Things You Need to Know About Living in Canada on a Student Budget

Living in Canada on a Student Budget

Things You Need to Know About Living in Canada on a Student Budget

July 26, 2021

Canada has long held a reputation for its educational institutes, welcomeness toward international students, and high standard of living. It’s no surprise that Canada regularly tops lists as one of the best places for foreign nationals to pursue higher education.

If you are thinking of making Canada your temporary home while you study, you can speak to student immigration services to learn the next steps you need to take. In the meantime, here are a few helpful tips for budgeting your money to get the most out of your experience. And don’t worry, it’s not all books and bills, there will be plenty of room for fun too.

Expenses to Plan For

While studying abroad, there are several expenses that you will need to budget for. These include:

• Visa fees
• Tuition and books
• Accommodation
• Food
• Health insurance
• Transportation
• Entertainment

International students are allowed to work while they study, provided certain conditions are met, and you obtain the correct student permit (permit required for off- campus employment only). If you have questions about student work opportunities, it’s best to speak with student immigration services before applying for your student visa.

Visa Fees

Before you get to Canada, you’ll need to complete a visa application and pay all associated fees. However, unless you choose to extend your studies, these are one-time fees. The permit application fee is $150. You will also be required to submit your IELTS language testing results and provide biometrics, which cost $350 and $85, respectively.

Students who qualify for accelerated processing under the Student Direct Stream will also need to purchase a $10,000 GIC (Guaranteed Investment Certificate) to be used toward student expenses while living in Canada.

Many foreign nationals also choose to work with an immigration consultancy that specializes in student immigration services, particularly if they are interested in remaining in Canada after completing their studies. The cost for consultation will vary by agency.

Tuition Fees

Your tuition fees will depend on the province, your program, and the educational institute. According to data compiled by Statistics Canada, the average tuition in Canada just over $32,000 for an undergrad degree and $19,000 for a graduate program.
Alberta, British Columbia, and Quebec are close to national averages, with tuition fees between $26,000 – $28,000 for an undergrad and between $14,000 – $20,000 for a graduate degree. Maritime provinces tend to have the lowest tuition fees, and Ontario is the most expensive.


Because Canada has such a large concertation of post-secondary educational institutions, it also has many students and ample student housing. Many students choose to live in campus housing. These dormitories run in the range of $250-$625 per month and often include meals and internet.

Some students prefer to rent off-campus. Rents will vary by city, but in dense urban areas like Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal, you can expect to pay between $1,200-$1,800. Students often choose to share a rental with several other students, enabling them to split the costs.


Students famously eat poorly, but you still have to budget for groceries. Depending on your diet, plan to spend between $200-$300 a month on groceries, not including an allowance to eat out occasionally.


Canada has an extensive public transit system. Monthly passes can cost upwards of $125, depending on your location. Taxis and rides shares are also widely available, but the cost of these services adds up quickly.


Once you have paid for the necessities, what you have left is available to enjoy the plethora of recreational activities Canada is famous for. Budget experts suggest keeping entertainment money limited to 5-10% of your total monthly allowance. But with the ability to work full time during school break, you may have the opportunity to save for vacation splurges or fancy dinners.

If you need help obtaining a student visa, researching schools, finding somewhere to live, or have questions about working while you study, the student immigration services consultants at Fivestone Immigration would be happy to share their years of expertise.