How Much Does It Cost to Spend a Month in Vancouver?

by Gigi Griffis

This year, as you might already know, Chad, Luna, and I packed ourselves into a little hatchback car and road tripped across first the US and then Canada, covering something like 8,000 miles in about two and a half months and landing afterward in the well-loved city of Vancouver on Canada’s western coast.

Once we hit Vancouver, we slowed to a more usual pace of travel (read: slow), settling into North Vancouver for about four months before heading to Italy for the winter.

As usual, during our stay, I tracked my monthly budgets and today I’m going to share my September budget with you. Before I do, though, a few important notes about how I travel:

First, remember that I’m working while I’m traveling, which means someone spending all their time exploring, taking day trips, and eating out is likely to spend a lot more. I’m also an introvert and outdoorsy, so even when I’m not working, I spend a lot of time reading, relaxing on our back patio, and taking Luna out on the hiking trails near the house, all of which are free or close to it.

Second, I fall somewhere in between the extreme budget travelers and the luxury crowd. I don’t stay in hotels (usually) and I don’t couchsurf. This means that while you can easily spend more than I do, you can also easily spend a lot less by always eating in, couchsurfing or staying in dorms or at campgrounds.

Third, the below budget is just my day-to-day expenses. It doesn’t include business expenses, big one-time purchases (like a new computer or my new bike), etc. For details on how I manage those during full-time travel, visit this extensive post.

Finally, since I’m now (for the very first time) traveling with a partner, some expenses (like accommodations) have gotten a whole lot cheaper for me. A one-bedroom apartment rental on my own would have been double the figure below (which wouldn’t have been doable and I would have likely had to rent just a room if I didn’t have Chad). Keep this in mind if you’re traveling solo.

Okay, enough disclaimers. To the numbers we go!


Category CAD Dollars
Accommodations 861.00 $656.50
Transportation 100 $76.25
Groceries & supplies 753.35 $574.39
Eating/drinking out 114.01 $86.93
Entertainment & activities 64.05 $48.84
Luna (vet bills, supplies) 70.14 $53.48
Health & wellness 435.25 $331.78
Other 210.87 $160.78
Totals 2608.67 $1,988.98

Notes on my spending:

First, let’s talk about accommodations. Vancouver is an incredibly expensive city when it comes to real estate. The cheapest Airbnb apartment rentals I saw listed were still over $1,000 per month and mostly outside the city, and even the cheapest (read: not very nice) private room listings were around $500. Craigslist furnished listings and listings on other local sites we checked were about the same.

Luckily, since there are two of us splitting the cost and we wanted to live in North Vancouver, away from the city chaos, our individual costs were more reasonable. In September, we stayed in a small one-bedroom with a wonderful back patio area near the famed Grouse Mountain for a total just over $1,300 (see above for exact individual pricing). The place isn’t normally quite that cheap for the summer months (it’s the off-season pricing), but we were kindly offered a discount in exchange for a review here on the blog.

For transportation, since I sold the little hatchback car after our road trip, the costs are pretty much all bus rides. With a Vancouver Compass Card, bus rides are 2.10 Canadian dollars each way and I purchase them in increments of 60 CAD usually.

We mostly eat in and try our best to buy organic and non-GMO, so the groceries budget tends to run high and the eating out budget tends to run low (also because when we do eat out, we usually order less (maybe a couple appetizers, one entree, and a dessert, as opposed to two of each)). Even though we eat very well, our grocery budget here feels very high to me.

According to Numbeo, groceries in Flagstaff (where we spent the winter) run about 5% less than Vancouver and certain things are vastly more here (milk in Vancouver costs about twice as much as Flagstaff). Do the same comparison for Rome (our next stop) and you’ll find things like milk and eggs cost an extra buck in Vancouver–costs that add up quick when you’re buying groceries a couple times a week and care about high quality ingredients.

As for entertainment, most of what we like to do is free or cheap. We hike. We walk. I cook elaborate meals at home. We sit on our patio and talk about life. And when we do spend money on leisure time, it’s normally on food experiences, which end up in our food budget. Thus, entertainment tends to run low as a line item. What’s represented this month is things like movie rentals (via iTunes) and book purchases.

Luna’s expenses include one vet visit and some medication for a stomach issue.

The Other category includes odds and ends of mystery receipts that I can’t remember what they were for. And somewhere in the above numbers (I think in the “other” category, though it may have ended up in supplies) are a couple purchases of things like ear buds (since mine broke) and a bathing suit (since mine is on its last leg). I have not included any business expenses above, as they’re unlikely to be useful for comparison.

And, finally, healthcare. This represents insurance for both travel and for the US, as well as a clinic visit (120 CAD).

Interested in seeing more travel budgets? You’ll find them all here.

Going to Vancouver? I wrote a tiny local-centric guidebook for you:

Buy it Now:        Kindle for $2.99 – or Kindle Unlimited for free!

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