Cost of living in Canada for international students: take advantage of your resources

by Basma Ihmaidan
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As soon as they start living, studying and working in this country, international students like you face the challenge of facing the cost of living in Canada. Therefore, we want to give you the key to take advantage of your resources.

budget to live in canada

Many decide to study and work in Canada to cover their expenses. However, in this article we will give you the key points so that you can master your finances by living in Canada in a very simple way. Do you want to know how? Keep reading!

Cost of accommodation in Canada for international students

Cost of accommodation in Canada for students

Living in Canada can be either very expensive or very cheap, depending on how you manage your finances in the country. One of the main differences in the cost of living for international students is accommodation.

In this way we find cities with very cheap accommodation, and at the same time places where the cost of living can be much higher, such as Toronto and Vancouver. Despite this, there are different types of accommodation in Canada available for international students that you should know:

Accommodation on campus

Many universities have spaces for student accommodation.

Depending on each university, it may be more or less difficult to access this accommodation. On the other hand, accommodation on campus can have services such as food, laundry, leisure areas or internet.

In addition, being inside the university itself, you save a lot on transportation. The price ranges from CAD 3,000 to CAD 7,500 per semester.

Sharing a flat with other students

It consists of taking a floor of, for example, three rooms and dividing it up in such a way that each student stays in one room and pays together the expenses of the house.

Considering that the rent of a property with these characteristics of accommodation in Canada ranges between CAD 1050 and CAD 1950 according to the city.

You could consider an accommodation budget of about 250 CAD -700 CAD for this type of housing. Of course there could be additional costs, such as laundry, for example.


It is a widespread practice in Canada that families host international students for a small fee.

The most common is to have a down payment of CAD 200 and stay paying a rent of CAD 400 CAD 800 which will include a room and 2 or 3 meals.

However, the main advantage is that you can better practice the language, being in direct contact with native people, and being part of the local culture. You will be able to live in Canada like another Canadian.

Information Planet Tip

We mainly recommend shared accommodation or homestays in Canada, depending on the experience you want to live in the country.

This is because, although the universities have a very complete accommodation package, their high cost and difficulty of access can give you some troubles. On the other hand, if you find a cheaper accommodation option, such as those already mentioned, you will have greater liquidity which will allow you to face other expenses.

Another reason for sharing a flat or living in a homestay is the practice of the language, since you are surely interested in improving your level of English and meeting people in Canada.

Also, if you feel that your accommodation expenses are higher than they should be, you can rely on friends and acquaintances to find a new place. You can also consult the institution where you study for homestay listings or lean on educational advisers.

Transportation costs in Canada

cost of living in canada

If you must use public transport in Canada, either because of the distance between your place of accommodation and your educational institution, or because you have chosen to study and work in Canada at the same time and you must go from one place to another. Whatever the case is, the truth is that you must be aware of your transport budget.

Although several cities have metro services (specifically Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Montreal), the most common way of getting around is by bus. The price of the ticket for an adult usually ranges between 2 and 4 Canadian dollars for this transport in Canada.

In addition, some cities also have trolleybuses, sea buses and even trains. It all depends on the city where you live!

However, depending on the distances to be traveled, many times the best option may be something as simple as a bicycle. Obviously, a taxi (with a starting fee of 4 Canadian dollars, and an average price of 2 dollars per kilometer) is an option that, although it exists, is not very convenient for you to consider.

Our advice

If you use public transport frequently, for example to go to class daily, it is best to buy a monthly transport ticket, which can cost you 120 CAD.

In this way, for a fixed monthly price you can make all the trips you want, and generally at a cheaper price than if you paid the ticket every day.

You have to do the numbers, but this option becomes more attractive for international students, since many educational institutions have agreements so that transportation is even cheaper for their students. Don’t hesitate to ask!

Food expenses in Canada for international students

Food expenses in Canada

Food is one of those important aspects that can make living in Canada cheap or that you do not make it at the end of the month.

The trick is not to eat less, but to realize that in this country there are all kinds of markets and, therefore, all kind of prices. And believe it or not, the price differences can be significant.

In general, It can cost between CAD 300 and CAD 550. Of course, not including frequent expenses in restaurants or other places.

Information Planet Tip

It is worth seeking recommendations from people in the area, and taking the time to explore the cheapest markets in your area.

In this way you can see the great difference in prices between one and the other, and be able to save a lot of money in your shopping basket. This will make your life in Canada more comfortable.

Eating out can be quite expensive, but you could include a certain amount in your budget to give yourself this occasional taste.

Cost of mobile phone service in Canada

cost of living in canada

Whether it’s to talk to your family in your home country, or to your new Canadian friends, mobile phone service is another cost of living in Canada that you should consider.

Some providers prioritize call minutes over data, or vice versa. What do you need the most? this is something you have to decide before going into the first shopping center to get your phone plan.

On the other hand, you should know that there are prepaid contracts, where you put in advance a “balance” that you use until you spend it, and other is a contract, where you have a fixed monthly cost whether you use it or not. This cost can be between CAD 30 and CAD 60.

Our advice

Think about the large number of sites where you have free access to the Internet, considering that nowadays this is enough to be in contact with other people, perhaps you save a lot of money by having a basic plan.

In other words, if you really don’t need a very complete plan, you don’t need to have an expensive service.


In this article we have talked about how to improve your life in Canada as an international student.

For this, we have given you the key points so you can save on aspects such as your accommodation, your transport, your food and your cell phone rate. Knowing these costs of living in Canada and how to save a little is key to reviewing your budget and making the necessary adjustments.

Now it’s up to you to put this into practice and you will start to make better use of your money from now on. The best time is now!

budget to live in canada
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