Canada vs Australia, Where should I go?

Table of Contents

Australia compared to Canada, Sydney compared to Toronto
In the most recent years Canada and Australia have become two of the biggest destination hot spots for Irish and British people who wish to work and travel. So, what’s it going to be Moose or Kangaroos? Hockey or Aussie Rules? This article will highlight the day to day living comparison between these two great countries.
Canada and Australia are two of the largest countries in the world, so if I were to do a comparison between every city and town in both countries you may be finished reading this article sometime next year. Instead I decided to pick the two main immigration/travel destinations, Toronto and Sydney.

Canada Vs Australia

Melbourne vs. Vancouver Adelaide vs. Montreal Brisbane vs. Calgary Halifax vs. Wellington
For immigration or visa questions you can contact me at the IMMIgroup forum.

In the most recent years Canada and Australia have become two of the biggest destination hot spots for Irish and British people who wish to work and travel. So, what’s it going to be Moose or Kangaroos? Hockey or Aussie Rules? This article will highlight the day to day living comparison between these two great countries.

Compare Australian and Canadian Schools

Canada and Australia are two of the largest countries in the world, so if I were to do a comparison between every city and town in both countries you may be finished reading this article sometime next year. Instead I decided to pick the two main immigration/travel destinations, Toronto and Sydney.


So where should I go? Toronto or Sydney?


Flights and Travel Rent Jobs/employment Tax Transportation Weather
Alcohol Groceries Phones Time Difference Immigration Vote now!


Flights and travel

This one is a no brainer, unless you love cramps and airline food. The average flight time from London to Australia is 24 hours + stops (17,000 km) usually with one stop along the way. It will probably take a few days for the feeling in your ass to return, not to mention to get over the jet lag. This means you could watch an entire season of Game of Thrones and not even be half way there. Where as London to Toronto averages 7hrs (5720 km), which is considerably less time in the sky.

Now lets talk shop. The most frequently used airlines Sydney bound are Qantas and Emirates, with Air Canada and Air Transat being the top two when travelling to Toronto. Here is the price of return flights taken from two separate calendar dates this year.




Flight operator



Dublin to Sydney Jun 21, 2018 Aer Lingus/China Airlines 2 stops 675 euros
Dublin to Toronto June 21, 2018 Airtransat Direct 533 euros
Dublin to Sydney Dec 15 2018 Aer Lingus/China Airlines 2 stops 804 euros
Dublin to Toronto Dec 15, 2018 Wow 1 stop 261 euros

These prices were quoted on the 19th of June 2018 from The flights and prices on this chart are for example only. Prices may vary and fluctuate. We are not responsible for flight or prices quoted from this chart. Please contact your travel agent or Qantas, Emirates, Air Transat, or Air Canada.


The 1st thing you will need to do is find a place to stay and unfortunately whether it is Toronto or Sydney, you will probably find rent expensive. Many people choose to live in the city centre to be in the heart and close to everything, but this comes at a high price. Opting to live slightly outside the city centre is the wiser and cheaper option. Also it is smart to live with friends or roommates as this significantly lowers the price per person. Below is a table with the average rent for both cities.

Apartment Toronto  Sydney 
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre CAD$1,801.50  (€1170.80) A$2,643.90  (€1684.94)
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre CAD $1,403.58 (€912.19) A$1,918.59  (€1222.71)
Apartment (3 bedroom) in City Centre CAD$3,136.76  (€2038.58) A$4,614.39   (€2940.72)
Apartment (3 bedroom) Outside of Centre $2,203.49 (€1432.05) A$1296.79   (€2034.84)

Source: quoted June 19, 2018

5 Things I Learned as a Foreigner Living in Toronto

Jobs/ employment

Now that you have a place to stay you will now need to start job searching unless you have one waiting for you when you get there. Being an Irish or British newcomer, one the best ways to start your job hunt is through the Irish or British community itself. As the old saying goes “It’s not what you know, but who you know”. Many people find jobs through word of mouth, friends and family. Apart from the obvious job and recruitment websites, sites such as Craigslist, Kijiji Facebook can be useful.

The unemployment rate in Australia (5.4%) and Canada (5.8%) are both relatively low in comparison to other countries and is lower than Ireland (6.1%). (All figures as of May 2018) But this is all relative, because it all depends on your occupation, your location (these are big countries) and whether your industry has a high demand.

One thing that is for certain is that both Australia and Canada have a high demand in the trade industry. So if you are an electrician, plumber, carpenter or labourer, just to mention a few, you will probably not spend too long looking for work. Also, the hospitality industry can be a good place to start job hunting.

The below table shows the current minimum wage for each city as of June 2017.

Toronto General wage       CAD$14.00 per hour Sydney AUD$17.70/hour or AUD$672.70 per week
Bartender/Server  CAD$12.20 per hour

Please note that the minimum wage in Ontario is due to increase to CAD$15 in January 2019, but Ontario just had an election and it’s entirely possible that raise will be scrapped.

To find your wage for your occupation, please click on the city of your choice (opens in new tab).




Canadian taxes

Unless you are Del Boy Trotter, there is no escaping the fact that you will need to pay tax. The question is how much will you pay? In Canada there is provincial VAT and there is federal VAT which adds up to a total on 13% in Ontario (called HST locally). You pay this tax on most purchases. The 13% vat is not incorporated into the price tag most of the time, so if you buy an item at $10, you will pay $11.30 when you get to the cashier.

When you arrive in Toronto you must apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) before you begin to work. The amount of income tax you pay in Toronto obviously depends on how much you make. There are two types of taxes you will pay, provincial and federal. Every province in Canada has a different tax percentage depending on your salary,but everybody pays the same percentage of federal tax. However, both taxes are taken off your salary at the same time.


Federal tax 2014

  • 15% on the first $45,916 of taxable income
  • 22% on the next $45,915 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income between $45,916 and $91,831)
  • 26% on the next $50,522 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income between $91,831 and $142,353)
  • 29% on the next $60,447 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income between $142,353 and $202,800)
  • 33% of taxable income over $202,800



Provincial Tax (Ontario)

Tax brackets for Ontario:

  • 5.05% on the first $42,201 of taxable income, +
  • 9.15% on the next $42,203, +
  • 11.16% on the next $65,596 +
  • 12.16% on the next $70,000 +
  • 13.16% on the amount over $220,000

So to roughly calculate the amount of tax you pay, just add the two percentages together. The tax year in Canada runs from January 1st to December 31st. If you are on a working holiday you will be able to claim most of your taxes back.


Australian taxes

In Australia the vat is a 10 percent flat rate on purchases and is incorporated into the sale price.

Australians use a tax file number (TFN) to identify themselves for tax purposes. Upon arrival in Australia its imperative to apply for one ASAP.

The Australian tax year starts on July 1st every year and ends June 30th. Many Australians receive tax refunds every year and if you are working on a working holiday visa you will usually get 100 percent of your tax returned.


Australian tax bracket

Taxable Income
Tax on this Income
$0-$18,200 Nil 0%
$18,201-$37,000 19c for each $1 over $18,200 0-9.65%
$37,001-$87,000 $3,572 + 32.5c for each $1 over 37,000 9.65-22.78%
$87,001-$180,000 $19,822 + 37c for each $1 over 87,000 22.78-30.13%
$180,001 and over $54,232 + 45c for each $1 over $180,000 30.1-45%



Toronto transit consists of subway, train, busses and streetcars (trams). All three are connected, so it doesn’t matter how far you are travelling or how many transfers you make, a one way fare is $3.25 (cheaper with a pass). I recommend that you choose to live near the subway line as you don’t want to be standing outside at 7:30am at -15 degrees waiting for a bus or a street car.

Sydney doesn’t actually have a subway system, it operates a train network and bus route. The train fare depends on how many km you travel ($15 max, and $2.50 on Sundays) and the bus routes are divided into 6 sections, so the fare depends on how many sections you are travelling throug.

Below is the breakdown costs transportation in both cities.

One way city transit ticket CAD$3.25  (€2.11) Bus: A$4.61 max (<€3.00)
Train: A$8.50 max (<€5.52)
Monthly pass (city transit) CAD$146.00 (€94.89) $61.60 per week max (<€160.20 max)
Taxi fare begins at (normal tariff) CAD$4.00 CAD (€2.60) A$3.60 (€2.34)
Taxi 1km (normal tariff) CAD$1.75 CAD (€1.14) A$2.19 (€1.42)
Gasoline (1 litre) CAD$1.26 (€0.82) A$1.37 (€0.89)
Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car) CAD$22,624.43 (€14,703.64) A$25,000.00 (€16247.52)

Source: These prices were quoted on June 19th, 2018



If any category in this article is going to be the deal breaker it is probably going to be this one. The options are sun followed by sun or sun followed by snow. Canada and Australia have opposing seasons. Winter in Canada is Summer in Australia, so on Christmas day in Toronto you will be wearing long johns and in Sydney you will be wearing your bathing suit if anything at all.

Toronto has four distinct seasons with warm, humid summers and cold winters. The weather in Toronto has considerable variance in day to day temperature, particularly during the colder weather season. The winters in Toronto are harsh, but mild in comparison to other places in Canada.

Whereas Sydney has a temperate climate with warm summers and mild winters, with rainfall spread throughout the year. Also, Sydney is significantly less humid than a Toronto summer.

Here is a breakdown of the annual temperature in both cities.

Toronto average high/low -1/-7 0/-6 5/-2 12/4 18/10 24/15 27/18 26/17 21\13 14/7 8/2 2/-3
Sydney average high/low 26/18 26/18 24/17 23/14 19/11 17/9 16/8 17/9 20/11 22/13 23/15 22/14

Sources: Environment Canada and Bureau of Meteorology


The Weather Network




Let’s move on to a more important incentive that will determine your choice, alcohol. Where do I get it and how much will it cost me. Sydney and Toronto have completely different laws governing alcohol. Ontario, the province in which Toronto is located, has very strict laws for consuming, purchasing and the distribution of alcohol. You can only purchase off-licence alcohol in three places, The Beer Store, LCBO and The Wine Rack. All three are only open for business from 11am till approximately 10pm and are usually closed on public holidays. Most bars will serve alcohol from 11am till 2am. The legal age for drinking in Ontario is 19 y/o.

The legal drinking age in Australia is 18, which has a very relaxed attitude to both off-license sales and also opening hours . Many bars in Sydney are open 24 hours a day, and most regular bars are still open till 3 or 4 am daily.

In Australia, alcohol is sold in both off -licenses (called bottle-o’s) and numerous stores where you can purchase alcohol usually from 11am to 11pm every day. Most bars will also sell you beers or spirits later than this at rather inflated prices.

Fortunately for the purpose of this article there is a PJ O’Briens pub in both Toronto and Sydney, so I have compared both prices in each bar to give you a rough idea of what you can expect to pay for a drink.

(All prices include tax)
PJ O’Brien pub Toronto
PJ O’Briens pub Sydney
Guinness $8.18 CAD (€5.32) A$9.50 (€6.17)
Bottle of Budweiser $4.87 CAD (€3.17) A$9.00 (€5.85)
Pint of local brew Steamwhistle: CAD$7.30 (€4.74) Carlton Draught: A$8.80 (€5.72)
Glass of wine (Pinot Grigio) CAD$9.07 (€5.89) A$9.00 (€6.17)

These prices were quoted on the June 19th, 2018 with the international conversion rate of the same day.

A previous version of this article relied upon the staff of the PJ O’Briens management Ciere (Sydney) and Shannon (Toronto). If their kindness alone is anything to go by you should definetly check out these two pubs.




One thing Canada and Australia have in common is their chocolate is brutal. Obviously there are a lot of products that we know and love that are not available in either city. Soon enough you will be asking your mum to send you a goody bag from home. Here is a comparative list of all the essentials.

Product (size)
Toronto $CAD (€)
Sydney $AUD (€)
Milk (1 litre) $2.40 (€1.56) $1.46 (€0.96)
Loaf of fresh bread (500g) $2.95 (€1.92) $2.71 (€1.76)
Local Cheese (1kg) $14.16 (€9.20) $8.65 (€5.62)
Eggs (12) $2.91 (€1.89) $4.04 (€2.63)
Chicken breasts (boneless) $15.18 (€9.87) $10.82 (€7.03)
Potato (1kg) $2.45 (€1.59) $3.08 (€2.00)
Apple (1kg) $3.74 (€2.43) $4.28 (€2.78)
Tomato (1kg) $5.31 (€3.45) $5.09 (€3.31)
Pack of cigarettes (Malboro) $15 (€9.75) $29.00 (€18.85)

Source: on June 19th, 2018




In this day in age we can’t do without one. Australia and Canada each have multiple competing phone companies eager to lock you in on a two year contract. If you opt for “pay-as-you-go” this will cost you a lot more in the long run. You are probably better off finding a cheap plan. Also, to save you money, you can bring your phone from home and get it unlocked. This way you won’t have to pay the crazy prices for a new phone. And whatever you do, do not call home without purchasing an international call card. For this comparison I have picked the two largest phone companies and two similar plans.



Monthly Mins
Contract length
Monthly bill
Rogers Apple iPhone 7X 3GB per month Unlimited within Canada Unlimited 24 months CAD$110 after $400 phone purchase €71.47
Telstra Apple iPhone 7 32GB 30GB total Unlimited to “standard” Australian nubmers Unlimited to “standard” Australian numbers 24 months AUD $132 €85.79

These prices were quoted on June 19th, 2018 from the companies’ official sites. It is important to remember that there are competing phone companies in both Australia and Canada offering competitive prices.


Time Difference

What’s it gonna be Marty, into the past or back to the future? Toronto is usually 5 hours behind Britain and Ireland, whereas Sydney is usually 9 hours ahead of Britain and Ireland. When I say “usually” I mean that in spring and autumn Australia, Canada, Britain and Ireland have different dates when they put their clocks forward or back for daylight savings. So for a couple of weeks in spring and Autumn you will find that the time difference from home varies by 1-2 hours. I am not going to give you a headache trying to explain daylight savings between all three places. So I decided that time would be better spent telling you when the footy is on in Toronto and Sydney? These times are based on Sydney +9GMT and Toronto -5GMT.

Event Toronto  Sydney 
Premier league (3pm start) 10am 12 midnight
Premier league (Early game) 7am 9pm
Champions league 2:45pm 4:45 am
GAA football game (3pm) 10 am 12 Midnight
Six Nations (2pm game) 9am 11pm
Heineken Cup (2pm game) 9am 11pm
Coronation Street Corrie is surprisingly popular in Canada. Get a life



Australia and Canada both have programs that enable young Europeans including Irish and British citizens to go to either country to work and travel for 1-2 years.

For Irish citizens, International Experience Canada has three separate programs that offers 18-35 year olds the opportunity to come to Canada to work and/or travel. Working Holiday, Young Professionals and The International Coop Program. Each program has different criteria and conditions but the working holiday program is by far the most utilized by the Irish. Each year (roughly around January) Ireland receives a quota which is usually snapped up within minutes. So if you are going to apply, keep an eye out for the opening date.

Australia has a similar program which has no limit to the amount of visas it issues to Ireland, but the age requirement is restricted to 18-30. To obtain a second year visa you have to work in regional Australia for at least 3 months of your initial year. Below is information on the Australian and Canadian Working Holiday Programs.

Age requirement
Period of stay
Places allocated 2018
Status of program
Government fee
Additional requirements
Australia 18-30 12 months with the option of additional 12 months Working holiday visa, (sub-class 417) Unlimited Open $440 AU $5,000 AU in personal funds, Health insurance, police check
Canada 18-35 24 months (one time) IEC working holiday program Unlimited Open $150 CAD $2,500 CAD in personal funds, Health insurance, police check

If you wish to remain in Canada after your working holiday is over, there are options to apply for permanent residence depending on  your occupation, education  family ties, time spent in country, work experience, and many other factors.

If you are not eligible for permanent residence you will have to find a job offer with a potential employer. The employer then has to apply for a labour market opinion (LMO) – basically they ask the government permission to hire a foreign worker. If the employer receives a positive LMIA, you can then apply for a work permit which can range anywhere from 1-4 years.

The most common way to immigrate to Australia after the working holiday usually requires getting a visa via employer sponsorship or applying for skilled migration. Recent legislation means that for the majority of applicants getting sponsored is the only viable option. Once you are on a sponsor visa (457) for two years or more you can apply to be a permanent resident.

In general Canada has a less complicated and less strict immigration system and it is considerably cheaper than the Australian government fees.

For a complete rundown on options, categories and fees for immigration, You can find more information on the official government websites: (Aus) (Can)

Learn more about immigrating to Canada


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