What Costs More in Canada

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Depending on how you will be getting your things to Montreal, it might make sense to wait until you are in Canada to buy or replace certain things. Since we chose to only bring the luggage we could take on our flight, we had to keep things light. Like really, really, why-do-I-do-these-things-to-myself light.

Even if you are using a moving truck, you might be debating if that last square foot of truck space should be for a high chair or a basket of toys. So being able to compare prices before you leave can help you make those decisions.

Now that I’m here in Montreal, I have a much better understanding of cost comparisons between the States and Canada. Each city in Canada will vary, just as you would expect prices in Dallas to differ from NYC. So, I hope this will help you better understand what to expect when you get to Montreal.

US Canadian Price Comparison Problems

With the US dollar stronger than the Canadian dollar, it’s easy to feel like like the whole city is 25% off for you. I felt like I was on an expat shopping spree when I first got here. You can guess how that played out in our bank account… Oops.

A few price comparison warnings:

  1. Any benefit from a favorable exchange rate is negated by Montreal’s 15% sales tax.
  2. You will be getting paid in Canadian dollars. So even if the exchange would benefit you, you won’t really be able to reap that benefit on your new Canadian salary.
  3. Be careful about calculating your new spending power on your gross earnings. Federal and provincial taxes are very high compared to most (all?) Sates in America. So regardless of the exchange rate, a $75,000 salary vs. the US equivalent won’t go as far as you might expect.

That being said, if it costs more to ship some cheap items, then it makes more sense to buy them here, right? So consider this a guide to which items might be worth purchasing before you get to Canada.

Best Products to Buy or Bring With You from the States

Hardware

USD Price: $18.00

CAD Price: $43.57

A standard 20″ box fan is easily over double in Montreal. We tried to survive our first blazing summer without one, and it was a nightmare. If you are thinking of leaving behind some of your hardware items, because they will be easy to replace – you might want to reconsider.

Buy in US
Buy in Canada

Shoes

USD Price: $60.94

CAD Price: $111.50 (includes import fee)

I left a lot of clothes and shoes behind, thinking I’d like to get some new clothes anyway. Well, easier said than done as it turns out. Direct comparison shows shoes are much more in Canada, and there seem to be fewer options for discount shoes as well.

Buy in US
Buy in Canada

Furniture

USD Price: $229

CAD Price: $399

Furniture is more expensive in Montreal, generally speaking. But I will say Montreal is unique in its culture for re-using and up-cycling things like furniture. So while furniture is more expensive here, there are more opportunities for buying used furniture that can really cut down on costs.

Also, you should definitely consider the cost of moving furniture vs. buying when you get there. Shipping large items can get expensive fast. For things like our mattress, we bought new here. We use Zinus mattresses and have loved them. They have been our most comfortable mattresses and the prices are unbeatable, in Canada and the US.

Buy in US
Buy in Canada

Phone & Phone Plan

USD Price: $40

CAD Price: $75

It sounds crazy, but it may actually be cheaper to use an American cell plan than a Canadian cell plan. I have an unlimited US cell plan that costs $40 a day. The cheapest Canadian unlimited plan I have seen in Montreal is $75.

That said, unlimited can be a tricky term. My US “unlimited plan” switches to low-speed data, which makes it essentially impossible to load a map or video or website. Because I have access to wi-fi all day, it is never an issue. So figure out what your data needs are and then call around to find out where you can get the best deal.

US Verizon

Baby Items

USD Price: $64.75

CAD Price: $99.97

Baby items are all sorts of more expensive here. Everything from diapers to baby food to toys to… ok, you get the picture – babies are more expensive in Canada. I highly suggest bringing as much of your baby gear with you as you possibly can.

Buy in US
Buy in Canada

Tips for Buying in Montreal

How can I find what people are selling secondhand in Montreal?

Check out Kijiji, Craigslist, or Letgo to see what people are selling in Montreal.

How can I compare American and Canadian prices on my own?

Many large stores have American and Canadian versions of their site. So you can visit Amazon.ca and compare prices with Amazon.com, or Walmart.ca with Walmart.com.

The Last Thing You Need to Know about What to Buy Before Moving to Montreal

The great thing about Montreal is that it really has everything you could possibly need. Don’t worry too much about leaving behind something important!

Share this with someone that might need help deciding what to take with them on their next move.

What are things you’ve debated bringing on a big move?

Resources for Understanding Costs in Montreal

What it Will Cost to Move to Canada by Money Under 30

Compare Cities by Numbeo

Expatistan City Comparison