Choosing between Montréal and Toronto pits two of Canada’s most well-known cities against each other. With that in mind, we understand how difficult it is to decide between them, as they each have unique characteristics and are breathtakingly beautiful.
To put your mind at ease, in this article, we’ll compare living in Montréal vs. Toronto and hopefully help you settle your internal dispute once and for all. Whether you’re looking for a temporary or a permanent move, we’ve got all the information you seek.
Now let’s travel!
Toronto is the largest city in Canada and is located in the province of Ontario. According to the most recent statistics from 2021, more than 6.2 million Canadians live in the Toronto metropolitan area, out of a total population of over 37 million. In comparison, Montréal’s city population is 1.7 million people, and the greater Montréal population is currently 4.3 million.
According to the 2016 census, Montréal, like the rest of Quebec, is home to a large number of ethnic groups, including North American (48%) residents, of whom 1,755,635 were Canadians, European (42%), and African (8%). In comparison, the majority of residents in Toronto are of European (46%), Asian (41%), and North American (15%) origin, with 746,965 being of Canadian origin.
When it comes to the number of tourists who visit each year, Toronto reports 27.5 million visitors, compared to Montréal, which welcomed 11.1 million tourists in 2019 but only 2.75 million due to the pandemic in 2020.
We can all agree that now that the pandemic has subsided, we are all eager to travel. You can bet that Canada is eager to welcome its tourists back, with some organizations working to revive Canadian tourism.
Climate and Weather
The climate of Canada is diverse and can vary dramatically from region to region. For example, Canada’s Pacific coast is relatively mild all year, whereas extremes are more common in the country’s central west (cold winters and warm summers). In fact, because the air masses pick up water vapour, Ontario and Quebec receive more rainfall than the interior prairies.
So what is Montréal known for? Well, partly because of its lovely summers and numerous festivals and events (Cirque du Soleil ring a bell?). And that is because the maximum temperature in the summer is on average 26°C. As a result, the peak season for tourists is from June to September. However, after the sun comes the snow, with winter temperatures reaching -12°C.
Similarly, Toronto is a great place for living, with pleasant summer temperatures averaging 25°C and winter temperatures reaching a maximum in the low of ‘only’ -7°C. So, I guess there aren’t any significant differences in the climates of the two cities, and you can’t go wrong with either option here!
View this post on Instagram
Great news for all Canadians and tourists planning to visit either of the two cities. Because of its low homicide rate, the greater Montréal region was ranked the no.1 safest city among 20 of the largest metropolitan areas in Canada and the United States in 2018. While the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Toronto second in the 2021 Safe Cities Index.
The crime index for the city area is represented by the following numbers in the table:
|Crime severity index (from 2020 to 2021)||67.29||57.84|
As you can see, the crime rate in Montréal is slightly higher than in Toronto, despite the former being one of Canada’s safest cities in recent years. So, wherever you go, always travel safely.
According to the city of Montréal, cigarette butts accounted for 30% of litter seen on city streets and sidewalks in 2020. Toronto, on the other hand, has seen an increase in littering following the pandemic. The most common litter items found on the streets are gum, cigarette butts, and personal protective equipment (masks and gloves).
If you’re considering living in Toronto or Montréal, our tips are to use the recycling option on the bins and join cleanup initiatives.
Despite having an average PM2.5 of 10 μg/m³ in 2019, Montréal has generally poor air quality during the winter months due to an increase in environmentally damaging heating solutions. Since then, Montréal has worked to improve its air quality, as detailed in the 2021 air quality report.
On the other hand, Toronto had a PM2.5 average of 7.4 μg/m³ in 2019, putting it within the WHO’s target range for the best air quality. This is a positive reading for such a densely populated city and places it among the world’s least polluted cities.
Traffic, industrial sources, residential and commercial sources, and off-road mobile sources all contribute to Toronto’s air pollution, which significantly impacts health and contributes to approximately 280 deaths and 1,090 hospitalizations each year.
Unsurprisingly, lockdowns harmed certain economic operations, such as transportation and construction. As a result, the number of days with a good air quality index has significantly increased, with only seven days of smog in Montréal between March and December 2020.
Because of its much older history and excellent sense of urban design, Montréal living comes with easily accessible lush parks and exquisite urban squares. The city is an outdoor playground all year, with the Laurentians and the Eastern Townships only a short drive away.
If you want to go for a walk in the woods, you can go to Mount Royal, Parc La Fontaine, Jarry Park, Parc Maisonneuve, or Parc Jean-Drapeau. Furthermore, Square Saint-Louis, Victoria Square, and Dorchester Square are all excellent squares with beautiful green landscapes.
Mind you, Toronto also has plenty of parks to offer – 1,500, to be exact! While many people will visit the more well-known parks such as High Park, Trinity Bellwoods Park, or Bluffer’s Park, there are smaller, often overlooked, and more interesting sites. Toronto Music Garden, Toronto Sculpture Garden, and Evergreen Brick Works are a few examples.
After learning these facts, I believe many people may consider moving to Toronto from Montréal!
So far, everything has gone pretty smoothly. However, it is now time to discuss the dreaded rent, housing, and utility prices. How does the cost of living in both cities compare?
When it comes to average apartment and condo rent prices in Canada, Montréal falls right in the middle, while Toronto aims a little higher. But just how expensive is Toronto? Let’s investigate.
Average Market Rent
Average Market Rent
|1 bedroom apartment||$821||$1,446|
|2 bedroom apartment||$932||$1,703|
|3 bedroom apartment||$1,144||$1,961|
|2 bedroom townhouse||$1,027||$1,948|
|3 bedroom townhouse||$1,356||$2,029|
It turns out that Toronto is near twice as expensive, and as real estate prices rise, these costs will almost certainly rise as well
To begin, it is common knowledge that no province in Canada can compete with Québec’s electricity pricing. Being a Montréal resident implies having an electricity bill of around $74 for a property that consumes 1000 kWh on average. As a result, we can estimate that the average monthly utility bill in Montréal is around $341, including electricity, heating, cooling, garbage, water, etc.
On the other hand, for a 1000 kWh property, Toronto residents can expect to pay around $134 during peak hours. Furthermore, the average monthly living expenses in Toronto are around $471.
|Utilities||Montréal Price||Toronto Price|
|Electricity||$1,036 ⎯ $2,146||$2,380 ⎯ $4,930|
|Water||$29.3/1000 cubic feet||$4.26/m3 ⎯ $4.48/m3|
|Gas||¢138.2/l ⎯ ¢196.9/l||¢140.9/l ⎯ ¢198.9¢/l|
When rent, school, and transportation costs are factored in, the average monthly cost of living in Toronto is $4,975, while in Montréal it is $3,038. Unfortunately, you won’t get a complete picture of the cost of living in Montréal and Toronto unless you include all utilities.
The Société de transport de Montréal (STM) and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) offer a variety of public transportation options, including bus, subway, and tram. There are also other ways to get around the cities. Let’s take a look at the table below:
|Monthly Transport Pass||$94||$156|
|Single Transport Pass||$3.5||$3.2|
|Public Bike Rentals||$0.10 per minute ($0.25 for e-bikes)||$3.25 up to 30 minutes|
|Carsharing||$3.35 per hour||$9.25 per hour|
Every major city and town in Canada has a public transportation system that includes one or more modes of transportation, which is extremely convenient and necessary for the residents. The public transport system in Montréal vs. Toronto mainly differs in price points.
Given Montréal’s French heritage, gastronomy is held in high regard. There, you can sample fantastic bagels, poutine, crepes, and craft beers for $7 to $30 per pint. In addition, groceries usually cost around $350 per month.
Poutine, Tim Hortons, churros, Peameal bacon in a bun, and Chinese delicacies are among the many Canadian favourites available in Toronto’s thriving ethnic cuisine scene. Café and restaurant prices range from $5 to $45 for a two-person meal, while the average monthly grocery bill for one person is $302.36.
Below are some grocery price comparisons:
|Milk (2 Liter)||$4.10||$4.65|
|Loaf of bread||$3.78||$3.43|
|White Rice 1kg||$3.84||$3.76|
|Water Bottle 1.5L||$2.21||$1.97|
|Cigarettes (one pack)||$15.00||$17.60|
We can conclude from these market prices that food costs do not differ significantly between the two cities, but keep in mind that these are average prices, so you can find better deals if you visit several markets.
According to Canada’s most recent census, the average yearly salary in Montréal is $53,600, while in Toronto it is around $59,250 in 2020. On the other hand, the minimum wage in Montréal is $14.25 per hour, while Toronto expects it to rise to $15.50 per hour on October 1, 2022.
To help you understand the wages, here’s a table with the top professions and average salaries in both cities.
|Average salary per year||Montréal||Toronto|
|Chief Marketing Officer||$250,102||$269,055|
With big cities come a myriad of opportunities. Both Montréal and Toronto appear to be good places to work in high-tech, financial services, life sciences/healthcare, and manufacturing businesses.
It should not be all work and no play in life. So, what can you do in Montréal and Toronto? Fortunately, there is a lot, so let’s get started!
Montréalers know how to have a good time. The city hosts numerous events throughout the year, including film festivals, car races, dance contests, art festivals, prominent cycling races, dog sleddings, and yearly holiday festivities. One of the many fun facts about Montréa is that it is the birthplace of Cirque du Soleil.
For the more artistically inclined, there are numerous places, like the Québec National Library and the Place des Arts.
View this post on Instagram
Toronto, as one might expect, does not skimp on entertainment. In fact, there are numerous walking tours available to help visitors learn about this expanding metropolis. If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, consider an excursion and fine dining event on the Humber River.
What’s more, the city is home to numerous film festivals (Toronto International Film Festival anyone?), carnivals, cultural festivals, and concerts. It also has a vibrant nightlife for those looking to party.
You may find these articles relevant:
Next, we cover the most important part for every traveller and answer questions like, “What is Montréal known for?” Or, “What are the most popular attractions in Toronto?”. Here are our lists:
Montréal is a modern and historic city with almost everything under the sun, from centuries-old structures to festivals featuring today’s biggest bands. After all, it has been designated a UNESCO Creative City of Design since 2006.
According to many online traveller reviews, the following are the top ten attractions in Montréal:
- Old Montréal
- Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal
- The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts
- Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal
- Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History
- La Ronde
- Space for Life
- Montréal Botanical Garden
- Parc Jean-Drapeau
- Jean-Talon Market
One thing is certain: there will be plenty to see and do in Toronto. Fortunately, many of the city’s most well-known attractions are within walking distance of one another, so you won’t have to go far. Here are our picks for the top ten places to visit in Toronto:
- CN Tower
- Royal Ontario Museum
- Casa Loma
- Distillery Historic District
- The Art Gallery of Ontario
- Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
- St. Lawrence Market
- Hockey Hall of Fame
- High Park
- The Toronto Islands
Finally, let’s look at some other monthly costs you might face that could make or break your decision between living in Montréal vs. living in Toronto.
|Fitness||$20 ⎯ $75 per month (without taxes)||$25 ⎯ $127.5 per month (without taxes)|
|House Insurance||$984 per year||$1,260 per year|
|Car Insurance||$717 per year||$1,505 per year|
|Provincial and territorial income tax 2022||15% ⎯ 25.75%||5.05% ⎯ 13.16%|
|Mobile Wireless Service Rates||$34.46 ⎯ $158.79 per month||$19 ⎯ $235.00 per month|
As you can see, despite the lower provincial taxes, Toronto can be quite expensive. However, given the higher salaries, perhaps it’s better to say that it’s countered?
Want to know how other provinces compare, say, Montréal vs. Vancouver, which of these two stands out? Check out our ranking of Canada’s other provinces.
So, we’ve come to the end of our detailed article. Did we help you decide on the Montréal vs. Toronto debate?
Both cities are great places to live and offer unique experiences not found anywhere else. It all comes down to your lifestyle, values, and whether you prefer a more traditional or modern feel. If you prefer the former, choose Montréal; if you prefer the latter, we believe Toronto is the place for you.
It’s all about the style! Toronto is modern and tall, whereas Montréal is more traditional and cultural. More importantly, Montréal is Canada’s French-speaking metropolis.
Choosing a neighbourhood in Montréal entirely depends on your lifestyle. That being said, Old Montréal and Ville-Marie are best suited for young adults, Griffintown for food lovers, and the Milton Park area (McGill Ghetto) for students.
Similarly, it all depends on your lifestyle. Young professionals should seek out Liberty Village or King West, families can opt for Allenby and Deer Park, and Victorian architecture fans can settle in Harbourfront or Cabbagetown.
Despite having higher provincial taxes, living in Montréal is less expensive than in Toronto.
Moving to Toronto is entirely a matter of the personal preference of Montréal vs. Toronto, and it depends on your lifestyle and income.
With its hustle and bustle, roaring nightlife, and countless festivals and events, it’s safe to say that you wouldn’t get bored in Toronto.
Montréal is 541 kilometres from Toronto, which is less than six hours by car or an hour and 15 minutes by plane.
According to the results of the most recent census in 2021, the current Greater Montréal population is 1,762,949 people.