Living as a Digital Nomad in Canada – Best Cities

(This article was updated on Jan. 23, 2023.)

In this article, we will discuss the essential things about life as a digital nomad in Canada such as internet access, co-working spaces, visa, and digital nomad-friendly cities.

If you have any questions or want to invest as an expat or high-net-worth individual, you can email me (advice@adamfayed.com) or use these contact options.

What is a Digital Nomad?

A digital nomad is someone who can work from anywhere in the globe without having a fixed location. Working remotely and being location independent allows digital nomads to earn a living or create a career from anywhere and at any time. Work hours are frequently also flexible.

These days, digital nomads are following the trend of traveling to meet new people, share their experiences and expertise, exchange ideas, and develop while having fun.

The life of a digital nomad in Canada differs by province. The speed of the internet varies by location and rent in big cities might be prohibitively expensive.

Nonetheless, the digital nomad community is thriving, particularly in Toronto and Montreal. There are several ways to network in every city, whether through shared work spaces or digital nomad meetups.

It’s normal for digital nomads to flee Canada throughout the winter in search of warmer destinations.

Why be a Digital Nomad in Canada?

Canada is a deft combination of beautiful natural scenery and culturally diversified cities and villages. It’s no accident that digital nomads and expats from all over the world are flocking to Canada. With so much to see and do in this nation, working remotely has only advantages.

Canada has protected its vast natural resources over the years. When the hustle and bustle of city life gets too much, one may escape to one of the many natural parks, each one grander than the last.

As one of the world’s richest and most successful countries, Canada has a plethora of professional prospects as well as a diverse range of extremely entertaining co-working spaces. Temporary office spaces and informal cafés are also available in most of its main cities.

A digital nomad in Canada is usually a spouse of a foreign worker who is temporarily authorized to work in the country, an employee who works remotely and wishes to enjoy the perks of life in Canada, as well as an entrepreneur or freelancer who loves to travel. 

Internet Access for a Digital Nomad in Canada

How fast is internet service in Canada?

Canada is among the top 20 countries with the fastest internet in the world in 2022, but it lags well behind nations such as Singapore and Hong Kong, which respectively occupied the top two spots in this category.

Internet costs are about 83 Canadian dollars (C$) for 60mbps, which is among the highest in the world. You may find low-cost choices for approximately 30 dollars that have restricted download speeds but are adequate for most nomad users.

Mobile phone plans in Canada have similarly nothing much to offer. As they are expensive and has limited data, you must keep track of your consumption during the month.

There will be no problems with dependability in large population centers in Canada though as the country’s internet speeds keep improving.

The Canadian government is investing millions of dollars to boost internet infrastructure and provide faster internet speeds to as many people living across the country as possible.

In fact, the government upped its investments in the so-called Universal Broadband Fund (UBF), which brought the total amount of funding for the program to $3.225 billion.

Because of UBF and other investments made by the federal government and the provinces, the Canadian government is well on its way to achieving its goal of delivering  high-speed Internet access to 98% of Canadian households by the year 2026 and to all Canadian households by the year 2030.

Compared to just 79% of Canadian households in 2014, over 93.5% of households in the country currently have access to high-speed Internet or are aimed to obtain access as a result of existing schemes.

Visa options for a Digital Nomad in Canada

Does Canada offer a digital nomad visa?

digital nomad in canada visa
Canadian visa application. Image by freepik

Canada is yet to offer a digital nomad visa, like many other nations did during the COVID pandemic in order to attract remote workers. However, working online while living in Canada is possible because of open work permits, the working vacation program, and entrepreneurial visas.

In order to live and work in Canada as a remote worker, foreign nationals need to obtain the appropriate type of visa for their intended length of stay in the country, which can range from a few months to several years or even indefinitely.

Tourist Visa

You can enter the nation on a tourist visa and stay for up to 90 days. Working online is still a murky area that theoretically violates the rules of your tourist visa. If you work with Canadian clients, this is unquestionably true.

Self-Employment Visa

If you want to remain in Canada for longer than six months, applying for a visa based on your own self-employment might be a good option for you. 

According to Ackah Business Immigration Law, the Federal Skilled Worker Program and the Federal Skilled Trade Program are two ways to help you immigrate to Canada permanently even if you do not have a job offer in Canada. These programs are part of the Express Entry system.

You can get assistance from a Canadian immigration lawyer in determining whether or not you meet the prerequisites to be welcomed into the scheme, such as having an experience of at least two years in your current field and being fluent in English/French.

Although age is not a prerequisite for obtaining a visa for self-employment, applicants who are between the ages of 18 and 35 have a better chance of being approved. If you are relocating with your family, each member of your family will need to pass a medical exam, biometrics tests, and a police certificate before they can move.

Temporary Work Authorization

It is possible to relocate to Canada while working remotely if you are recruited by a company in Canada with a temporary work authorization. If you have a legitimate job offer from a Canadian employer and satisfy all of the other prerequisites for your visa, your remote work is unlikely to have a negative effect on your application for a visa or for immigration to the country.

Startup Visa

The startup visa program is yet another possibility for digital nomads interested in working remotely in Canada. If they meet the requirements, they could apply for this program. This is intended for business people who are moving to Canada from another country.

There are some similarities between the requirements for this program and those for the self-employment visa, but they are not identical. You are going to need to have very strong language skills in either English or French, and this is a requirement that is shared by a good number of these different programs.

You need an angel investor or another type of entity that is inclined to invest in your venture in order to be eligible for a Startup Visa to work remotely in Canada. You also need to demonstrate your desire to establish a business and offer employment opportunities for other people in order to qualify for this program. The program is basically designed to help entrepreneurs who want to settle permanently in Canada.

In addition to this, you need to have the financial means to maintain your standard of living once you settle down in Canada. There is no assistance available to help with the costs of moving or living. It is possible that you will need to make an initial investment of more than $200,000 into your new business.

Entrepreneur Provincial Nomination Programs

Based on local labor requirements and the state of the local economy, a number of the Canadian provinces have established entrepreneur initiatives that are analogous to the startup visa category. 

There may be investment requirements, hiring quotas, and other requirements to meet in order to qualify for the Entrepreneur Provincial Nominee Program. The requirement that one must have a certain amount of net worth is yet another obstacle. Even though only a small percentage of digital nomads are likely to submit an application for this program, it is still open to those who meet the requirements.

TechPats

Because the internet services in Canada are among the best in the world, many people who work remotely in the tech sector, also known as “TechPats,” wish to live and work in Canada temporarily. TechPats frequently require legal support with intellectual property and other business needs. Canada is looking for skilled workers in the tech industry.

Co-working Spaces for a Digital Nomad in Canada

digital nomad in canada coworking space
Co-working space sample. Image by Jane Doan / Pexels

The flexibility to come and go as you want, seeing the globe while working from your laptop, is one of the perks of being a digital nomad. However, there are times when interacting with like-minded individuals and being motivated by folks in a similar area of work is unbeatable.

This is one of the benefits of co-working spaces for a digital nomad in Canada. Co-working spaces in Canada are becoming increasingly popular, with major cities such as Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto having an abundance of them.

Taxes for Digital Nomads

What taxes do you have to pay as a digital nomad in Canada?

Even if you are working remotely as a digital nomad in Canada, you are normally required to still file taxes in your country of origin.

Taxes are not required of individuals in Canada who do not reside or visit the country for more than 183 days in over a 12-month period. If you spend more than 183 days in Canada during the tax year, you will be required to pay Canadian taxes.

Depending on the particulars of your situation, you might be required to file tax returns in both countries.

Best Cities for a Digital Nomad in Canada

Ottawa

The administrative capital of Canada, Ottawa, is a wonderful starting place for digital nomads who want to see everything the nation has to offer. Ottawa is a huge and bustling urban center with a population of more than one million people in 2022.

Furthermore, unlike other big cities across the world, Ottawa has a richness of natural resources, as seen by its parks, gardens, and other green areas. There are also plenty of quiet workplaces where you may work on your laptop as a digital nomad in Canada.

Cost of Living

According to global cost of living data aggregator Numbeo, the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center of Ottawa is approximately C$1,721, while the average rent for an apartment outside of that area is approximately C$1,397 (at the time of this writing).

The cost of acquiring an apartment in the downtown area of Ottawa is C$7,204 per square meter, whereas outside of the downtown area the cost is C$5,851.5 per square meter.

It is estimated that a meal at a restaurant with low prices will cost C$25, while a meal for two at a restaurant with a moderate price point can cost up to C$90.

If rent is not included, the general living cost in the city for a family of four can average C$4,713 per month, while a single person can get by on C$1,301 per month.

Winnipeg

Winnipeg, Manitoba’s capital and largest city, is also a favorite destination for a digital nomad in Canada. it is one of the cities with the most developed economy in the country.

Winnipeg not only provides a nice and tranquil atmosphere for remote working, but it also has a diverse range of recreational activities to keep you busy in your spare time. There are several parks, galleries, rivers, and historic neighborhoods to discover during your stay.

Cost of Living

Numbeo said the monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center of Winnipeg is an average of C$1,109, while the same size apartment outside of the city center costs C$1,146.

Purchasing an apartment in the city center of Winnipeg will set you back C$3,875, while purchasing an apartment outside of the area will only cost you C$3,275 per square meter.

It is estimated that a meal at a low-priced restaurant will cost C$20, while a three-course meal for two in a restaurant with a moderate price point can cost up to C$75.

The general cost of living in the city for a person can hit C$1,208 per month on average, while it can reach C$4,314 per month for a family of four, excluding rent in both cases.

Montreal

Montreal is a city in the province of Quebec and the country’s second-largest metropolis. It is unquestionably one of North America’s most vibrant cities. It is very popular among French and French-speaking people all around the world.

Montreal is a unique blend of French and North American cultures, making it an excellent alternative for a digital nomad in Canada whose affections are split between the two sides of the Atlantic.

Huge modern towers tower over the ancient structures of Old Montreal, which date back to the 18th century. This city has a diverse range of French-style cafés, restaurants, and fast-food franchises, as well as extremely attractive co-working spaces to suit all preferences!

Cost of Living

The average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in the downtown core of Montreal is C$1,433 per month, while the average cost of such an apartment outside the area is C$1,101.

The cost of purchasing an apartment per square meter inside of Montreal’s city center is C$8,189.5, while the cost of purchasing an apartment outside of the area is C$4,706.

Estimates place the cost of a meal at a less expensive restaurant at C$20, while a meal for two at a restaurant with prices in the middle of the price range can cost C$90.

If rent is not included, the total monthly cost of living for a family of four in the city can reach an estimated average of C$4,279, while a single person can get by on C$1,161.

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Halifax is on the rise, and although it has historically been outshined by Vancouver, it is quickly becoming a more financially savvy alternative in the real estate market. In terms of facilities and things to do, Halifax has the feel of a reasonably sized city.

Although Halifax is more affordable than most of the major cities, the cost of living here is quickly rising, so you might not want to delay making a decision.

As a result of the proliferation of remote work opportunities, an increasing number of people are relocating here. This has resulted in the development of a bustling economy that features a large number of startups, making it an excellent location for building professional relationships and acquiring new customers.

Cost of Living

The monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center of Halifax is on average C$1,659, while the rent for an apartment located outside of the city center is C$1,323.

The cost of purchasing an apartment in the city center of Halifax is C$5,079 per square meter, while the cost of purchasing an apartment outside of the area is C$2,833 per square meter.

C$20 will get you a meal at a less expensive restaurant, while C$90 will get you through three courses at a restaurant in the middle price range.

If rent is not included, the total cost of living in the city for one individual and a family of four can touch an average of C$1,254 and C$4,483 each month, respectively.

Edmonton

Edmonton, the capital of Canadian province Alberta, has a population of more than 1.5 million people, but it is both very affordable and located in the middle of a beautiful natural scenery.

Edmonton is surrounded on all sides by natural preserves and parks. In addition, the city possesses one of the most advanced bus networks across the entire nation.

Edmonton provides relatively cheap prices and public transport, which is why it is the perfect place for a digital nomad in Canada as well as people who enjoy a low-key outdoor lifestyle.

Cost of Living

The cost of a monthly rent for an apartment with one bedroom in the downtown core of Edmonton is approximately C$1,235, while the cost is only C$1,020 outside of that area.

The cost of buying an apartment in Edmonton’s city center is C$2,969 per square meter, while outside of the area the cost is C$2,485 per square meter.

It is estimated that a meal at a low-priced restaurant will cost C$25, while a meal for two at a restaurant with prices in the middle of the price range can cost as much as C$100.

If rent is not counted, the living cost in the city for a family of four and a single person can hit a projected average of C$4,664 and C$1,312 every month.

Toronto

If you want to spend time in the great outdoors while also being close to the action of a major city, Toronto is one of the best places for a digital nomad in Canada to consider. This city is home to a sizeable population of digital nomads and provides a wide range of alternatives for co-working spaces.

As well as being the capital of the province of Ontario and the largest city in the country, it is also a significant business center and provides a wide variety of opportunities for jobs.

A different set of outdoor activities can be enjoyed in the city’s parks, beaches, and on Lake Ontario. Furthermore, due to the city’s strong commitment to multiculturalism, residents have access to a diverse range of educational opportunities, as well as a delectable assortment of restaurants serving cuisines from around the world.

The quality of the public transportation system is high, with frequent subway service, and the existence of bike lanes in the majority of downtown areas makes it simple to ride a bicycle.

Cost of Living

The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment located either inside or outside of Toronto’s city center is C$2,392 and C$1,997, respectively.

The cost of purchasing an apartment in Toronto’s city center is C$13,006 per square meter, while the acquisition cost per square meter outside of the area is C$10,006.

A meal at a low-priced restaurant will cost C$25, while a three-course meal for two in a restaurant with a moderate price point can cost up to C$120.

The total cost of living in the city for an individual can reach an average of C$1,385, while the overall cost of living for a family of four can reach C$5,055, and this does not include rent in either case.

Vancouver

There is no question that Vancouver is one of the most desirable places for a digital nomad in Canada. According to Nomad List, this location was one of the most desirable locations for digital nomads in 2022.

Nomad List is an interactive, community-driven website that provides real-time ratings of locations that are open to digital nomads. The website indexes over a thousand cities located in over 190 nations and territories based on criteria such as living costs, the speed of internet connections, and the climate.

The city of Vancouver provides its residents with access to an abundance of natural sights. It is a flourishing cosmopolitan city right in some of the most gorgeous views across Canada, which ranges from pristine beaches and sea views to towering mountains you can trek or enjoy snow sports in.

Cost of Living

The average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in the downtown core of Vancouver is approximately C$2,419 per month, while the cost is approximately C$2,042 outside of that area.

The price of buying an apartment in the city center of Vancouver is C$13,512 per square meter, while purchasing an apartment outside of the area costs C$10,663 per square meter.

A meal at a low-priced restaurant will cost C$25, while a meal for two at a restaurant with mid-range prices can cost as much as C$110.

If rent is not accounted for, the average cost of living in the city for a family of four and an individual can respectively reach C$4,842 and C$1,316 per month.

Calgary

Calgary is among the richest cities in Canada and it enjoys a sunny climate, thanks to its position relative to the Rocky Mountains.

In addition to having a low cost of living and tax burden, Calgary also provides an abundance of job prospects.

Calgary has one of the cleanest air quality ratings in the world as well and the biggest urban pathway and bikeway network in North America.

Cost of Living

The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment located either inside or outside of Calgary’s downtown core is C$1,547 and C$1,294, respectively.

Apartments in the downtown area of Calgary have a purchase cost per square meter of C$5,242.5, while apartments located outside of the downtown area have a cost per square meter of C$3,701.

A meal at a restaurant with a low price point can cost as little as C$25, while a three-course meal for two in a restaurant with a moderate price point can cost as much as C$90.

If rent is not counted, the total cost of living in the city for one person can reach an average of C$1,376, while the overall cost of living for a family of four can reach an average of C$4,861.5.

Living as a Digital Nomad in Canada: Conclusion

Being a digital nomad in Canada is not the same as being a tourist, although you can travel around in your spare time. Nonetheless, it’s a job. Even at a distance, there is always work to be done, emails to be responded, clients to be satisfied, and financial and tax obligations to meet. It is essential to be well-prepared before you begin your journey.

[Read: How to become an expat in Canada in 2022]

Pained by financial indecision? Want to invest with Adam?

Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 583.2 million answers views on Quora.com and a widely sold book on Amazon and a contributor on Forbes.

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