I’ve found Victoria BC is a fantastic place to live, but I would say the cost of living is fairly high. Here’s a quick breakdown of my expenses and how they’ve changed throughout the 8 years that I’ve lived here.
My Living Costs as a Student
I came here to study in 2007. With my low standard of living expenses, I spent between $800 to $1000 Canadian dollars a month.
Food probably cost me $200 a month. It meant I barely went to restaurants and I ate instant noodles a lot. No doubt that I lost 10lbs in the first month I was in Canada!
Housing cost was about $450. I shared a basement suite with a roommate in a bit of a remote area. At that time, I tried to spend as little as I could.
My transportation was either bike or bus. I had a student card which allowed me take buses for free.
My tuition was around $2000 per semester (every 3 months). I had pretty much no entertainment and no shopping activities.
Costs as a Young Couple
I didn’t have any income at the beginning but things changed very quickly. I got my first job as a research assistant in university in the second month. I started to make $900 per month and it was a huge help.
In the third month, I found a family who needed a mom’s helper to cook for them in exchange for room. Then I lived there for free for a year and also got a free dinner. I got a couple of part time jobs in 2008, my second year in Victoria, and I could afford my study and live comfortably.
The beginning of 2009 I bought a $5000 car with the money I saved and Rian and I moved in a one bed room apartment with nice swimming pool and hot tub on site. It was $900 dollars a month and we split the rent.
We did go to restaurants and movies a lot since we were dating, pretty much once a week. The average restaurant meal cost $20 per person plus 10%-15% percent tip. The fancier restaurant would cost $40-50 dollars per person or even more. A drink in the restaurant or pub would be $6-10 dollars.
Rian was doing his start-up business and didn’t have a regular income. I am still surprised with my average income $2500-3000 a month before tax, we could still afford a debt-free life with some entertainment.
Costs as Newlyweds in Victoria
I graduated from my master’s program at UVic the end of 2009 and Rian and I got married summer 2010. Between that time period, I was looking for a full time career but I didn’t find any.
I got pregnant right after our wedding and it changed my direction. I started to think about opening a daycare so I took a online Early Childhood Education program. The program was $6000 in total, but you are able to pay by course which gives a bit of a break financially. I finished my courses and became a ECE in 2012 and opened my Licensed Not Required daycare when Rae was just 10 months old. At that time we lived in a 3 bedroom apartment we rented for $1200. I only had a couple of kids at the beginning so it was not big bucks. However, Rian’s startup had run its course together we were making a reasonable living so we made a bold decision to buy a single house to open a licensed daycare.
Costs as First Time Homeowners
In Victoria the price of single houses starts around $400,000. It ranges to a couple of million. Finding a 3 bedroom, daycare friendly, home in a good location, and close to the low end of the price range took us 6 months. We were very luckily to find our dream home in September 2012.
Having your own house is exciting but house expenses can be high. The property tax costs at least $3000 dollars a year for a single house. House insurance is about $1500 on top of your mortgage and property tax. All the utilities and repairs are at least $300 per month. Probably everything costs double what it does living in an apartment.
Our house worked very well with the daycare purpose and the privacy, but I would probably like to move back to apartments if I didn’t have to do a business in the house.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the cost of living in Victoria.