Canada

4 of the most affordable Canadian cities for international students

By Kristina Spencer• Last updated: Jan 8, 2024
4 of the most affordable Canadian cities for international students
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Canada ranks among the best destinations in the world when it comes to secondary education, making it an excellent place for international students to consider when choosing universities.

In addition to its quality of education and a great selection of schools, the country is also famous for hosting international students. From welcoming immigration policies to receiving work visas after graduation if you meet the qualifications required.

Canada boasts undergraduate, graduate, and PhD programs across a variety of subjects, from agriculture to business, engineering, and film studies. 

So, if you plan on moving to the birthplace of maple syrup and are ready to embrace life and culture there, here’s a list of cities and towns that offer affordable monthly living costs and good institutions for you to consider.

Want to pursue higher education in Canada? Begin your study abroad journey today!

Most affordable cities in Canada

City nameAverage annual cost of living in CAD (excluding tuition fees)
Montreal, Quebec$12,000-$18,000
Calgary, Alberta$26,400-$42,000
Ottawa, Ontario$15,000-$20,000
Kingston, Ontario$25,500-$31,200
Sherbrooke, Quebec$13,100-$18,000
Laval, Quebec$20,000-$34,000
Abbotsford, British Columbia$20,400-$36,000
Victoria, British Columbia$14,400-$30,000
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan$20,400-$30,000
Regina, Saskatchewan$18,000-$30,000

Data updated as of January 2024

Looking to study in Canada?
Explore top universities and get free expert guidance with Edvoy

Montreal, Quebec

Quebec’s average yearly tuition is one of the lowest in the country if you are a local resident. Still, for international students, the prices are competitive with other provinces. Quebec’s competitive advantage is its cultural scene, which is extremely prevalent in Montreal.

The small island of Montreal is home to a dozen universities and colleges, creating a unique feeling of a small university town in a big city. As an international student, there is a high chance you will spend your university years downtown Montreal.

The streets are filled with familiar faces, and Halloween and St Patrick’s Day are celebrated as a big community. Montreal also offers a variety of other spots for you to settle down. The city is filled with art and culture, with endless food options for you to pick from.

Many students live in the Plateau, the city’s young neighbourhood that is best described as a lovechild of Brooklyn and Shoreditch, filled with cafes, quirky shops and delicious and affordable restaurants. Montreal has one of the most affordable student rents among Canadian cities. 

Expenses for international students living in Montreal

Type of expenseAverage cost (in CAD)
Accommodation$1300 per month
Food$560 per month
Transportation$170 per month
Utilities$200 per month
Miscellaneous$150 per month
Insurance$345.13 per year

Data updated as of January 2024 | Source: https://livingcost.org/cost

Top universities in Montreal

  • McGill University
  • University of Montreal
  • Concordia University
  • University of Quebec at Montreal

Also read: 10 best cities to study abroad in Europe

Calgary, Alberta

Calgary, also known as Alberta’s largest city, is the gateway to the Rocky Mountains, so if you are a fan of ski seasons in Europe, this may be the place for you — Banff and its world-famous mountains are less than two hours drive.

Home to 1.4 million people, Calgary residents have the youngest age average of any Canadian city. Calgary has some of the top engineering programs in the country due to the city’s proximity to the oil and gas industry.

If you are after a creative program, the Alberta College of Art and Design is one of four accredited design and art colleges in the country. Sometimes dubbed as the Texas of Canada, Calgary is also home to the Calgary Stampede, a 10-day festival that takes place every July and is an absolute must on your to-do list.

Expenses for international students living in Calgary

Type of expenseAverage cost (in CAD)
Accommodation$800 per month
Food$569 per month
Transportation$191 per month
Utilities$250 per month
Miscellaneous$160 per month
Insurance$215 per year

Data updated as of January 2024

Top universities in Calgary

  • University of Calgary
  • Mount Royal University
  • St. Mary’s University
  • Ambrose University

Ottawa, Ontario

Canada’s capital Ottawa is a vibrant city and home to two large universities — the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. If you wish to pursue a career in politics, Ottawa may be just the golden ticket; many of the citizens work in the civil service, with many bars and restaurants filled with politicians at night.

There is a buzzing downtown area with quirky bars and a hopping craft beer scene. Still, Ottawa is a quiet cousin at the Christmas table if you put him next to Montreal and Toronto, so if nightlife is a big factor in your decision-making, you may want to think again. Consider the Centretown, Little Italy and Old Ottawa South for apartment hunting.

Expenses for international students living in Ottawa

Type of expenseAverage cost (in CAD)
Accommodation$1200 per month
Food$551 per month
Transportation$180 per month
Utilities$210 per month
Miscellaneous$120 per month
Insurance$600 per year

Data updated as of January 2024

Looking to study in Canada?
Explore top universities and get free expert guidance with Edvoy

Top universities in Ottawa

  • University of Ottawa
  • Carleton University
  • Saint Paul University

Also read: Top universities in Canada for international students

Looking to study in Canada?
Explore top universities and get free expert guidance with Edvoy

Kingston, Ontario

University applicants can be divided into two categories—those who want the bright lights of big cities and those who prefer a smaller school with a tight-knit community. Kingston, the home of Queen’s University, the Royal Military College of Canada and St. Lawrence University, is located in Eastern Ontario, about 200km from Ottawa, and has the definitive air of a student town.

It has a bustling pedestrian city centre and all of the conveniences of modern life; the campuses are small enough that you can walk anywhere you want to, and the student life is buzzing. Social life and the student community create the instant at-home feeling, and Queen’s University’s Homecoming weekend is a major annual highlight. 

Expenses for international students living in Kingston

Type of expenseAverage cost (in CAD)
Accommodation$1712 per month
Food$505 per month
Transportation$53 per month
Utilities$230 per month
Miscellaneous$110 per month
Insurance$57 per month

Data updated as of January 2024

Top colleges and universities in Kingston

Sherbrooke, Quebec

Sherbrooke in Quebec is a lesser-known study destination but is considered one of the cheapest cities in Canada for international students. Home to over eight universities, the city offers various undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctorate courses that suit your interests.

Sherbrooke is well-known in Canada for providing world-class education at affordable costs. From the abundant research opportunities to student life, international students get to witness the finest study abroad experience in this city.

With a population of 160,000 people, the city is the sixth-largest in Quebec. Students can experience delicious cuisines and enjoy the natural landscapes and stunning scenery.

Expenses for international students living in Sherbrooke

Type of expenseAverage cost (in CAD)
Accommodation$1235 per month
Food$472 per month
Transportation$59 per month
Utilities$589 per month
Miscellaneous$170 per month
Insurance$300 per trimester

Data updated as of January 2024

Top universities in Sherbrooke

  • University of Sherbrooke
  • Bishop’s University

Also read: The 5 most popular cities in Canada for international students

Laval, Quebec

Laval is also considered one of the most student-friendly cities in Canada, making it a great place for higher education.

Laval has a great reputation among international students for its quality and affordable higher education. It is the third-largest city in Quebec, with a population of over 443,000 people.

Universities in Laval strive to offer the finest academic life with remarkable opportunities for international students. The institutions are also known for their excellent faculty, state-of-the-art facilities, and research opportunities.

In addition to a splendid student life, Laval has visually stunning attractions, a museum focusing on space travel, and various other activities for students to explore.

Expenses for international students living in Laval

Type of expenseAverage cost (in CAD)
Accommodation$1439 per month
Food$469 per month
Transportation$119 per month
Utilities$200 per month
Miscellaneous$180 per month
Insurance$300 per semester

Data updated as of January 2024

Top universities in Laval

  • Laval University

Abbotsford, British Columbia

Abbotsford is a famous city in British Columbia surrounded by major places like the Canada-United States border and Greater Vancouver. The city is praised for being a safe haven for international students.

Educational institutions in Abbotsford follow a well-structured curriculum that includes extensive learning and research to develop student knowledge and increase their chances of employment in Canada.

Abbotsford has various recreational activities for international students to spend their leisure time and enjoy their study abroad life to the fullest.

Expenses for international students living in Abbotsford

Type of expenseAverage cost (in CAD)
Accommodation$1670 per month
Food$507 per month
Transportation$67 per month
Utilities$73 per month
Miscellaneous$10-$45 per month
Insurance$500 per semester

Data updated as of January 2024

Top universities in Abbotsford

Victoria, British Columbia

With an optimum population of over 398,000 people, Victoria is a popular study destination for higher education aspirants. Students find British Columbia’s capital city a safe and remarkable place to move for their studies.

Victoria boasts several universities offering some of the finest programs with fantastic curriculum and research opportunities to excel in your higher education. The courses help students develop the required skills to find the right employment opportunity.

From the Royal British Columbia Museum to the Beacon Hill Park, international students are in for a visual treat while looking for attractions. Others include several restaurants, activities, and events for international students.

Expenses for international students living in Victoria

Type of expenseAverage cost (in CAD)
Accommodation$500-$1400 per month
Food$350 per month
Transportation$85 per month
Utilities$300-$600 per month
Miscellaneous$300 per month
Insurance$37.50 per month

Data updated as of January 2024

Top universities in Victoria

  • University of Victoria
  • Royal Roads University

Also read: Top universities in Canada for international students

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Saskatoon is the largest city in the Saskatchewan province and is also an agricultural hub for Canada. In addition to its economic significance, the city is a top choice for international students as it offers a platform of opportunities for education and careers.

Saskatoon is home to various educational institutions offering programs in various disciplines with a remarkable curriculum and research facilities. The city is the perfect destination for students interested in pursuing careers in fields like computer science, engineering, arts and science, healthcare, and business.

The city is also known as a hub of agricultural export logistics, and mining. Saskatoon has various tourist attractions for students to live their academic life to the fullest.

Expenses for international students living in Saskatoon

Type of expenseAverage cost (in CAD)
Accommodation$850-$1400 per month
Food$30-$70 per month
Transportation$50 per month
Utilities$175-$580 per month
Miscellaneous$30-$100 per month
Insurance$600-$900 per year

Data updated as of January 2024

Top universities in Saskatoon

  • University of Saskatchewan
  • Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology

Also read: Student accommodation in Canada

Regina, Saskatchewan

The capital of Saskatchewan, Regina is the second largest city in the province. The city is known for its vibrant and lively culture and lifestyle. Regina is also praised for its safe and secure environment for its people.

International students get to pursue higher education in prestigious universities that provide an excellent curriculum, research opportunities, and student life. The universities offer programs in various fields of study like arts and science, business and management, engineering, and medical studies.

Regina has some significant units like the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) academy. The city also has several delicious cuisines and visually captivating attractions, giving international students the finest study abroad life in Canada.

Expenses for international students living in Regina

Type of expenseAverage cost (in CAD)
Accommodation$630-970 per month
Food$200-$500 per month
Transportation$60 per month
Utilities$120 per month
Miscellaneous$100-$200 per month
Insurance$218.50 per year

Data updated as of January 2024

Top colleges and universities in Regina

  • University of Regina
  • University of Saskatchewan
  • Campion College at the University of Regina
  • Luther College at the University of Regina

Canada awaits with endless possibilities! Discover opportunities that suit you and apply today!

Frequently asked questions

Which is the cheapest city in Canada for international students?

Here are the top cheapest cities in Canada for international students to pursue higher education.

City nameProvince/territory

Average annual cost of living in CAD

(excluding tuition fees)

MontrealQuebec$12,000-$18,000
OttawaOntario$15,000-$20,000
SherbrookeQuebec$13,100-$18,000
VictoriaBritish Columbia$14,400-$30,000
ReginaSaskatchewan$18,000-$30,000

What is the cheapest province to study and live in Canada?

Quebec is considered the cheapest province to study and live in Canada. An international student spends an average of CAD $12,000-$18,000 per year while pursuing higher education in Quebec.

Which city is more expensive in Canada?

Toronto is considered the most expensive city in Canada for international students. You need to spend an average of CAD $34,200 per year to cover your expenses while staying in Toronto.

Is Toronto cheaper than Vancouver?

Toronto is more expensive than Vancouver for international students. While it costs around CAD $27,700 per year in Vancouver, a student is required to spend at least CAD $34,200 per year in Toronto.

Is it cheaper to live in Alberta or Ontario?

International students find it cheaper to live in Alberta than in Ontario. The cost of living index for Alberta is 93, whereas Ontario’s is as high as 114.

Pack your bags… Your study abroad opportunity is here!

Edvoy strives to offer students the finest academic experience while applying to pursue higher education abroad. Select the course and university you desire, and ace the interview in no time! Connect with an Edvoy Counsellor, and begin your journey today!

Related tags:
Cheapest city in Canada for international students
Most affordable Canadian cities
Affordable cities in Canada for international students
Canadian cities
Montreal
Ottawa
Kingston
Calgary
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Kristina Spencer is a freelance writer, editor and producer based in London, UK. She’s written for Vanity Fair, Vogue Bu...Read More

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