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Cost of Living and How to Save Money as an International Student

Cost of Living and How to Save Money as an International Student

Studying in Canada offers a captivating journey of personal and academic growth, yet navigating the nuances of its cost of living is essential for a seamless transition. In this detailed guide, we’ll dive into the various types of expenses international students may encounter in Canada, along with practical budgeting and money-saving tips.


The cost of living for a student in Canada can vary greatly depending on the city and type of accommodation. Here are some average costs:

  • Average Cost of Living: The average cost of living in Canada is around CAD $2,611 per month.
  • Rent: Renting a 1-bedroom apartment in a city centre can cost on average CAD $1,637.29 monthly, and CAD $1,404.08 per month if outside the city centre.
  • Students can also share an apartment or house with other students. The cost for this type of housing can be significantly less depending on the city and location.
  • Homestays: Homestays cost $500 to $800 per month.
  • Dormitory: Living in a dormitory costs $3,000 to $7,500 per school year.

Please note that these are average costs and actual costs can vary based on factors such as the specific city, location, and personal lifestyle. It’s always a good idea to do thorough research and plan your budget accordingly.

Groceries and Dining Out

To cover food costs, it’s wise to plan to spend around $200 to $300 per month on groceries. Dining out can strain the wallet, with an average meal at a modest restaurant hovering around $15.


Many urban centers extend discounted monthly public transportation passes for students, typically priced between $80 and $150. Alternatively, if proximity allows, embracing walking or biking not only fosters fitness but also eliminates transportation expenses.

Books and Educational Materials

Investing in textbooks and academic resources could entail an annual expenditure exceeding $1,000. However, opting for second-hand or digital alternatives substantially mitigates this financial burden.

Personal Expenses

Miscellaneous personal expenses can include clothing, entertainment, and cell phone plans which exhibit considerable variability. A ballpark figure of $200-$300 monthly should suffice for these costs.

Effective Budgeting and Money-Saving Strategies

Expense Tracking: Using budgeting tools or spreadsheets allows you to gain an understanding of your spending patterns, enabling informed purchasing decisions.

Cooking at Home: Embracing home-cooked meals not only fosters healthier dietary habits but also presents substantial cost savings compared to dining out.

Student Discounts: Capitalizing on student discounts at cultural institutions, cinemas, and/or retail outlets strengthens your purchasing power.

Embracing Pre-Owned Goods: Considering second-hand purchases for books, furniture, and attire unlocks significant savings without compromising quality.

Eco-Friendly Commuting: Prioritizing walking or biking for commuting purposes when possible. This minimizes transportation costs while promoting environmental sustainability.

In summary, while budgeting and saving money as an international student can appear complicated, adopting these practices written above will allow you to navigate these financial waters with confidence, and make your time studying abroad the best it can be!


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