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Cheapest Cities in Canada for International Students in 2024

Updated on 31 January, 2024

Canada is one of the best educational destinations in the world. With many great universities and a wide variety of courses, the country harbours a large foreign student population. However, the thought of additional expenses naturally comes to our mind when we mention studying in Canada. So, if you are looking for the cheapest city in Canada for international students, here are some options for you.

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Affordable Cities in Canada for International Students

1. Montreal, Quebec

As we look for the cheapest place to live in Canada, Quebec finds special mention as one of the most affordable provinces in the country. One of the advantages of living in Montreal is its cultural scene. There are several colleges and universities in Montreal which makes it a university town. Many of the international students spend their university years here. There are so many students of McGill University residing around it that the area is called the McGill Ghetto.

The monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Montreal is around CAD 1,290. Many international students live in Plateau, a neighbourhood that is dotted with quirky shops, cafes, and affordable restaurants offering delicious food.

HousingCAD 1290
FoodCAD 300-500
TransportationCAD 220
UtilitiesCAD 200
MiscellaneousCAD 150
InsuranceCAD 41

2. Sherbrooke, Quebec

Located around 160 km from Montreal, Sherbrooke is an unofficial student town in Quebec. There are eight educational institutions here with around 40,000 students. The cost of living in this town is 15.6% below the national average and you can easily find a one-bedroom set for under CAD 800. Quebec is among the best provinces in Canada for international students.

HousingCAD 800
FoodCAD 270-480
TransportationCAD 230
UtilitiesCAD 230
MiscellaneousCAD 170
InsuranceCAD 41

3. Laval, Quebec

Laval is one of the largest cities in Quebec and is located 30 km northwest of Montreal. The cost of living in this city is 9% below the national average.  Educational institutions in Quebec have the lowest tuition fees and are cheaper compared to the national average. Choosing a city in Quebec can help international students save quite a lot of money. The monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Laval is CAD 1,273.

HousingCAD 1273
FoodCAD 280-480
TransportationCAD 200
UtilitiesCAD 200
MiscellaneousCAD 180
InsuranceCAD 41

4. Calgary, Alberta

The largest city in Alberta, Calgary not only has some of the best colleges to study in Canada but also is a skiing destination. It has the youngest population among Canadian cities. Students who want to pursue a creative program can apply at the Alberta College of Art and Design. This is one of the top design and art colleges in Canada. The city is sometimes called the Texas of Canada as it is the home to the Calgary Stampede much like the Texan culture. The minimum monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment is CAD 800.

HousingCAD 800
FoodCAD 250-450
TransportationCAD 150
UtilitiesCAD 250
MiscellaneousCAD 160
InsuranceCAD 68

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The Canada hosts the largest number of international students from across the world. Over the past few years, it has become one of the most popular destinations for studying abroad. Reasons such as best-ranked institutions, excellent support facilities, flexible academic environment, and cultural diversity contribute to making it the most preferred destination amongst students planning to study abroad.

5. Ottawa, Ontario

The vibrant city of Ottawa, which is also the capital of Canada, is home to two renowned universities in the country, the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. There are several restaurants and bars in the city, and the downtown area looks gorgeous with quirky cafes. However, you can look for apartments in Little Italy, Osgoode Street, Centretown, and Old Ottawa South. You can find a one-bedroom apartment for around CAD 1,200.

HousingCAD 1200
FoodCAD 300-480
TransportationCAD 120
UtilitiesCAD 210
MiscellaneousCAD 120
InsuranceCAD 37

6. Kingston, Ontario 

With colleges and universities like Queen’s University, the Royal Military College of Canada, and St. Lawrence University, Kingston has a strong student vibe. The city offers the comforts of modern life, and neighbourhoods are filled with students. Due to the social life and the student community, you will get an at-home feeling all the time. One of the major highlights here is the Homecoming weekend at Queen’s University. The cost of living in Kingston is significantly lower than in Toronto. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre of Kingston is CAD 1,220.

HousingCAD 1220
FoodCAD 300-500
TransportationCAD 140
UtilitiesCAD 230
MiscellaneousCAD 110
InsuranceCAD 40

7. St. Catharines, Ontario

The largest city in the Niagara region in Canada, St.Catharines is yet another city that is known for being affordable for international students. The cost of living is 0.5% below the national average. For a one-bedroom apartment, one has to pay around CAD 1,314 every month. Niagara Falls is just a 20-minutes drive away from this city.

HousingCAD 1314
FoodCAD 200-450
TransportationCAD 150
UtilitiesCAD 200
MiscellaneousCAD 130
InsuranceCAD 41

8. Moncton, New Brunswick

Moncton is the largest city in New Brunswick but is one of the cheapest places in the province. The cost of living in this city is 6.3% below the national average. You can get a  one-bedroom apartment for around CAD 800 minimum per month. Like many other cities in Canada, Moncton is a promising and welcoming place for international students. If talking about the cheapest province in Canada, New Brunswick tops the list

HousingCAD 800
FoodCAD  250- 450
TransportationCAD 90
UtilitiesCAD 250
MiscellaneousCAD 110
InsuranceCAD 39

9. Abbotsford, British Columbia

British Columbia is considered an expensive place by many. However, there are some cities in this province that are quite budget-friendly for international students. One such is Abbotsford. It is also the largest city in the province by area. The cost of living in Abbotsford is 3.6% below the national average. The rent for a one-bedroom apartment in this city is approx CAD 1432  per month.

HousingCAD 1432
FoodCAD 200-400
TransportationCAD 110
UtilitiesCAD 180
MiscellaneousCAD 100
InsuranceCAD 36

Average Tuition fees in Canada

Depending upon various factors, there are different fees in respective provinces of Canada. The education system in Canada is career-oriented, and opportunities are well induced in the Canadian market.

The below table illustrates the fees figures- 

Provinces in CanadaInternational Undergraduate(in CAD)International Postgraduate(in CAD)
Alberta21,54811,804
British Columbia25,47216,988
Manitoba15,58210,995
New Brunswick14,29011,593
Newfoundland and Labrador12,0354,087
Nova Scotia17,66218,907
Ontario34,96121,686
Prince Edward Island21,52511,905
Quebec21,85715,392
Saskatchewan20,2116,032

Source* from university websites

What makes a city affordable for students?

Apart from the tuition fees of the educational institution, there are several other expenses that the students need to bear and a lot depends on the city they are living in. Many factors contribute to making a city affordable but the below factors top that list:

Affordable accommodation –

One of the prime requirements for an affordable student city is the availability of pocket-friendly accommodation. Staying at the college/university campus is an option but you should be able to rent a place within a reasonable budget.

Effective transport system –

You need to be aware of the transportation charges and options available in a city. Since most students rely on public transport, it is an essential part of what makes a city affordable for the students.

Pocket-friendly activities –

You cannot spend all of your days immersed in books and roaming your campus. Students also like to experience new cultures, visit local attractions, and taste local delicacies, all without breaking the bank. Hence, every city needs some activities and local sights that students can explore without worrying about money.

Canada stands among countries that offer the best secondary education. This makes it an ideal choice for international students. The country has an outstanding quality of education and a good number of schools. What is even better is the sense of acceptance toward foreign students. The immigration policies are welcoming too and students can get work visas once they complete their graduation.

Cost of Living in Canada:

Living costs in CanadaCost
Flight expenseRs 1 lakh – 2 lakh per flight
Study permit feesCAD 150
Work permit feesCAD 155 
IELTS test feesRs 14,700
AccommodationAround CAD 10,000 p.a.
Travel costsCAD 90 – 180 monthly
Health insuranceCAD 300 – 800 yearly
  
FoodCAD 300 – 500 monthly
EntertainmentCAD 750 monthly

Studying in Canada is one of the best decisions for students who are looking for affordable options. Canadian universities and colleges are well-known and respected for being some of the finest globally and providing an excellent academic experience. Another factor that makes studying in Canada a worthwhile decision is the easy visa application process clubbed with great employment opportunities. You can explore various pathway programs offered by upGrad Abroad in partnership with some of the most prestigious universities in Canada.

Conclusion

In conclusion, identifying the cheapest cities in Canada for international students in 2024 is crucial for those seeking affordable education without compromising on quality. Cities like Quebec City, Winnipeg, and Halifax stand out as cost-effective options, offering lower living expenses and tuition fees compared to larger metropolitan areas. These cities not only provide economic advantages but also rich cultural experiences, diverse communities, and quality education, making them attractive destinations for students from around the globe. For international students, choosing a city that aligns with both their financial constraints and academic aspirations is key to a rewarding study abroad experience. By considering cities known for their affordability, students can maximize their educational investment, enjoying all the benefits of studying in Canada while managing their expenses wisely.

Disclaimer! All the facts and figures are indicative sourced from various portals.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average cost for students living in Canada?

For accommodation students may have to spend CAD 5000 and CAD 8000 each year for on-campus housing, or CAD 10000 per year on private shared accommodation. Some universities provide meal plans that allow you to eat affordably at the university’s restaurants however, if you are cooking or eating out your expenses may be around CAD 500-800 per month.

What is the most affordable mode of transportation in Canada?

Different types of transportation, ranging from metro, bus, and taxi, are available. While talking about affordability among them, one should go for public transportation, which also has the facility of having monthly passes ranging between CAD 90-180 as per respective cities.

What expenses on food can you expect when living in Canada as a student?

Food/groceries expenses can range between CAD 200-500 per month depending upon food choices. Opting for homecooked meals can significantly cut down your food bills.

Mohammed Anas Khan

Anas is a graduate in Economics and a post graduate in Mass Communication. He is a curious soul and loves to travel. Anas has a keen interest in movies and literature. He wants to be a globe-trotter, discovering various aspects of life.

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