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Vancouver vs Toronto For Students: Education, Cost & Culture

Updated on 21 February, 2024

Kanika Pruthi

Kanika Pruthi

Sr. Content Writer & Study Abroad Expert

Canada is home to 6,42,000 international students enrolled in various courses in fields like medicine, law, science, technology, arts, astronomy, etc. The country offers unlimited opportunities both in terms of an education system and a quality standard of living. It has a promising work culture too. Canada is one of the most favored international destinations for overseas education. The top cities in Canada, like Vancouver and Toronto, are among the most talked-about cities for international students.  If you are confused about choosing Vancouver or Toronto as your destination, this article will help you make an informed decision.


Read More: Study in Canada

Canadian Education System 

The Canadian education system is administered by provinces and is divided into four levels: pre-elementary, elementary or primary, secondary, and post-secondary. In Canada, colleges primarily offer certificates, diplomas, and vocational training programs, whereas universities offer degree programs such as bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees.

Education in Vancouver

Vancouver is one of the most sought-after destinations for international students. There are recognized and notable educational institutions. The University of British Columbia in Vancouver needs special mention. Also, the eminent Vancouver Film School is a very famous destination for international students. Some of the other top universities located in Vancouver are University Canada West, Capilano University, and Emily Carr University. Colleges like Langara College, Vancouver Community College, Simon Fraser University, Columbia College, Regent College are some of the reputed colleges in Vancouver for undergraduate studies.

Education in Toronto

Education system: Toronto is ranked among the top cities globally for international students and the University of Toronto is one of the reasons behind this. The university is ranked 1st in Canada and holds a rank of 26 according to the QS World University Rankings. There are other notable colleges and universities in Toronto, like Ryerson University, York University, George Brown College, Humber College, Trent University, and Centennial College. These colleges and universities offer world-class educational opportunities with the best state-of-art facilities.

Top Canadian Universities

Canada’s educational institutions are renowned worldwide for their high quality, as seen by their rising rankings year after year. The top universities in Canada are listed below:

Canadian UniversitiesQS World Ranking 2022
University of Toronto#26
McGill University#27
University of British Columbia#46
Universite de Montreal#111
University of Alberta#126
McMaster University#140
University of Waterloo#149

Top Universities in Vancouver 

Vancouver’s colleges and universities welcome and educate students from all around the world. The top five universities for international students in Vancouver are listed below:

Vancouver Community College

College TypePopular ProgramsAverage Annual Fees
PublicDiploma in Accounting, Diploma in Graphic Designing, Diploma in Marketing Technology21,000 CAD- 36,000 CAD

Columbia College

College TypePopular ProgramsAverage Annual Fees
PrivateBBA, B.Tech, Associate of Arts and Associate of Science in Computer Science16,500 CAD – 33,000 CAD

Langara College

College TypePopular ProgramsAverage Annual Fees
PublicPost Degree Diploma in Business Analytics, BSc in Bio-informatics and Diploma in Business Management19,800 CAD

Ashton College

College TypePopular ProgramsAverage Annual Fees
PrivateCertificate in Accounting, Education Assistant Diploma, Certificate in Digital Marketing and Certificate in UX design3,500 CAD – 10,000 CAD

Eton College

College TypePopular ProgramsAverage Annual Fees
PrivateDiploma in Business Administration, Diploma in Travel and Tourism Management and Diploma in Hospitality and Tourism Management800 CAD – 18,500 CAD

Read More: Cost of Living in Canada for international students

Top Universities in Toronto

Toronto, the biggest city in Canada, is now populated by 3 million people, of which 50% are immigrants. The top five universities for international students in Toronto are listed below:

University of Toronto

College TypePopular ProgramsAverage Annual Fees
PublicPsychology, Sociology, Management and Public health and Medical technology58,160 CAD – 66,110 CAD

York University

College TypePopular ProgramsAverage Annual Fees
PublicBusiness, Law, Science and Fine arts16,000 CAD

Ryerson University

College TypePopular ProgramsAverage Annual Fees
PublicMedia production, Business, Nursing and Engineering30,000 CAD – 34,000 CAD

OCAD University

College TypePopular ProgramsAverage Annual Fees
PublicFine arts and Design10,500 CAD

Centennial University

College TypePopular ProgramsAverage Annual Fees
Publicly – funded universityPublic Relations, Information Technology, Business,Communication and Health15,000 CAD -20,000 CAD

Cost of Living : Vancouver Vs Toronto


Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre$1,540.09$1,739.05
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre$1,184.88$1,296.48
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre$2,997.56$257,619.35
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre$2,097.52$1,936.74


One-way Ticket (Local Transport)$2.22$2.4
Monthly Pass (Regular Price)$81.98$113.98
Gasoline (1 liter)$1.18$0.93
Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff)$1.71$1.69

Utilities (monthly)

Basic (Electricity, Heating, Water, Garbage)$74.01$120.1
Prepaid Mobile Tariff Local/minute$0.29$0.33
Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable)$51.78$52.02

Food cost

Both Toronto and Vancouver are known for their amazing cuisine. You should try to check out local restaurants if possible, given the huge range of cuisines and new options on every street. A meal at a nice restaurant will often cost between CAD 40 and CAD 50 per person, but a street food meal for one person will cost CAD 10-15.

If we talk about grocery costs, each person’s average monthly expense in Vancouver is CAD 294.74 and their average monthly expense in Toronto is CAD 367.66.

Vancouver is leading the way with affordable pricing in the grocery department.

Vancouver vs Toronto: Lifestyle

Canada is a culturally rich country with opulent and sophisticated living. The cities of Canada are differentiated based on nature, lifestyle, and culture. What binds all the cities together is their modern amenities and world-class facilities. 


Vancouver is a perfect destination for students who prefer to enjoy relaxed city life. It offers the best work-life balance. The relaxed life also means that Vancouver is slower in terms of development and business. You can enjoy a peaceful work environment. Due to the relaxed work-life pattern and slow pace of development, you cannot expect high salaried jobs here.

1. The nightlife, shopping, and restaurant options in Vancouver are quite vibrant. 

2. Hiking, running, biking, and skiing are some of the common activities near downtown. 

3. Fun festivals and art galleries make Vancouver a culturally rich and diversified city.

4. The city has well-defined and connected public transportation.


Toronto is the largest city in Canada. It is powered by culture, business, development, and a fantastic education system. It has a global city vibe loved by international students. 

1. The best attraction of the city is its rich cultural heritage and diversity. 

2. The city is bustling with thousands of individuals all heading toward the path of trade and business establishments.

3. Toronto has the highest-paying jobs in all of Canada. The job market is robust for meritorious students. 

4. The city hosts festivals, activities, and boasts a rich ambiance. 

5. With incredible food joints and shopping venues, it exhibits a perfect metropolitan culture.

Read More: Job opportunities after MS in Canada 

Industries in Vancouver and Toronto

One of the most vibrant economies in Canada is that of Vancouver. Vancouver’s economy, which has recently experienced Canada’s highest growth, has successfully shifted from a largely resource-based one to a broad knowledge-based one. Vancouver’s GDP in 2017 was CA$137 billion, up 4.5 percent over the previous year, according to the Conference Board of Canada, which means Vancouver accounts for roughly 7.5 percent of Canada’s entire economy. Trade, film and TV, technology, tourism, natural resources,  aviation, and construction are the major industries.

Toronto’s economy, which accounts for 20 percent of the GDP of Canada as a whole, is a significant global economic hub. It serves as the nation’s main hub for wholesale and distribution as well as the banking and stock exchange for Canada. More than half of the manufactured items in Canada are made in the Greater Toronto Area. The major industries in Toronto are finance, technology, tourism, aerospace, music, life sciences, food and beverage, and fashion/apparel.

Job Opportunities: Vancouver Vs Toronto

British Columbia’s economy is typically diversified and robust, and it now has Canada’s lowest unemployment rate. In a variety of enterprises in Vancouver, people have jobs as software engineers, accountants, marketers, advertisers, and in a wide range of other occupations. For persons of various skill levels, there are several outdoor career opportunities outside of the city. 

Toronto has a strong presence of banks and financial institutions. Toronto is situated Within the city’s center. This signifies that Toronto has a healthy banking sector and Toronto’s primary industries are heavily influenced by finance. If you work in the financial sector, this is wonderful news. Vancouver is usually a better choice if you want to work in other industries.

Salary Comparison:

Below is an overview of the most common professions and their salaries in both Vancouver and Toronto:

Software DeveloperCAD 74,337CAD 72,967
Software EngineerCAD 80,885CAD 83,326
Project Manager (Unspecified Type / General)CAD 79,637CAD 79,500
Senior Software EngineerCAD 111,828CAD 105,266
Operations ManagerCAD 70,569CAD 72,189
Marketing ManagerCAD 66,230CAD 69,931

The most popular employers in Vancouver are: University of British Columbia (UBC), Golder Associates, and Telus Corporation and the most popular employers in Toronto are: Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), Canadian Tire Corp., and Scotiabank.

Vancouver or Toronto for studying in Canada

Reasons for choosing Toronto

  1. Culture: Toronto has a diverse culture with more than 140 languages spoken there.
  2. Transportation: The transportation infrastructure is well defined and the city is connected by buses, subways, streetcars, and rail.
  3. Safety: The safety index in Toronto is more than 81%.
  4. Education system: The city has some of the most reputed universities like the University of Toronto and Ryerson University. 
  5. Employment scope: Employment scope and opportunities are high with some of the best companies offering the highest salary packages in comparison with those offered globally.
  6. Cost of living: The cost of living includes an average rent of CAD 1,500 (Rs 89,000), a meal is CAD 20 (Rs 1,200) and transportation is CAD 3.25 (Rs 200). 

Reasons for choosing Vancouver

  1. Culture: The majority of the population is European. 
  2. Transportation: The city is well connected with rapid trains, buses, and the West Coast Express. 
  3. Safety: It is safe for international students. Crimes like robbery and murder are rare. 
  4. Education system: The University of British Columbia and the eminent Vancouver Film School are prime attractions. There are other prestigious universities and colleges for various specializations. 
  5. Employment: The city offers job opportunities for graduate and postgraduate students of various specializations. 
  6. Cost of living: The cost of living includes rent of CAD 2050 (Rs 1.2 lakh), meals are CAD 14 (Rs 850) and transportation is CAD 3 (Rs 180). 

Read More: Settle in Canada from India


Vancouver and Toronto are equally preferred by international students. The cities are vibrant and have a safe and culturally sound quality of life. The education system and employment scope in both cities are great in their own ways. To further clear your doubts regarding Vancouver or Toronto for study in Canada you can connect with the counselors of upGrad Abroad.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Vancouver vs Toronto

Tax is cheaper in Vancouver or Toronto?

Toronto has a higher tax rate than Vancouver does. The tax rate is 12% in Vancouver and 13% in Toronto. However, living expenses are also on the higher side in Toronto, the decision ultimately comes down to your income and other expenses.

Which city is better?

Vancouver and Toronto are equally preferred by international students. The cities are vibrant and have a safe and culturally sound quality of life. The education system and employment scope in both cities are great in their own ways. Which city to choose totally depends on your lifestyle, values and what you are looking for.

Where to live in Vancouver?

The best neighborhoods may be Gastown, Yaletown, and Kitsilano if you are a single young professional. Main Street, Olympic Village, and Mount Pleasant are the best places for families, while West End may be the best choice for students.

Where to live in Toronto?

The best neighborhoods may be Yonge-Eglinton, Liberty Village, and King West if you are a single young professional. Leslieville, Allenby, and Deer Park are the best places for families, while Harbourfront, Cabbagetown, and Church-Wellesley may be the best choice for students.

What is the difference between Vancouver and Toronto?

Toronto is located on Lake Ontario and is Canada’s financial capital and one of the world’s major financial centers. While Vancouver is an island city and it relies on forestry and tourism for revenue. The climates of both cities are incredibly different from one another.

Kanika Pruthi

Sr. Content Writer & Study Abroad Expert

Kanika has 5+ years of experience as a writer and content developer. She has written for a wide range of industry verticals, including hospitality, restaurants, non-profits, finance, IT, HR, technology, payroll, and education. She has worked as a creator for a few leading companies and has also helped brands grow through her creative writing.

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