Securing admission to study in your dream school in Canada will certainly be an exciting moment for you. But, finding accommodation that meets your preferences, needs and financial budget may seem difficult. Most importantly, proximity to school could be very challenging especially when you do not know how to go about it.

For the purpose of this article, four accommodation options have been highlighted for international students coming to Canada to ease the bottlenecks of searching for accommodation and help you get the perfect place.

The major decision you will need to make is planning and budgeting for your housing or accommodation. First, as an international student, you might want to consider the affordability of your housing on monthly basis. Average rental prices tend to be more expensive in larger cities such as Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal and quite a bit lower and more affordable in smaller cities and towns.

A recent survey in 2018, reveals most international students can afford to pay between $700 and $1,000 CAD per month, for a room in a shared accommodation setting (student housing, house, or apartment).

If you plan to live in your own apartment or in a studio, you can expect to pay more than $1,000 CAD per month. Other utilities like food, electricity, gas, water, transportation, and household furniture can all add to this cost, so consider them in your budget.

On-campus Accommodation For International Students

Most tertiary institutions provide some sort of hostel residence or dormitory on-campus for their students with adequate facilities. This may serve as a good option for international students who would prefer proximity to their place of study.

In many on-campus residents, students have the choice to choose which dorms or lodge they will prefer, whether single or general dorms where bathrooms, toilets, dining halls, and other common rooms are shared. Some institutions also have single, double, triple, or quadruple apartments which are commonly reserved for upper or final year students.

Also, each post-secondary institution has its own prerequisite and priorities for every situation. Some schools for instance are providing their students with an opportunity to quarantine in special residences or hotels upon their arrival if they plan to move into a shared residence for the year.

It is mandatory to quarantine for 14 days if you arrive from abroad. You may contact your university’s international students’ department or housing unit to find out if there’s an arrangement for you.

Off-campus Accommodation for International Students

Some international students will prefer to rent private accommodation for personal reasons. The thought of sharing an apartment with friends or housemates naturally put them off.

Although renting an apartment can potentially be less expensive than on-campus accommodation, but bear in mind that they also come with added costs and effort. The most common types of off-campus housing are single-bedroom apartments, two-bedroom apartments, or shared apartments as the case may be.

In off-campus housing, you would likely have to pay for utilities like electricity, water (hydro), WiFi, heat, and Air condition. In some cases, depending on the province, for instance, you may be expected to put down your first month’s rent, or a security deposit at the time of signing your lease. One of the benefits of staying Off-campus is you become familiar with everyday Canadian life outside of campus.

Living in a homestay with a host family

A homestay is a different type of off-campus housing, where an international student can live with a host family in their home. Host families normally provide a private, single- room, and serve one – three meals per day. There are also options without meal plans.

You may find it really helpful to have your host family to introduce you around the city and make you feel more at ease while away at school. Homestays may cost quite much, but you will have more time for your studies as most of the cleaning and cooking is taken care of.

Students living in homestay accommodation should expect to travel forty minutes by bus or train in order to reach the school. This is a normal shuttle time in Canada.

If you are interested in a homestay accommodation option, you can explore the Canada Homestay Network.

Short-term furnished rentals

Short-term furnished rentals, as the name implies, are available for shorter periods of time than long-term apartment rentals (anywhere from a few days to a full four-month semester is considered Short-term rentals).

There are many ways to find temporary furnished apartments for first-time students to Canada. Short-term rentals can be found on Airbnb,, Vrbo and Kijiji, and many other popular rental sites.

Rental Prices in major Canadian Cities

City RankCity Name1 Bedroom Price1 Bedroom MoM %1 Bedroom YoY %2 Bedrooms Price2 Bedrooms MoM %2 Bedrooms YoY%
9St Catharines14300.0510.14416600.0120.107
23St John's820-0.0240.01291000.058
Table shows average rental prices for 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom houses in major Canadian cities. Updated October 2021.

In conclusion, no one option is better than the other as it boils down to personal preference, needs, and an individual’s financial budget. You should start making your arrangements early, budget accordingly, and do not hesitate to make findings over anything you do not understand. Good luck in finding your perfect home away from home!

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FAQ For Accommodation For International Students

What is student accommodation normally called?
A. A dormitory. It is a building primarily providing sleeping and residential quarters for large numbers of students such as high school, boarding school, college, or university students.
Must international students live on-campus?
There is no specific requirement for international students to stay on-campus so long as your specific study program does not provide housing. However, you may have priority access to on-campus housing as a foreign student depending on your university’s policies.
What is the average cost of on-campus housing?
If let’s say you have an eight-month on-campus housing and meal plan, it may cost you around from $6,000 CAD (smaller universities like Brandon Univerity) up to $14,000 CAD (University of waterloo) or $16,000 CAD (Macgil university). You should contact your university to confirm the cost of on-campus housing.
Can my spouse live with me in student accommodation?
This varies from university to university depending on the university’s policy. In most cases, however, schools with private halls are more likely to allow students to live with spouses on campus. At the University of British Columbia for instance, this is not a problem, you are allowed to live with your partner. As long as one of the both of you is a student.
How early should I apply for on-campus residence?
Because of its proximity to the school premises, on-campus housing is always in high demand at some universities. As soon as you get your acceptance letter, you contact your university’s student housing office to learn how to apply. You can be asked to pay an application fee.
When should you apply for student accommodation?
It varies from university to university, but usually you can apply once you have accepted an offer. Some schools will allow you to apply for accommodation even if they are your insurance option, although other schools will only open applications to you if they are your firm choice.
Where should I look for off-campus housing?

You may start looking for an apartment or room on Padmapper,, Craigslist, Kijiji, and many other smaller rental sites. You may also be able to find Facebook groups dedicated to student housing or accommodation at specific universities with a search on Facebook or through your university’s international student department. If you have any family members or friends living in the area of your school already, they may also be able to connect you with someone with a place that needs a roommate.

How much does a homestay cost in Canada?
homestay will cost somewhere between $600 and $1000 CAD per month, depending on how many meals and amenities are included. You may be charged daily, rather than by month.
Where to find a homestay placement
Some schools have arrangements with families who are interested or open to housing international students. These homestay networks have specific requirements for host families, so you can feel safe and secure in your placement and receive assistance at any moment: YES Canada homestay, Canada Homestay, Network HomeStay In.
What is a short-term rental?
Unlike long-term apartments (e.g On-campus or Off-campus accommodations) that are usually available for a longer period of time, Short-term rentals are open for shorter periods of time anywhere from a few days to a full four-month semester.
Where can I find short-term furnished apartments?
Short-term rentals or apartments can be found on many popular rental websites like Airbnb, Vrbo,, and Kijiji. As with any online listing, be more careful; some short-term rental sites will let you read the reviews of your rental host to be sure they are legitimate.
What are the most common types of accommodation for students to live?
There are different types of accommodations available to international students. Private rented houses and rooms are the most common and popular choices among students. Other common types are university-managed houses and rooms, University Hall of Residence, Private Halls, and Family stays or Homestays.
When do I pay for my student accommodation?
There are different payment options, such as monthly, annual, or scheduled payments. You can start preparing ahead, as soon as you have accepted your place, and rent is usually due at the start of each term.