Cheapest Cities in Canada for International Students

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.

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.

Housing CAD 1290
Food CAD 300-500
Transportation CAD 220
Utilities CAD 200
Miscellaneous CAD 150
Insurance CAD 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

Housing CAD 800
Food CAD 270-480
Transportation CAD 230
Utilities CAD 230
Miscellaneous CAD 170
Insurance CAD 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.

Housing CAD 1273
Food CAD 280-480
Transportation CAD 200
Utilities CAD 200
Miscellaneous CAD 180
Insurance CAD 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.

Housing CAD 800
Food CAD 250-450
Transportation CAD 150
Utilities CAD 250
Miscellaneous CAD 160
Insurance CAD 68

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.

Housing CAD 1200
Food CAD 300-480
Transportation CAD 120
Utilities CAD 210
Miscellaneous CAD 120
Insurance CAD 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.

Housing CAD 1220
Food CAD 300-500
Transportation CAD 140
Utilities CAD 230
Miscellaneous CAD 110
Insurance CAD 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.

Housing CAD 1314
Food CAD 200-450
Transportation CAD 150
Utilities CAD 200
Miscellaneous CAD 130
Insurance CAD 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

Housing CAD 800
Food CAD  250- 450
Transportation CAD 90
Utilities CAD 250
Miscellaneous CAD 110
Insurance CAD 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.

Housing CAD 1432
Food CAD 200-400
Transportation CAD 110
Utilities CAD 180
Miscellaneous CAD 100
Insurance CAD 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 Canada International Undergraduate(in CAD) International Postgraduate(in CAD)
Alberta 21,548 11,804
British Columbia 25,472 16,988
Manitoba 15,582 10,995
New Brunswick 14,290 11,593
Newfoundland and Labrador 12,035 4,087
Nova Scotia 17,662 18,907
Ontario 34,961 21,686
Prince Edward Island 21,525 11,905
Quebec 21,857 15,392
Saskatchewan 20,211 6,032

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 Canada Cost
Flight expense Rs 1 lakh – 2 lakh per flight
Study permit fees CAD 150
Work permit fees CAD 155 
IELTS test fees Rs 14,700
Accommodation Around CAD 10,000 p.a.
Travel costs CAD 90 – 180 monthly
Health insurance CAD 300 – 800 yearly
Food CAD 300 – 500 monthly
Entertainment CAD 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.

BBA in Canada with upGrad Study Abroad

upGrad brings you Bachelor in Business Administration (BBA) with its Study Abroad program in collaboration with Yorkville University and Indian Partner University. It’s a hybrid 4-year undergraduate program. The highlight of the course is that you can pursue it without worrying about expenses as it comes with an adaptable payment option.

Frequently Asked Questions

1- 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.

2- 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.

3- 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.

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

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