Beyond Borders: Budgeting for a Move to the USA or Canada


Relocating to a different country is an exciting prospect, but it comes with its fair share of challenges—especially when it comes to the financial side of things. However, having a robust budget in place can help you navigate the moving process with confidence and know which categories to prioritize. For example, how much are you willing to spend on rent? And how much do you rely on public transport? This guide from will explore the various factors you should consider when budgeting for a move to the USA or Canada and provide practical strategies to help you manage your finances post-move.


Both the USA and Canada are large countries, so transport costs can vary significantly depending on where you live and whether you use public or private transport. Generally, transport costs are relatively similar in both countries with airfare to major countries and car ownership expenses comparable on the whole. The cost of fuel, however, tends to be slightly lower in the USA due to higher domestic oil production while Canada is praised for its affordable and accessible public transport system—especially in major cities with high populations like Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. Depending on where you’re moving from, shipping costs to the USA and Canada can also go into the thousands. The final price, however, will depend on the amount of goods shipped, the distance shipped, and the mode of transport required.


The cost of housing can vary significantly depending on the city and neighborhood chosen. For most people, however, it will make up a large—if not the largest—portion of their budget. Housing costs also differ depending on whether you choose to buy or rent with the price of buying a home generally more expensive in Canada than it is in the USA due to higher supply and demand and lower interest rates. For example, the BBC reported that the average house price north of the border had soared to $650,000 in 2022, which is nine times the country’s average household income and led to a temporary ban on foreign nationals purchasing homes in the country. The USA, on the other hand, is no stranger to exorbitant housing costs with it not uncommon for metropolitan areas like New York City, San Francisco, and Boston to charge over $4,000 a month for a one-bed apartment and rental prices up to 30 percent more expensive than they were pre-pandemic.


Canada has a publicly funded healthcare system, which means most basic medical services are covered by the government. Each province also has its own insurance plan that allows residents to access any healthcare facility to receive medically necessary services completely free of charge. However, it’s important to note that these plans are non-transferable between provinces and it can take up to a few months to obtain a provincial health card if you ever decide to move to a different province. The healthcare system in the USA, in contrast, is primarily privatized, meaning costs are significantly higher across the board. But while insurance is required to access healthcare, a substantial percentage of the population is uninsured and is, therefore, required to pay out of pocket for all medical services. The average monthly cost of health insurance for a 30-year-old living in the USA typically ranges between $466 and $512. Typically, the older you are, the more you’ll pay, with most plans for over 60s starting at $1,000 a month.

Cost of living

The cost of living can vary wildly within each country, but the USA emerges as the pricier option when you compare a variety of everyday expenses, such as food, entertainment, and energy. For example, Numbeo states that it will cost you around $3.60 to purchase a loaf of bread and $4.60 for a kilogram of rice in the USA compared to just $2.60 and $3.70 respectively in Canada. However, certain food groups, like poultry, dairy, and milk, tend to be costlier in Canada due to a combination of poor weather and labor shortages. Canada can also be more expensive for clothing with a pair of jeans up to 10% cheaper in the USA for the same product. Overall, both the USA and Canada have relatively high living costs so it’s important to be prepared for the possibility of higher living costs regardless of which North American nation you decide to call home.


The USA and Canada are among the most popular immigration destinations for people looking to relocate to a country with a high quality of life. According to recent statistics, immigrants make up as much as 14% of the USA’s population and almost a quarter (23%) of Canada’s population. The USA, however, is often criticized for its complex immigration system, which can be extremely challenging to navigate. Canada, in contrast, has a much more streamlined system with significantly fewer steps and lower costs. The immigration process in Canada is also significantly shorter with permanent residence an option in as little as six months compared to over a year for the USA. Regardless of which country you choose to relocate to, research is key to ensuring you’ve budgeted for one of the most important—and expensive—moving costs.

Other Costs

Aside from the obvious costs, the excitement of moving to a new country can make it easy to forget about some of the lesser-known expenses. Depending on where you’re relocating from, for example, you may need to budget for language classes, cultural orientation programs, and shipping costs. Moving overseas can also mean your luggage capacity is limited and you require new furniture for every room in your home. For those relocating to rural areas, you may also need to budget for a new car and ongoing fuel costs. Finally, transporting your pets across the border can be a pricey process and, in some cases, can run into the thousands. 


Moving abroad is an exciting but challenging endeavor that requires careful planning and budgeting. By comparing the cost of moving to the USA and Canada and implementing careful budgeting strategies, you can set yourself up for success in your new home with minimal financial stress. Remember to research your destination thoroughly and seek professional advice if you need it. With proper organization, your move to North America can be a rewarding experience that sets you up for a bright and successful future.

Members of the Laguna Beach Independent Newspaper (the Indy) were not involved in the creation of this content.

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