As the second-largest city in Alberta, the Edmonton community is a fast-growing star. The 2019 municipal census indicated a population of 972,223, a growth of almost 40,000 since the 2016 count. The city displays a strong economy and plenty of opportunities for new residents. Most importantly, the cost of living is generally much lower than in other areas of Canada, which may explain why nearly 3/4 of the regional population prefers to live inside the city itself.
In a cost of living ranking of North American cities, using a baseline index of 100, Edmonton places 33rd with an index of 149. That places the community on par with Dallas, TX, and Atlanta, GA. In contrast, Calgary, Canada, places 27th with an index of 153. On the other side of the scale, Kelowna, Canada, ranks 37th with an index of 147. Because Edmonton is growing steadily, costs are expected to increase modestly in the coming years.
Ready to move to Edmonton? Here's what new residents should know about Edmonton's cost of living.
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Housing in Edmonton
The Edmonton housing market is currently strong. Across the board, the average sold price for houses was $390,000. This included an increase of about 10% in the last year. Compare this to the average sold price of homes in Vancouver at approximately $944,000 and Ottawa at about $870,000. Even the average sold price in Alberta province was higher than in Edmonton at approximately $439,000.
Comparison of Median Housing Costs in Edmonton
This is in large part what attracts many new residents to Edmonton. In addition to the strong job profile, housing costs are relatively inexpensive, even in Edmonton's best neighbourhoods. Therefore, new residents may be able to purchase higher-quality new construction homes in Edmonton than what would be possible in other communities or even Edmonton luxury homes.
Median Home Price
The average sold price for detached housing is higher than the overall average at $458,000. This is likely because average costs for townhomes ($348,000) and condos ($229,000) are among the lowest home costs in the country. Unlike many other metro communities, moving to the suburbs, in general, will not likely save money in housing costs. The median for homes across the Edmonton metro area is within a few hundred dollars of the costs within the city.
However, it's possible to find nearby cities with dramatically different cost levels. The median price for St. Albert homes was the highest in the region at approximately $444,000, followed by homes in Sherwood Park at an estimated $418,000. On the other end of the scale, Thorsby homes were priced around $94,000.
Where the cost for housing purchases has been increasing in Edmonton, rental prices have actually experienced a slight decline over the past year. The median rent for the city is approximately $820, which is a 1% decline from 2020. New residents can expect to pay about $800 for a studio apartment as of May 2021. One-bedroom apartments currently cost about $925 each month. Adding a second bedroom will increase the price to approximately $1,200.
As for the largest rentals, including houses, three-bedroom homes cost approximately $1,400 each month. Renting a place with four bedrooms is the most expensive at about $1,750.
For the most part, residents in Edmonton can expect to pay for electricity, water, trash, and sewer. However, most residents will also need internet and phone services, and many will add a cable bill to the final tally. Some homes will also require a natural gas payment as well.
Overall, utilities in Alberta are fairly affordable. The average resident of the province can expect to pay about $2,900 each year to cover basic water, fuel, and electricity, which comes out to about $240 each month. Obviously, larger households or those in bigger homes will likely spend more on utilities than one person living in a small apartment. Residents can also expect to pay much greater heating costs during the winters than summer months.
To this total, those who need high-speed internet services can expect to pay at least $40 for the most basic package. Similarly, the least-expensive phone packages begin at about $30 each month. Add about $25 monthly for the most affordable digital cable bundles.
Food in Edmonton
Food is another area with a great amount of variety in cost. Whether cooking at home or going out to eat, most budgets will contain a balance for home-cooked and restaurant meals. Overall, most Alberta residents spend about $8,400 annually for all food sources, including groceries and restaurants.
Households in Alberta spent about $8,000 on groceries in 2019, about $670 a month. However, estimates for grocery spending per person are about $240 per month. As for specific menu ideas, start with 500 grams of boneless chicken breasts for $7 and add a kilogram of potatoes for approximately another $4. These foods are already the makings of an easy dinner at home.
Edmonton Average Food Costs
For breakfast, 12 eggs and a kilogram of tomatoes cost just over $4 each, while local cheese and bread are about $11 and $2, respectively. Prices vary from store to store, so it might pay to shop around within the community. During the summer and fall months, farmers markets may be another option for low-cost fresh produce, fruit, and meat.
There are many places to dine in or order takeout in Edmonton, and each restaurant will vary in price. For example, stopping by a fast-food restaurant for a combo meal will cost about $11. Having lunch in a casual restaurant will require about $22. Date nights at the local pub will cost about $53 for a couple, while a several-course dinner at a fancier restaurant will cost about $102 total.
Transportation in Edmonton
Another consideration related to the cost of living for a community is transportation. Those who own a car must factor in expenses such as gas and car insurance. On the other hand, using public transportation can be much cheaper, but it requires time spent planning.
Edmonton Transit Costs Comparison
A single litre of gas for a vehicle will cost about $1, which means longer commutes can get expensive. Vehicle prices can vary widely depending on the type of car and its age. Insurance costs can also be significantly diverse depending on factors like driving record and level of coverage.
Public transportation in Edmonton, on the other hand, is easier to predict. Edmonton Transit Service operates two forms of public transportation. The fare for the bus system is currently $3.25, and it covers dozens of routes in every section of the city. Fare reductions are available for certain groups, and all riders can save money with package deals covering multiple trips.
The city also operates a single light rail line covering 15 stations between Clairview and Century Park. Fares for light rail are the same as the bus system. Other rail lines are planned for the future.
Fortunately, most residents of Alberta have access to medical care through the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. The plan is free as a service of the Government of Alberta. While prescription drugs are not covered in this plan, many people opt for supplemental benefit insurance to cover any additional expenses.
New residents to Alberta are encouraged to apply for coverage under the province plan as soon as possible. Emergency medical expenses without health care coverage can quickly add to one's budget.
Finding daycare providers can be a major cost to parents, often even more than rent or mortgage payments. Child care costs in Alberta depend largely on the age of the child.
Edmonton Average Monthly Childcare Costs
Licensed child care for an infant will cost just over $900 per month on average. Part-time care typically requires about $48 per day. Finding care for toddlers is a little cheaper at around $800 per month for a licensed professional and approximately $40 per day. Children in preschool will require around $800 per month for care.
With annual costs exceeding $11,000 for a single infant, parents of multiple children may want to consider another option. Nannies in Edmonton make on average between $14 and $18 an hour. Assuming they work 2,080 hours each year, that totals between $29,120 and $37,440. Factoring in the time and money required to prepare and transport young children to daycare, parents with multiple children may actually save money with a nanny.
Of course, a budget is not complete without accounting for a little fun. With more than a million people in the metro area, Edmonton has a wide variety of pastimes available to encourage relaxation. The sales tax rate in Alberta is 5%, so add that to any calculations.
Visit the River Valley Adventure Co to rent a mountain bike for $60 per day or $13 per hour. Special events like festivals are another way to have a great time. The Edmonton Craft Beer Festival happens in the fall and allows brew lovers to sample hundreds of unique flavours. Tickets start at $20 for a general admission single day or $50 for a VIP weekend pass.
The West Edmonton Mall provides legendary shopping and entertainment. Tickets for Galaxyland theme park start at $30 and include more than one dozen rides. Admission to the World Waterpark is as affordable as $30 and includes more than 20 slides and other attractions.
The average salary in Edmonton is about $71,000 each year, while the median household income is just over $87,000. The minimum wage for the province is $15. In fact, Alberta has the second-highest minimum wage in the country.
The unemployment rate for Edmonton is a bit higher than the average at 10.5% as of April 2021. The rate for the nation as a whole was 8.1%.
Monthly Expense Percentages Based on Average Edmonton Salary
Chemical engineers are among the highest-paid workers in the city at approximately $103,000. Accountants can earn around $68,000 and steamfitters/pipefitters $87,500. Long-haul truckers can make just over $61,000.
The income tax rate for Alberta residents is 10%, up to $128,145. The rate grows progressively from there, reaching 15% for incomes higher than $307,547.
Additional Considerations for Living in Edmonton
Of course, the cost of living is just one part of deciding whether to move to a new community. However, Edmonton's consistent growth and healthy economy should certainly lend legitimacy to the potential for a good life. With a little research and preparation, the City of Champions can become a place for personal success.