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QS released its Best Student City rankings for 2025, and Montreal topped the list of North American cities with an overall score of 92.1 out of 100. It ranked 10th overall, with Toronto coming in just behind it in 11th overall.

Boston and New York were the next highest ranking cities in North America, in 16th and 18th overall. With Vancouver rounding out the top ranked cities, in 19th spot overall. 

So, what makes Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver so attractive to students?

Why Study In Montreal? 

What We Love About Montreal

We asked our Montreal-based team members what they love about living in Montreal, and here’s the very long list Rebecca and Hugo provided: 

  • It’s possible to walk, run, or cycle anywhere for anything. The city has invested in tons of separated bike lanes in recent years that have been a game changer. 
  • People generally, and newcomers in particular, can aspire to homeownership if that’s a goal.
  • On any given day or week I can go to a world-class art exhibit or installation, a show, or sports event, and I can take my kid (3 y/o) to loads of those too.
  • Montreal gives massive space to parks, playgrounds, green space, wild space, open space . . . to the extent that when I’m in most other cities now I really notice the difference
  • You can live well here on not much money. Obviously this is somewhat scalable to specific needs and tastes.
  • You’re challenged to learn a new language organically (i.e. from just being out and about) assuming you’re not francophone on arrival.
  • People often go for a pint, bite, or generally hang out with mates after business hours. This is reassuring as it’s similar to the culture I grew up in. When I’m in other cities I notice a greater share of people have their work life and their family / home life with not much in between.
  • My local avenue is closed to traffic 4 months of the year.
  • It attracts unique and diverse people from Canada and abroad. 
  • Convenient direct flights to a range of international destinations. 
  • Wonderful local beer scene
  • Genuine 4 seasons. 
  • I pay $9 a day for high quality daycare (more a QC thing than a MTL-specific thing)
  • The vast majority of kids in my neighbourhood and at her daycare are immigrants, so we can create the proverbial village to raise the child without family support. Many hands make for light work!
  • Easy access to the US land border for international adventures. 
La Grande roue de Montreal Ferris wheel and downtown skyline in summer dusk. Quebec, Canada.

QS Highlights

that Montreal is a top-ranked student city due to these features: 

High-Quality Educational Institutions

Montreal is home to three internationally ranked universities: McGill University, the Universite de Montreal, and Concordia University. 

Arts, Culture & Atmosphere

Montreal is arguably the Cultural Capital of Canada. It boasts a range of festivals and cultural events, a diverse population, delicious food, and a mix of old and new when it comes to architecture and aesthetics. 

Students also ranked it highly for desirability, due in part to it being relatively safe and accessible, as well as interesting and unique. 

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Montreal is the 75th most affordable student city according to the QS profile. It notes that the average one bedroom apartment in Montreal city center costs US$1,630, which is 53% less than the average rent in London, United Kingdom. 

view of downtown and the old port of Montreal at night, with the Ferris wheel and the clock tower.

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Why Students Love Toronto

What We Love About Toronto

Team member Ankit lives in and loves Toronto. Here’s what he said about living there:

  • There’s free access to public libraries in the city to study, read books and work. I was actually quite impressed by these. The biggest one is at Yonge Street and Asquith Avenue.
  • Lots of interesting and cool neighbourhoods in the city, each with its own vibe. Kensington Market, Queen West, and the Annex are super fun with cheap eats, vintage shops, and street art.
  • The nightlife is vibrant with many bars and clubs, all over the city. King Street West in the entertainment district is pretty happening over the weekends till the wee hours of night. So is College Street.
  • There’s always something to do here, whether it is catching a Raptors or Blue Jays game, comedy shows, theatres, music festivals, attending concerts of big name artists, the list goes on. Can also take up pottery classes, painting, dancing etc. There are apps like Meetup and Eventbrite, that help keep updated with these events in the city.
  • People are big on fitness here, so you have a lot of outdoor activities happening too, running clubs, biking, lot of gyms offering different kinds of classes, watersports like kayaking, canoeing and others. Lots of different sport leagues can be joined too in hockey, basketball, volleyball, football etc.

  • The city is well connected by the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission), making it easy to get anywhere with buses, streetcars, and subways. You don’t need a car, which is perfect for students.
  • There’s always a festival or cultural event happening, from TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) to Italian Fest, Portugal Street Fest to Caribana. 
  • The food scene is incredible, with affordable and delicious food from all over the world.
  • Toronto has lots of parks like High Park, the Toronto Islands, Riverdale, and Trinity Bellwoods, which are great for hanging out, studying, or relaxing.
  • As Toronto is the economic hub of Canada, it offers plenty of internships and jobs in various fields like finance, tech, arts, and media.
  • For those who love the outdoors and nature, there are many places for weekend getaways like Algonquin Park, Elora, Blue Mountain, Niagara Falls, Prince Edward County etc.
  • For a big city in North America, I feel Toronto is pretty safe, which is a big plus for students living away from home for the first time.

It’s also worth noting that Toronto is known to be very clean, and one of the most multicultural and diverse cities in the world. 

Iconic Toronto sign viewed through a large archway, with city hall and clear blue skies in the background.

QS Ranking Factors For Toronto

Top Ranked Universities in Toronto

Toronto is home to three globally ranked universities: 

  • University of Toronto
  • York University
  • Toronto Metropolitan University. 

Job Prospects 

Toronto ranks globally for employer activity, based on the QS ranking. We imagine that the city’s diverse economy and population help to boost employment opportunities, while its strong financial and legal districts, tech industry, healthcare and education, and real estate markets offer a wide range of jobs. 

Fun Fact: Toronto is known as Silicon Valley North due to its strong tech sector. 

Things To Do

Toronto is known for having an extremely high quality of life, and the abundance of things to do definitely contributes to it. You’ll never be short of things to do. 

Toronto boasts 50km of waterfront to explore, with many different beaches and paved multi-use paths along the shoreline. There is no shortage of green space, and different districts for various cultural attractions: there’s Little Italy, Chinatown, the Entertainment District, and the Distillery District.

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Things To Love About Studying In Vancouver

Vancouver was ranked the 19th best student city in the world in the 2025 QS rankings. 

What We Love About Vancouver

Here’s what team member Rachel said about her experience studying in Vancouver: 

  • Firstly, the mild weather is a huge plus. Coming from a tropical country, I was relieved to find that snow isn’t as crazy on this side of Canada. You don’t need to wear a lot of layers when it gets cold, and most of the time, all we really worry about is rain—which I’ll take any day over snow.
  • The transportation system is another highlight. It’s quite accessible, and you can get anywhere within the Metro Vancouver area in under an hour. Even now, I prefer using public transport over driving because the buses and trains are punctual, easy to navigate, and convenient.
  • I especially love Vancouver’s diverse culture, especially its food scene! I have access to many Asian grocery stores and restaurants, allowing me to enjoy the taste of home even though I’m far away. Plus, there’s a mix of cuisines from all over the world—Japanese, Chinese, Mediterranean, Greek, Indian, Ethiopian, you name it!

  • I also love the blend of modernity and nature in Vancouver. You can be walking downtown and still catch views of the mountains and the ocean. It feels wholesome to live in a city that offers such amazing natural scenery.
  • Job opportunities were another reason I enjoyed living here. I found a part-time job within my first few months of arriving in Canada, thanks to the frequent job fairs and school career centers that support students in their transition and settling in.
  • When I need to relax, there are plenty of hiking spots within the city, so I don’t need to venture too far to escape and enjoy the scenic views. 
  • Lastly, meeting fellow international students has been comforting. Many gravitate toward major cities like Vancouver, and it’s good to know I’m not alone in this journey, sharing experiences and relating with others who chose to study here too.

Vancouver aerial view

QS Ranking Factors For Vancouver 

The QS profile for Vancouver noted the following factors as contributing to its high global ranking: 

All-Season Playground

Vancouver’s climate is relatively mild for Canada. When the mild climate is coupled with the extremely scenic views and incredible access to nature and outdoor recreation, you get an all-season playground that is attractive to anyone who likes to be outside. 

Employment Opportunities

QS notes that Vancouver ranks in the top fifty in the world for employer activity, with strong employment opportunities across a range of industries, including trade, film and entertainment, construction, and tourism. 

Interested In Studying In Canada? 

If you want to learn everything you need to know about studying in Canada as an international student, sign up for our International Student Roadmap via your free 鶹ӳý account.

About the author

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Stephanie Ford

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Finance, Law and Immigration Writer
Stephanie is a content marketer who has written for law firms (with a focus on immigration and privacy), legal tech companies, and finance professionals for more than 9 years. She earned a Bachelor of Laws and a Graduate Diploma in Financial Planning in Australia. Stephanie is now a permanent resident of Canada and a full-time writer at 鶹ӳý.
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