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The Cost of Living in Canada as an International Student

Last updated: 26 July 2023 Student Finance

Canada is among the most popular study-abroad destinations for international students seeking high-quality education and diverse cultural experiences. While Canada offers excellent educational opportunities, it is also essential for prospective students to understand the living costs they may incur during their time in Canada. This will largely depend on their lifestyle and their options for accommodation, transport, food, groceries and other utilities. However, having a general idea of what you may need is crucial.

Additionally, the government needs to know that as an international student, you will be able to have an acceptable standard of living and will be able to bear the study costs as well. The tuition costs of your program and university can differ according to factors such as the specific program, location, and university.

If you want further information on living expenses in Canada, book a free consultation with SI-Canada now to talk to our experts, who can guide you in finding the perfect route to make your dreams come true. 

student cost of living in canada

Cost of Living in Canada


The accommodation cost is one of the first things to consider while studying abroad. Much like in other countries, it can vary largely depending on the city and the type of housing you choose. The primary options available are the on-campus housing facilities within the universities, residence halls or dormitories and off-campus housing, including shared apartments and homestay options.

Usually, the costs for on-campus accommodation range from CAD 8,000 to CAD 15,000 per academic year and vary by the university and the location. Students also take up off-campus housing by renting an apartment or sharing with other students. The cost for this type of housing can vary from CAD 600 to CAD 2,500 per month, depending on the city and location. Generally, one can save on accommodation costs by sharing with others and staying in more affordable areas according to your budget. Another option is homestays, where you can live with local Canadian families and pay for the room and food. 

Food and Groceries

As an international student, you must budget for daily meals and groceries. Students spend around CAD 300 to CAD 500 monthly on food and other groceries. One can consider cooking at home, which can be more economical than eating out regularly, so it might be better to develop your culinary skills to save money in Canada.


If you live on-campus, this cost is significantly reduced as most residences are within walking distance from institutions. But you would still need money to get around the city for other purposes. When you live off-campus, this is a recurring cost that must be considered. 

Canada is a developed country with a robust public transportation system, and the costs usually depend on the city and how you choose to get around. A monthly pass is the most economical way to get around if your usage of the public transportation system is high and can cost around CAD 90 to CAD 150, depending on the city. One-day tickets are also available if a month's pass is not on your agenda and can come within a few dollars.  

Cycling is also popular and eco-friendly in many cities. You can purchase a bicycle or rent one for approximately CAD 25 to CAD 50 daily. Consider expenses like insurance, fuel, maintenance, and parking if you plan to own a car. These costs can add up to around CAD 500 to CAD 800 per month. So, most students don't take this option, especially in the starting months.

Health Insurance

Medical coverage is crucial for international students in Canada and must be considered within the costs. However, some provinces, like Quebec, British Columbia, Manitoba, Alberta, Labrador, Newfoundland, and Saskatchewan, offer public health insurance coverage for international students. In other provinces, you may need to purchase private health insurance, ranging from CAD 600 to CAD 1,000 per year.

Books and Supplies

As an overseas student who has travelled to Canada to get specialized knowledge, textbooks, stationery, and other academic supplies have become almost necessary. On average, students usually spend around CAD 1,000 per academic year on books and other supplies.

Mobile and Internet Services

Communication is vital, particularly to talk to your family and friends back home. You must regularly budget for mobile phone plans and internet services. Phone plans can vary from CAD 30 to CAD 100 per month, while internet plans cost around CAD 50 to CAD 100 per month.

Social and Recreational Activities

Participating in social and recreational activities is also essential to the international student experience. You must budget for leisure activities like movies, concerts, sports, and dining out to keep things lively and your mind fresh. The amount spent on such activities can vary depending on personal preferences, but students generally allocate around CAD 100 to CAD 300 per month.

Miscellaneous Expenses

After considering all the major costs of living in Canada, one can consider some miscellaneous expenses, including clothing, personal grooming, and occasional travel. You may budget an additional CAD 200 to CAD 500 per month for these variable expenses, which can be saved or used as per your preferences. 

Top Tips for Managing Living Costs

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If you want to join the thousands of international students enjoying a great quality of life in Canada, contact SI-Canada today for a free consultation.

Cost of Living in Canada FAQ

Is living in Canada expensive?

The overall cost of living in Canada can vary significantly depending on your chosen city or region, lifestyle, and preferences. On a general level, Canada is considered to have a relatively high standard of living, and some cities, like Toronto and Vancouver, are known for their higher living costs. However, compared to other developed countries, Canada can be more affordable in certain aspects, like housing, tuition fees, and transportation costs. 

How much is the rent in Canada per month?

Major cities and popular urban centres tend to have higher rental prices than smaller towns and rural areas. For instance, in Vancouver, you can get a one-bedroom apartment at CAD 1,800 to CAD 2,500+; in Calgary, the costs range from CAD 1,100 to CAD 1,700. 

How much does living in Canada for a month cost?

The monthly cost of living in Canada can vary significantly and will start with accommodation, which can be anywhere from CAD 1,500 to CAD 2,500 per month. You will need CAD 300 to CAD 500 for food and groceries and another CAD 90 to CAD 150 for transportation costs. Other important costs include phone bills, health insurance, and utilities, anywhere from CAD 300 to CAD 500 per month. So, you can say that the total monthly cost of living for a single person in Canada can be estimated to be between CAD 2,400 to CAD 4,000. 

How much is the monthly rent in Canada?

major cities and urban centres generally have higher rental costs than smaller towns and rural areas. A studio apartment in Toronto can range from CAD 1,300 to CAD 1,800+; in Montreal, the same can be taken within the range of CAD 800 to CAD 1,200. The costs go higher with one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.

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Increase your chances of success when applying

SI-Canada specializes in selecting the right Canadian university or college for international students by reviewing your academic background, discussing your career goals and helping you apply. Our application services can help you achieve your dream of studying in Canada.

"Everything was explained well to me by Vidushi. There was a 100% transparency in everything and Vidushi was highly responsive throughout the process making it smooth and hassle free for me. Rahul from the Visa team also was really patient in the entire process and made sure I understood and get things done timely."

Amanpreet KaurInternational Business Management (May 2024 intake)

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