Toronto tops the list of most expensive cities for students in 2023, study shows

Jun 18, 2023 | Campus News, News

Toronto has been named the most expensive city in the nation for students in the most recent Mercer study on the cost of living in Canada, which was published on June 14, 2023.

The Mercer analysis, which examined a number of variables including housing, transportation, food, and entertainment, found that Toronto’s high living costs are higher than those of other significant Canadian cities.

Toronto showed a 2.8 per cent increase, primarily driven by rising rents and property prices. Ottawa witnessed a 1.4 per cent increase, while Edmonton saw a decrease of 0.9 per cent.

In comparison to cities in the United States, Toronto typically falls within a similar cost of living range as cities like New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. These cities are known for their high living expenses, driven by factors such as housing costs, healthcare, and entertainment according to the report.

On a global scale, cities such as London, Paris, Tokyo, and Hong Kong consistently rank among the most expensive in terms of cost of living, these cities often have higher living costs than Toronto due to factors like housing prices, transportation, and taxes, according to Mercer’s report.

Some post-secondary students in Toronto say they are concerned about rental costs rising to unprecedented heights. The city’s competitive rental market provides few alternatives for inexpensive accommodation, which forces students to either share small flats or pay excessive prices.

Schnelle Fernandes, a former Humber student and current York University student, is frustrated with the constantly rising prices.

“It is impossible to sustain a healthy lifestyle in this economy, especially on a student budget. Rent prices are going up, and grocery prices are higher yet the wage for students stays unjustifiably low,” she said.

The Mercer report states Toronto students face many difficulties because of the expense of transportation. The rising cost of public transportation has put extra pressure on already tight finances. Although Toronto has a robust public transportation system, the growing expenses make it more and more difficult for students to travel to their schools or part-time employment.

Fernandes also expresses her distraught when she first heard about the bus fares for transport.

“Owning a car is out of the question for most students. Along with the price of the car, the gas and the insurance, it’s simply not a viable option,” she said.

“However, the TTC doesn’t offer anything better. As a student, you end up spending over $150 every month on just transportation. The costs simply never end,” Fernandes said.

According to a Statistics Canada report the cost of food has significantly increased in the city as well, making it challenging for students to maintain a diet that is both nutritious and balanced, the growing cost of food and eating-out alternatives in Toronto further increases the financial stress placed on students.

As a result, many students opt to reduce their food spending or give up on the quality and diversity of their meals, according to the report.

Natasha Carneiro, an international student studying computer science at Queen’s University, was frustrated when she first filed her taxes.

“Even with a job I barely make anything after taxes, it’s just survival at this point,” she said,

“My on-campus job pays me $18 per hour and I can barely buy a few fresh vegetables,” she said.