Cost of Living in Canada for International Students: A Comprehensive Guide

Studying abroad in Canada is an exciting opportunity, but it's important to understand the cost of living for international students. In this comprehensive guide, we provide valuable insights, budgeting tips, and student-friendly resources to help you plan your finances and ensure a smooth transition. From tuition fees and accommodation costs to part-time employment and healthcare expenses, we cover everything you need to know to make informed decisions and enjoy your study abroad experience.

Cost of Living in Canada for International Students: A Comprehensive Guide
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Jun 13, 2023 08:58 AM
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Dreaming of studying abroad in Canada? One of the crucial factors to consider is the cost associated with pursuing a master's degree in this beautiful country. Understanding the financial aspects will help you plan your budget effectively and make informed decisions. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the various elements that contribute to the overall cost of studying in Canada, including tuition fees, living expenses, financial aid options, and more. Our study abroad consultants are here to provide you with valuable insights and ensure a clear understanding of the expenses involved.

I. Tuition Fees in Canada

When it comes to pursuing a master's degree in Canada, tuition fees are a significant component to consider. For an international student, the fees may vary depending on the university and the program of study. It is important to research and compare tuition costs across different institutions to find the best fit for your academic and financial needs. Factors such as the reputation of the university, program specialization, and location can influence the fees. Additionally, keep in mind that tuition fees may differ between undergraduate and graduate programs.
Average Undergraduate Tuition Fees (per year)
Average Graduate Tuition Fees (per year)y
CAD 20,000 - CAD 30,000
CAD 15,000 - CAD 25,000
British Columbia
CAD 25,000 - CAD 40,000
CAD 15,000 - CAD 35,000
CAD 15,000 - CAD 25,000
CAD 10,000 - CAD 20,000
New Brunswick
CAD 15,000 - CAD 25,000
CAD 10,000 - CAD 20,000
Newfoundland and Labrador
CAD 11,000 - CAD 23,000
CAD 9,000 - CAD 20,000
Northwest Territories
CAD 15,000 - CAD 25,000
CAD 10,000 - CAD 20,000
Nova Scotia
CAD 15,000 - CAD 30,000
CAD 10,000 - CAD 25,000
CAD 15,000 - CAD 25,000
CAD 10,000 - CAD 20,000
CAD 25,000 - CAD 45,000
CAD 20,000 - CAD 40,000
Prince Edward Island
CAD 13,000 - CAD 22,000
CAD 10,000 - CAD 20,000
CAD 15,000 - CAD 25,000
CAD 10,000 - CAD 25,000
CAD 15,000 - CAD 25,000
CAD 10,000 - CAD 20,000
CAD 15,000 - CAD 25,000
CAD 10,000 - CAD 20,000

II. Living Expenses in Canada

When considering studying in Canada, it's important to understand and create a budget for the cost of living. This section will provide insights into various aspects of living expenses to help you plan your finances effectively.


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  1. Homestay: Homestays involve living with a local family, providing an immersive cultural experience. The cost typically includes accommodation and meals. Homestay charges vary depending on the location and the services provided by the host family.
  1. Shared Accommodation: Sharing an apartment or house with other students can help reduce accommodation costs. Splitting rent, utilities, and other expenses can make living off-campus more affordable.
  1. On-Campus Housing: Many universities and colleges in Canada offer on-campus housing options such as dormitories or student residences. The cost of on-campus housing can vary depending on the location, facilities, and room type. Explore the options available at your institution and consider factors such as proximity to campus, meal plans, and amenities.
  1. Off-Campus Housing: Renting an apartment or sharing a house off-campus is another option. The cost will depend on the location, size, and condition of the accommodation. Research rental prices in the city or town where you plan to study and consider factors such as utilities, transportation costs, and proximity to amenities.
Average Monthly Cost (CAD)
On-Campus Housing
CAD 500 - CAD 1,500
Cost varies based on the university and type of residence
Off-Campus Rental (Apartment)
CAD 800 - CAD 2,000
Varies based on location, size, and quality of the apartment
CAD 800 - CAD 1,500
Includes room, meals, and utilities provided by a host family
Shared Accommodation
CAD 400 - CAD 1,000
Cost varies based on location and number of roommates

Average Rental Costs and Tips for Finding Affordable Housing

Rental costs in Canada can vary significantly based on the city or town you choose. Metropolitan areas tend to have higher rents compared to smaller cities or rural regions. It is important to research the average rental costs in your desired location to budget accordingly.
Consider the following tips to find affordable housing options:
  1. Start Early: Begin your search for accommodation well in advance to secure the best options and potentially negotiate better rental rates.
  1. Roommate or Housemate: Sharing accommodation with roommates can significantly reduce costs. Look for compatible roommates through online platforms, university forums, or social media groups.
  1. Location: Explore housing options in areas slightly outside the city center, as rents tend to be lower. However, ensure that transportation to your institution is convenient.
  1. Utilities: Inquire about included utilities (water, electricity, internet) to better estimate your monthly expenses. If utilities are not included, factor in these costs when budgeting.
  1. Negotiation: When renting directly from landlords, don't hesitate to negotiate the rent or ask for additional services or amenities.
Remember to carefully review lease agreements, understand your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, and consider the duration of your stay when signing rental contracts.

Utilities and Internet

  1. Electricity, Heating, and Water: When renting an apartment or house, you may be responsible for paying utility bills. These expenses can vary depending on the size of your accommodation and the season. In some cases, utilities may be included in the rent, so clarify this with the landlord before signing a lease.
  1. Internet and Cable: If you require internet access and cable TV, factor in the cost of these services. Research different providers and compare packages to find the most suitable and affordable option for your needs.

Food and Groceries

  1. Meal Plans: If you live in on-campus housing, your institution may offer meal plans. These plans typically provide a set number of meals per day or per week at designated dining halls or cafeterias. Consider the cost and convenience of meal plans when budgeting for your living expenses.
  1. Cooking at Home: Cooking your own meals can be a cost-effective option. Plan your meals, create grocery lists, and shop at budget-friendly supermarkets or farmers' markets. Buying in bulk and preparing meals in advance can help save money and time.

IV. Health Insurance and Medical Expenses

When studying in Canada as an international student, it is important to understand the healthcare system and ensure that you have adequate health insurance coverage. Here are some key considerations regarding health insurance and managing medical expenses:

Health Insurance Coverage

  1. Provincial Health Insurance: Most provinces and territories in Canada offer a provincial health insurance plan, such as the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) or the British Columbia Medical Services Plan (MSP). These plans provide coverage for essential medical services, including doctor visits, hospital care, and emergency care. However, it is crucial to note that not all provinces provide coverage for international students. Research the specific health insurance coverage available in the province where you will be studying.
  1. Private Health Insurance: In provinces where provincial health insurance is not available for international students, it is mandatory to have private health insurance coverage. Private health insurance plans are specifically designed for international students and provide comprehensive coverage for medical services. These plans may include coverage for doctor visits, prescription medications, emergency medical care, and other healthcare needs.

Choosing a Health Insurance Plan

  1. University-Sponsored Plans: Many universities and colleges in Canada offer their own health insurance plans for international students. These plans are designed to meet the specific needs of students and often provide comprehensive coverage. Check with your institution to see if they offer a university-sponsored health insurance plan and evaluate its coverage and cost.
  1. Private Insurance Providers: There are various private insurance providers in Canada that specialize in health insurance for international students. Research different providers, compare the coverage and cost of their plans, and choose one that best suits your needs and budget.
  1. Policy Details: When selecting a health insurance plan, carefully review the policy details, including coverage limits, deductibles, co-payments, and exclusions. Understand what is covered and what is not, as well as any waiting periods or pre-existing condition limitations.

Managing Medical Expenses

  1. Regular Check-Ups: As a student, it is important to prioritize your health and schedule regular check-ups with a family doctor or a walk-in clinic. Preventive care can help identify and address any health concerns early on, preventing them from becoming more serious and costly in the future.
  1. Prescription Medications: If you require prescription medications, inquire about generic alternatives, as they are often more affordable. Consider using a pharmacy that offers discounted or bulk-purchase options to save on medication costs.
  1. Dental and Vision Care: Dental and vision care are not typically covered by provincial health insurance plans. Consider purchasing additional insurance coverage specifically for dental and vision care or explore dental and vision care services offered by your institution, which may be more affordable for students.
  1. Emergency Services: In the event of a medical emergency, call emergency services (911) for immediate assistance. It is important to understand the coverage provided by your health insurance plan for emergency medical care, as well as any reimbursement processes or requirements.
Type of Expense
Average Cost (CAD)
Health Insurance
CAD 600 - CAD 1,200
Varies depending on the insurance plan, coverage, and duration of coverage
Medical Consultation
CAD 50 - CAD 100
Cost for a standard doctor's consultation
Prescription Medications
Cost of medications can vary depending on the type and dosage prescribed
Laboratory Tests
Cost of diagnostic tests such as blood tests, X-rays, etc.
Specialist Consultation
Cost for consultations with medical specialists
Cost for hospital stays and related medical procedures
Emergency Services
Cost for emergency room visits and ambulance services
Dental Care
Cost of dental treatments and procedures
Vision Care
Cost of eye exams, glasses, contact lenses, and other vision-related expenses
Mental Health Services
Cost of therapy sessions, counseling, and mental health treatments
Maternity Care
Cost of prenatal care, childbirth, and postnatal care
Medical Evacuation
Cost of emergency medical transportation
Pre-existing Conditions Coverage
Availability and cost of coverage for pre-existing medical conditions
Amount to be paid by the insured before the insurance coverage begins
Cost of the health insurance premium, typically paid monthly or annually

V. Textbooks and Study Materials

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When pursuing your studies in Canada, textbooks and study materials are essential resources that support your academic success. Here are some considerations to manage the costs of acquiring textbooks and study materials:

Used Books and Online Resources

  1. Buy Used Books: Consider purchasing used textbooks instead of brand new ones. Used books are often available at a lower price and can significantly reduce your expenses. Look for local bookstores that sell used textbooks or check online platforms dedicated to used book sales.
  1. Borrow from Seniors or Friends: Reach out to seniors or classmates who have taken similar courses in previous semesters. They may be willing to lend or sell their used textbooks at a lower cost or even give them away for free.
  1. Use Online Platforms: Explore online platforms that offer textbooks at reduced prices or provide e-book versions. Websites such as Amazon, Chegg, and often have discounted options or digital versions of textbooks, which can be more affordable and convenient.

Digital Resources and Open Educational Materials

  1. E-books and Digital Libraries: Consider using e-books or digital versions of textbooks. Many publishers offer digital editions that can be accessed through e-reader devices, tablets, or even on your computer. Additionally, check if your institution provides access to digital libraries or databases where you can find scholarly articles and reference materials online.
  1. Open Educational Resources (OER): OER are freely available educational materials that can be accessed online. These resources include textbooks, lecture notes, study guides, and more. Websites like OpenStax, OER Commons, and MERLOT offer a wide range of OER across different subjects and disciplines.
  1. Library Resources: Take advantage of the resources available at your university or college library. Libraries often have copies of textbooks and other study materials that can be borrowed for a certain period. Some libraries also provide access to online databases and journals, allowing you to access scholarly content at no additional cost.

VI. Travel Expenses

When studying in Canada as an international student, it's important to consider the costs associated with travel. Whether it's your journey to Canada or exploring the country during breaks, planning and budgeting for travel expenses is essential. Here are some considerations to help manage your travel expenses:

Travel to Canada

  1. Flight Tickets: Booking your flight tickets well in advance can help you secure better deals and lower prices. Compare prices from different airlines and consider using flight comparison websites to find the best fares. Be flexible with your travel dates if possible, as prices can vary depending on the time of year.
  1. Luggage Restrictions: Check the baggage allowances and restrictions of your chosen airline to avoid any additional charges. Pack efficiently and avoid excess baggage fees by weighing and measuring your luggage before you leave for the airport.
  1. Airport Transportation: Research and plan your transportation from the airport to your destination in Canada. Compare the costs and convenience of public transportation, airport shuttles, or rideshare services to find the most cost-effective option.

Local Transportation

  1. Public Transportation: Most cities in Canada have well-developed public transportation systems, including buses, trains, and subways. Utilize public transportation options as they are generally more affordable than using taxis or rideshare services. Look into monthly or semester-based transit passes that offer discounts for students.
  1. Bicycles and Walking: Consider using bicycles or walking as alternative modes of transportation for shorter distances. Many cities in Canada have bike-sharing programs or dedicated bicycle lanes that make cycling a convenient and eco-friendly option.
  1. Carpooling: If you have classmates or friends living nearby, consider carpooling to split transportation costs. This can be a cost-effective and social way to commute to and from campus or explore nearby areas.

Travel within Canada

  1. Bus and Train Passes: Explore bus and train passes that offer discounted fares for students. Companies like Greyhound and Via Rail offer student-specific passes that can be more affordable for long-distance travel within Canada.
  1. Flight Deals: Keep an eye out for flight deals and discounts for domestic travel within Canada. Sign up for airline newsletters or follow their social media channels to stay informed about promotional offers.
  1. Hostels and Budget Accommodations: When planning overnight trips, consider staying at hostels or budget accommodations instead of expensive hotels. Hostels offer affordable rates and often provide opportunities to meet fellow travelers.


Studying in Canada offers a world-class education system and a multicultural experience. Understanding the cost of studying in Canada is essential for international students to plan their finances effectively. By considering tuition fees, living expenses, part-time work opportunities, and financial aid options, you can create a comprehensive budget and make informed decisions.
Remember, each student's financial situation and preferences may vary, so it is crucial to conduct thorough research, seek guidance from study abroad consultants, and take advantage of available resources. With proper planning and financial management, you can embark on your educational journey in Canada with confidence and focus on achieving your academic goals.


Q: How much does it cost to study in Canada as an international student? A: The cost of studying in Canada can vary depending on various factors such as the institution, program, location, and lifestyle choices. On average, international students can expect to spend between CAD 20,000 to CAD 35,000 per year on tuition fees for undergraduate programs, and between CAD 10,000 to CAD 45,000 per year for graduate programs.
Q: Are there any scholarships or financial aid options available for international students in Canada? A: Yes, there are several scholarships, grants, and financial aid options available for international students in Canada. Many Canadian universities and colleges offer scholarships specifically for international students based on academic merit, leadership qualities, or other criteria. Additionally, there are external scholarship programs funded by the Canadian government, private organizations, and home country governments.
Q: What are the additional costs to consider apart from tuition fees? A: In addition to tuition fees, international students need to budget for accommodation, food, transportation, textbooks, health insurance, visa and application fees, as well as personal expenses for entertainment and recreation. It's important to consider these additional costs to create an accurate budget and plan your finances accordingly.
Q: Do international students have access to healthcare services in Canada? A: Yes, most provinces and territories in Canada provide healthcare services to international students through provincial health insurance plans. However, the coverage and requirements may vary depending on the province or territory. It's important to apply for health insurance coverage as soon as you arrive in Canada to ensure you are protected in case of any medical emergencies.
Q: What are the options for accommodation as an international student in Canada? A: International students in Canada have various accommodation options, including on-campus housing, off-campus apartments or houses, homestays, and shared accommodations. On-campus housing provides convenience and a sense of community, while off-campus options offer more independence. Homestays provide an opportunity for cultural immersion by living with a local family, and shared accommodations can help reduce costs by splitting expenses with roommates.
Q: How can I manage my living expenses effectively as an international student in Canada? A: To manage living expenses effectively, create a detailed budget that includes all the necessary expenses. Research and compare accommodation options, consider cooking meals at home, utilize public transportation or other cost-effective transportation methods, and take advantage of student discounts for various services and activities. It's also important to track your spending, prioritize your expenses, and explore part-time employment opportunities if allowed under your study permit.
Q: What documents do I need to apply for a student visa in Canada? A: To apply for a student visa, commonly known as a study permit, you will typically need to provide proof of acceptance from a designated learning institution, proof of financial support, a valid passport, and sometimes medical examination results or a police clearance certificate. It's essential to carefully review the requirements and follow the application instructions provided by the Canadian government or the nearest Canadian embassy or consulate in your country.
Q: Can I work part-time while studying in Canada as an international student? A: Yes, international students in Canada are allowed to work part-time while studying. Depending on your study permit, you may be eligible to work on or off-campus for up to 20 hours per week during the academic year and full-time during scheduled breaks. However, it's important to review the specific work restrictions and requirements outlined in your study permit to ensure compliance with the regulations.