Studying and living in Canada: How to manage my money?

by Basma Ihmaidan
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When you are having the experience of living and studying in Canada, one of the challenges that every student faces are the living expenses. Trying to adapt to a new city it’s complicated, we know it. 

Everything looks unknown and different, making it more difficult to manage your budget. To adapt you must know the secrets about living in Canada.

budget to live in canada

In today’s article we are going to tell you some tricks that will help you to handle better your money while you are in Canada, including if you still don’t have a part-time job for support. 

Learn how you can do it!

Tips to manage your money while you study and live in Canada:

Here below you’ll see 6 tips that when done properly, will make a difference in your budget as an student living in Canada:

1. Look into the cost of living in areas/neighborhoods of the city

hacer rendir diner en Canada

Choosing the city to live in, often depends on the field of your studies. But this doesn’t mean that you must live right beside the educational institution you are enrolled in. Cities like Toronto and Vancouver have a significant difference in rent prices downtown compared to peripheral regions. 

Canada benefits from a great  public transportation, by using it you will be able to save money. But how to know which areas are the least expensive to live in a city? Simple, we tell you the secret: 

How to identify the least expensive areas where you can live

The simplest way is to go on a real estate portal (if you Google search “rent Canada” several results will show). Here you will search by city, price and see which areas have the lowest rent.

Look for that area on the map and  see the public transport route you need to get where you are studying or working. The ones with better connection will be the best options. 

Lastly, check if the rent of the property includes utilities or not (Hydro, electricity or internet). Depending on how much you spend on these utilities, see what’s better financially, to be included in the rent or not. 

2. Compare product prices

hacer rendir diner en Canada

Different from other countries, different stores and supermarkets of Canada have great variation of prices between them. Generally, big chains like Loblaws or Sobeys are more affordable than 24 hours convenience stores that are all around the cities in Canada.

We know it’s more comfortable to do the shopping in the nearest convenience store, but a lot of the times you are paying higher prices when you go to these places. If you organize and plan monthly your grocery shopping and go to the stores with the best prices, overtime you will see how you will make the most of your budget.

Another tip to keep in mind is to take advantage of the supermarkets’ own brands. In Canada, a lot of supermarket chains have partnerships with manufacturers that grant  them their own brand, being more affordable. So, if you choose to shop these products know that you are getting the same quality but for a lot less. Cash in!

3. Choose the type of accommodation according to your needs

There are many types of accommodation in Canada for a person that wants to study and live temporarily in this country. One of the most common is to rent a place and share it with other people, this way the rent is lower. Share a place and rent it’s very common among students from a lot of countries. 

Besides this, there is also the possibility of just renting a room sharing the kitchen and bathroom. Nowadays apps like AirBnB that help you to find this type of accomodation that certainly are more affordable than renting an entire place. 

Finally, a lot of the cities have specific options to accommodate students like student residencies on-campus or homestays with canadian host families. This is because Canada has a large amount of students moving constantly, they’re being locals moving to larger cities or international people that come to Canada to study motivated by the great opportunities offered.

4. Use the public transport 

Something you will have noticed living in Canada as an student, is the options of public transportation that are available for you. If you think about it, this is probably the most affordable and simplest way to move around the city.

For public transport in Canada there are some tools like “Presto Card” that allows you to travel unlimitedly using other companies without using money or tickets, all you need is to pay a monthly pass. Presto also offers some special fares for students like “Presto Vouchers”. Something you definitely should check out.

5. Planning and budgeting

manejar el dinero en canada

Sometimes it’s not about having more money, but spending less. The tips we’ve gone through reflect that, but this won’t work if you don’t control and organize your finances. 

A common error among international students is not knowing how to do it. The best way to avoid these problems is to write down every money movement (Income from the salary of your part-time job, money your family sends to you, etc)  and what you spend it on.This way you will know at all times how much money do you have and how you are managing your budget.

Having a budget for emergencies will give you much more peace of mind and safety, so knowing where you are spending unnecessarily it’s essential.

The risk of the “ant expenses”

It’s normal to think that small amounts of money spent everyday are not significant, these are known as “ant expenses”. It’s important for you to know what they are about. 

For example, imagine someone, let’s call her Patricia, always has a cup of coffee of 3 CAD in a nice coffee shop near to her College. So cheap, right? That said, if she spends 3 CAD every day of the year at the end she will have spent more in coffee (1,095 CAD) than in one month of rent. 

How many months of rent could Patricia afford if she stops drinking a cup of coffee for 4 CAD? And if it is 6 CAD? Sometimes we don’t pay too much attention to these kinds of expenses, but when we analyze in the long run we see the impact they have.

For this reason, controlling your expenses is crucial to be aware of it on time. If Patricia buys her coffee at the supermarket and makes it at home, she will be saving a lot of money. 

6. Stay informed on the exchange rate

organizar presupuesto en canada

Lastly, another advice that can help you to save money is to be informed on the exchange rate. If you are receiving any foreign currency from your family, sometimes it’s convenient to directly exchange to Canadian dollars and sometimes it’s not. The currencies are constantly fluctuating, so you must be aware of the exchange rates and make the transactions at the most convenient moment.


The life of someone that studies and lives in Canada it’s not always easy because of the limited budget. However, the opportunities that offer you an education in countries like this makes that every effort is worth it. Know some tricks and know more about the options to save money for your student life to be easier. Believe us!

We hope that these tips have been useful, if this is the case don’t hesitate to share this article on your social media for other other people to benefit from this information like you did. 

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