September 29, 2010, 7:55 am

What is Cool About Living in Quebec

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Personal Finance
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One of our TFB readers, Ottawa Guy, asked me a few weeks ago what is the difference between living in Quebec and the rest of Canada. His main question was how can he cope with the high level of taxes in Quebec?

For those who don’t know, we are probably the most taxed province/state in North America. Therefore, most sane folks will think twice before moving to The Belle Province to start a new life here. Why would you bother with the ridiculous level of taxes when you can live in Ontario or Alberta? First, you can’t be a Leafs fan so we will forget about Toronto ;-). Now, let’s go with the reason why it is nice to live in Quebec:

$7 Daycare

We have an amazing program where kids aged between 6 months and 5 years old can go to Government controlled and sponsored daycare. They offer high quality daycares at only $7 per day. Plus, if you can’t find a place right away, private daycare costs are partially reimbursed by the government.

Parental leaves

The Quebec government sponsors parental leaves up to 1 year for the mother and 5 weeks for the father. How cool is that to be more than one month with your spouse to take care of the kids? I have benefitted from this program and I can tell how much smoother things go when your newborn arrives.

Cheap power

Depending on where you live, this could be of great interest to you. In Quebec, we have nationalized our hydro electricity power company. The whole province is powered with hydro electricity and it is really cheap. For example, I have a 3,600 square foot house and I pay about $200 per month for my power bill (including heat during winter).

Cheap properties

While the cost of living is similar, property costs is by far cheaper than any other province (compared to other big cities). You can have a very nice cottage with a garage for $300k in the Montreal suburbs. In my case, I preferred to move further from Montreal (80km away) in order to have a much bigger house and a lot more land. However, even living in Montreal is affordable when compared to Toronto, Vancouver or Calgary. Since salaries are about the same (slightly lower), you can easily afford a property in Quebec!

Montreal Canadiens!

All right, this is far from being a financial argument. But cheering the Habs at the Bell Center is an amazing feeling ;-).

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Comments

Here is the Translation Table:

$7 day care – Other people pay for my responsibility.

Parental Leave – Other people pay for my responsibility.

Cheap Power – Other people pay for my responsibility.

Cheap Properties – By scaring away a huge portion of the population by removing their communication rights lots of people don’t buy property here . . . which makes it cheaper, while they pay higher prices as they are forced to migrate elsewhere . . . thus other people pay for my responsibility?

Oh, and we have a hockey team.

Try to keep it light, it’s mostly a joke, but that doesn’t come through as well in typing so I thought I would make it clear.

by: The Financial Blogger | September 29th, 2010 (9:01 am)

@ Traciatim,

Whoa! this is a quite severe (but true) critics to Quebec pseudo-socialist system. I guess this is where you have to draw the line between what you want as an individual and what you want as a society.

I could easily afford everything mentioned in this article by my own means with lower taxes since I earn a very high income. However this is not the case for most people.

I actually feel the same when I go to a clinic or to the hospital; I feel it’s unfair that I pay so much taxes and I have still to wait 10 hours to see a doctor. On the other side, if I wasn’t making so much, I couldn’t afford a private system with high insurance costs.

There are a tons of people making 30K-40K and working really hard for it. You can’t ask them to afford everything on their own just by dropping their taxes by 20%… this won’t be enough.

I don’t get your last point about properties, which kind of communcation cut you are talking about?

Probably a reference to Bill 101…

by: The Financial Blogger | September 29th, 2010 (9:32 am)

@ Antoine,

I guess our speparatist gang in Quebec are as good in Canada bashing than a few Canadians are good at Quebec bashing ;-)

Try to be served in French in the rest of Canada (which is, by definition a bilingual country)… good luck! I think that Bill 101 is not that bad for Anglophone and do protect French in Qc…

Controlling how individuals or businesses communicate. That’s what I was getting at. Having language laws for private entities is borderline insane. Why else do you think the English speaking population portion has been dropping?

If there wasn’t public money chasing things like childcare spaces, don’t you think the cost would drop? How many people would just leave the workforce if their cost went up to something like 75 or 100 bucks a week per kid for after school care? How many others would take care of kids in their own home? We see that a lot around our area, a parent with 2 or 3 kids that just can’t work because it’s too expensive takes in another 2 or 3 kids increasing the family income while helping other families . . . do you guys get that a lot in Quebec?

I haven’t seen stats on how much the Quebec Government pays for each child care space, is information like that available?

I am all for public health care though. Everyone gets sick, gets hurt, has accidents . . . it’s a fact of life.

I guess the only other point I can bring up is that if you are in a province that is receiving money through equalization, how can you justify your province having benefits that other provinces (especially ones that don’t get any transfers) do not have, yet are paying for?

by: The Financial Blogger | September 29th, 2010 (9:46 am)

@Traciatim,

I don’t think that cost would drop that much if daycare were all private. We actually thought of opening a private daycare at home (my wife use to work in a daycare) and it’s hard to make a decent living if you are not charging a minum of $20/kid/day. I know that if you are making 30K per year, $100 per week for having one kid at the daycare will definitely prevent you of having a second one ;-)

Sponsoring daycares is a good way to encourage people to have more babies which are going to become taxpayers. It’s like feeding your cow to gets milk when you think about it in a business way ;-).

However, I agree with you that it is unfair that Quebec is financing its program with the help of other provinces. This doesn’t make sense to me either. If BC or Alberta can’t afford such programs, I wonder how come we do…. same for tuition fees. It is almost free in Quebec and students still find a way to complaint when fees are increased by $100 per year… sad…

The daycare system is very expensive (in $M) but as I said, it may be a good investment if you are thinking that you help producing taxpayers. We see more and more kids for the past 5 years, so it definitely works on that side…

As a record, it cost about $50-60 per kid/day to the Gov for sponsored daycares…

” don’t think that cost would drop that much if daycare were all private . . . charging a minum of $20/kid/day . . . it cost about $50-60 per kid/day to the Gov for sponsored daycares . . . ”

Ummm . . . .

The CCTB and UUCB also perform the same functions, but instead of government indoctrination facilities you get to choose where your kids grow up.

by: The Financial Blogger | September 29th, 2010 (9:54 am)

when you have a 150 spots daycare, you need to pay for a huge structure (directors, building, etc). you don’t count those costs when you are taking care of 6 kids at home ;-)

Interesting, where my kids go it’s far cheaper than 50 per day . . . and they take care of about 100 kids. You would think things get cheaper with scale, but not so in Quebec.

by: The Financial Blogger | September 29th, 2010 (10:35 am)

Good point. Actually, everything gets complicated in Quebec when it becomes governement sponsored ;-)

How much a daycare worker makes in your province? (and where do you live?). I’m curious. Maybe the answer is there? A daycare worker in Quebec will start at around $13/hour and will go up to $19/hour with several years of experience (it is regulated by the government as well).

Re equalization payments: Yes, Quebec gets equalization but not that much .. it is billions of course, but that’s not much in the budget (14B out of 250B federal budget, Quebec gets 8). Quebec doesn’t fund daycare with Alberta money, we pay the highest taxes of any province, and that’s how the services get financed.

Every province gets equalization to provide services. Quebec is the largest province. Twice the size of Alberta both in population and area. Quebec income is 47B borne by the people , Alberta income is 37B borne by the oilfields and mines. Ontario is 2/3rds the size, but has twice the number of people and hugely more businesses. Equalization is there to help the “poorer” provinces achieve a similar footing as far as government services go, and it’s based on the ability to generate revenue, not on the revenue actually generated.

Ontario can generate big taxes and has dense population so they don’t need as much as Quebec. Alberta needs none because they charge less than half the tax of Quebec yet get 1.5 times the per-capita revenue, mostly from resources.

Every province decides what to spend the money on, and every province except Alberta is in a budget crunch because there isn’t enough money.

I suppose it depends, at a large facility like the ones my kids go to it’s around 12 bucks an hour (depending on experience). The place they were previously was just a private home, but the whole basement was turned in to a daycare so she had 12 kids afters school for 3 hours. At 75 bucks a week per kid, that’s 5 bucks an hour per kid… or 60 bucks an hour.

Thanks for doing the post TFB, a lot of good points to look in to. These prices a very regional, but I find the cost of food is also cheaper and now with the HST, gas is cheaper as well.

I know it can be difficult for french to reach as far as the west coast but I am very happy about the progress the country has made in bilingualism.

It is funny how language can still cause spats amung Canadians but if you ask most people if they’d like to learn another language, the answer is almost always yes…. (I’m one of them, and am pay for french lessons out of my own pocket) to a distant observer, our similarities greatly out-weigh the differences between angophones and francophones.

The same can probably be said for a lot of the human race.

Oh yeah, and GO SENS GO!

@ FB: “[tuition...] is almost free in Quebec and students still find a way to complain when fees are increased by $100 per year”

Can you detail a little about tuition in QC in a future post? Maybe moving for a few years to QC for children’s education is worth it?

Regards,
Vasile

by: The Financial Blogger | September 29th, 2010 (11:54 am)

I also forgot to mention tuition fees. It’s alsmot free to go to University in Quebec (about $1,500 per session). :-D

Good luck with your Sens ;-)

by: The Financial Blogger | September 29th, 2010 (11:57 am)

@ Vasile,

University fees are very cheap in Qc. You’ll get to pay around $400 to $500 for new books and about $1,000 to $1,2000 for tuition fees. Plus, cost of living in Montreal is far cheaper than other major Canadian cities.

I guess you could easily spare $5,000 per year if not more by moving in Qc through tuition fees.

@ Vasile

You have to live in QC for 12 months before starting school to get the Quebec rate. Out of province rates are more than double.

@ Traciatim/FB

Daycare costs would go up! Right now there is a 2 yr waiting list at some daycares. That means there is more demand than supply. If you privatize then the prices reach equilibrium. You’ll either get a huge increase in prices or a huge increase in available spots. Quebec civil servants are notoriously poorly paid, although there are way too many of them also. Daycare workers are not getting wealthy, but I’m sure it feeds a big bureaucracy.

[...] The Financial Blogger: What is Cool About Living in Quebec [...]

I think Goal hunter said it best : “Every province decides what to spend the money on”

I would add the following to the list:
Private daycare are half the price of Ontario’s. (Gatineau-Ottawa). As with Tuition fees, this vecomes more a question of cash flow (to get back in the financial debate)

On top of daddy leave, the maximum amount you can get per week is twice what EI pays in other provinces.

I would add the Als and l’Impact!

Property and vehicle insurance rates are much lower.

Con’s
More taxes. I guess It’s really good if you have kids.

You forgot to mention the women ;) The french-irish-native mix makes for some extremely beautiful women!

@Goalhunter: from what I read, you get the QC tuition fees also if one of the parents is at that time a QC resident. There is no condition for how long the parent was a resident, so in an extreme case it could be 1 week or so. Am I right, or I’m missing something else?

Regards,
Vasile

by: The Financial Blogger | September 30th, 2010 (7:18 am)

@ Miltiadis,
women are not part of financial reasons, but it is true that Quebec is well known for its women too ;-)

@Traciatim,
I guess it guess less profitable when you keep the kids 7hours where you have to feed them ;-)

@Nicolas: “really good if you have kids” is right. If you’re single, making tons of money at a job then I’m sure it feels tough, probably the same if you’re an unemployed senior. If you have kids or if you own a business then Quebec is actually very good financially. You can easily live here with no car for example, so you can save thousands per year.

@Vasile: I don’t know the intricacies, rules are always complicated in Quebec. If the parents live there then they’re paying the high Quebec taxes so it makes sense that they can get Quebec rates for education. All I know is that a student can’t roll in from another province to get nearly free education.

by: Millionaire | September 30th, 2010 (9:07 am)

Yes it feels very good living in Quebec because I love getting screwed from both ends.

I love giving away over 50% of my paycheck to the government and see what they do with it.

I love seeing collegues go on paternity leave for 5 weeks to Cuba or Mexico with my money while I am stuck at work doing their job. That’s what i call getting screwed from both ends.

It’s cool having my wife quit her job because there is no daycare available in my area (actually I’d rather keep the kids at home than park them in a daycare. That is true). It’s cool that I get screwed from both ends: I pay humongous income taxes for the daycare system and and on the other hand my wife have no income anymore and we can’t benefit from it.

I particularly enjoy giving away 50% of my salary when I get sick and have to wait 10 hours in a clinic to see a doctor that will tell me I have to go wait 25 hours in an emergency room cause they can’t fix my case. I always end up in a private clinic paying again. But I love to get screwed from both ends.

It feels super good living in Quebec (Montreal) when every morning and night, after waiting an hour in the traffic jam I reach the turcot interchange and see the mesh above my head that keeps the concrete from falling on me. That is good use of the taxes I pay on overpriced gas.

It feels so good when I get out of the car dealers with a 1000$ bill because I hit a pot hole on a highway that they redid the pavement 4 times over the past 9 years (the 640 in Deux-montagnes).

I could go on and on with my list of things that make me orgasm.

I am a french canadian and still proud of it. That’s what make us a distinct society.

[...] Blogger tells us what is cool about living in Quebec.  I’d add proximity to Mt. Tremblant to the [...]

[...] The Financial Blogger listed some of the perks in being a resident of la belle province. [...]

There’s a big difference between having a marginal tax rate of 50% and paying 50% of your gross income in taxes. Unless you’re making more than something like $300K s a year, you’re not actually paying 48% of your gross salary in taxes — I’m in the highest bracket but my total income tax bite is only a little over 30%. And I’m not a big consumer so the sales taxes don’t add up to another 20%. ;-)

That said, I do find it hard to see the financial benefits of living in Québec if you don’t have young kids or own your own business. In North America you’re aleady a second-class citizen if you live in Canada, but if you’re in Québec you feel like a third-class citizen. Many things available elsewhere are not available to us here, and it’s not just because of the language laws (which I support, by the way). Until ING started offering its THRIVE chequing here, for example, there was no way you could get an unlimited free chequing account here unless you physically went to Ontario to openup a PC Financial account, and even then it wasn’t simple. Many perks that are offered to residents of other provinces (TD’s US Visa card that they offer with their Bordlerless chequing account, for example) are not available to residents of Québec.

I think most of us who live here do so because we love it or out of necessity — in spite of the financial burdens and complications, rather than because of the financial benefits. Although I agree about housing costs. When I moved here from the US my rent dropped by more than 50% and I was able to save up a 20% downpayment on a house AND buy a new car with cash all over the course of five years. That was nice.

I work at home and could live anywhere I like, but honestly have no interest of living in any other Canadian province; Québec. I love the culture here and the way of life, so I put up with having less money in my pocket and difficult access to social services.

@ Brad, 3rd class citizen to live in Quebec? what do you mean?

unlimited checking account? I have
bordlerless checking account? do you really need this?
and I think we have access to much better food for a low price too ;-)

@ Millionnaire,
Brad is right, you don’t give away 50% of your income in taxes. On top of that, it’s fun to make a critic, but which system is better (or flawless?) and why? Quebec is far from being perfect, but still there are a lot of good points attached to it!

Actually if Millionaire really makes a million a year, then he/she probably does pay 50% of gross in taxes. :-)

Yes, anyone can get an unlimited chequing account, but if you want to avoid fees you have to keep a high minimum balance, like 4000$ or so. But now ING has the THRIVE account so I’m happy…I hate paying fees.

Borderless chequing account is useful for those of us who travel or work a lot in the US, as is a US credit card so we don’t have to lose money in the exchange rate every time we make a purchase.

Lots of contests, special offers, etc. are “not available in Québec.” It doesn’t bother me so much as I don’t usually participate in those, but still.

Make no mistake, I love it here, I wouldn’t live anywhere else in Canada. But I wouldn’t say moving to Québec would be a wise financial choice for most people.

One of the interesting observations is the high tax low volume of business. Of course there is an inverse corelation.
With the highest taxes, what is the incentive to start businesses, employ people etc. The cause effect seems to escape people. Free enterprise and you will have a greater but unequal sharing of the benefits. This means everyone’s standard gets improved but unequally.
Quebec should definitely be a have province. Cheap power, well educated populace, resources and geographic opportunities. This all remains squandered by a high tax regime to name but one issue.
to be sure i think we need to encourage more children etc but we must also see a dynamic that provides home grown opportunities and Quebec seems to throw these away. Do your best and brightest stay in Quebec? One hopes the answer is yes…. but is it.

Sounds like a fun place to live! Do Canadians ever dream of living in America? Or not really?

@beemac … Where is that observation? What resources does Quebec have? Forestry and hydro power. Almost every province has forestry, and forestry is not worth much nowadays. Hydro is big revenue, but compared to oil it is tiny. Quebec business taxes are very low, which does attract a lot of business. And subsidized hydro also attracts a lot of business.

Alberta’s business is entirely gas and oil based, really exploration. If there were no more oil exploration then Alberta’s economy would be done. Quebec does a lot to encourage business, which is why there are tons of pharma, video game companies, manufacturing, etc.

[...] “What Is Cool About Living In Quebec” on The Financial Blogger who also launched Donotwait.com.  Only problem with Canada are the [...]

Day care cost $5 a day in Quebec…in U.S. it is a lot more. Health care is definitely more expensive in the U.S. There is pros and cons wherever you live.

If you can take care of yourself Quebec is not a financially good place to live.If you can’t it is.I think that is a good way to sum it up.

so for someone thinking of moving down to Quebec, a rough cost of living estimate would be around what? as regards dollars spent per year on essentials and stuff, i.e transportation, feeding etc

by: The Financial Blogger | October 23rd, 2011 (4:33 pm)

@Mike,
we have a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids, 6 and 4). it costs about $200/week in groceries (we eat a lot of vegetables, fish, etc).
heating is pretty cheap (under $200 per month for most houses and about $100/month for an apartment).
As for buying a house, you can get something decent for 250K in the suburbs or 300K for a nice condo in Montreal.

If you have any specific questions, please let me know! thefinancialblogger at gmail dot com

TFB

OK, so as someone who moved to Montreal from elsewhere, let me fill you guys in on a couple of things before anyone thinks about moving here:

$7 Daycare doesn’t work. The government is spending $1.5 billion a year and the only people who get spaces are those who (seriously) sign up for a wait list when they are actually pregnant.

Cheap Power — I would have said this was a benefit to living in Quebec, but this is ending. Rates have already been raised by 17% over the past five years or so and the government just approved another 3% hike. Quebec has a $4 billion annual deficit and owes $151 billion (over half of its GDP) and it has got to find ways to pay it down.

Cheap Properties — Sure, but…Quebec also has really low salaries compared to nearly everywhere else in North America. There is no way that salaries offered in Montreal are on par with Toronto or New York.

I am trying to say this without rancour, but Quebec is seriously the land of “doesn’t work.” The medical system is falling apart (40% of Montrealers can’t get a family doctor because there is a shortage of doctors and Quebec can’t afford to hire more.) This means 10-hour waits in emergency rooms. Montreal hospitals track how many patients are stuck in hallways. The bridges are collapsing, the roads are so full of potholes that I’ve had to spend $4k over the past year to repair the suspension on my car.

For all of this glory, you get to pay the highest taxes in North America and 15.5% sales tax (the Quebec portion is based on the federal portion, so we actually tax tax in Quebec.) You also get treated to non-stop whining about the status of the French language, just how oppressive it is to have to hear English in public, etc., etc., etc. My sister who was visiting for the weekend was actually yelled at for not being able to give the time in French when asked.

There are some pleasant aspects to life here: people work fewer hours and the restaurant culture (if you like French food) is very good BUT it is not the social safety net paradise you might be led to believe. Quite the contrary, in fact.

Could you please provide a comparative chart of financials between Quebec and Rest of the provinces.

This is an interesting topic, and as a full-time employee (37K/y) with a freelancing business on the side (minimal income from it though), I’ve been pondering whether continuing to have an address in Quebec is worth it or not. I live in Gatineau so I could move to Ottawa quite easily.

I’ve read here that owning a business is better in Quebec. Now since I do technically have a business, I don’t see yet how the benefits stack up. Would you be able to explain that?
Currently I just add what I make from freelance web design to my full-time income, and then calculate what I might have to pay extra in taxes. More often than not I see values that are unexpected at tax time which is quite disappointing. If I knew more about how much I would save or not save by moving to the other province, it’d help a lot. I suppose my question is: if you’re running a small enough business that only supports your main income, is Quebec really still better?

I do understand how Quebec provides incentives to video game companies and other industries and I suppose that is an example of it being better here, but that’s hardly running your own business, it’s a corporation moving over here with thousands hired.

I’m one of those who works in Ontario but lives in Quebec, and this was my first year making over 12K so I’m slowly learning how it really works for a resident in Quebec having to use his Federal return to pay for the QC taxes. I was however shocked that I’d be owing a lot had I not written off all my tuition fees (graduated in 2010) and this prompted me to start researching all this. To be precise, I’d be owing thousands to Quebec even after offsetting my Federal return. It was quite depressing to think that a 33K income employee working across the province would owe thousands. It didn’t make sense and I do hope this was just a unique year for me and I won’t see this next year when I don’t have tuition carryforward as a writeoff.

Thanks for any feedback,
Vic

PS: you should update your copyright year in your footer blog ;)

[...] There is something brewing these days with our Belle Province. [...]

[...] are lot things I like about living in the Belle Province (I mean besides our big student babies who boycott University for 2 months). Unfortunately, taxes [...]

by: Tracy Rosen | July 23rd, 2012 (4:25 pm)

@Dave – actually the daycare system does work. I returned suddenly to Quebec from Ontario when my son was about a year old so he was definitely not on a waiting list from incubation! I stared to look for a $7/day spot in May, hoping to find a spot for September. I found a few spots and was able to choose a place I felt he would get the best care. He actually started in June and I am amazed at the high quality of care he gets for $35/ week. It includes lunch and 2 snacks!

by: Felix Fradette Tremblay | October 10th, 2012 (3:35 pm)

I am born in Quebec and anyway its a piece of crap we are overtaxed by the governement. Education system is a piece of crap well anyway the Governement is to big with comissions and all those unuseful thing and all the 7$ daycare, drug insurence and all those great governement is all Federal Governement funded because Quebec don’t have the money to pay it anyway…

I am a 45 year old female with 2 kids and a husband living in Quebec, we make about 70K a year and actually live off less than half that because of daycare which is 45$ a day minus 60% refund from the government but my 6 year old summer day camps are not reimbursed at all and that’s 225$ a week… My bus and subway pass runs me 121$ a month, my husband has the van and all the cost related to that run 80$ plus a week = 320 $ min a month. We are considering leaving it all behind, working under the table and living in the south 6months out of the year because we are too poor to buy a new refrigerator without going into debt. Quebec sucks if you are not making at least 125K a year for a family of 4 and that’s a fact. We are not big spenders either.
7$ a day day cares are hard to find and many people making over 125K have access to it and lower income people have trouble finding it.

by: Unikanic | July 31st, 2013 (7:26 am)

I just move to kingston, Ont. from Montreal (Pointe Claire), because of the politics, taxs and the corruption in the Quebec. There is corruption everywhere but Quebec is the King!
My husband had his buss there, his clients are fed, the Provence and municipal level. He was selling to all the Provinces but Quebec, it’s who you know, not how good the product or price, the RFPs (request for proposals) on the MERK system are set up to give the job to a specific supplier almost all the time. It’s sad I would had like to stay, there is lots of good things in Quebec, i.e. the no fault insurance that is way better the what we have here in Ont. also the law is different it’s civil code in Quebec, the culture is less about “keeping up with the jones”

To add info about the $7.00 a day daycare, it’s great, i couldn’t had worked if that didn’t existed, but you have to put your name very early, depending where you live it can be hard to get in.
One obvious thing I notice here in Kingston The service in stores is so, so much nicer it’s like comparing the rest of France with Paris, but why so many fat people here in Kingston? I don’t get it?