immigrants seeking a better life in the country.

There are several reasons why living costs in Canada are generally considered high. One of the main factors is Canada’s progressive tax rate, which imposes higher tax rates on those with higher incomes. Real estate Canada is another critical factor, particularly in major cities like Toronto and Vancouver, making it difficult for many Canadians to afford a home. 

Additionally, while Canada’s publicly-funded healthcare system is a positive aspect of Canadian living, the cost of healthcare is still relatively high, with some healthcare expenses not covered by the system. Finally, the higher cost of goods in Canada, particularly for imported goods, also contributes to the country’s overall high cost of living.

The Lure of Small Towns

Although Canada is generally known for its high living costs, many smaller cities offer affordable living and a high quality of life. These cities have lower housing prices, a slower pace of life, and access to natural beauty, making them attractive options for those looking to save money while enjoying all Canada offers. For instance, you can find condos for sale in Barrie at an affordable price.

In addition, these smaller cities offer various job opportunities in the technology, healthcare, and education sectors. Living in a town with lower living costs can help individuals stretch their budgets and save money, making it a popular choice for those seeking a more affordable lifestyle in Canada.

Which Are the Most Affordable Places to Live in 2023?

With the rise of work-from-home opportunities, many people are moving out of more prominent and expensive cities, favouring smaller towns with a more affordable housing market.

We rated the most affordable cities in BC, Ontario and Quebec based on lower housing costs while providing easy access to the bigger metros’ job markets, amenities, and services. 

British Columbia

Surrey and Burnaby are two cities located in British Columbia, Canada, that offer residents a unique combination of urban amenities, affordable housing, and employment opportunities, all within proximity to the bustling city of Vancouver. 

Surrey is the second-largest city in BC, located approximately 34 kilometres from Vancouver, making it a more affordable option. Despite its growing population and popularity as a commuter city, house prices have remained relatively inexpensive. The city’s leading employment sectors include manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare, and education, with a growing number of job opportunities in the information technology sector. Known for its natural beauty and diverse population, Surrey is situated in the Metro Vancouver area and is only a 30-minute drive from the city center.

Burnaby is a thriving city in British Columbia with a population of 232,000, located just 10 km east of Vancouver. Its proximity to Vancouver provides Burnaby residents with access to additional employment opportunities and city amenities, making it an attractive place to live. While Burnaby has a high cost of living, it still maintains the third-lowest cost-of-living index in Canada due to balancing factors such as competitive salaries.

The local economy in Burnaby is strong and is projected to experience job growth of almost 37% in the next ten years. There are employment opportunities in both private and public sectors, with high demand for education, law, health care, and accounting professionals.


Kitchener and Barrie are two cities located in Ontario, Canada, offering residents the benefits of a metropolitan area while living in a more affordable city. Both towns have relatively inexpensive housing markets and low unemployment rates, making them attractive places to live and work for people of all ages.

Kitchener is located in southwestern Ontario, approximately 100 km (62 miles) west of Toronto. It is home to 233,000 people and has seen an influx of new residents searching for more affordable properties. Although the prices have increased in Kitchener, it is still considerably cheaper than in Toronto. While a home in Kitchener will cost you almost double compared to Quebec or Montreal, the lower cost of day-to-day living makes this city affordable. Kitchener is known for its high-tech industries.

Barrie is a scenic city in Central Ontario on the shores of Kempenfelt Bay, known for its waterfront parks and beaches, hiking and biking trails, and ski resorts. With a population of around 150,000, Barrie offers an affordable housing market and a low unemployment rate, making it an attractive place to live and work for people of all ages. However, what truly sets Barrie apart is its distance from the bustling city of Toronto, located approximately 90 kilometres (56 miles) to the south. Despite being a smaller city, Barrie is a vibrant arts and culture centre with numerous galleries, theatres, and music venues.

Barrie’s diverse economy is another major draw for residents. The city’s largest employers are in the manufacturing, tourism, and service sectors. Barrie’s manufacturing sector is varied, including automotive, aerospace, and food and beverage processing industries.


Quebec is known as an affordable province in Canada due to several factors, including lower housing costs, affordable healthcare, and lower tuition fees for post-secondary education. Additionally, the region has a robust social safety net, with programs such as universal healthcare and subsidized childcare, which help to support families and individuals with lower incomes.

Quebec City, the capital of Quebec province, is located in eastern Canada on the St. Lawrence River. The city is mainly French-speaking and has a rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant culture. With a population of 542,000, it is the eleventh-largest city in Canada and has a European feel.

Despite being a provincial capital and one of Canada’s largest cities, Quebec is very affordable. It ranks low on crime rates and is a safe place to live. The labour standards act ensures that all workers are guaranteed at least the minimum acceptable working conditions. The job market in Quebec is healthy, with significant employment sectors including tourism, government, and the defence industry.

Montreal, approximately a 2-hour drive away, is the closest metropolitan area to Quebec City.

Sherbrooke, a vibrant city in Quebec, is renowned for its excellent universities, including the Université de Sherbrooke and Bishop’s University. It is an ideal location for students looking for a diverse and lively community. Sherbrooke’s rich and varied cultural scene features numerous festivals, events, and galleries.

One of Sherbrooke’s advantages is its low cost of living, which significantly benefits students or anyone seeking an affordable place to live. Sherbrooke’s affordable housing options, lower transportation costs, and inexpensive groceries have made it one of the most affordable cities in Quebec. It provides residents with a high quality of life without compromising their budget.

A Few Additions to the List

Red Deer, in Alberta, is a small city with a population of 103,000. The major employment sectors include the oil industry, agriculture, and farming. Red Deer is known for supporting new businesses and offering a lot of support for start-ups to develop their business.

Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan, is known as a tax haven thanks to its low sales, property, and personal income taxes. The city offers competitive wages, and many families can comfortably support themselves on a single income.

Windsor is a charming city in southwestern Ontario, just across the US city of Detroit, Michigan. The city has a population of around 217,000 and boasts a strong manufacturing industry, with the automotive sector being the largest employer. Windsor is a culturally diverse city with various festivals, events, and attractions. Additionally, Windsor has a lower cost of living than other major cities in Ontario, making it an affordable place to live and work.


In conclusion, the cost of living is an important consideration when choosing where to live in Canada. Housing costs, in particular, can be a significant expense. However, there are other factors to consider, including job opportunities, community, and quality of life.

Smaller cities can offer a more favourable living cost for those seeking affordable living options than larger metropolitan areas. While metros like Toronto, Vancouver, and Ottawa may offer more amenities and opportunities, they tend to have higher housing costs and a higher overall cost of living.

As a first time home buyer, prices of Milton homes for sale listings may be within your reach. Smaller towns, such as the ones listed above, offer a more manageable cost of living without sacrificing on quality of life. With access to natural beauty and cultural amenities, and a better deal on housing costs, smaller cities are a compelling alternative for those looking to make the most of their Canadian experience. We recommend you talk to a trusted brokerage like Save Max before making real estate investments.

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