Accommodation in Canada for Foreign Students
Updated on Feb 16, 2016 - 9:09 a.m. IST by Manashjyoti

Accommodation in Canada for Foreign Students
: Making the decision to study abroad is a life changing experience as you will not only be far away from your home, but you will be in an alien environment where the locality, culture, people and food will be completely different. In such a scenario, if you manage to find the right accommodation in Canada, where you get that home away from home feeling, it will only help you settle quickly into the new environment.

If Canada is where you are heading to…

Put some effort to find the right accommodation in Canada, because you will be spending the majority of your time outside the classroom at your accommodation. And please avoid putting off your hunt for housing options in Canada for too late, a mistake many students make as they get caught up in admission preparation, visa application and travel preparations. Otherwise in your rush to find an accommodation, you might end up in a shabby place or one that creates a hole in your wallet!  

As to what is the best time to start looking for accommodation in Canada, start as soon as you receive your admission offer. Starting early will allow you enough elbow room to weigh your options: whether you want to go for one-bedroom apartment, two-bedroom apartment or a bachelor pad, to name a few.

Accommodation in Canada for foreign students: walking the tightrope

Accommodation in a foreign country is very expensive and it is uniformly applicable across almost all countries, be it Australia, the UK, the US, or for that matter Canada. As such, it makes a lot of sense to tread with care while selecting a particular housing option in Canada. Because choosing the best option can save you at least a couple of thousand dollars in a year. Take for example, if you are enrolled in a university in Toronto near St. George, the difference between staying in a single room ($625) and a 3-bedroom apartment ($2,060) can be as much as $1,435, which is quite substantial. If you multiply it by 12, it costs you $17,220 a year, almost the entire tuition fee of some less established courses!

The figure, if anything, shows that you have to be wise while selecting accommodation in Canada, especially when many students from India have to take loans and survive on scholarships to complete their studies abroad. Here are some sample accommodation charges across different regions in Toronto, Canada.

Estimated accommodation cost in Toronto 2015-16:


Near St. George

Near University of Toronto (Mississauga)

Near University of Toronto (Scarborough)

CMA(Census Metropolitan Area) 











1-bedroom apartment





2-bedroom apartment





3-bedroom apartment





Important takeaways from student accommodation in Canada: Cost breakdown

If you take a closer look at the chart, you will find that it is not only the type of room that influences accommodation cost; but where you stay is equally crucial. Places like University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) are cheaper compared to St. George. So, even if you are staying in Toronto, you and your friend –who, for  example, lives in some other part of Toronto, may end up spending very different amounts. And this argument can be extrapolated to include other cities as well, like if you compare accommodation costs in Montreal and Vancouver with those of Toronto, it will throw up different figures. For, example if you are studying in the University of Columbia at its Vancouver campus, a one-bedroom accommodation will cost you $1,182 per month (off-campus) and $1,061 per month (on-campus).  

The price differential that you see here between cities, though, isn’t just a Canadian phenomenon. For, if you pick two cities in the UK, say London and Cardiff, there is a gulf in accommodation costs between them. In London, a room in the cheapest price band hovers around £135 per week, and it is so basic that it offers a kitchen and a bathroom and you also have to share it with around nine other people. Now contrast this with Cardiff, where you may live in luxury in a room that comes with en suite bathroom but costs all of £100 week.


Students living in places where accommodation costs are higher definitely feel the urge to save money elsewhere, by cutting down unnecessary expenses. But, sometimes it so happens that there is not enough money to buy books and other items that are integral to your study. If you too get stuck in such a situation, don’t despair. See if you can land a part-time job somewhere; Canada has a fair earn while you learn scheme that you can explore and earn to self-finance your studies.

Off-campus versus On-campus accommodation: Which one to choose?

While searching for the right accommodation in Canada, there is another component that needs to be addressed. It is whether to go for on-campus accommodation or off-campus student accommodation in Canada. 

Per-week cost of on-campus vs. off-campus accommodation in Canada for foreign students across different accommodation types in Vancouver:




Shared Accommodation/room



Studio Apartment



One-bedroom apartment



Two-bedroom apartment



Both on-campus and off-campus accommodations have their own pros and cons. For example, if you are staying in on-campus accommodation, while you have to pay more, on the brighter side you cut down on transportation time and costs, and have a more happening social life. In contrast, the downside of staying off-campus is longer transportation time and additional expenses and limited social life, which though is compensated in the form of greater independence and privacy.

Homestay housing option in Canada is also worth a look!

Foreign Students Housing Options in Canada even include the homestay option, something that remains quite popular. The many likable aspects of a homestay include you get to stay in a family environment with the family taking care of your needs; you get breakfast and dine with the family, share precious moments and learn about the locality and their culture and in return share your own experiences and about your country. In fact, homestays are the best bet to break social barriers and advance universal brotherhood. Many choose these foreign students housing options in Canada because they are good value for money, as you are served healthy home-cooked food and extended services like laundry. While opting for a homestay, though, remember that since you will be staying with a family, you will have to be more sober and restrained in what you do and say.

It is easy to find a homestay as a foreign students’ housing option in Canada because there are many dedicated sites offering homestay information and services to international students. One of them is The Canada Homestay Network, which claims to have helped thousands of students since 1995. Do some research, like how far a homestay is from your university, the cost, and facilities offered before narrowing down on any particular one.

A suggestion…

While selecting a university in Canada, factor in accommodation costs as well.

What many students do is select a university purely based on its tuition fees and world ranking, with the top ranking universities in the world frequently featuring in their wish list. But it can be a sort sighted approach, because huge accommodation costs are also involved. The best solution is to check the cost of living at a particular university, which you should be easily able to do as most universities have dedicated pages giving you detailed breakdown of living costs, including cost of accommodation. Once you have a fair idea how much money goes into accommodation in Canada,  you can budget in properly and avoid getting drawn into a financial quagmire.  



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