Cost of Living in Canada as an International Student

As an international student considering studying in Canada, it is essential to understand the cost of living in the country. This article will provide an in-depth analysis of the expenses you can expect to encounter while living in Canada, focusing on Vancouver as a representative city. From rent and utilities to transportation and lifestyle expenses, we will break down the various costs to help you create a budget that suits your needs.

Rent in Vancouver

One of the most significant expenses for international students in Canada is housing. In Vancouver, the cost of a one-bedroom apartment ranges from $1,600 to $2,400 per month. If you prefer to save on rent, you can opt for shared accommodation, which involves living with roommates and splitting the costs. Shared accommodation typically costs between $500 to $1,000 per month.

Utilities, Internet, and Cable

In addition to rent, you will also need to pay for utilities such as heat, cooling, water, garbage collection, and electricity. The average monthly bill for basic utilities is around $102. Additionally, you should budget approximately $80 per month for cable and internet services.

Phone Plans

While Canada is notorious for its expensive phone plans, there are student-friendly options available. Low-end phone plans range from $15 to $57 per month, providing various features depending on your specific needs.

Food and Groceries

When budgeting for food expenses, expect to pay around $355 per month for groceries – a reasonable amount for a single student. However, if you choose to dine out, meals can cost between $15 to $35 each.


Public transportation is a popular option for international students. A three-zone monthly pass in Vancouver costs $181. If you prefer to drive, the average cost of a brand-new car is approximately $19,500, or you can lease one for just over $200 per month. Keep in mind that you will also need to budget for insurance, gas, and maintenance costs. Alternatively, consider biking or walking to save on transportation expenses.

Lifestyle and Entertainment

Entertainment expenses vary depending on your interests and habits. Movie tickets typically cost around $15, while alcoholic beverages average $8 per drink. Gym memberships usually cost $60 per month, and you may want to set aside $200 per month for shopping.

Other Costs

Unexpected expenses may arise during your time in Canada, so it is wise to allocate $200 per month for emergencies or additional costs.

In summary, the monthly living cost for an international student in Canada can range from $1,200 to $6,800, depending on your preferences and lifestyle. If you can live rent-free with relatives, cook your meals, and use public transportation, your expenses will likely be at the lower end of the spectrum. Conversely, if you prefer living alone in downtown Vancouver, eating out for every meal, and driving a car, you can expect to pay more.

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