How to find Student Accommodation in Canada

Studying in Canada is undoubtedly one of the best ways to invest in your future.

A Canadian qualification carries tremendous weight, especially when you eventually venture into your chosen career. The job market is tough and unemployment rates have soared since the onset of the current pandemic and recent restrictions implemented in various provinces in an attempt to curb COVID-19 infection rates. The greatest impact it had was predominantly on part-time jobs in Canada.

Although this was particularly evident among youth, the good news is that Canada’s employment rate is starting to take an upturn and there are many remote opportunities for students to help keep you afloat.

International students in Canada often find themselves dependent on part-time work to help pay for student loans, textbooks and other day-to-day expenses, such as groceries, transport and accommodation.

With all this being said, Canada has opened its borders to international students who are enrolled in COVID-ready universities and colleges and have a valid Canadian study permit. This means that if you have already enrolled or are planning to in the near future you will need to show that you have accommodation as this is part of the mandatory plan to self-quarantine for 14 days once you arrive in Canada.

Ready to find your digs in Canada? Let's take a look at how you can find the perfect student accommodation in Canada.

Finding the Right Student Accommodation in Canada

smiling female student unpacking boxes | study in Canada

Finding housing in any country can prove to be overwhelming as it is. Throw in the COVID-19 social distancing regulations and it can turn out to be an extremely challenging task to tick off your student checklist, especially if you are looking for accommodation from outside Canada. However, with this helpful go-to-guide, you’ll have all the options and information you need to find the perfect place to stay while completing your studies in Canada.

Step 1. Research Accommodation Options and Costs

As mentioned earlier, the pandemic has added some challenges to finding student accommodation in Canada. Shared dorm rooms have been converted into single dorm rooms or simply shut down, which has drastically reduced the amount of space previously available to international students in Canada. Fortunately, there are lots of alternative options to consider but it is important to first work out what your budget will allow before making your choice.

Step 2. Explore On-Campus vs Off-Campus Accommodation

Most universities and other post-secondary institutions in Canada offer student accommodation on campus, however, sharing options, which is usually a much cheaper option may no longer be available due to COVID-19 regulations. There are still single dorm options available which usually includes a paid meal plan which you can enjoy in your campus dining hall, taking the stress out of having to plan and decide on what to make for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.

If you decide to live on campus you'll be able to choose:

On-Campus Accommodation Options

  • Dorm rooms - these are usually for first-year students; or
  • University Apartments or Townhouses - these are usually reserved for upper-year students.

How Much Will On-Campus Housing Cost in Canada?

Housing costs on campus can range anywhere from $6,000 CAD to $16,000 CAD per year depending on the type of accommodation as well as the university and province/territory in which you will be studying.

Remember: On-campus accommodation may seem more expensive at first when compared to off-campus accommodation, however, maintenance and utility fees are often not included in the advertised price. You will also have to factor in that you will need extra cash for travelling and food. This makes on-campus housing the first choice for most international students in Canada so be sure to apply as early as possible.

Benefits of On-Campus Accommodation

  • Close to classes
  • Close to on-campus amenities (libraries, gyms, etc.)
  • Concentrated international student community
  • Average rental price includes utilities and food
  • 24/7 student housing support in most universities

Top Tips to Secure Student Accommodation in Canada infographic | study in Canada

Off-Campus Accommodation Options

  • One-bedroom apartments;
  • Shared apartments;
  • Shared houses; and
  • Homestays.

How Much Will Off-Campus Housing Cost in Canada?

Off-campus apartments and houses can range between $700 CAD to $1,500 CAD per month whereas homestays usually range from $600 CAD to $1,000 CAD per month. Once again, this depends on the type of accommodation you choose as well as where you choose to stay. You may have to sign a one-year lease and depending on which province or territory you’ll be studying in, you may have to pay your first and last month’s rent or a security deposit, which is usually half your month’s rent which will be returned and the end of your lease as long as there was no damage caused to the property.

You may also find that there are other expenses that aren’t specified in the advertised rental price such as:

  • Utilities eg. heating, water, electricity, wifi etc.
  • Furniture;
  • Parking bay.

You will also have to allow for travel costs in your monthly budget so you may want to choose a place that’s not too far from campus.

If you plan to take public transport, the Rocketman app is a great tool to have when navigating your way around Canada as an international student. It has real-time arrival times for buses, trains and streetcars and helps you to find transit stops closest to you. It even has special offers which could help you save a dollar or two!

Benefits of On-Campus Accommodation

  • Plenty of options for housing style and location.
  • Students can save money by picking cheaper accommodation.
  • More freedom and independence in daily life (cook and shop for yourself).
  • Choose your own roommates.
  • Become familiar with everyday Canadian life outside of campus

More helpful tips on finding accommodation in Canada as an international student, check out our Complete Orientation Guide to Studying in Canada.

Need a Canadian Study Permit?

aerial view of multicultural students in library | study in Canada

Finding the right accommodation in Canada boils down to three main things: your budget, your personal needs and what is available to you when you apply. Start by working out how much funds you have available for accommodation and choose whether living on-campus or off-campus will be the best option. You may not find everything you’re looking for but each option has its pros and cons which need to be considered carefully.

If you have yet to apply for your study permit or even apply to your university of choice in Canada, you may not know where to begin, but it's simpler than you may think, that’s if you have the know-how.

Ready to start your studying in Canada? Find out more about your options by chatting with our consultants. Who knows, you may even qualify for discount tuition fees if you decide to study at one of our educational partners!