Living Cost in Canada for International Students



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Canada is not only prominent for its mesmerizing natural beauty and multicultural cities; it is also famous for its exceptional educational institutions. Canadian institutions draw international students from all over the world despite its relatively high cost of tuition and living.

These institutions have, over time, lured many people from around the globe to the country. The cost of living in Canada for international students is relatively less when compared to other countries, as most universities in Canada are government-funded.

For everything concerning tuition fees, each University decides it, and there is a difference in the cost with each province in Canada. Note that as an international student, you pay more fees than residents.

Luckily, government funding makes it easier for international students to study in Canada. If a student comes in through scholarships or financial assistance, then the cost of living is considerably lower.

Studying in Canada

Canadian Universities are famous for a wide variety of courses with lesser tuition fees, making a living in Canada quite affordable for international students.

When considering studying in Canada, most international students are particularly bothered about tuition fees, and not to forget the incurable cost that comes during the duration of learning.

Aside from tuition fees, other costs you’ll have to pay include; living expenses, medical insurance, accommodation, feeding, etc. All these must be included in your budget while planning to study in Canada.

International students planning to study in Canada must prove to the Canadian government that they are financially capable of fending for their financial needs to learn and live in Canada.

Generally, the cost of living in Canada depends on the province, lifestyles, and personal needs. On average, international students can expect to spend about 600 – 800 CAD monthly on food, transport, entertainment, and other daily expenses, excluding accommodation.

Canada has always been the go-to destination for students seeking to study abroad. The list of universities available for students to pick from per province is endless.

With institutions like the University of British Columbia, McGill University, and the University of Toronto, Canada provides cost-effective education for international students.

The quality of education and the affordability of living costs in Canada are among the primary reasons why international students choose Canada over other countries.

However, for international students, the cost of living is not fixed. The value can fluctuate depending on the location of the University. A province like Ottawa, Vancouver, and Toronto has been among Canada’s most expensive cities.

This article will give you an insight through every important detail on the cost f living for international students in Canada. Insight on the cost of items like accommodation, meals, transportation, books and study materials, clothing and miscellaneous, health insurance, etc.

Cost of Accommodation for International Students

When budgeting, accommodation should b a priority on your list. The university location usually plays a significant role in the living cost in Canada. Most international students in Canada prefer to stay on-campus, popularly known as Halls of Residence.

On-campus accommodation requires students to share their rooms with a roommate while sharing other students’ laundry room, kitchen, and social areas. The average accommodation cost on-campus is between 4000 – 8000 CAD yearly and varies depending on the province you choose.

Note that not all admission into any Canadian University comes with university accommodation for students. Thus, students must prepare to foot the bill of an alternative option.

An alternative option for students who were unable to secure accommodation on-campus is separate on-campus housing. The cost of such accommodation depends on the institution of studies, kind of room, shared or private, and if the student chooses a meal plan.

There is also the option of renting an off-campus apartment, which some students prefer. If you decide to go for off-campus accommodation, you should be aware of the average rent and living costs in that province. Below is an insight into the average cost of renting accommodation in a different region in Canada.

Average Monthly Provincial Cost of Rent in Canada

ProvinceAverage Monthly Rent (CAD)
British Columbia (BC)1500-2000
Nova Scotia500-750
Manitoba 700-1000
New Brunswick650-1100
Newfoundland and Labrador735-905
Prince Edward Island550-750

Some students move out of on-campus accommodation after their first year, with reasons ranging from privacy to wanting to share an apartment with their friends to save costs. Another accommodation option available for international students is home-stay.

A home-stay is an accommodation plan wherein a host family allows students to live with them. The average monthly cost of a home-stay is between 750 – 950 CAD, which includes meals.

Cost of Studying in Canada for International Students

The average cost of tuition fees for international students (undergraduates) is around 28,000 CAD. And with a valid visa, international students can work up to 20 – 40 hours/week on study duration and holiday period. You can check up our article on how to find a job in Canada by clicking here.

Cost per course for international students in Canada

Field of study Undergraduate (CAD)Graduate (CAD)
Visual and Performing Arts, and Communications Technologies25,12714,737
Social and Behavioral Sciences27,64715,032
Law, Legal Professions and Studies33,19217,237
Business Management and Public Administration26,68024,693
Physical and Life Sciences and Technologies31,53615,421
Mathematics, Computer and Information Sciences33,01216,647
Agriculture, Natural Resources and Conservation26,20814,452
Veterinary Medicine63,32310,099
Other Health, Parks, Recreation and Fitness24,62618,551

Cost per University for international students in Canada

Name of the UniversityAverage Tuition (CAD)
University of Toronto27,240
University of Waterloo20,860
University of Calgary18,338
University of Alberta21,590
University of British Columbia22,578
University of Victoria16,693
York University12,780
Ecole Polytechnique17,127
Queen’s University23,621
McGill University15,348

Cost of Food

Food is a priority alongside accommodation and tuition. And as an international student, if you don’t budget well, you might see yourself spending heavily on food. The cost of food depends on several factors; food preference, eating habits, cuisine, location, etc.

An average meal in a Canadian restaurant per person costs about 10 – 15 CAD and an average of 1500 – 3000 yearly. You can cut costs by eating home-cooked meals. Check out our article on the cost of eating out in Canada.

Aside from the tuition fee and accommodation fees, there are other expenditures international students should budget for while preparing to study in Canada. Below are some of the spending:

Cost of Transportation

Students residing on-campus might not spend much on transportation as most prefer to commute by walking. Students staying off-campus, maybe farther away from the cities like Vancouver, Montreal, or Toronto, might commute by metro or bus.

If you choose to commute via train, it cost an average of 80 – 110 CAD. But with a valid student Identification card, you could get a discount.

Most international students love to travel and explore their new environments. So, you might see yourself travelling between campuses, cities, study tours, etc.

This expense must be put into consideration while budgeting the cost of living in Canada. An average of 980 CAD is spent yearly on transportation per international student in Canada.

Cost of Health insurance

Health insurance is essential for international students. Regardless of the province in Canada, you choose to study in; you must be covered by health insurance in Canada.

Medical insurance for international students in Canada depends on the region. International students in a province like Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba are insured.

While other areas like Ontario, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick do not provide this facility for international students, in provinces that do not cover health insurance, an international student must cover this at personal expense.

There are two major categories of medical health insurance in Canada; provincial health care and private health insurance. The regional health care covers essential preventives and emergency services.

All international students in Canada with a valid study visa are eligible for this provincial health care card to access the services when required.

For private health insurance, international students can choose to use the assistance of a private provider. There are several perks to private health insurance than provincial health care. Private hospital rooms, ambulance services, dental costs, prescription drugs, etc., are personal health insurance benefits.

The average price of private health insurance in Canada is between 600 – 1000 CAD. The average amount of private health insurance in Canada ranges between 600 and 1000 CAD.

Cost of Books and Studying Materials

The cost of living in Canada for students includes paying for books, instruments to aid their learning process, and other study material required during their studying.

As an international student, you should budget an average of 1000 – 2000 CAD yearly on books and other studying materials. You can save cost by using different methods to get books like; the university library, online PDFs, eBooks, etc.

Cost of Clothing and Miscellaneous

You might need to get a few clothes as the temperature difference can affect you and your studies. About 900 – 1100 should be set aside for clothing and other miscellaneous if you’re considering studying in Canada.

Other miscellaneous expenses you’ll need to budget for include; personal leisure, going to the cinema, taking part in activities, internet service, etc. So, you should budget about 1000 – 2000 CAD yearly for miscellaneous expenses.

There are several reasons why international students love to study in Canada. But maybe the biggest reason is the possibility to stay in Canada after graduation. Especially in Atlantic Canada, which has a retention program for international students.

Whatever your reason might be, you can start your admission process using this guide as a tool.

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Avid researcher, freelance writer, and personal finance enthusiast passionate about financial education and literacy.

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Kareena Maya

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Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.

Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.