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You want to find the perfect place to call home while studying in Canada, where you can be comfortable, safe, and close to your school. But, searching for accommodation in a new country can be daunting, with different rental rules, high competition, and unfamiliar neighbourhoods.

We’ve published this page to outline what you need to know about the different types of accommodation, the costs of accommodation as an international student, and some tips to help you find your home in Canada. Hopefully, this resource will help you settle in smoothly, just like it has for thousands of students before you.

How Can International Students Find Accommodation In Canada?

The first step in finding accommodation is to work out what type of student accommodation will work best for you. Some students want to live on campus. This is great for international students who may be a little worried about moving to a new city in a new country, and just want to live close to their classes – at least to begin with. 

Other students may prefer off-campus options. This option might be better suited to international students who want to explore the city and learn more about Canadian life and culture. This option is also often more affordable, so it might suit students who would prefer to allocate less of their budget towards accommodation. Need a refresher on budgeting?

Student Accommodation in Canada: On-Campus

The majority of universities and colleges in Canada offer residences for students, particularly students entering their first year. On-campus accommodation can be a great choice for international students, as the paperwork involved in arranging your lease from abroad can be managed smoothly. By renting on-campus student accommodation, which generally comes furnished, you’ll have somewhere to call home as soon as you arrive. Rent may often be cheaper than the alternatives (although this is not always the case), and residences are usually conveniently located so you can get to that 8:30 a.m. class on time (well, that’s the goal anyway).

Usually, on-campus residences take the form of single- or shared-occupancy ‘dorm rooms’ (short for ‘dormitory’) with shared living spaces such as lounges, games rooms, or kitchens. Many on-campus residences have restaurants, and rent may include a meal plan. Beyond these generalizations, the features of residences can vary greatly between – and even within – institutions, offering a variety of options to suit different lifestyles. Each institution’s website will offer an overview of their residences, including photos and often virtual tours and testimonials from students, so there is plenty of information out there to help you decide.

Student accommodation in Canada: University of Toronto St. George campus
The University of Toronto’s offers student accommodation at its St. George campus in the heart of the city.

How Much Does On-Campus Student Accommodation Cost In Canada?

The costs for student accommodation range widely based on a number of factors, including location (Toronto and Vancouver tend to be more expensive, for example), inclusions (accommodation with meal plans tend to be more expensive), and the school you chose to study at. 

In broad terms, be prepared to pay at least $1,000 per month for accommodation at smaller universities or in smaller towns. Costs can range to $2,000 per month in larger cities. Meal plans tend to cost around $2,000 – $3,500 per semester, or $4,000-$7,000 for the student year. Meal plans and accommodation over the summer break will cost extra.  

Off-Campus Student Accommodation Options For International Students

Renting a property

Finding an apartment off campus can be a challenge, but a rewarding one. 

Canada’s cities typically have busy rental markets, and listings pop up regularly. In many cases, supply and demand fluctuates seasonally, with summer often witnessing greater demand. Smaller towns may have a more limited market, but if you’re living in a university or college town, however small, it can be assumed that places will come up for rent as other students leave or graduate. Most universities and colleges offer advice for students and may have internal listings of their own, so get in touch with the student housing or welfare office if you have questions. 

  • Note: you may be asked to provide a credit report or for consent to conduct a credit check from a potential landlord. We have partnered with , which is a free service that lets you check your credit score anytime without affecting it, and benefit from weekly updates to stay informed. An effective way for newcomers to improve their financial health and stay in control of their credit journey.

Subletting Student Accommodation

Subletting is where a tenant takes over temporarily from the tenant named on the lease. This is common among students, particularly when a student graduates or leaves while their lease is still active. Subletting leases exist, although these arrangements are often casual.

Sharing With Roommates

Students in Canada usually find themselves renting with roommates at some point, as it is cheaper to split rent and bills and can be great fun at the same time. Just make sure that you talk with your potential roommates about lifestyle, habits, and pet peeves before you move in together – remember, as with any relationship, communication is key.

If you’re considering looking for an apartment before arriving in Canada, it’s worth noting that rentals in Canada often take place through private landlords, rather than agencies. This can be tricky to arrange from abroad. Landlords may be less willing to rent to someone they haven’t met in real life, and at the same time you should take steps to ensure that any agreement is legitimate as unfortunately, scams exist. Leases can also be arranged fairly quickly and at short notice, so another option to consider is to book temporary accommodation in a hotel or Airbnb to give you time to look for an apartment when you arrive.

Homestays

International students in Canada may also be able to find homestay arrangements with local host families. These can offer a friendly home away from home, as well as a chance to fully immerse yourself in the language and lifestyle of living in Canada. Such arrangements can be found and/or organized through associations such as the .

How Much Does It Cost To Live Off-Campus? 

Costs for off-campus accommodation vary depending on your lifestyle and preferences. Some students choose to share a bedroom with another student, which can reduce rental costs to $500-$1000 per month, depending on your location. Others may wish to rent an apartment, basement suite, or other property, which can increase costs to $2000+ per month. 

Food costs also tend to vary for students living off campus. You can definitely save money compared to the convenience of buying a food package on campus. However, the trade off is that you have to make the time to go shopping and cook for yourself. If you eat out regularly instead of cooking, campus pricing for food may actually save you money. 

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Tips for International Students Looking For Student Accommodation in Canada

  1. Start early: Start looking for places to stay at least three months before you plan to arrive in Canada. University, college, or big city housing can be competitive, so getting a head start increases your chances of finding a good fit.
  2. On-Campus Housing: Find out if your chosen school has Housing Services or homestay programs for international students. They may have on-campus accommodation or partnerships with families or property owners. On-campus accommodation provides convenience and community. However, spaces may be limited, so get in touch with the International Student Department for options within your timeline and budget.
  3. Explore Off-Campus Options: Off-campus housing is another option to consider. Off-campus living gives you more freedom and might be cheaper than on-campus housing. Use sites like Craigslist, Kijiji, or Facebook Marketplace to find listings, but watch out for scams. 
  4. Consider Short-term Options: If it’s hard to find long-term housing, think about short-term options like Airbnb, hostels, or homestays while you keep looking.
  5. Budget Wisely: You should set aside about 30% of your income for rent, though this amount may need to be a little higher in bigger cities. Make sure you plan your budget well by including not only rent but also utilities, transportation costs, and other costs of living.
  6. Find a Roommate: If covering the full cost of rent is burdensome, you might want to look into shared accommodation to save money. Many universities provide platforms or groups for connecting with fellow students seeking roommates. Talk about expectations and responsibilities freely before making a commitment to avoid problems in the future.
  7. Safety and Location: Before deciding on a place to stay, learn about the neighbourhood. Talk to people who live in the area to make sure it’s safe and accessible. Think about how close it is to things you need every day, like public transportation, grocery shops, medical clinics, and other facilities.
  8. Be Flexible: It’s likely that the ideal place you’re dreaming of doesn’t exist – or if it does, it might not be within your budget right now. Be willing to give and take, and keep an open mind, especially when it comes to things like location or amenities. Even if it means giving up a few things along the way, your top priority should be to find a place that fits your needs, timeline, and budget.

About the author

Rachel Dancel video content at 鶹ӳý

Rachel Dancel

She/Her
Newcomers Influencer & Video Content Creator
Originally from the Philippines, her immigration journey began as an international student, leading to permanent residency in 2021. Passionate about sharing her immigration experience, she created a YouTube channel during a pivotal time. A visual storyteller, Rachel adds unique perspective to the team as our Video Content Creator. She crafts engaging and informative content to help fellow immigrants navigate their journey to Canada.
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