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

Mansi Topa Mansi Topa
Content Curator

Along with its multicultural cities and mesmerizing natural beauty, Canada stands out among students for its variety of courses and cheap tuition fees. With a lot of short-term courses and less expensive cost of living, Canada is considered one of the best student destinations.

A survey in 2018 by the Canadian Bureau for International Education suggested three major reasons for attracting students from across the world- Quality education system (82%), Non-discriminatory society (79%) and Reputation as a safe country (78%). 

International students studying in Canada can also apply for Work-Study option, where they are offered around 9-11 CAD/hour. Working-while your study helps in reducing the overall cost of living. 

Given below is a table, comparing the cost of living in some of the top cities from Canada and its Anglophone countries like US, UK, and Australia. The table is self-explanatory and the parameters chosen are the major contributors to the cost of living in any region. 

Why study in Toronto?

Toronto is considered to be amongst the most expensive cities in Canada. Therefore, comparing the same with other expensive cities of different nations can provide the information on the difference in cost of living of all these countries. The costs mentioned in the table are in Canadian Dollar (CAD)

Basic cost of living1 bedroom flat (monthly rent)Meal for 2 (mid-range restaurant, three courses)Transportation (monthly pass)
Toronto, Canada1,63270143
London, UK2,78191218
New York City, USA3,80994151
Sydney, Australia2,62279159

There are 6 major provinces in Canada: Ontario, Alberta, Nova Scotia & New Brunswick, Quebec, and Saskatchewan. These provinces are compared to different factors for knowing about the cost of living in each province. To calculate the cost of living, the following factors are considered: 

  • Accommodation: For an international applicant one of the major expense is accommodation. Choosing to stay on-campus or off-campus highly affects the cost of living. 
  • Food Expenses: The food expenses include meals and groceries.  On 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 traveling, there are many ways to get around in Canada. 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, it is quite expensive when compared with public transport.
  • Healthcare Charges: The most emphasized suggestion for the students is to get health insurance. They may get one beforehand or just after landing into Canada. Generally, healthcare charges include: 
    • Visiting a Doctor
    • Medical Specialists
    • Hospital Stays
    • Medical Procedures 
    • Private insurance plans are quite expensive than public insurance plans. Public healthcare plans are administered in each province. Other specifications are based on the selection of a province.
  • Student Expenses: Student charges comprise of tuition fee and miscellaneous charges. These charges may include the cost of textbooks, mobile phone, public transit, entertainment, and clothing.

Cost of Living in 5 different cities

While studying in Canada, you must consider that the cost of living varies from city to city. The 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

Ontario offers students with a wide range of universities and colleges, hence, the cost of living in Ontario has a diverse range. Since all the cities in Ontario have various universities, the students can easily find a university/college within their budget. Given below are the range of expenses of an international student studying in Ontario. 

Accommodation

For Short Term Stay

Accommodation TypePrice Range/night (CAD)
Hotels96 to 120
Bed and Breakfast stay50 to 150
Hostel35 to 90

For Long Term Stay

Accommodation TypePrice Range (CAD)
Homestay600 to 1,100/month
Residence/Dormitory3,000 to 7,500/year
Rented Apartment600 to 2,000/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 and given below:

EstimatesRates
Food and non-alcoholic beverages9,198 (monthly)
Alcoholic beverages1,994 (monthly)
Mid-Range Restaurant65 (three-course meal)
Grocery (vegetables and fruits)95 (per kg)
Milk2.31 (per liter)
Water1.68 (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. These are: 

  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 (CAD)
Self – Driven Vehicle8,500 to 13,000 per year
PRESTO (Electronic Payment Card)3.00
Tokens and Tickets9.00 (Minimum 3 tokens)
Downtown Express3.25 cash or token or Monthly Express Sticker for 43.00
Single fare purchase - Cash3.25
Monthly Metropass146
Weekly Pass43.75

Healthcare Charges

Most of the Canadian Universities demand medical insurance certificate along with other documents for enrollment. If in case, you do not have a student health insurance, one of the foremost things you have to do after landing in Canada is to purchase health insurance. In Ontario, international students are not covered under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). Instead, Public Universities provides the 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.

Student Expenses

Ontario is amongst the most expensive provinces in Canada. Also, it is home to the most expensive cities – Toronto and the capital of Canada – Ottawa. This makes education quite expensive for international students in Ontario. The undergraduate international students have to pay an average of 25,000 CAD/year. On the other hand, for graduate students, this cost is around 16,000 CAD/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 750 CAD/month.

Cost of Living in 5 different Ontario cities

CityApartment Rent (CAD)/1-BedroomMeal Cost (CAD)/3-Course MealTransportation Charge (CAD)/Monthly Pass
Toronto2,02075143
Ottawa1,12070103
Hamilton1,05060101
Guelph1,2606080
Burlington1,4958097

From the above-mentioned data, it can be concluded that Toronto is one of the most expensive cities across the province for the students. It is found that: 

  • Housing prices in Toronto vary greatly in comparison with the rest of the cities. The cost of an apartment seems to be almost 25% higher than in other cities of Ontario.
  • On average, meal cost for the given cities falls in the same line. 
  • Monthly transportation charges are maximum for Toronto but Ottawa and Hamilton are not far off.

Even with the most expensive cities like Toronto, the cost of living in Ontario is far more affordable than in European countries. The University of Toronto is the most preferred university and is ranked 34th in the QS list. Toronto has plenty of jobs opportunities for international students in Canada.

Cost of Living in Alberta

From Calgary to St. Albert, there are various education hubs to choose from in the province of Alberta. Anyone landing in Alberta must have good knowledge about the cost of living in Alberta. The estimate of major expenses incurred by international students choosing to study in Alberta are detailed below.

Accommodation

Short term stay

Accommodation typePrice range (CAD)/per night
Hotel45 – 420
Bread and breakfast stay40 – 250
Hostel30 – 190

Long term stay

Accommodation typePrice range (CAD)/per month
Homestay850 – 2,000
Rented Apartment (1 BHK)500 – 1,500
Residence (On – Campus)6,000 – 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

ItemsRates (CAD)
Grocery375 per month
Milk2.11 per liter
Basic meal (3-course)65 – 80
Non-alcoholic beverage2.5
Alcoholic beverage7 – 9

Transportation Charges

Mode of transportCharges (CAD)
Gas for self-driven vehicles1.16 per liter
Monthly ticket in public transport98
8 km taxi trip, basic tariff (business day)3.5

Healthcare Charges

International Students, as well as students from Canadian Province other than Alberta, are 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.

International students:

  • 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.

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 lower than in other provinces of Canada. The tuition fee for different institutions in Alberta lies in the given range.

Type of instituteTuition costs (CAD)
Colleges9,750 – 26,560
Technical Institutes11,100 – 18,750
Universities11,780 – 45,208

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

Name of the InstituteTuition cost (CAD)
University of Alberta20,395
University of Calgary12,695
Mount Royal University12,200
Athabasca University9,320
Northern Alberta Institute of Technology9,000

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

Cost of Living in 5 different Alberta Cities

CityApartment Rent (1 bedroom) (CAD)Meal Cost (Three-course Meal) (CAD)Transportation Charges (Monthly Pass) (CAD)
Calgary97580103
Edmonton7756594
St. Albert6006573
Canmore5006080
Medicine Hat5008071

The comparison suggests that Calgary has come out to be the most expensive city in terms of housing and public transportation. The food expenses are much affordable in Alberta. 

The overall cost of living in Alberta

ItemMonthly (CAD)
Accommodation (Single, off-campus, not shared)800 – 1,050
Food250
Clothing50
Miscellaneous (Phone, laundry and entertainment)155
Total Cost of Living1,255 – 1,050

Alberta has always been a great place to live for 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, the lowest in Canada. The 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.

Accommodation

For Short Term Stay

Type of AccommodationPrice Range (CAD)/night
Nova ScotiaNew Brunswick
Hotels95 to 44964 to 130
Bed & Breakfast54 to 35936 to 147
Hostels29 to 7549 to 99

For Long Term Stay

Type of AccommodationPrice Range (CAD)/month
Nova ScotiaNew Brunswick
Homestay500 to 950520 to 900
Residence700 to 3500550 to 3200
Rented Apartment525 to 2240450 to 2100

Food Expenses

EstimatedRates (CAD)
Nova ScotiaNew Brunswick
Alcoholic beverages800 (Monthly)750 (Monthly)
Mid-range restaurant three-course meal55 (Three-course meal)55 (Three-course meal)
Grocery (vegetables & fruits)70.38 (per Kg)69.50 (per Kg)
Milk2.33 (Per Liter)2.30 (Per Liter)
Water1.50 (1.5 liter bottle)1.30 (1.5 liter bottle)

Transportation Charges

Mode of TransportAdult Charges (CAD)
Nova ScotiaNew Brunswick
Local Transport (One-way ticket)2.62
Monthly Pass217.3980.00
Normal Taxi Tariff4.507.00
Normal Taxi Tariff for 1km1.701.00
Normal Taxi Tariff for 1 hour32.5060.00

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 in CAD

CityApartment Rent (1 Bedroom)Meal Cost (3-Course Meal)Transportation Charges (Monthly Pass)
Clark’s Harbour150070145
Stellarton115060100
New Glasgow95060101
Pictou11006579
Wolfville13508096

Cost of living in 5 different cities of New Brunswick in CAD

CityApartment Rent (1 Bedroom)Meal Cost (3-Course Meal)Transportation Charges (Monthly Pass)
Moncton2,0007563
Saint John1,5006077
Fredericton1,5006580
St. George10305575
Miramichi9009090
  • 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 cities. 
  • 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 a 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.

Accommodation

For Short Term Stay

Accommodation TypePrice Range (CAD)/per night
Hotels60 to 220
Bed and Breakfast stay30 to 120
Hostel15 to 30

For Long Term Stay

Accommodation TypePrice Range (CAD)
Homestay450 to 900 per month
Residence/Dormitory2,000 to 6,000 per year
Rented Apartment500 to 1,500 per month

Quebec has been one of the most affordable cities in Canada offers some of the best housing deals. On 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 (CAD)
Studio546
1 Bedroom666
2 Bedrooms788
3 Bedrooms930

Food Expenses

Food ArticlesRates (CAD)
Non-alcoholic beverages1.88 (0.33-liter bottle)
Alcoholic beverages24
Mid-range restaurants (for 2 people)60
Grocery (vegetables, fruits, eggs, rice, cheese, chicken, beef)68 – 70 (per kg)
A loaf of Bread3.44
Milk2.30/ Liter
Water2.15 (0.5-liter bottle)

Quebec is known for its delicious delicacies and little inexpensive cafes with the high-end restaurant menu. You will get the best meal at the most affordable cost.

Transportation Charges

Montreal

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 (CAD)
Monthly Pass82 (Opus Card)
Weekly Pass25.50 (Opus Card)
Single Trip3.25

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 (CAD)
One-Way Ticket (Bus)3.38
Monthly Pass86.50
Taxi3.45

Healthcare Charges

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 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 in 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 the 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 in 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.

Accommodation

Short-term stay

Type of housingCharges (CAD)/night
Hotel36 to 244
Hostel32
Bed and breakfast stay55 to 105

Long-term stay

Type of housingCharges (CAD)/month
Homestay800
Residence3,000 (8 Months)
Rent Apartment950

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.

ItemCharges (CAD)
Milk2.11 per liter
Water2.5 per bottle of 1.5 liter
Grocery and miscellaneous90
Full-course lunchtime menu (drinks included)72.50
Beverage (alcoholic)18
Beverage (non-alcoholic)2.51

Transportation Charges

Mode of TransportCost (CAD)
Gas for self-driven vehicles1.29 per liter
One – Way ticket3.25
Monthly ticket pass of public transport80
Taxi trip (on business days)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 doctor
  • Medical specialists
  • Hospital stays
  • Medical procedures

What is not covered under the plan:-

  • Dental care
  • Prescription eyeglasses
  • Non-prescription drugs
  • Ambulance service

The students even have the facility to buy 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 (CAD)
University of Saskatchewan17,504
University of Regina20,200
First Nations University of CanadaAround 20,000
Saskatchewan Polytechnic14,143
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) (CAD)Meal cost (three-course meal) (CAD)Transportation (monthly pass in public transport) (CAD)
Saskatoon9496583
Regina1,0006092
Prince Albert7506062
Moose Jaw7005565
Yorkton9005560

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 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 one of the best cities to study in Canada.

Ontario is the most expensive province in Canada while the cost of living is 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 home to some well-known universities such as McGill University, University of Montreal and the 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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