Facts & Figures: Living Costs for International Students in Canada 

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You’ve passed your tough exams, you’ve just got accepted to the high school or university of your dream, and your paperwork is smooth-sailing. Now the money questions kick in. Tuition cost is straight forward; you know what to expect prior to boarding your flight to Canada, but what about cost of living? Since everyone’s standards and living conditions are different, this is a monthly figure that is most difficult to conceptualize to your individual needs. Where do you start? Here is our best estimate for your first few months in Canada.

INITIAL EXPENSES

Shopping

This includes clothing and household shopping regardless whether you choose to live on-campus, through home-stay programs, or rent your own space. You will need to purchase some cool-weather clothes such as jackets, sweaters, and other winter accessories. This could set you back from $500-$1000 depending on your fashion taste. You will also need to purchase bed sheets, pillows, comforter, laundry gears, and might need other storage and organizational solutions such as desk, chair, night-stand, etc.  This will cost you an estimated $800-$1000 on average. Canada’s retail tax rate is as follows: Ontario – 15%, British Columbia – 12%, Manitoba – 13%, Alberta – 5%, Quebec – 14.975%. You will also need a cell phone which costs around $200-$800 depending on brands. You might also want to purchase a TV: a 40 inch LED TV costs around $300-$400.

As basic total fixed cost, your required initial spending to start your study journey is around $3000-$5000.

MONTHLY EXPENSES

Accommodations

First year international students often chose to live on-campus with a roommate or a few roommates. This costs approximately $3000-$7500 per year depending on which province you have chosen to study.

If you choose to rent a room on your own, the average cost of a bachelor apartment in Toronto is around $1,360; a one bedroom apartment is around $1,900, and a two bedroom is $2,000 per month. If you rent in Vancouver, the average cost of a 480 square feet studio is around $1,500; a 900 square feet apartment is around $2,000. Some students also choose to rent a basement or share a room, this costs around $500 including utilities depending on the area. If you choose the home-stay option, it will cost around $400-$800 per month.

Transportation

  • Vancouver: Monthly public transportation pass is $109 per month, or $25 via taxi for a 8 kilometer trip. If you drive, 1 liter of gas is currently at around $1.50.
  • Toronto: Monthly pass is $99.75 per month, or $18 via taxi for a 8 kilometer trip. 1 liter of gas is currently at $1.29.

Food

  • Vancouver: approximately $200 per month
  • Toronto: approximately $180 per month

Miscellaneous

  • Mobile/Home Phone
    • Vancouver: $40-$50 per month for talk & data
    • Toronto: $60-$70 per month for talk & data
  • Internet
    • Vancouver: $60 per month
    • Toronto: $47 per month
  • Utilities
    • Vancouver: approximately $100 per month
    • Toronto: $95-$127 per month
  • Entertainment
    • Vancouver: approximately $$150-250 per month, which includes movies, dinners, coffee, cocktails and snacks…
    • Toronto: approximately $150-$200 per month.

On average, the cost of living in Toronto comparing to Vancouver is approximately a 3% difference, with Toronto being slightly at a higher rate. Food cost in Toronto is 5% cheaper, housing is 6% cheaper, shopping is 9% cheaper, but transportation is 18% more expensive, personal care cost is 6% more expensive and entertainment cost is 12% more expensive.

Toronto’s cost of living is approximately 36% more expensive than Quebec City, 17% more expensive than Edmonton, 13% more expensive than Calgary…

There are other living costs such as personal care, medicine, gym membership, local travel expenses, healthcare expense, etc. that you will need to take into consideration during your study in Canada.

Note: These estimated figures are based on March 2019 recorded expenses and might vary. You can visit www.expatistan.com to calculate and compare costs of living in many different cities around the world.

May Jones