Prices and earnings: a winning combination in Greater Montréal

October 26, 2015

Some myths seem to persist forever. One of those myths is that life in other big cities like Toronto is better than in Montréal. However, the “Prices and earnings 2015” study published by global financial services company UBS in September shows the exact opposite. This interesting report examines the purchasing power of a European family of three in 71 major cities around the world, including 7 in North America (Montréal being one of them).

toronto skyline

The authors compiled over 68,000 data points to compare price levels, hourly wages and domestic purchasing power. The study looks at the prices of 122 products and services from eight categories, including housing, food, clothing and electronic devices. The blended price levels obtained are indexed to the reference city, Zurich. Fifteen different professions were used to determine wage levels.

A quality of life based on competitive wages and low prices

Ranked 10th among 71 cities, Greater Montréal performs very well in terms of purchasing power, gross and net hourly wages and net annual earnings. In all three categories, Montréal beat out the only other Canadian city that was included in the study—Toronto.

The UBS report also points out that taxes and social security contributions are lower in Montréal than in Toronto, which may come as a surprise. We can assume that the many tax incentives and social programs offered by the Québec government benefit the type of family considered in the study.

As for products and services, Greater Montréal’s advantage over Toronto lies mainly in the low cost of housing and various consumer goods (iPhone, rice, bread, and the Big Mac). Montréal is also a more affordable destination for short getaways than Toronto.

A city known for its quality of life

The UBS study also shows that we work fewer hours per year in Montréal (1,783 hours) than in Toronto (1,985 hours), which may explain why the gross annual salary of Montrealers is slightly lower than that of Torontonians. Still, we are better off in Montréal as we pay less for goods, have lower taxes and have more time to enjoy life.

Other rankings also back up Greater Montréal’s cost advantage. According to data compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit in 2014, the cost of living is about 15% lower in Montréal compared to Vancouver and Toronto. And housing costs 35% less. In January 2015, The Economist also ranked Montréal second for quality of life in the world.

In short, the grass is much greener in Montréal than in neighbouring big cities when it comes to quality of life!

Leave a Reply