Cost of Living in Canada- Student Expenses, Accommodation, Travel Cost

by yashika.goel

Canada has multicultural cities and the mesmerizing natural beauty, but the less expensive cost of studying in Canada distinguishes it from other countries. The inexpensive cost of living and best quality education, makes Canada among the world’s best student destinations.

The cheap tuition fee is one of the most important factors which attract the students to Canada for pursuing further studies. The cost of living and fee is generally less expensive when compared to other Anglophone destinations i.e. U.S., U.K. and Australia. But most importantly, Canada never compromise on quality of education.

The table is self-explanatory. The parameters chosen are the major reason while calculating cost of living of any region.

Why study in Toronto?

Toronto is considered to be amongst the most expensive cities of Canada. Therefore, comparing the same with other expensive cities of different nations can provide the information on difference in cost of living of all these countries.

Basic cost of living1 bedroom flat (monthly rent)Meal for 2 (mid-range restaurant, three courses)Transportation (monthly pass)
Toronto, CanadaCAD 1,632CAD 70CAD 143
London, UKCAD 2,781CAD 91CAD 218
New York City, USACAD 3,809CAD 94CAD 151
Sydney, AustraliaCAD 2,622CAD 79CAD 159

There are 6 major provinces in Canada

  • Ontario
  • Alberta
  • Nova Scotia and New Brunswick
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan

These provinces are compared on different factors to know about the cost of living of each province. To calculate the cost of living, following factors are considered.


First and the foremost, requirement of accommodation just after landing in Canada. It depends upon the students, whether they look forward to short-term or long-term accommodation.

Food Expenses

Generally, the food expenses include meals and groceries.  On an average, a person spends CAD 200 on groceries each month.

Meal cost includes three-course meals (including or excluding alcoholic beverages) from a mid-range restaurant with dinner being the most expensive meal of the day.  

Transportation Charges

Depending upon the distance a student is travelling, there are many ways to get around in Ontario. For local traveling, you may find bus, subways, taxis or bicycle, even walk would help for a short distance.

Though private transport is also an option, but it is quite expensive when compared with public transport.

Healthcare Charges

The most emphasized suggestion for the students is to get a health insurance. They may get one beforehand or just after landing into Canada.

Generally, the healthcare charges includes –

  • Visit to a Doctor
  • Medical Specialists
  • Hospital Stays
  • Medical Procedures

The private insurance plans are quite expensive than the public insurance plans. Public healthcare plans are administered in each province.

Other specifications are based on the selection of a province.

Student Expenses

While studying in Canada, you must consider cost of living which varies from city to city. Student charges comprise of tuition fee and miscellaneous charges. These charges may include cost of textbooks, mobile phone, public transit, entertainment and clothing.

Cost of Living in 5 different cities

Comparison of 5 different cities amongst themselves for a particular province provides an estimate of the cost of living in that province.

Accommodation, meals and transportation are the factors considered for comparison.

Note: The price range given in all the tables is just an estimate. The values might differ from the actual charges.

Cost of Living in Ontario

Due to number of famous universities in Ontario, it is difficult to take a decision of selecting the one which suits you the best. The universities have gone above the rankings and reputation.

The cost of living in Ontario has a diverse range. Starting from Toronto till we go to Burlington or any other city, students can easily find their range and preferences in Ontario.


For Short Term Stay

Accommodation TypePrice Range (per night)
HotelsCAD 96 to CAD 120
Bed and Breakfast stayCAD 50 to CAD 150
HostelCAD 35 to CAD 90

For Long Term Stay

Accommodation TypePrice Range
HomestayCAD 600 to CAD 1,100 per month
Residence/DormitoryCAD 3,000 to CAD 7,500 per year
Rented ApartmentCAD 600 to CAD 2,000 per month

Food Expenses

The Comparison between three famous cities of Ontario – Toronto, Ottawa and Guelph, an overall average estimate for Ontario household consumption is calculated.

Food and non-alcoholic beveragesCAD 9,198 (monthly)
Alcoholic beveragesCAD 1,994 (monthly))
Mid-Range Restaurant, three course mealCAD 65 (three course meal)
Grocery (vegetables and fruits)CAD 95 (per kg)
MilkCAD 2.31 (per liter)
WaterCAD 1.68 (0.33 liter bottle)

From the survey conducted for the hunt of best quality food offered by the universities, it was found that out of 10, there were 5 Ontario Universities which were placed high in the food quality list.

  1. University of Guelph
  2. Queen's University
  3. McMaster University
  4. Ryerson University
  5. University of Western Ontario

Transportation Charges

Mode of TransportAdult Charges
Self – Driven VehicleCAD 8,500 to CAD 13,000 per year
PRESTO (Electronic Payment Card)CAD 3.00
Tokens and TicketsCAD 9.00 (Minimum 3 tokens)
Downtown ExpressCAD3.25 cash or token or Monthly Express Sticker for CAD43.00
Single fare purchase - CashCAD 3.25
Monthly MetropassCAD 146
Weekly PassCAD 43.75

Healthcare Charges

Most of the Canadian Universities demands medical insurance certificate along with other documents for enrollment. If in case, you do not have a student health insurance, one of the foremost thing you have to do after landing in Canada is to purchase a health insurance.

In Ontario, international students are not covered under Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). Instead, Public Universities provides University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) for most of the universities in Ontario.

Difference between OHIP and UHIP

  • • OHIP is offered to permanent citizens of Ontario. UHIP is offered to international non-residents at an Ontario university.
  • • OHIP is funded by provincial taxes. UHIP is a non-profit plan which is funded by member premiums.

The coverage plan includes - doctor’s visit, prescription drugs, dental emergencies, air ambulance and more.

It is suggested that you must have a health insurance to save yourself from spending more on health issues rather than education.

Student Expenses

Ontario is amongst the most expensive provinces in Canada. Also, it is a home to the most expensive cities – Toronto and the capital of Canada – Ottawa.

Education is quite expensive for international students in Ontario. The undergraduate international students have to pay on an average CAD 25,000 per year, on the other hand, for graduate students, it is around CAD 16,000 per year which may increase or decrease depending upon the program chosen.

Apart from tuition fee, books, and other miscellaneous items are also a part of student expenses. A rough estimate of the same could be around CAD 750 per month.

Cost of Living in 5 different Ontario cities

CityApartment Rent (1-Bedroom)Meal Cost (3-Course Meal)Transportation Charge (Monthly Pass)
TorontoCAD 2,020CAD 75CAD 143
OttawaCAD 1,120CAD 70CAD 103
HamiltonCAD 1,050CAD 60CAD 101
GuelphCAD 1,260CAD 60CAD 80
BurlingtonCAD 1,495CAD 80CAD 97

Finally, Toronto is considered to be the most expensive city across the province for the students.

  • Housing has a major gap between Toronto and rest of the cities. The cost of an apartment seem to be almost 25% higher than other cities of Ontario.
  • On an average, meal cost for the given cities fall in the same line. There is no major difference between the costs.
  • Monthly transportation charges are maximum for Toronto but Ottawa and Hamilton are not far off.

Ontario has always been a great place to live. You get the best quality of life here. Even in the most expensive cities like Toronto, the cost of living is far more affordable than European countries.

Toronto being an expensive city, is still known to be the best student city in Ontario. University of Toronto is the most preferred university. It has been ranked 34th in QS list. Toronto has plenty of jobs opportunities for the international students in Canada.

Cost of Living in Alberta

The province of Alberta is favorite of more than a few international students willing to choose Canada as their educational destination. Not only because of well-known academic institutes, province of western Canada is popular for its scenic beauty too.

Anyone landing in Alberta must have a good knowledge about the cost of living in Alberta. From Calgary to St. Albert, there are several options to choose.


Short term stay

Accommodation typePrice range (per night)
HotelCAD 45 – CAD 420
Bread and breakfast stayCAD 40 – CAD 250
HostelCAD 30 – CAD 190

Long term stay

Accommodation typePrice range (per month)
HomestayCAD 850 – CAD 2,000
Rented Apartment (1 BHK)CAD 500 – CAD 1,500
Residence (On – Campus)CAD 6,000 – CAD 12,000 (per 8 months)

Food Expenses

Based on two famous cities of Alberta – Edmonton, and Calgary, an average estimate for Alberta household consumption is prepared.

Detailed Household Consumption Expenditure

GroceryCAD 375 per month
MilkCAD 2.11 per liter
Basic meal (3-course)CAD 65 – CAD 80
Non-alcoholic beverageCAD 2.5
Alcoholic beverageCAD 7 – CAD 9

Transportation Charges

Mode of transportCharges
Gas for self-driven vehiclesCAD 1.16 per liter
Monthly ticket in public transportCAD 98
8 km taxi trip, basic tariff (business day)CAD 3.5

Healthcare Charges

Students from a Canadian province other than Alberta and are international can become eligible to apply for the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan coverage under the following conditions only:-

Canadian students from another province or territory

  • Students willing to stay in Alberta temporarily are required to maintain their health care plans provided by their home province.
  • Students willing to stay in Alberta permanently are required to apply for the AHCIP and the coverage will be activated from the first day of the third month of their permanent staying in the province.

Canadian students from another country:

  • Students having a 12-month Study Permit are eligible to apply for the AHCIP.
  • Students having a Study Permit of more than 3 months and less than 12 months are eligible to apply for AHCIP if they make an application with an official declaration of their intention of staying in Alberta for at least 12 months.
  • The coverage will be activated on the date of entry into Alberta or on the date signed on the Study Permit, on condition that the application has been received within 3 months of entry into Alberta.

The coverage plan includes:-

  • Alberta Aids to Daily Living
  • Drug coverage and supplementary health benefits
  • Continuing care system
  • Protection for Persons in Care
  • Health benefits and services
  • Primary health care
  • Alberta Blood Program

Student Expenses

The cost of education in Alberta is relatively low than several other provinces in Canada. Tuition fee for different institutions in Alberta lies in the given range.

Type of instituteTuition costs
CollegesCAD 9,750 – CAD 26,560
Technical InstitutesCAD 11,100 – CAD 18,750
UniversitiesCAD 11,780 – CAD 45,208

The estimate of tuition cost for international students at the top institutes of Alberta:-

Name of the InstituteTuition cost
University of AlbertaCAD 20,395
University of CalgaryCAD 12,695
Mount Royal UniversityCAD 12,200
Athabasca UniversityCAD 9,320
Northern Alberta Institute of TechnologyCAD 9,000

Living cost of a student with no dependents and excluding accommodation lies somewhere near CAD 332 monthly as miscellaneous expenditure.

Cost of Living in 5 different Alberta Cities

CityApartment Rent (1 bedroom)Meal Cost (Three course Meal)Transportation Charges (Monthly Pass)
CalgaryCAD 975CAD 80CAD 103
EdmontonCAD 775CAD 65CAD 94
St. AlbertCAD 600CAD 65CAD 73
CanmoreCAD 500CAD 60CAD 80
Medicine HatCAD 500CAD 80CAD 71

The comparison suggests that

  • Calgary has come out to be the most expensive city in terms of housing and public transportation but it also has Edmonton approaching behind.
  • Food expenses are much affordable in Alberta. Also, there is not much difference between the different cities of Alberta in terms of food expenditure.

Overall cost of living in Alberta

Accommodation (Single, off-campus, not shared)CAD 800 – CAD 1,050
FoodCAD 250
ClothingCAD 50
Miscellaneous (Phone, laundry and entertainment)CAD 155
Total Cost of LivingCAD 1,255 – CAD 1,050

Alberta has always been a great place to live for the international students. It offers higher income and has lower expenses with affordable housing. So, before packing your luggage, have a close look at these details and choose the city that best suits you.

Cost of Living in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick

In New Brunswick and Nova-Scotia, residents can live a comfortable life with a modest income as the cost of living of these cities is low, in fact, lowest in Canada. Average income for New Brunswick family is CAD 65, 910 and is sufficient.

Minimum wages are for New Brunswick is CAD 10.30/hr. The city has the highest graduation rate in Canada. It has two official languages – English and French.

In Nova Scotia, the cost of living is quite low but education is costly. The undergraduate tuition fee is the highest amongst all the provinces.


For Short Term Stay

Type of AccommodationPrice Range (per night)
Nova ScotiaNew Brunswick
HotelsCAD 95 to CAD 449CAD 64 to CAD 130
Bed & BreakfastCAD 54 to CAD 359CAD 36 to CAD 147
HostelsCAD 29 to CAD 75CAD 49 to CAD 99

For Long Term Stay

Type of AccommodationPrice Range (per month)
Nova ScotiaNew Brunswick
HomestayCAD 500 to CAD 950CAD 520 to CAD 900
ResidenceCAD 700 to CAD 3500CAD 550 to CAD 3200
Rented ApartmentCAD 525 to CAD 2240CAD 450 to CAD 2100

Food Expenses

Nova ScotiaNew Brunswick
Alcoholic beveragesCAD 800 (Monthly)CAD 750 (Monthly)
Mid-range restaurant three-course mealCAD 55 (Three-course meal)CAD 55 (Three-course meal)
Grocery (vegetables & fruits)CAD 70.38 (per Kg)CAD 69.50 (per Kg)
MilkCAD 2.33 (Per Liter)CAD 2.30 (Per Liter)
WaterCAD 1.50 (1.5 liter bottle)CAD 1.30 (1.5 liter bottle)

Transportation Charges

Mode of TransportAdult Charges
Nova ScotiaNew Brunswick
Local Transport (One-way ticket)CAD 8.00CAD 2.62
Monthly PassCAD 217.39CAD 80.00
Normal Taxi TariffCAD 4.50CAD 7.00
Normal Taxi Tariff for 1kmCAD 1.70CAD 1.00
Normal Taxi Tariff for 1 hourCAD 32.50CAD 60.00

Healthcare Charges

Healthcare in Canada is publically funded by both the federal and provincial government. Students can apply for the Nova Scotia Health Card as soon as they arrive in Canada. They can also apply for private healthcare insurance of their own.

Nova Scotia’s Medical Service Insurance is the provincial plan and pays for the cost of:-

  • Medically required doctors’ services
  • Some dental and optometric services
  • The doctor referred specialist visits
  • Certain hospital in-patient and out-patient services

For New Brunswick, students who enrolled full time in a university, college or any institution will get medical care but only after they have lived in New Brunswick for three months. There is no fee for Medicare, which covers hospital and physician costs.

Student Expenses

With the high quality of life, Nova Scotia is one of the most affordable places to live in Canada. The average undergraduate tuition fee for international students is CAD 24,133, on the other hand, for the graduate students, it is around CAD 12,000 per year. Whereas, in New Brunswick, all the international students have to pay the average tuition fee around CAD 12,480 to CAD 16,090.

Apart from the tuition fee, the rough estimate of students other expenses both in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick is around CAD 700 per month.

Cost of Living in 5 different cities of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick

Cost of living in 5 different cities of Nova Scotia

CityApartment Rent (1 Bedroom)Meal Cost (3-Course Meal)Transportation Charges (Monthly Pass)
Clark’s HarbourCAD 1500CAD 70CAD 145
StellartonCAD 1150CAD 60CAD 100
New GlasgowCAD 950CAD 60CAD 101
PictouCAD 1100CAD 65CAD 79
WolfvilleCAD 1350CAD 80CAD 96

Cost of living in 5 different cities of New Brunswick

CityApartment Rent (1 Bedroom)Meal Cost (3-Course Meal)Transportation Charges (Monthly Pass)
MonctonCAD 2,000CAD 75CAD 63
Saint JohnCAD 1,500CAD 60CAD 77
FrederictonCAD 1,500CAD 65CAD 80
St. GeorgeCAD 1030CAD 55CAD 75
MiramichiCAD 900CAD 90CAD 90
  • In both the tables, Clark’s Harbour and Moncton are considered to be the most expensive cities of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick respectively.
  • There is no major difference between the meal costs of both the cities. The meal price fall in line with each other.
  • Monthly transport charges of Nova Scotia when compared to New Brunswick, are higher than the latter.

Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are the two provinces which might not have large surface area but offers quality of life and education in modest expenditure.

Cost of Living in Quebec

Quebec is Canada’s largest province with a multicultural population and is popularly recognized as “Europe of North America”. This province has the most affordable and prominent educational system in North America.

The CEGEP system of Quebec offers free pre-university and vocational programs to make education universally accessible. The average yearly tuition fee paid by a student of Quebec is the lowest in Canada. This makes Quebec the best place for the students to pursue their studies.

Additionally, the affordable housing market in Quebec makes it much easier for the students to complete their education and shape their career.


For Short Term Stay

Accommodation TypePrice Range (per night)
HotelsCAD 60 to CAD 220
Bed and Breakfast stayCAD 30 to CAD 120
HostelCAD 15 to CAD 30

For Long Term Stay

Accommodation TypePrice Range
HomestayCAD 450 to CAD 900 per month
Residence/DormitoryCAD 2,000 to CAD 6,000 per year
Rented ApartmentCAD 500 to CAD 1,500 per month

Quebec has been one of the most affordable cities in Canada offers some of the best housing deals. On an average, the buying price of houses in Quebec City cost around CAD 2,495 per square meter. Housing rents in Quebec City are lower than Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver.

Accommodation TypeAverage Monthly Rent
StudioCAD 546
1 BedroomCAD 666
2 BedroomsCAD 788
3 BedroomsCAD 930

Food Expenses

Food ArticlesRates
Non-alcoholic beveragesCAD 1.88 (0.33-liter bottle)
Alcoholic beveragesCAD 24
Mid-range restaurants (for 2 people)CAD 60
Grocery (vegetables, fruits, eggs, rice, cheese, chicken, beef)CAD 68 – CAD 70 (per kg)
A loaf of BreadCAD 3.44
MilkCAD 2.30/ Liter
WaterCAD 2.15 (0.5-liter bottle)

Quebec is known for its delicious delicacies and little inexpensive cafes with the high-end restaurant menu. Food expense is not that big of a deal when you are in Quebec. You will get the best meal at the most affordable cost.

Transportation Charges


The city has a 4 lines metro network with 68 metro stations which will help you cover the city quite comfortably. You can choose to travel by buses as well which are easily available 24X7.

Mode of Transport - BusAdult Charges
Monthly PassCAD 82 (Opus Card)
Weekly PassCAD 25.50 (Opus Card)
Single TripCAD 3.25

Quebec City

The city has local buses and taxis as public transport. However, those who prefer private transport may opt for rental cars, motorcycle, or cycle.

Mode of Transport - BusAdult Charges
One-Way Ticket (Bus)CAD 3.38
Monthly PassCAD 86.50
TaxiCAD 3.45

Healthcare Charges

Medical Insurance Certificate is a very crucial document that most of the universities ask for at the time of registration. Hence, students are suggested to arrange a health and hospitalization plan valid in Canada. Students can also get covered in their CEGEP’s Group Health and Hospitalization Insurance Plan for International Students.

CEGEPs does not accept any foreign health insurance. The estimated annual fee for enrolment in the Group Health and Hospitalization Insurance Plan is CAD 936.

Basic Coverage

The following services are reimbursed without any deduction.

  • Hospital Expense
  • Physician
  • Psychiatry
  • Dental Care
  • Maternity
  • Nursing Care
  • Ambulance
  • Anesthetic
  • HIV
  • Renal Dialysis

For foreign students, the insurance is effective 15 days prior to the commencement of the program and 15 days after the program completes.  The insurance is effective 24X7 in Canada. It remains valid even if the student stays temporarily out of Canada.

Student Expenses

On an average, an international student spends between CAD 8,200 to CAD 10,500 for five courses per semester. Other than tuition fee additional expenses on different amenities like fitness, park, recreational activities, etc. also add up to the student’s expense. An average estimate of additional services could be approx. CAD 17,013 annually.

Cost of Living in 5 different cities of Quebec

CityApartment Rent (1-Bedroom)Meal Cost (3-Course Meal)Transportation Charge (Monthly Pass)
Quebec CityCAD 525-700CAD 60CAD 87
MontrealCAD 709-1,050CAD 60CAD 85
SaguenayCAD 485-375CAD 60CAD 68 - CAD 70
SherbrookeCAD 430-450CAD 55CAD 74
GatineauCAD 685-790CAD 50-60CAD 95

Montreal is considered to be the most expensive city of Quebec province.

  • Housing rent in Montreal is slightly higher than the other cities in Quebec.
  • The cost of the meal is almost same in all the listed cities.
  • Transportation charge is maximum in Gatineau while Quebec City and Montreal have almost same transportation expense.

Cost of Living in Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan has a low cost of living when compared to other parts of Canada. The province enjoys a low unemployment rate along with steady population growth to increase the job market.

Considering Saskatoon, a city of Saskatchewan, includes low utility costs, low commuting cost and low car insurance payments. Provincial taxes are lower than other provinces in Canada. It levies only 5% tax in the name of sales.

Saskatchewan, homes several prestigious academic institutions, It receives huge international footfall every year.

But, before stepping into any of the cities of this province, you need to gather some details about the average expenditure required during the stay as a temporary student.


Short-term stay

Type of housingCharges per night
HotelCAD 36 to CAD 244
HostelCAD 32
Bed and breakfast stayCAD 55 to CAD 105

Long-term stay

Type of housingCharges per month
HomestayCAD 800
ResidenceCAD 3,000 (8 Months)
Rent ApartmentCAD 950

Food expenses

Based on the comparison of two famous cities in Saskatchewan – Saskatoon, and Regina, an overall average estimate for Saskatchewan household consumption is calculated.

MilkCAD 2.11 per liter
WaterCAD 2.5 per bottle of 1.5 liter
Grocery and miscellaneousCAD 90
Full-course lunchtime menu (drinks included)CAD 72.50
Beverage (alcoholic)CAD 18
Beverage (non-alcoholic)CAD 2.51

Transportation Charges

Mode of TransportCost
Gas for self-driven vehiclesCAD 1.29 per liter
One – Way ticketCAD 3.25
Monthly ticket pass of public transportCAD 80
Taxi trip (on business days)CAD 23

Healthcare Charges

All international students must have medical insurance while studying in Canada. Each province has its own healthcare plans. What is covered under the plan:-

  • Visit to doctor
  • Medical specialists
  • Hospital stays
  • Medical procedures

What is not covered under the plan:-

  • Dental care
  • Prescription eye glasses
  • Non-prescription drugs
  • Ambulance service

The students even has the facility to buy a private insurance.

Student Expenses

Saskatchewan is home to more than a few highly esteemed educational institutes. The expenses required to be handled by the international students admitted to different programs in the top universities and colleges in the province are given below in detail.

Name of the InstituteTuition fees
University of SaskatchewanCAD 17,504
University of ReginaCAD 20,200
First Nations University of CanadaAround CAD 20,000
Saskatchewan PolytechnicCAD 14,143
Campion CollegeFollows the fees structure of the University of Regina

Apart from tuition fees, other miscellaneous charges including utilities and clothing vary around CAD 600.

Cost of living of 5 different cities in Saskatchewan

Name of the cityRental charges per month (1 bedroom apartment)Meal cost (three course meal)Transportation (monthly pass in public transport)
SaskatoonCAD 949CAD 65CAD 83
ReginaCAD 1,000CAD 60CAD 92
Prince AlbertCAD 750CAD 60CAD 62
Moose JawCAD 700CAD 55CAD 65
YorktonCAD 900CAD 55CAD 60

Comparison suggests that

  • Regina takes the first position while calculating the average rent for a 1BHK apartment.
  • Meal costs are relatively average and quite affordable for the students. Also, there is not much difference in the meals of other cities in Saskatchewan.
  • Transportation cost is much higher in the cities – Saskatoon and Regina, for other cities, there is not much of the difference in the charges.

Saskatchewan has always been one of the favorite places to stay and study for the international students. Before you book your ticket to any of the cities of this province, make sure you have gathered plenty of details about the basic expenses which you are going to manage while living there.

All in all, Toronto, even though it is amongst the most expensive cities in Canada, it still has a high concentration of international students. Most of the famous universities of Canada are present in Toronto, therefore, Toronto is a priority for many.

Ontario is the most expensive province in Canada while the cost of living is most affordable in Quebec. From tuition fee to the 5 factors for judging the cost of living, Quebec is well affordable.

The French dominated province is a home to some well-known universities such as McGill University, University of Montreal and University of Quebec.

According to a survey, Ottawa and St. Albert are considered to be ideal for accommodation.

Cities like Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg, Regina and Calgary are not far behind Toronto in education.

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