This question is part of an age-old debate between the two largest nations of North America. The societies of both Canada and the United States hold the view that their own country is the better place to live. Generally, neither country knows all the facts about what the other country has to offer. So, which is better: Canada or the United States?


Canada’s fourth-quarter 2018 gross domestic product (GDP) was reported at $2.2 trillion. In comparison, the United States reported a GDP of $20.87 trillion.

While the U.S. is a much larger superpower in terms of GDP, the incomes of citizens are much more closely aligned. The U.S. Census Bureau reports the median income for U.S. families at $60,336. In Canada, the median income ranges from $45,220 to $89,610.

Taxes can also be a key differentiator for the two countries. Canada has a higher average practical tax rate than the United States at 28%. Business Insider reports that after taxes Canadians bring home $35,299 annually on average. In the United States, the practical tax rate is lower at 18%. As such the average post-tax annual salary in the U.S. is $52,344.

According to the website "", the cost of living is higher for Americans than Canadians. The Numbeo Cost of Living Index for the U.S. is 69.91 compared to 65.01 for Canada. This Index looks at rent, groceries, restaurant prices, and local purchasing which are all higher collectively in the United States.

($ in USD)

Rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $1,536.22 in Toronto, Canada vs. $3,116.43 in New York City, United States

Food: a loaf of bread 95 cents in NYC vs. 59 cents in Toronto; 0.15 kilogram of chicken breast $1.96 in NYC vs. $1.88 in Toronto; meal at an inexpensive restaurant $14.90 in Toronto vs. $20 in NYC; cappuccino $3.15 in Toronto vs. $4.47 in NYC

Transportation: one-way local transport ticket $2.42 in Toronto vs. $2.75 in NYC; taxi one mile $2.16 in Toronto vs. $2.70 in NYC

Clothing: one pair of Levi’s jeans $52.59 in Toronto vs. $53.74 NYC; one pair of Nike running shoes $79.64 in Toronto vs. $86.69 in NYC

Family Benefits

Becoming a mother is one of the greatest gifts in the world. Spending time with your child as he or she grows up can also be a great need of every mother. How does each country support new moms?


Canada has mandated leave and benefits. The government supports this through provincial employment insurance. The program includes both mothers and fathers. Benefits paid could be up to $562 per week.

The U.S.

The United States is less progressive in this area. The U.S. offers some support under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA can allow for 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Individual states also have their own laws.

Health Care

The United States has the highest health care costs in the world. Per capita, individuals can expect to pay approximately $10,209 annually. This compares to an annual average of $4,826 for Canadians.


University can be another extremely large cost in a person's life. It puts many students tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Student Loan Hero shows the United States also topping the list for university costs, with averages falling behind only the United Kingdom. Average annual tuition at a public college in the U.S. is estimated at $8,202. For a private college, the average annual cost increases to $21,189. Canada ranks fourth for the cost of university. In Canada, the average annual tuition at a public college is estimated at $4,939.

The Bottom Line

The United States is a larger global superpower and as such Americans can expect to pay more in nearly every aspect of living. Both countries generally have around the same annual income. However, taxes are reportedly lower in the U.S. which can offer Americans a slight take-home pay advantage. In the area of social benefits, Canadians have a somewhat stronger government-mandated family program with greater government funding for maternity leave through employment insurance programs. Canadians can also expect to pay less for health care costs. Furthermore, educational university costs on average are also lower in Canada which could be a final factor that tempts many citizens across the border when considering long-term family planning.