Real Estate #Lifestyle

Where is Better to Live: Montreal or Toronto? 


Montreal and Toronto are two of Canada’s oldest, largest, and most famous cities. From world-renowned sporting rivalries to famous artists, both cities have been at the forefront of Canadian culture since their founding. But what are they like to live in? This guide breaks down some of the main things to keep in mind when looking at a property in Toronto or Montreal, like neighborhoods, cost of living, average income, and more.


Key Takeaways

  • The average cost of a home in Toronto is currently $1,079,500. Comparatively, the average cost of a home in Montreal is currently $565,000.
  • The population of metro Toronto is roughly 3 million. Comparatively, Montreal’s population is about 1.8 million.
  • Both Montreal and Toronto have a number of unique neighborhoods, with varying median incomes and costs of living. Both Montreal and Toronto have seen considerable growth in their housing markets in recent years.

Montreal vs Toronto: Key Differences

The differences between Toronto and Montreal go back to one of the major fault lines in Canadian history: the English versus French-speaking worlds. In the early days of Canada’s Confederation, English-speaking Canada was laid out to become a country informed by both British and American culture, becoming a kind of centerpoint of the two cultures. In Toronto, this is evident in both the style of the city and the culture. Montreal on the other hand, being one of the first cities to be claimed by the French colonists, has developed along more distinctly European lines. This key difference is important to keep in mind, as it underpins many of the smaller details about each city. Similarly, there are a number of legislative and regulatory contrasts between the two cities, namely because Toronto lies in Ontario, whereas Montreal is located in the predominantly French-speaking Quebec. Each province and municipality has its own laws, taxes, and other important differences like first-time home buyer programs.

Nowadays, the major differences in each city are the size, language differences, geography, cost of living, average income, and of course, the hockey teams. Toronto is well-known for its movie and television industry, and appears in a number of famous shows and films, a number of which have used Toronto as a stand-in for New York City. (Indeed, the downtown core resembles Manhattan closely, and much of Toronto’s architecture mirrors that of New York’s. Toronto is a busy and constantly bustling city with a number of different neighborhoods, from Little Italy to Chinatown, or the towering skyscraper of the financial district. With a population in Metro Toronto of around 3 million people (and roughly double that in the Greater Toronto Area, or GTA, as it’s known), Toronto is the larger of the two cities, and has a distinctly American feel as a result. With Canada’s only NBA team, a world-renowned baseball team in the Toronto Blue Jays, and the legendary Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team, Toronto is akin to larger North American cities like Chicago or New York. 

Montreal, the smaller of the two cities, retains a North American feel in its downtown core, but this quickly transforms into a more European-style city reminiscent of parts of central and northern France once you leave the highly-built up areas. Montreal has a metro population of around 1.8 million people. While it is the largest city in predominantly French-speaking Quebec, it’s also the most anglophone city in the province, and English-speakers will be able to get by there just fine. (However, it always helps to learn a bit of French, particularly if you’re planning to venture to less populated parts of Quebec.) Both cities have a number of large parks and other natural features, like Toronto’s lakefront and islands, or the banks of the St Lawrence River and canals in Montreal. Ultimately, however, Montreal is perhaps better situated in terms of immediate access to nature, given the huge surface area of Toronto’s industrialized regions, although Toronto does have large parks like High Park, and the Beaches, to make up for this.

Cost of Living vs Average Salary for Montreal & Toronto

Below is a breakdown of some metrics for the cost of living in Montreal and Toronto, plus the average income for individuals in both cities. In general, Montreal has higher taxes, a much lower cost of living in terms of buying or renting a property, and a marginally lower average individual income, though not by much. Conversely, Toronto has a marginally higher average individual income, a significantly higher cost of living on average, and comparatively lower taxes on income.

Cost of Living vs Average Salary in Montreal

The outlook for Montreal’s housing market in 2022 showed consistent growth for several consecutive months. As of now, the average cost of a home in Montreal sits at around $565,000, almost half what it costs to live in Toronto on average. Conversely, the average salary in Montreal is currently between $40,000, at the conservative end of the spectrum, and up to $65,000, according to more generous estimates. However, these estimates vary depending on your source, and ultimately your profession and industry. According to Statistics Canada, the actual data from recent census years shows the average individual income in Montreal was $49,600. Finally, according to Numbeo.com, the average cost of living in Montreal for a family of four in September 2022 was $4,236.28 before rent. The cost of living before rent for a single person in Montreal was $1,146.82.

Below are graphs and tables showing Montreal average income, average cost of a residential property in Montreal, and current Quebec tax brackets.

*According to Statistics Canada

Average Residential Property Cost, Montreal (August 2022)

Property TypeAverage Sold Price (August, 2022)
All property types$564,683
Single-family homes$525,000
Condominium$385,000
Semi-detached homes$697,000
2021 Quebec income tax brackets2021 Quebec income tax rate
$45,105 or less15%
$45,105 to $90,20020%
$90,200 to $109,75524%
More than $109,75525.75%

Cost of Living vs Average Salary in Toronto

The average cost of a home in Toronto sits at $1,079,500 as of August 2022. The fact remains that Toronto is one of the most expensive places to buy a home in Canada. While there are a number of first-time homebuyer incentives in Toronto, the city is still one of the costliest markets for Canadians, in real terms. For instance, according to Statistics Canada, the average income for Torontonians is only marginally higher than that of Montreal, according to recent census data ($52,700 per individual in 2020). Toronto has lower taxes comparably to Montreal, but rent and property ownership in the city is much more expensive on average. However, Toronto also has a number of industries, like tech and banking, that are booming, bringing higher salaries to the city at the top end of the distribution. 

According to numbeo.com, a family of four in Toronto would have average monthly costs of $4,788.56 before rent, and a single person’s monthly costs would be $1,311.85 without rent. The first estimate seems high, since space is probably the foremost cost to Torontonians, so take these figures with a pinch of salt.

Here are some graphs and tables showing Toronto’s average income, average cost of a residential property in Montreal, and current Quebec tax brackets.

Average Residential Property Cost, Toronto (August 2022)

Property TypeAverage Sold Price (August, 2022)
All property types$1,079,500
Detached$1,379,700
Semi-Detached$998,490
Townhouse$987,308
Condominium$711,321
Source: numbeo.com

Ontario Taxable Income Brackets, 2022

$46,226 or less5.05%
$46,226 to $92,4549.15%
$92,454 to $150,00011.16%
$150,000 to $220,00012.16%
$220,000+13.16%

Note: Ontario income tax bands are applied only to the amount within the specified bracket. If you earn over $46,226 in a year, for example, you would pay 5.05% on every dollar below $46,226, and 9.15% on every dollar above $46,226, not accounting for deductions etc. 

Comparable Neighborhoods in Montreal & Toronto

Here’s a table outlining some of the popular neighborhoods in Montreal and their approximate counterparts in Toronto. Ultimately, both cities have a unique feel to them, so there won’t be exact matches, but there are overlaps in the general features and demographics of many neighborhoods in Canada’s two unofficial capitals.

Neighborhood in MontrealNeighborhood in Toronto
Griffintown
As part of Les Quartiers du Canal, Griffintown is a neighborhood situated west of the part of Old Montréal known as the Cité Multimédia. To the south, Griffintown borders the Lachine Canal. It’s a largely revitalized residential area with multiple condos, parks, and walking routes with views of downtown.

Population: 6,984*
Median income: $77,620*
Median age: 31.8
Median home price: Prices range from $298,000 to $2,350,000, according to current listings on point2homes.com

Fun things to do: Since the early 2000s Griffintown saw an influx of young professionals and families. Much of the original architecture of the mid 1800s has been retained, but retrofitted to include trendy art galleries and coffee shops. It’s about a 20 minute walk from the downtown core, but there’s plenty to do in the area and on the way downtown. The Rue Notre-Dame is worth checking out for its architecture, and the world-class Arsenal Art Contemporain Montréal is also located in Griffintown, which recently hosted a major Van Gogh exhibition. 
The Annex
A cozy, collegiate neighborhood close to downtown and the University of Toronto. This area lies roughly between Bloor and Dupont Street, and Bathurst and Avenue Road. Low crime, nice houses, and great amenities are the pull for this area, though cost of living is quite high.

Population: 18,989*
Median income: $86,251*
Median age: 35.5*
Median home price: Prices typically range from $575,000 up to $4+ million. The cost of living in the Annex is roughly 50% higher than the Canadian average.*

Fun things to do: The Annex is one of the most central neighborhoods in Toronto, close to some of Toronto’s best restaurants, coffee shops, theaters, stores, and bars. Just a stone’s throw from UofT and Chinatown and still in walking distance to great areas like Little Italy, Kensington Market, Yonge Street to the East, and Queen West to the South. The Annex is a central, low-crime and expensive area, within reach of the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the nightlife of Bloor, Kensington Market, College Street, and Ossington Ave further to the East.
Vieux-Montréal
Vieux-Montréal, or Old Montreal, is one of the city’s most historic neighborhoods. While it’s a lot older than Toronto’s distillery district, it follows the same theme in terms of utilizing older architecture to create a trendy, downtown neighborhood. Vieux-Montréal is home to some of Montreal’s most impressive architectural and cultural landmarks.

Population: 9,969*
Median income: 93,047*
Median age: 40.5*
Median home price: According to point2homes.com, the median price of a residential property in Old Montreal is around $1,199,000 to $10,995,000, at the very top end.

Fun things to do: If you’re in Old Montreal, it’s pretty much a given that you will want to go and see Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal, a stunning gothic-revival church at the corner of St-Sulpice. The church is renowned for its acoustics, and contains some of the most beautiful gothic-revival architecture in North America. Dating to the 17th century, Old Montreal’s cobblestone streets are full of lively plazas, cafes, bars, and shops to explore alone or with a group.
Distillery District. 
A core downtown neighborhood known for its 19th century architecture. It’s a pedestrianized area that sits below Front Street, and almost borders the waterfront, comprised of trendy bars, restaurants, shops and apartments. It’s one of the more expensive places to live downtown, but the price tag comes with some of the best walkability and surroundings downtown has to offer.

Population: 1,724*
Median income: $133,158*
Median age: 37.1*
Median home price: According to realosophy.com, the median price of a residential property in the distillery district is around $727,000, while other estimates put the figure much higher (in excess of $2 million).

Fun things to do: The Distillery District is right downtown. Close to the Toronto Blue Jays home field, the Rogers Center, as well as the Raptors’ home, the Scotiabank Arena, plus much of Toronto’s best up-market nightlife. The Distillery District is also home to Toronto’s legendary Christmas Market and Winter Village.
*According to Areavibes.com
International District (Quartier international de Montréal)
Quartier international is a lively downtown area of Montreal, at the crossroads between Old Montreal and the city’s business district. The area includes skyscrapers, hotels, and the Palais des Congrès de Montréal.

Population: 1,406*
Median income: $64,982*
Median age: 35.8*
Median home price: According to point2homes.com, the median price of a residential property in the International District of Montreal is between $239,000.00 and $16,500,000 at the far end of the spectrum.

Fun things to do: The International District is a highly commercialized area of the city that includes major architectural landmarks like Victoria Square, the BMO museum, Maisonneuve Monument, Montreal World Trade Center, and le Palais des Congrès de Montréal. If you’re looking for a wild night out, La Voûte Night Cabaret is one of the city’s top destinations, set in a 1920s bank vault and with avant garde performances every week.
Church And Wellesley
Church and Wellesley is an LGBTQ+ friendly neighborhood in downtown, to the East of Yonge Street (Toronto’s main arterial route from the North of the city to the South) and bordering the up-market Cabbagetown further East. Church and Wellesley is a stone’s throw from Yonge and Dundas Square, Toronto’s equivalent of Times Square.

Population: 28,516*
Median income: $133,158*
Median age: 33.9*
Median home price: According to realosophy.com, the median price of a residential property in Church and Wellesley is around $747,500, while other estimates put the figure at slightly higher (in excess of $1.5 million).

Fun things to do: A quick walk to Yonge street takes you down some of Toronto’s more mainstream attractives, like great bars, restaurants, and the iconic Eaton Center shopping mall. Church and Wellesley is also close to Allan Gardens, one of Toronto’s well-known parks and botanical gardens.
Bois-Franc
Bois-Franc is a residential suburb within Greater Montreal, about a 20-30 minute drive from downtown Montreal. It’s a quite, low-crime area with decent amenities and without the busy downtown living vibe.

Population: 11,283*
Median income: $60,753**
Median age: 37.2*
Median home price: According to Point2homes.com, the price of a home in the Bois-Franc neighborhood of Montreal costs between $529,000 and $1,399,000. It is made of up of a higher proportion of single-family homes than other areas of the city proper.

Fun things to do: Bois-Franc is a quieter residential neighborhood with a higher median age and a higher density of married couples and families compared to other, trendier parts of Montreal. It’s home to several parks, cafes and restaurants, but you won’t find the same bustle as downtown and other areas of the city.
North York (City Centre)
North York City Centre is a central business district about 20-30 minutes drive to the north of Downtown proper.. Located along Yonge Street, between the south of Sheppard Avenue to Finch Avenue with its focus around Mel Lastman Square.

Population: 45,450*
Median income: $63,140* – 91,669**
Median age: 36.5*
Median home price: According to ojohome.ca, the median price of a residential property in North York is around $829,598. It has a relatively high number of semi-detached and detached homes, which may explain some of the variance in average price compared to downtown neighborhoods.

Fun things to do: North York is a relatively quieter part of Toronto, but there’s still a lot going on. The area is home to Empress Walk, a shopping mall, North York Central Library, and the Toronto Centre for the Arts. Situated slightly further away from the bustle of downtown, North York is a more affordable part of the city with a multitude of bars, restaurants and shopping areas. You can also check out the stunning Edward Gardens, Aga Khan museum, or the Yorkdale Shopping Centre.
*According to Areavibes.com & CMHC
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Is living in Montreal More Expensive Than in Toronto?

In the context of buying a home, Toronto is markedly more expensive than Montreal on average. While the city does have a higher average median income in some industries, which offsets the cost of living somewhat, Montreal is still by far the cheaper place to rent and buy a home. For context, the average cost of a home in Toronto was $1,079,500 in August 2022. By comparison, Montreal’s average property cost was just under $565,000 for the same month. According to Numbeo.com, a cost-of-living comparison site, the following is true of the comparison in the two cities’ cost of living:

  • Consumer Prices in Toronto are 8.44% higher than in Montreal (without rent)
  • Consumer Prices Including Rent in Toronto are 22.09% higher than in Montreal
  • Rent Prices in Toronto are 55.84% higher than in Montreal
  • Restaurant Prices in Toronto are 13.57% higher than in Montreal
  • Groceries Prices in Toronto are 3.32% higher than in Montreal
  • Local Purchasing Power in Toronto is 4.02% higher than in Montreal*

*This describes the relative purchasing power in buying goods and services in a given city for the average net salary in that city.

Ultimately, despite the higher tax brackets in Quebec compared to Ontario, Montreal is still a much cheaper place to buy a home than Toronto. However, both markets showed consistent growth throughout the pandemic. Depending on which city you’re looking at, it may be the right time to buy a home in either market.

Weather in Montreal vs Toronto

Toronto is a marginally warmer place to live, with fewer monthly days of rain compared to Montreal. Toronto is known for its brief yet erratic transitional seasons, particularly around fall and September-October especially. These can include heavy showers and storms. Montreal and Toronto both receive a healthy amount of snow each year, and both are prone to serious ice and snow storms. Summers in both cities are pleasant, with Toronto seeing extreme heat often during July and August. Both cities see a fairly similar pattern of average temperature, with Montreal and Toronto evenly matched for summer temperatures, and Montreal slightly colder during the cold winter months.

Montreal Weather

MonthHigh/Low (°C)Rain
January-4° / -12°11 days
February-3° / -11°10 days
March2° / -6°11 days
April9° / 1°10 days
May17° / 8°10 days
June24° / 15°10 days
July26° / 18°10 days
August26° / 17°9 days
September21° / 13°9 days
October13° / 6°10 days
November6° / 0°10 days
December-1° / -8°13 days

Toronto Weather

MonthHigh/Low (°C)Rain
January0° / -7°9 days
February0° / -7°8 days
March5° / -2°7 days
April12° / 4°8 days
May19° / 10°7 days
June24° / 15°8 days
July27° / 18°7 days
August26° / 18°6 days
September23° / 14°6 days
October15° / 8°8 days
November9° / 2°8 days
December3° / -3°9 days

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Here are some of the most popular questions asked about the differences between living in Montreal and Toronto. Both cities are popular destinations for Canadians buying a home this year, but there are a number of common questions asked during the homebuying research process.

Can I get by speaking English in Montreal?

The short answer, of course. The longer answer? It helps to pick up French when you’re in Montreal. If you’re planning on staying in the city for the long haul, learning French is definitely an asset to have in the city, as many of the locals are French-speaking and bilingual. Certainly, much of the rest of Quebec requires a basic level of French ability, and if you’re planning on migrating to Montreal from abroad you will need to prove your French ability before you can become a resident of Quebec. Ultimately, learning French is not mandatory for Canadians moving to Montreal, but it’ll definitely be appreciated and will help you settle there.

Why is Montreal popular?

Montreal is a truly unique city in Canada, since it fuses together elements of Canada’s British, American, and French influences all in one. Because of this, Montreal is popular to many different people for many different reasons. From culture to art, architecture and history, to comedy, food, and sports, the city has something for everyone. Montreal is a truly international city with a large population and a wide variety of things to do, and it’s also one of Canada’s most historic cities, dating all the way back to the mid 1600s. Montreal is home to the internationally-renowned Montreal comedy festival, Just For Laughs (Juste Pour Rire), one of the most successful and historied hockey teams on the planet, the Montreal Canadiens, plus many internationally-acclaimed art galleries, restaurants, nightclubs, cocktail bars, and boundless examples of beautiful architecture both old and new. Finally, Montreal’s housing is also some of Canada’s most affordable for a major city.

Why is Toronto popular?

Toronto is a huge city, situated on the shores of Lake Ontario and spanning for hundreds of square kilometers, with something to love for everyone. Toronto is the largest city in Canada and the 4th largest in North America, after Mexico City, New York City, and Los Angeles. It is a truly global city, with one of the most diverse populations and mix of cultures of any North American city, and indeed, any global city for that matter. Home to world famous sports teams, music and events centers, orchestras, jazz clubs, theaters, art galleries, the iconic Yonge and Dundas square, Kensington Market, the nightlife of Queen West and King Street, bustling Chinatown and Koreatown, and many more unique and wonderful neighborhoods, Toronto is a great place to live, despite the high cost of living.

Final Thoughts 

Ultimately, Toronto and Montreal are two very different cities, both culturally and historically. However, both places share a lot in common, and have many of the same amenities you would expect of a major North American city. While Toronto is a more expensive place to buy a home, it’s also marginally cheaper tax-wise, and has a relatively higher median income for many individuals. However, Montreal is definitely the cheaper of the two cities to buy a home. If you’re ready to make the move to Montreal or Toronto, why not compare the best mortgage rates available or get in touch with one of mortgage advisors now


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