Costs of Living in Canada
Here are some typical costs for living in Canada:
• Bus Fare One Way (local) $2.00 - $3.00
• Average Restaurant Meal $10.00 - 25.00 per person
• Movie $8.50 - $12.00
• Letter within Canada $0.52
• International Postage (letter) $1.55
Some provinces apply a provincial tax levy to goods and services. All provinces must apply the federal Goods & Services Tax (GST) of 6 per cent to most purchases. As a visitor, a portion of the GST may be refunded to you upon your departure from Canada. There are restrictions that apply and you must provide original receipts. Contact Revenue Canada or your school for further information. GST refund forms can be obtained at the information counters at airports and at most shopping malls.
Currency and Banking
Money and Measurements
Canada uses the metric system of measurement. The unit of currency is the Canadian dollar, which equals 100 cents. The most common paper currency in Canada comes in $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 denominations. Coins appear in 1 cent (pennies), 5 cents (nickels), 10 cents (dimes), 25 cents (quarters), $1 (loonies) and $2 (twoonies) denominations. The $1 and $2 coins have been introduced over the last 10 years, and there are still Canadian $1 and $2 bills in circulation that are considered legal tender (they have also become collector's items). Canadian bills are clearly marked and each denomination has a distinctive colour.
Banks & Currency Exchange
Although banks often offer the best currency exchange rate, some do charge a small fee to change money or traveller's cheques, and prices listed often do not include taxes. It is best to change a small amount of currency into Canadian money before coming to Canada, as banks are usually open only Monday to Friday, daytime hours (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Other means of exchanging your currency can be somewhat more costly. Exchange services offered by hotels, shops, and exchange booths almost always offer the highest rates or charge large commission fees. Wherever you go, always ask about hidden charges before changing money.
All shops and businesses will accept Canadian currency, and some will accept United States currency in tourist areas. All other currency must be converted.
Banks and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs)
Students can easily access the many banks and affiliated ATMs in Canada. They are especially easy to find in large cities, and are more convenient than credit cards and traveller's cheques. You can usually use a regular bank card or a major credit card at ATMs to withdraw cash. It might also be possible to open a local account which would come with an ATM card. ATM cards can also be used at many stores in Canada to pay for items such as groceries and clothing.
Banks offer a variety of services to their customers including currency exchange, safety deposit boxes for storage of passports, and savings accounts. Many Canadians use personal cheques issued by banks as an efficient means to pay for services.
Traveller's Cheques and Credit Cards
Traveller's cheques are a recommended form of currency when travelling (for safety reasons) and can be purchased at major Canadian banks. They are easily replaced if stolen or lost. Most shops, hotels, restaurants and attractions accept traveller's cheques as well as major credit cards.
The rate of exchange in effect on the day of a credit card transaction will be automatically updated on your credit card bill. Students can also apply for credit cards when they arrive in Canada; however, the expenses are due at the end of every month with interest charged on unpaid expenses.