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What is the Cost of Living in Canada?

If you’re considering relocating to Canada for your studies, it’s important to do your research first regarding cost of living. Despite the cost of living for students in Canada being pretty affordable, you don’t want to be caught off guard by unexpected expenses after your move! After all, student budgets are typically tight.




At Tamwood, we boast two beautiful campuses: one in Vancouver and one in Toronto, two of the largest cities in Canada. We hear questions all the time from prospective international students about the cost of living in these cities. That’s why we’ve developed this quick guide to student living costs in Vancouver and Toronto. In this article, you’ll learn about the major expenses to anticipate, how much to budget each expense for, and any extra/optional expenses you might want to consider.





  • Accommodation


Rent is very likely to be your largest expense. Tamwood offers several student housing options, including homestays, hostels, and student residences (learn more here). However, some students prefer to live in the community in non-student housing, such as a solo apartment or house with roommates. On average, expect to pay CAD 1000-2000 monthly for non-student housing accommodations, and slightly less for student-specific housing.


  • Transportation


Students in Vancouver and Toronto benefit from a vast network of public transportation options. If you’re unable to walk or bike somewhere, you can easily find a bus or train to get there in an affordable way. Expect to pay about CAD 3 per bus/train ride. If you will be using public transportation frequently, consider getting a monthly pass for about CAD 150 to save money.


  • Groceries


Most Canadians spend between CAD 200-300 on groceries each month shopping for basic items (meat, vegetables, fruit, bread, eggs, and dairy) at local supermarkets and farmer’s markets. You can expect to pay a similar amount unless you have a penchant for eating out (if so, see #5!).


  • Optional: Internet and/or Data


Can’t live without your phone? Fortunately, decent data plans in Canada start from CAD 50 monthly. If you’re considering home internet, it will run you about the same price. You can avoid these expenses by relying on your educational institution’s Wi-Fi and frequenting cafes with free Wi-Fi.


  • Optional: Eating Out


Toronto and Vancouver are renowned for their amazing food. With a wide variety of cuisines and new options on every street corner, you should try to explore local restaurants if possible. A typical fast food or street food meal will cost CAD 10-15, but a meal in a nice restaurant is usually CAD 40-50 per person.


  • Optional: Health Insurance


Health insurance varies by province, but all international students must have it by law. Check with your host institution whether you are automatically covered in the provincial health plan or need to purchase private insurance. Private insurance is usually an annual charge of CAD 600-900.


As you can see, the core elements that make up a Canadian student’s cost of living are accommodations, transportation, and groceries, but there are a few extras that can sneak up on you if you’re not paying attention. Overall, know that it’s possible to be a Canadian student with an affordable cost of living.


If you’re worried about making ends meet as you study in Canada, consider enrolling in a program that supports students with part-time jobs. For example, Tamwood offers part-time friendly programs, co-op programs, and even hiring fairs to assist their students in finding work. To learn more about earning money while you study at Tamwood, visit us here.