Best Places to Live in Canada as a Student

With a range of internationally recognized degrees, cost effective courses and an advanced educational system, it’s no surprise that Canada continues to rank as one of top countries for the best quality of life. Whether you’re an international or local student, you’re guaranteed a qualification that is internationally recognized from well-renowned educators.

So, you may ask: what are some of the best places to live in Canada for students?

We’ll break down some of the best cities along with their designated universities for you in a bit. But first, let’s take a look at Canada’s top ranking Universities as per the data shown on QS World University Rankings 2022, and dive into the deeper end of what makes these cities ideal for students.

The table below represents the top six universities in Canada along with their city location:

Ranking in Canada World Wide Ranking University City
1 26 University of Toronto Toronto
2 27 McGill University Montreal
3 46 University of British Columbia Vancouver
4 111 University of Montreal Montreal
5 126 University of Alberta Edmonton
6 140 McMaster University Hamilton

Now that you have an idea of the top six universities in Canada, wouldn’t it be interesting to know which cities are most preferred by students?

As per QS World University Rankings 2022, the table below represents the top cities in Canada that’s most commonly preferred by students:

City Ranking in Canada World Wide Ranking
Montreal 1 6
Toronto 2 11
Vancouver 3 16
Ottawa 4 45
Quebec City 5 115

In comparison to the cities with top ranking universities, we can see in the above table that Edmonton and Hamilton are missing from the list of cities that's most preferred by students. However, we will highlight these two cities regardless since they contain top ranking universities in Canada.

It goes without saying that there’s a myriad of factors to consider before choosing a city to live and study in. Factors such as employment opportunities upon completion of studies, cost of living, security, lifestyle and culture are fundamental aspects to consider before it can be classified as one of the best places to live and work in Canada.

Let’s unravel the ins and outs of each city and see what makes these cities so exceptional for both international and local students of Canada.


Montreal ranks top when it comes to education, making it the most preferred city by students. With a student friendly city that accommodates both international and local students, you can’t go wrong with this city. While Montreal is full of hustle and bustle, this eco-friendly place is well known for its artificial intelligence (AI) research, I mean, it even has Microsoft and Google investing in its AI industry.

On the flip side, you can also expect affordable university fees with quality education and an abundance of job opportunities lined up after your studies. Just to name a few, jobs such as nurses, educators, engineers, construction workers and programmers are currently high in-demand in Montreal.


According to, Toronto is ranked as one of the best places to live in Canada and one of the top multicultural cities for international students - so much so that the city hosts many international festivals that are inclusive to foreign nationals.

The city promises in-demand occupations such as school teachers, registered nurses, transport drivers and much more for students to look forward to after their studies. Not to mention that the University of Toronto offers a wealth of +700 courses to choose from. With a strong support system for both local and international students, you can expect a range of scholarship programs that recognize exceptional student performance. This makes Toronto one of the best places to live in Canada.


Surrounded by stunning landscapes of waters and mountain tops, Vancouver also embraces a multitude of cultures and ethnicities, which is ideal for international students looking to live and work in Canada. So, what exactly can you find on the West Coast? You can expect a diverse, eco-friendly city that’s booming with innovation and graduate opportunities for students.

If you’re a tech-savvy individual who’s into IT and programming, then this city might be ideal for you. The University of British Columbia is an amalgamation of award-winning programs with student-friendly activities for students to enjoy.


Rated as one of the best student-friendly cities in the world from the student perspective according to QS World University Rankings 2022, Ottawa boasts superior education with low tuition fees. For a low cost of living, you can expect a high quality of life in a city with a thriving economy.

Suppose you’re a student looking to study at the prestigious University of Ottawa, you’d be enjoying well renowned research and breakthroughs in science, social studies, health sciences and the humanities sector. Just to name a few current in-demand jobs in Ottawa: web developers, human resource (HR) managers, veterinarians, financial advisors, welders, pharmacists and administrative assistants.

Quebec City

This French city is the capital of the Province of Quebec, so if you enjoy being immersed in an active lifestyle, then Quebec is the city for you. Feast your eyes on the city’s cobblestone streets and architecture while you explore activities such as trekking, cycling, paddling, canoe camping, ice climbing, skiing, sea kayaking, and camping.

The University of Quebec boasts a dedicated scientific research and development sector with a vibrant study experience for students, while having the opportunity to learn French. Among a few occupations, Quebec’s current in-demand job opportunities are business, health professionals, sales and service, and managerial positions.


Home to Canada’s largest history museum, historical park and largest mall, Edmonton is known as Canada’s educational hub. Based in the capital of Alberta, you may consider going to the University of Alberta to discover a wealth of faculties in humanities, sciences, creative arts, business, engineering, and health sciences.

If you’re a student seeking out one of the best places to live in Canada, then Edmonton tops your choice. Current occupations in Edmonton would be jobs in the service sector, health care, agriculture, technology and manufacturing jobs.


Hamilton is known for its youthful population which is the perfect city for both local and international students. The city is home to the longest river, the Waikato, which flows 16 kms through Hamilton. At leisure, you can enjoy 130 gardens and parks, and if you’re spontaneous, you can hop in your car for a 90 minute road trip to Auckland, New Zealand.

If you’re a student who wants to live and work in Canada, you can join McMaster University which built its reputation on its innovation and discovery in engineering and business. Right now, in-demand jobs in Hamilton would be delivery drivers, customer service representatives, software developers, procurement and Supply Chain Specialists and many more.

Now that we’ve given you a breakdown of the best places to live in Canada for local and international students, you may be wondering how you can immigrate to Canada. Alternatively, you may be curious about which student programs may be suitable for your needs and circumstances.

Below is a brief overview of the study pathways for international students, or students who wish to gain permanent residence in Canada:

  • Canadian Experience Class
  • Federal Skilled Worker Program
  • Provincial Nominee Programs
  • Quebec Immigration Options
  • Post-Graduation Work Permits

Note that you can apply to immigrate to Canada through the Express Entry system, which comprises three programs that are also listed above: Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Program and the Federal Skilled Trades Program. Under the Express system, candidates have to receive an invitation to apply (ITA) before applying through the Express Entry system. The invitation is valid for 60 days so applicants must apply before the 60 days expires.

Whichever immigration program you choose, these are the steps involved when applying to immigrate to Canada:

  1. Step 1: Check if you Meet the Program Criteria
  2. Step 2: Check your Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) Score (under Express Entry or other points driven programs)
  3. Step 3: Gather your Documents in Advance
  4. Step 4: Create your Online Profile
  5. Step 5: Apply to the Program and Submit your Application

Once you’ve undergone all the steps for PR, you may want to double-check that you have all supporting documents and that you’ve filled out all required fields correctly before you officially submit your application.

Bear in mind that the final decision on your application will depend on whether or not you meet the program criteria and your admissibility to Canada. In addition to this, you need to submit your medical exam results and comply with background checks before a decision can be made.

A Final Word …

Whether you’re an international or local student in Canada, you can enjoy a wealth of opportunities tailored for your unique student needs that each city has to offer. By now, you should have a better understanding of the best places to live in Canada, as well as the most suitable study programs for you.

Still a bit fuzzy on where to start? Feel free to get in touch with a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) to advise and guide you through the process.