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Accommodation in Canada for Indian Students: Home Away From Home

Overview

Students can find off-campus accommodation for as low as 300 CAD, going up to 1,000 CAD, while Canada hostel fees usually range between 500 – 1,500 CAD. In cities like Vancouver and Toronto, costs are much higher and off-campus accommodations offer a greater capacity for savings. Cities like Montreal, Calgary, and Edmonton are cheaper in comparison for both on and off-campus student accommodation in Canada.

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Overview

Students can find off-campus accommodation for as low as 300 CAD, going up to 1,000 CAD, while Canada hostel fees usually range between 500 – 1,500 CAD. In cities like Vancouver and Toronto, costs are much higher and off-campus accommodations offer a greater capacity for savings. Cities like Montreal, Calgary, and Edmonton are cheaper in comparison for both on and off-campus student accommodation in Canada.

Getting Cosy in Canada

Like most students moving to Canada, you might be looking forward to living independently, taking care of your own living space and adulting at the next level. The freedom you have in this new, exciting country and the differences in the way of life leave you with much to learn about yourself as an adult. Finding a house on a budget is always a challenge. Still, luckily, student accommodation in Canada for Indians is supported by an excellent housing ecosystem and plenty of support for international students.

You must have a safe, comfortable space to live in while studying, making it convenient to have a good daily routine. The space should allow you to cook or get affordable, regular food without a hassle, and it shouldn’t be far from your university and part-time work. This is where house hunting gets challenging. But don’t worry. The infrastructure for student accommodation in Canada for Indians is really strong near colleges and universities, and you just have to look for something that makes you feel at home.

Still deciding on which university to attend in Canada? Read out blog on Top Universities in Canada to find out everything you need to know.

Accommodation in Canada: What You Need to Know

Your living space is really important during your time in Canada. You’ll spend a lot of time resting and caring for yourself here when you are not at classes or work. Various budget-friendly rentals and homestays accommodate international students; some even provide a few meals a week. There are also hostels and dorms attached to colleges and universities that you can take up if you have the budget for Canada hostel fees.

You probably want to know whether you should take up an on-campus or off-campus student accommodation in Canada. How do you choose between these two, and what would work best for you? Here are a few things you can consider to help you decide.

Off-campus accommodations allow you more wiggle room on how to spend your money and which items in your budget can be compromised. There are also more options for off-campus accommodations, with homestays, PG accommodations, and independent accommodations to choose from. Comparatively, on-campus student accommodation in Canada is safer and easier to manage but comes at a greater cost, with reduced freedom and privacy.

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Understanding the Fine Print on Canadian Housing

In cities like Toronto and Vancouver, the housing market is struggling to keep up with the growing demands of residents and international students. Due to this, the rental costs fluctuate and rise year on year. However, less crowded Canadian cities are stable and have a lower cost of living in Canada per month, making it easier on the pockets of students coming to Canada from India.

The average lease duration for Canadian rental properties is between 8-12 months. The lease agreements are strictly enforced. Ending the lease early, for whatever reason, can result in a financial penalty equal to the rent for the remaining months and any other costs the landlord has to bear due to your early departure. You’re also unlikely to receive your entire deposit back in case you break the lease, and if there are any damages or unpaid rent, you will be liable to pay the amount that exceeds the deposit. 

Landlords also have the right to take legal action if you break the lease agreement, which has a financial impact and could make it difficult for you to rent properties in the future. Certain landlords and property management services maintain a list of undesirable rental candidates, provide bad rental references, or just directly blacklist you from the housing market. So, if you want to change your accommodation at any point, wait patiently for your lease tenure to get over or help your landlord find a replacement so that they will amicably terminate the lease for you. Before signing the rental agreement, you can also check if subletting is an option in case you want to move out earlier than expected.

So, before taking up any accommodation, make sure your monthly cost of living in Canada is independent of your part-time income to pay for essential items like rent and basic living expenses. Take up a space near your university so that you don’t have to travel a lot daily, and ensure you can maintain the space well. Many international students do not account for important amenities like heating and hot water in their budgeted cost of living per month, although it becomes essential in the winter. Another common mistake is renting furniture, which can be expensive and not worth spending on for students on a tight budget.

Different kinds of student accommodation in Canada can work for you. Be realistic about your circumstances. Homestays, shared apartments, and low-cost rentals like basements and studio apartments are the way to go. Make sure to stay within budget by cutting out important expenses when you budget your cost of living in Canada per month since this is generally how students end up in a situation where they have to default on their lease agreements.

Campus Life: Living on University Grounds

Living on campus makes it easier to get to class on time and be aware of what is happening at the university. It is easier to socialise and take part in more college activities. Student hostels in Canada are also a very safe space since the college/university provides security and prioritises student safety. You don’t have to worry about finding providers for internet, laundry, meals, or access to libraries and cosy study spaces. Since availability is limited, you’ll have to quickly apply to these student hostels in Canada. A major advantage of on-campus accommodation is the access to on-campus work, which gives you a lot of different advantages. 

They also have a program where students can become Residence Assistants (RAs) who support the student community and maintain positive living spaces. RAs usually get subsidised or free student accommodation in Canada, depending on the policy of the college/university.

The downside of on-campus accommodation is that Canada hostel fees are higher and may not be suitable if you are on a very tight budget. All the amenities of living in a hostel or dorm come at a cost that may not be affordable to students who have taken up education loans or do not have sufficient financial support to afford the high Canada hostel fees. The private space you can access might also be limited since you may have to share your room and use community bathrooms. You have to show up on time to eat meals at the mess, and if you miss it, the lack of kitchen access makes it difficult to cook your meals. Finally, the rules and regulations of on-campus accommodation in Canada may make it difficult for you to move around freely, and you may have to compromise on certain experiences.

For those who can afford it, some colleges and universities have apartment-style accommodations with single-occupancy units. You will have your own bedroom and bathroom with access to common areas like a kitchen, living room, etc. These residences are significantly more expensive than Canada hostel fees and most off-campus housing options. The availability is also much lower than other on-campus options, so getting these spaces may prove difficult around certain times of the year, even if you apply early.

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Welcome to the Real World: Off-Campus Accommodation

Living off-campus is as close to being a full-fledged adult as a student can get. You have to be responsible and solve problems without being supervised or supported the way you would be on campus. You can choose to go solo or find housemates and roommates to share the cost of living in Canada per month. Going house hunting yourself and looking through listings to find the right fit before negotiating with landlords can be a lot of work, but the result is often very rewarding. Your choices include apartments, houses, basements, homestays, and PGs in Canada, all of which have their own pros and cons.

Apartments, houses, and basement suites are often more independent, and you and your co-habitants run everything once you have signed the lease. In a homestay environment, you get to live with a family willing to offer a supportive environment and a reasonable cost of living in Canada per month. PG accommodation in Canada is similar to the private hostels and PG accommodations in India– you have your own room, but kitchens and bathrooms will likely be communal spaces.

The biggest advantage of living off-campus is that you are in control of your budget. You can decide to live in cheaper accommodation that can save you a lot of money. You can also choose spaces that suit your unique needs and wants that come with only some student hostels in Canada. Living on your own in an off-campus accommodation also prepares you to be an independent adult who can use your freedom responsibly. You can pick an accommodation that allows you to cook for yourself, giving you greater freedom to eat what you want and save money if you need to. You’ll most likely find a space where you can get your own bedroom and bathroom, making it easier for those who prefer private spaces.

The most common problem that comes from off-campus student accommodation in Canada is transportation. Without a vehicle, you are dependent on public transport, which means you must be highly disciplined and follow a routine that gets you to classes and work on time. Students who live in off-campus accommodations also have fewer options for socialising, which can lead to loneliness and difficulty connecting with new people. The biggest pitfall of living off-campus is the risk of overspending and not being able to maintain a good routine. Having to cook and eat on time, not spending on takeout, and catching the bus instead of getting an Uber make a huge difference to your student life.

The major drawback of off-campus housing is the search for the right property. You might have to look through a few options to understand what kind of spaces you can rent. Next, you need to learn to negotiate with landlords and PGs in Canada while anticipating the pros and cons of any rental space. Luckily, there are several ways to shortlist properties online by looking at photos and the information posted on rental sites by landlords.

  • Use websites like Craigslist, Kijiji, PadMapper, and Rentfaster to find listings online.
  • Look for off-campus listings on your university website or at the administration office. These listings are often spaces vetted by former students who had a good experience with the landlord and their living conditions.
  • Facebook housing groups where landlords or people looking for housemates reach out to find tenants.
  • Newspapers with classified ads may have information on listings for you to check out.


There is a risk of running into some landlords, agents, or PGs in Canada trying to cheat or overcharge you. To avoid this, review any lease agreement carefully before signing. Remember to only agree to something after seeing the property and also contacting the verified owner of the property. Stay away from landlords who pressure you to sign an agreement or pay an advance before you’ve had enough time to consider. Look up the listing online with the address to see if anyone has complained about this landlord or the property. In any case, looking for properties from verified and vetted sources is usually better before you go into unchartered territory.

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A Home Away From Home

Homestays in Canada are probably the most wholesome off-campus option you can find. With a homestay, a student gets to live with a local family in a spare room or basement while enjoying the benefits of an average cost of living in Canada with rent. Families that open their homes to international students are generally warm and accepting and provide valuable guidance on how to live in Canada. Regular home-cooked meals and a safe environment make a huge difference to a student’s quality of life abroad. 

Aside from the warm family environment, homestays also help international students adjust to the ways of life in Canada. By integrating with the culture and having a social life that includes people from more walks of life, your life in Canada becomes much richer. However, this also depends a lot on the kind of homestay. Some homestays may restrict your independence, and you need to have compatibility with the family for it to be a truly comfortable experience.

So, how do you find homestays in Canada as an Indian? First, contact your university and find out if there are any registered student-friendly homestays in Canada on their list. They may have their own list or contacts with an agency to help you find homestays. Another option is to search online platforms like Homestay.com, Canada Homestay Network, Mystay International and IHF Canada Homestays. While looking online, you can see photos of the home and family as well as read bios and descriptions about who they are and what they are looking for. You can also look for homestays in Canada via university online forums, Facebook groups and bulletin boards.

The key is being transparent and forthcoming with your needs and who you are. Read through bios and any other useful information on hand before contacting the families and speaking with them about the stay, what they expect, what meals will be prepared and other important quality-of-life factors. Before you decide anything, make an in-person visit and gauge the homestay yourself. You can also ask for references from previous students who have lived there and contact them for more information on PGs in Canada.

The home-sharing accommodation is a small variation on the concept of homestays in Canada. In this scenario, you will share a home with adults who are not a family but have a spare room they are willing to let out. The experience can be drastically different from living with a family, but it is still a community-based environment that helps you maintain an efficient, average cost of living in Canada with rent expenditure. Your hosts can be just as helpful and forthcoming as a family or may prefer to keep some distance, but that’s something you can play by ear when you’ve decided whether you like the hosts and their property.

Counting Dollars: Making and Maintaining a Budget

Housing costs vary from city to city and province to province. Here’s what the average cost of living in Canada with rent looks like for different accommodations in 5 major student cities.

Studio Apartment

Vancouver: CAD 1,800- 2,500+

Toronto: CAD 1,700-2,300+

Montreal: CAD 800-1,200+

Calgary: CAD 800-1,300+

Edmonton: CAD 700-1,200+

 

1BHK Apartment

Vancouver: CAD 2,000-2,800+

Toronto: CAD 2,000- 2,800+

Montreal: CAD 1,000-1,600+

Calgary: CAD 1,000-1,600+

Edmonton: CAD 900-1,500+

 

Shared Apartment

Vancouver: CAD 600-1,200+

Toronto: CAD 600-1,200+

Montreal: CAD 400-800+

Calgary: CAD 500-900+

Edmonton: CAD 400-800+

 

Homestay:

Vancouver: CAD 800-1,200+

Toronto: CAD 800-1,200+

Montreal: CAD 600-1,000+

Calgary: CAD 700-1,200+

Edmonton: CAD 600-1,000+

As you can see, Toronto and Vancouver have higher average cost of living in Canada with rent compared to the other cities because of the high demand for rentals. So, if you need accommodations there, make sure you start searching as early as you can.

Source

Living on a Budget!

Once you’ve settled down on something that suits you, you first need to create a budget to predict your average monthly expenses in Canada. When you’re budgeting, make sure you only account for money that you already have. Do not add your part-time income to the budget as being unable to work for a while due to illness or other reasons will create unnecessary chaos in your lifestyle. As far as possible, part-time income should only be used for extra expenses and improving your lifestyle, not to support your basic living expenses.

Know more about part-time jobs in Canada and how they can help you pay your living expenses in Canada.

The average cost of living in Canada with rent for an international student would look something like this, although it varies based on which city you are in and how disciplined your spending habits are.

  • Rent: 400-1200 CAD
  • Food: 200-500 CAD
  • Transportation: 80-150 CAD
  • Health Insurance: 50-100 CAD
  • Other Expenses: 100-150 CAD

 

In short, accommodation in Canada would account for 30-50% of your average monthly expenses in Canada, and the remaining expenses would be spread across your day-to-day needs. Personal expenses like clothes, entertainment, etc., are not included since they should come from your earnings from part-time work. This way, you keep essential funds for essential things and treat yourself with money from your part-time earnings.

You can also apply for scholarships and financial aid to help you afford the costs of tuition and average monthly expenses in Canada. Many colleges/universities offer scholarships to their students depending on various factors. Government programs and independent scholarships are also available to students with excellent academic records. Some examples are:

  • University of British Columbia (UBC) International Leader of Tomorrow Award
  • University of Toronto Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship
  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) program.
  • Humber International Entrance Scholarships
  • Waterloo International Master’s Award of Excellence
  • University of Calgary International Entrance Scholarship

 

You can visit the ScholarshipsCanada website to find more options. Scholarships are awarded on the grounds of academia, athletics, ethnicity, the field of study, and many other categories. Canada also has a system of ‘bursaries’, which are financial aid packages paid out if your application aligns with certain conditions.

Making a Smooth Move: Tips and Tricks

The moment is finally here. You’ve done all the househunting you needed to and found a place that is just right for you. The only thing left is to make the move and start your new life. There’s only so much you can take to Canada. You’ll have to find and buy everything else starting from the bottom. Most international students have to move into their new accommodation in Canada with the bare minimum needed to live there. You’ll be able to carry some clothes, important electronics and a few quality-of-life items on the flight. Make sure to bring winterwear and some of your favourite spices if you know how to use them. Many things you take for granted in India are either unavailable or too expensive to add to your average monthly expenses in Canada.

Once you get there, you’ll have to search high and low for things that fit your budget and take advantage of garage sales, flea markets, and second-hand item listings on the internet. The most difficult item to find and afford is usually furniture. It is expensive to rent or buy, and a purchase can be hard for students on a tight budget to justify. Whatever budget you have, it should all be spent on the essentials, like a mattress, cot, and any utensils you might need. One of the most common problems students have is when they buy second-hand mattresses. These are often uncomfortable and might even have bed bugs, so unless you’re sure about how to avoid these problems, buying a new mattress is the way to go if you can afford it.

Facebook groups and other second-hand internet marketplaces like Craigslist are great places to find cheap furniture and other essentials. Neighbourhood yard sales might be hard to find, but if you see one, make time for it. If you’re used to well-furnished rooms, you may have to wait a while, building your living space up one purchase at a time, starting with only necessary items.

Making friends and other connections is really important since people are often looking to buy or sell things, and what doesn’t work for someone could be perfect for you. When someone is upgrading from a small table to a bigger one, you can get something that fits perfectly into your space. Being involved in campus activities is one surefire way to make some of these connections. Just by letting people know what you’re looking for, you might find things falling right into your lap.

Learn more about such tips and tricks when living abroad as a student using the extensive resources offered by Niyo. (P.S. They’re vetted by experts too!)

Resources and Support Services

When you’re looking for accommodation in Canada, the best places to start your search are online platforms like Craigslist, Kijiji, PadMapper and Rentfaster. These tried and tested platforms have worked for generations of students in Canada. Your university is likely to have a web portal or a list of rental options that have worked for past students. Between these two sources, you should have no trouble contacting landlords and finding listings to check out.

On Immigration Canada’s website, you can find immigrant helper organisations that provide free newcomer services that can help you find a place to live and navigate through the various community services in Canada. Here are some well-known service providers in Ontario, Canada.

  • Culturelink
    176 Elm Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5T 3M4, Canada. Ph: 416-397-7400
  • The Housing Help Centre
    100 Consilium Place, 10th Fl, Scarborough, Ontario, M1H 3E3. Ph: 416-285-8070


The national housing agency, Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation (CHMC), and newcomerscamada.ca have some resources to help support you further.

Wrapping Up

Searching for accommodation in Canada is a lot similar to India and most other countries in the world. The best way to go about it today is through online platforms and agency services. Seeing pictures and talking to people before you visit can save you a lot of time, money, and effort.

Like any other transaction, clearly state your terms and lock the deal down with a written agreement. Only settle on a property after you’ve seen it and thought everything through. Do not allow yourself to be pressured into renting before you know what you are getting. It is very important in Canada to have a solid lease agreement and follow it to the letter.

Whether it is off-campus or on-campus accommodation in Canada, there’s something for everyone, and you can make it work if you plan correctly. Prioritise your education above everything else since that is your ticket to a better life in Canada. Avoid renting places too far away or if they make it inconvenient for you to attend your classes on time.

Finally, make a reasonable budget that allows you to afford your average monthly expenses in Canada comfortably. Many students try too hard to save money and end up struggling to stick to Their budget, thereby reducing their quality of life in Canada. Remember, you are here to study, find work and live well.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is an on-campus housing lottery system?

Due to the high demand and limited supply of student hostels in Canada, universities have set up a lottery system to ensure that every student who has applied within the deadlines has a fair chance of getting on-campus housing. The lottery varies between institutions, but most hostels in Canada have lotteries with two separate draws for newcomers and returning students. This lottery system ensures that students whose study programs start a little later do not suffer from the first-come, first-served system.

2. What is the process of renting an apartment or house off-campus in Canada?

Create a budget and start researching the types of accommodation in Canada that will suit you. The best way is to search online through real-estate websites or through your university forums. Once you’ve found a suitable property to rent out, and you and the landlord have come to an agreement, you will receive a lease agreement to sign that usually contains the duration of the lease, the monthly rent payable, any furnishings the landlord has provided, and any special conditions for staying there. Make sure to conduct a move-in investigation with the landlord so that you can point out any damages or repairs required. Take photos and videos of the place to document its condition when you move in.

3. What are the advantages of choosing a homestay as an international student in Canada?

A homestay provides a warm, safe family environment, home-cooked meals, and guidance on living in Canada. This type of accommodation is really good for students who might get homesick or have difficulty making friends and other connections on their own. The families who host students are also often experienced in helping students settle into a good quality of life.

4. Are there any scholarships or financial assistance available to help with accommodation costs for international students in Canada?

Colleges and universities offer many scholarships to students with a good academic, athletic, or community record. There are also independent scholarships you can apply to upon meeting certain criteria. Visit scholarshipscanada.ca to find out more about these.

5. Where can I find additional resources and support services for finding accommodation in Canada as an international student?

Organisations like Culturelink are newcomer-welcoming organisations that help people settle into their new lives in Canada. The Indo-Canadian Community Centre (ICCC) in Toronto is a great place to find support for the Indian community. Many similar organisations exist to help specific groups like women, students, and people from smaller communities.
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