Best Cities for International Students in Canada

Canada is prominently known for its natural beauty and top education destination for international students globally. To know about Canada’s reputation, one can understand in terms of studying in Canada, but one may not know about the cities of Canada that are apt for student livelihood.

Sometimes any single place could be monotonous for students. Therefore, apart from education, one may also consider enjoying the culture and beauty of Canada along with interesting fun activities which makes the city vibrant.

Best student Cities – World Ranking (2018)

CityQS Ranking

Montreal stands amongst the top 10 best student cities. It still remains #1 in North America.

The overall score for students’ view depends upon

  • City’s diversity,
  • Ease of transportation
  • Safety
  • Affordability,
  • Nightlife,
  • Friendliness,
  • Student Mix
  • Employment Opportunities,
  • And Overall Student Perception

Based on these factors, best cities from the perspective of students are compiled.

Here, city diversity, ease of transportation, safety, employment opportunities and student perception are the factors discussed for the popular Canadian cities.

Students from different origin with wide variety of languages, make them at par from others. They get to know about different culture, and try learn new languages. The diversity brings opportunity for the students to get multicultural and gain new experiences.


Montreal admits 350,000 students every year. It is mainly known for imparting quality education to students, and large number of international student population.

Montreal is bilingual with French being the official language. It is quite stable and has solid foundation. It is the home to world’s popular universities such as McGill University (world rank – 24th).

Montreal seems to be a cosmopolitan city because of the immigration from different parts of the world. Cultural fests, comedy for entertainment, and cultural extravaganza are organized to represent the rich culture of Montreal.

City diversity on the basis of Language

The total population in Montreal was 17.5 million (2014). According to the statistics: -

  • Largest ethnic group is from European origin with ancestries in Montreal includes French (26%).
  • Around 57% of the population speaks French followed by English with 28.5% and others with 20%.
  • Around 56% of the people speak both English and French.

Ease of Transportation

Montreal has a good transport network. For students, public transport would be best suited as it is the easiest way to explore the city. 200 bus routes and more than 50 metro stations are built for the ease of access for transit system.

  • Metro and bus system as a public transport are quite cheap.
  • A single trip hardly costs CAD 3.25 and a night out pass is for CAD 5.
  • Busses accept ticket or opus card.
  • Bixi Bikes are available for exploring the city for a while and not all day.


Montreal is considered to be amongst the safest cities in the world. It is ranked 17th for safest cities.

Considering pickpockets, mugging, scams, and women travelers risks, the overall risk factor is quite low in Montreal.

Employment Opportunities

Montreal has lot of job opportunities but for people who are not friendly with French might have to stay a step back. Though the opportunities are limited, still, Montreal also offers English only jobs too.

Student’s Perception

According to the perception of the students, they find Montreal to be friendly and affordable. English and French languages, ethnicities, entertainment and food are the prime reasons behind being happy in Montreal.

Montreal Facts

  • Number of Universities – 3
  • Pollution rank – 223 (Numbeo)
  • Quality of life index is very high
  • Safety index shows a high value


Vancouver is declared to be amongst the most expensive cities of Canada. Still, one may find Vancouver to be student friendly. It secured 17th position in the QS world ranking for the best student cities.

Vancouver is known for its spellbound natural beauty and pleasant environment. This is also a contributing factor for the students seeking admission in Canada. Students can take the advantage of adventures such as skiing and other fun activities.

City Diversity

Vancouver is a mix of culture, ethnicities and religions. Diversity is considered to be the strength, vitalities and prosperity. Vancouver has majority of its students from European Canadian (46.2%) which is followed by Chinese (27.7%).

English, Irish and Scottish forms a largest ethnic group in Vancouver. Germans are second largest European group followed by Chinese.

Ease of Transportation

Vancouver’s transport system involves:

  • Rapid Transit (through trains) – Rapid trains
  • Buses – A coast mountain bus operates Translink bus services
  • SeaBus – City’s passenger’s ferry
  • West Coast Express – City’s commuter rail service


Fare ProductZonesAdultConcession
Single/Cash Fare1CAD 2.95CAD 1.90
2CAD 4,20CAD 2.90
3CAD 5.70CAD 3.90
Stored Value (Compass Card)1CAD 2.30CAD 1.85
2CAD 3.35CAD 2.85
3CAD 4.40CAD 3.85
Monthly Pass (Compass Card)1CAD 95-
2CAD 128-
3CAD 174CAD 54
Day PassAllCAD 10.25CAD 8


Safety against crimes is moderate in Vancouver. But, one must have a smart lookout while venturing around the city. Personal safety is quite high in Vancouver. Crimes look shooting, mugging and stabbing are quite rare. However, you must be aware of your belongings, such crimes are common in the city.

From least safe to most safe city: -

  1. Winnipeg
  2. Toronto
  3. Montreal
  4. Saskatoon
  5. Quebec City
  6. Calgary
  7. Regina
  8. Metro Vancouver
  9. Halifax
  10. Edmonton
  11. St. John’s
  12. Moncton
  13. Victoria
  14. Charlottetown
  15. Ottawa

Employment Opportunities

Vancouver provides services and operate facilities for enhancement of its people professionally. Also, the city believes in work – life balance. Apart from that, pensions and benefits comes along.

The chances for employment opportunities in Vancouver are bright. The employees are offered: -

  • Interesting jobs
  • Competitive salaries and comprehensive benefits packages
  • Supportive work environment
  • Opportunities for professional and career growth

Student’s Perspective

Students are completely satisfied with the city except the fact, it is costly. Apart from that, Vancouver can compete any city.

Why Vancouver?

  • Culturally rich
  • Bilingual environment
  • World class education
  • Work experience after completion of graduation
  • Nature’s beauty
  • Quality living


Toronto also lines up with Vancouver for expensive living. But still, 17% of the students in Toronto universities are from foreign countries.

When Toronto is addressed as ‘Cultural Hub’, Montreal and Toronto get into neck to neck competition. Toronto is all about creative people, historic monuments, food fests and fashion and art.

Toronto secured 34th spot in QS world ranking list. Due to large international business base, Toronto attracts its students to study in Canada. Through this base, international students get a boost in the work opportunities and part-time jobs.

City Diversity

Referred to as “Most multicultural city in the world”, Canada has 200 ethnic groups with over 140 languages spoken. The total diverse population is 2.81 million. India, China, UK, Ireland and more represent large cultural group while Netherlands, Nepal and Romania are in small communities.

Ease of Transportation

Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is responsible for transportation system in Toronto. It provides subway, bus service and street cars within the city.

Subway - Provides a frequent service, often around 2 min in rush hour and 5 minutes at other times.

Streetcars - This mode of transport runs above the ground, one may see a large fleet of streetcars.

Buses - The buses run in the same way as other areas do. It is important to plan a trip with buses as they may be infrequent or not running at all on some stops.


  • Cash – CAD 3
  • Tokens – CAD 2.65
  • Day Pass – CAD 11
  • Monthly Metro Pass – CAD 133.75


Like others, Toronto is 81% on safety index. Considering all other risks except scams and pick-pocketing, are rare in the city. For them, few cases have been heard. One needs to be aware for online scams. It has been suggested to make use of personal data very intelligently on the websites so as to protect yourselves from any other episode.

Employment Opportunities

The records from January’13 to January’18 shows the declined rate of employment which fell to 5.5%. Though the employment rate has declined but students who graduated recently are still in demand.

Student’s Perspective

Toronto represents center of arts, communication, culture and commerce in Canada. Being the largest city of Canada with about 3 million population, Toronto attracts more students than other Canadian cities.

Students are not just restricted to studies, they have opportunities to enjoy their livelihood. Being multicultural, students get a chance to get rich knowledge and experiences in this city.


Students have rated Ottawa to be amongst the world’s best student cities. “Ottawa’s perfect score in the indicator reflects the city’s lively student life, diversity and friendliness,” according to the QS survey.

Ottawa goes through 4 seasons - summer, spring, fall and winters. The city offers a great winter festival with the sports, such as skiing and skating.

Though Ottawa is a small city, but “the best things often come in small packages”. Around 18,000 students were surveyed who admitted Ottawa is the best student city.

City’s Diversity

Ottawa’s diversity in the area of linguistics, ethnicity and religion makes the city, a cosmopolitan center. After Toronto, Ottawa is second best city for immigrants, esp. from Francophone nations.

One out four resident is an immigrant here. Around 53% of the immigrants are from Asia and Middle East, 17% from Africa and 15% from Europe. This becomes the reason behind Ottawa’s rich culture.

People speaking languages like Italian, Spanish, German, Chinese and Arabic adds to Ottawa’s diversity.

Ease of Transportation

Ottawa offers award winning public transportation facilities known as OC - Transpo, which includes buses on fixed routes, a rapid bus transit with high frequency service on the lines of buses and emergency vehicles and light rail transit system (the O-Train) as a shuttle between north – south route in the city.

Special arrangements are made for the disabled. A service called Para Transpo operates for such people assisted with buses and trains.

Apart from these, students also prefer walking and cycling to their destination.


Safety shows a high value of 75.12. Ottawa is considered to be low on crime but a rise in the value has been since last 3 years. The crime rate has increased by 5% from last year, therefore, the crime index for Ottawa has seen a 10% rise.

Despite the increase in the values, Ottawa comes at 4th lowest crime rate position in the country.

Employment Opportunities

Ottawa has the largest tech park and federal employment node in Canada offering 566,000 jobs to its students.

According to Statcan, Ottawa has seen a constant stage of employment rate being 64.6% for the year 2018. On the contrary, the unemployment rate has been lowest in comparison to last 31 years.

Nationally, the unemployment rate remains constant 5.8% in May. Although the country lost 7,500 jobs.

Student’s Perspective

The IT Park attracts more international student’s esp. for the field of Computer Science, because in Canada’s Silicon Valley require such professionals for the job. Students are attracted to community vibe. They find Ottawa to be enriching and embracing.

Ottawa has variety of jobs belonging to different divisions, attracting students from different domains.

Quebec City

Quebec is a French speaking province. Therefore, the spoken language of Quebec City is pre-dominantly French. It is also known for its architecture and European feel. The English speaking population is hardly 1.5% of the city.

Quebec City is the most visited city of Quebec. It’s lively and full of festivals. The biggest festival is the Winter Carnival where activities such as skiing, ice castle and sculptures are present.

City’s Diversity

In 2017, city’s population was 531,902. Quebec City is the second largest metropolitan area after Montreal. Out of this, French is spoken by 88% students while hardly, 5% of the population is unable to speak French.

Ease of Transportation

The public transport is highly recommended mode of transport. Daily, 350,000 people travel through the city. Quebec City is also bike – friendly with over 170 km of bike path. Students here, travel mostly through public transport only.

Public transport is more affordable and feasible as compared to private mode.

Different modes of transport in Quebec City – cars, bus (CAD 3), taxi (CAD 1.70 per 0.6 miles), bicycle, on foot, ferry and two-wheelers.


Montreal and Quebec City are extremely safe zones. Though, the city is safe but one has to be alert and cautious about the surroundings. Quebec City is quite liberal, one does not get to see mass demonstration or political violence.

There is quite less discrimination based on any religious, ethnic and racial minorities.

Employment Opportunities

With more people working and less number finding job, the province is encountering lowest unemployment rate currently. Around 4.9% is the unemployment rate in 2017. Currently, it is 3.9%. It fell by 0.5% in last December and still declining.

This provides a clear image of the employment in Quebec City. It is never short of jobs, instead 27,000 approx. jobs were added to the city at one point of time. Students have maximum benefits of employability here.

Student Perspective

For every student, best education is the primary goal of settling in a foreign city. Quebec City offers excellence in education which is the main attraction to the students. Many education institutions possess hi-tech laboratories, sports and performance halls.

The next biggest factor of attraction after education is affordability. Quebec province is the cheapest of all other provinces and so is the Quebec City. Every year, one can witness large festivals, art exhibition and sports event all over the province.

Nature’s beauty could be one of the secondary factors for living in Quebec City.

Apart from education, students desire to stay in a city where they can enjoy and come out of the monotonous regime. Thankfully, these Canadian Cities have diverse environment. Not only do the students enjoy, they can simultaneously learn a lot.

Lastly, transportation is one of the most important factor. Students from Canada or abroad rely on public transport. Before leaving the place, one must decide the route and medium of transport so as to avoid any hustle while travelling.

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