How to Find Student Accommodation in Canada

Sristy Sharma
Updated on Sep 30, 2022 03:15 PM IST

Canada is undoubtedly one of the most welcoming countries for international students. However, that doesn't reduce the stress of finding a place to stay in Canada as an international student. Find out the various student accommodation options in Canada and how to find one.

How to Find Student Accommodation in Canada
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Even if you are halfway through the application process to your chosen university in Canada or just starting your research on studying in Canada, student accommodation options in the country might have cropped up in your mind. It is rightfully so and is, in fact, one of the major concerns of international students living abroad.

There are many concerns which come with accommodation, ranging from the available options to finding the one which suits you the best. Considering the same, we have researched the accommodation options available in Canada for international students and the kind of benefits they offer. 

This guide will come in handy in gaining much-needed insight into finding student accommodation in Canada. 

Student Housing Options for International Students in Canada

As an international student in Canada, you shall have tons of options to choose from. All these options are primarily divided into two categories:

  • On-campus Accommodation in Canada

  • Off-campus Residence in Canada

Whichever of the options you choose, the decision will affect all the other expenses you incur while studying in the country. In fact, a choice may lead to a deduction or an increase in certain heads of expenses. For instance, on-campus residences in Canada mean almost no travel expenses but the sorority or fraternity club fees might exist. Similarly, these club fees are not there for off-campus residents but they would have to pay for your travelling expenses.

The final decision on student accommodation must be made very carefully as the overall cost of living in Canada shall differ accordingly. You will have to properly estimate all the expenses possible with the choice and a contingency amount to ensure not being cornered by the expenses.

From shortlisting universities to guiding them through the visa process, our study abroad experts have helped numerous Indian students find the ideal Canadian university along with scholarships.

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On-Campus Student Accommodation in Canada

On-Campus residences in Canada are provided by the universities which have buildings or areas allotted for residential purposes within the campus. These buildings are generally separated from the academic ones and nearer to administrative ones to allow quick redressal of problems faced by residing students.

You need to understand that on-campus housing is a good option for international students who need to ensure minimum living expenses as the rent is lower than off-campus housing and many other expenses such as travel, food, maintenance, etc. are also cut down.

On-campus housing rent can differ according to the university and the type of housing they are providing. In many cases, universities categorise the dwellings on the basis of facilities and square foot area of the dormitory. Here are the types of on-campus living options at Canadian universities: 

  • Penthouses like dormitories with attached bathrooms and large floor space

  • Elite rooms with en-suite bathrooms and larger floor space

  • General rooms with lesser floor space and sharing might be excused

  • Executive dormitories with shared bathrooms and lesser floor space

Note: The rent for each type of room shall differ.

Additionally, if you have not been able to find any residential facility on your campus tour, you must consult the administrative department. There are cases wherein in order to ensure proper academic and student development facilities, the college administration might have outsourced student accommodation facilities from the surrounding local community. In this case, the residential facilities shall be physically off-campus but, for all other purposes, they shall be considered the same as on-campus accommodation.

Benefits of On-Campus Residence in Canada

On-campus housing is a popular choice for international students in Canada primarily because of the feasibility it offers. The option provides a lot of advantages:

  • The travel expenses could be totally done away with. Even on large campuses, commutation facilities are available or you may own a bike.

  • The rent is at least two times lower than off-campus housing in the country.

  • Food expenses while living on-campus are lower with hostel mess.

  • Many collateral facilities such as a gym, park, common area for entertainment, etc. are available on-campus at Canadian universities.

  • Since a diverse student base is there, it is easier to adjust to cultural diversity and make friends in a foreign country.

  • Additional time can be contributed to studies or part-time work in Canada.

  • The exhaustion of daily life is comparatively low.

  • The administration is always at a reachable distance to hear and solve your problems.

Off-Campus Student Accommodation in Canada

If you value freedom while studying abroad and additional costs do not bother you much, then you may opt to live off-campus in Canada. However, it must be noted that finding a proper off-campus residence is going to be hectic. 

There are two types of off-campus residence options available for international students in Canada:

  • Rentals

  • Homestays

You may choose any of the two but the obligations and expenses shall differ depending on a range of factors such as location, type of room, facilities, etc.

Sometimes it is possible that you may reach out to your university’s administration and they may help in either finding a proper off-campus residence or guide you on how and whom to approach while finding off-campus living options in Canada.

Rentals

Rentals are when you look out for a residence option and pay a certain amount on a periodic basis (usually monthly) to attain its dwelling rights. There are many residence options available in rentals in Canada:

  • Studio Apartments

  • Apartment sets, etc.

You may also choose to share these residences with one or more fellows to ease the burden of paying a higher rent while paying a hefty amount for your education. While searching for rentals there are categorically two types available:

  • Term Bound Rentals

  • Termless Rentals

Term Bound Rentals

In this rental option in Canada, you shall have to mention the time period for which you will be renting it. Once this period is over, you may have to vacate the property or do as per the negotiation between you and your landlord. Each term contract will be individual rather than an extension of an existing one.

Termless Rentals 

In this case, periodic payment or rent is decided upon and a security deposit is made along with the first payment. There is no lock-in period in such a setting. However, landlords often require a notice of anywhere between one to two months before vacating the premises. This is to ensure the maintenance costs and final settlement as well as proper time to ensure the employability of residences for landlords.

Homestays

Sometimes the employers, owning their own business, may offer or allow their part-time employees a room or additional dwelling in their home. The landlord does not compulsorily have to be your employer, but it is more popular as an instance.

These homestays may or may not be term bound, but they often work on an employment basis. However, most of the homestays in Canada are based on the relationship you share with your hosting family and its members. The better it is, the more perks you shall have as a tenant at a homestay.

Benefits of Off-Campus Accommodation in Canada

While freedom is a given prerequisite of off-campus residence, the benefits are definitely not limited to it:

  • Freedom of choice in food and other entertainment activities.

  • Less third-party influence and effect on personal life.

  • Easier and quicker navigation and adjustment to destination lifestyle. Homestays are especially better for cultural adjustment.

  • Inclusion and knowledge of the country.

  • Independence development.

  • Development of self-reliant skills like problem-solving, crisis management, etc.

  • Wider opportunities and scope for learning and other activities.

Steps to Find Student Accommodation in Canada

While finding accommodation anywhere is a humongous task in itself, it only becomes more formidable in the case of a foreign country. As an international student, the task of finding accommodation can be made a lot easier by following the steps below:

1. Research

Spend some time understanding the accommodation options available and how to reach them. International students have to arrange accommodation while sitting in their home country. The distance is bound to cause difficulties and miscommunication, so it is better to be aware of the common option, terms, etc. Spend some time online and connect with Experts or other students to get a general idea of student accommodation in Canada.

2. Connect with Brokers and University

Once the international student is familiar with the general scenario of student accommodation in Canada, they must connect with the property agents. International students are not aware of the actual situation and it is more probable than not that they have missed a lot of details about each option. As a precaution, they must connect with both on-campus and off-campus housing providers. They must try to gain as much information as possible by connecting with the university’s administration and brokers. They can use their earlier research information to come off as an aware and knowledgeable customer.

3. Budget and Plan

Now the student shall have both background knowledge and a better understanding of costs, facilities, accommodation options, floor area, and other details of the student housing market in Canada. They must now plan out a budget and the margin of uncertainty they are ready to bear in this budget. An Ideal budget for student accommodation in Canada shall include rent expenses, light and water expenses, food and groceries expenses, maintenance, security deposit, and a margin of uncertainty (approximately 5% - 8% of the total budget).

4. Reconnect and Shortlist

On basis of the budget prepared the student can reconnect with the property agents, university accommodation office and brokers. They must ensure to give the desired accommodation and related requirements to the agents. This information must be in a range rather than specific figures. The parameters include floor area, facilities, location, and other specifications. The students can then shortlist the property options from those shown by the property agents.

5. Confirm the Accommodation Description

Among all the options shortlisted the student must figure out the options most suitable for them. It is now time to confirm the descriptions and promises made by the agents. Again here as international students distance from real events might become problematic. The students must take all the required steps to ensure that they can confirm the claims. 

6. Finalise the Student Accommodation in Canada

After confirming the claims, the student shall be required to finalise their accommodation choice. They will also have to pay a token amount as a promise. The students are advised to ensure a written confirmation of details and description of the accommodation and treat the same as an agreement with the property agent and their own signatures. While university accommodation options are safe even without this temporary agreement, they must be executed compulsorily if accommodation is off-campus. Finalise the student accommodation in Canada with a token amount.

Check out this video for some useful tips:

Student Accommodation Costs in Canada

International students shall have to work out their budget and plan on basis of student accommodation in Canada costs. There are various parameters that act as cost drivers for student accommodation in Canada.

Here are some of the important cost drivers and related expenses of student accommodation in Canada:

Type of Expense

On-Campus Annual Expenses (in CAD)

Off-Campus Annual Expenses (in CAD)

Rent (On-campus)

3,000 - 12,000

4,200 - 18,000

Electricity Expenses

600 - 1,200

600 - 1,200

Food and Groceries

Included/8,000 - 12,000

15,000 - 20,000

Internet Expenses

600 - 1,200

600 - 1,200

Travel Expenses (for education)

NIL

1,600 - 15,000

Where to Search for Student Accommodation in Canada?

International students can search for student accommodation in Canada on basis of the type of housing:

  • On-Campus Student Accommodation in Canada shall have to be searched with the university’s accommodation office. The students are to connect with the office and ask for available accommodation. There are sometimes special residence options set aside for masters and PhD students. An inquiry can be made for the same. 

  • Off-Campus Student Accommodation in Canada can be searched at online house hunting portals. The students can also directly connect with the brokers, or take help from Study Abroad Experts. Study Abroad Experts have some useful and strong connections in Canada and have a better possibility to find good student accommodation in Canada options. Alternatively, universities also help students in connecting with verified property owners and brokers.

Precautions to Take While Choosing Student Accommodation in Canada

In order to choose a proper living option as an international student in Canada, the following precautions must be followed:

  • Research should be done as to how the student accommodation business is conducted in Canada. For instance, when and how much security deposit is to be paid and whether the amount is balanced against maintenance charges and finalised at the time of leaving the property.

  • The incidental expenses must be taken into account. In the case of on-campus accommodation, these shall vary on the basis of the university and administrative policies. On the other hand, in the case of off-campus accommodation, travel, food, light and water, and other basic amenities are some obvious expenses.

  • The implicit costs must also be properly estimated beforehand. These costs are not borne directly, however, they indirectly impact a lot on your comfort and stress level. For instance, the time spent commuting to the university (in the case of off-campus housing) will have an impact on your overall expenses.

  • Practicality must be given more importance than ideology. While it is ideal to avoid entertainment expenses among financial constraints, it shall be irrational to not consider their probability on a monthly basis as they constitute a psychological requirement.

  • There are certain facilities that come attached to student accommodation, both on and off-campus. While some are budget-driven, a proper enquiry must be done based on your requirements as well.

  • Internet facilities, normal wear and tear, reachability and availability of general facilities must be properly researched before deciding on your student accommodation option in Canada.

Obviously, the decision of which student accommodation to choose is not as easy as it sounds, especially if you do not already have someone to help you with the same. In this case, it is better that you take the guidance of a professional as they have experience and sources to confirm the real situations rather than probabilities.

We have consultants on board to help you with your queries about studying and living in Canada. Write to us at abroad@collegedekho.com. to evaluate your profile and get the right application guidance. 

Need Expert Help to Study in Canada?

FAQs

How can I find accommodation in Canada?

As an international student, you can find accommodation in Canada as either an on-campus or off-campus facility. On-campus student accommodations in Canada are provided by the universities which include residential buildings or areas allocated within the campus. For off-campus accommodation, you can search for houses and apartments for rent on different websites as well as in local newspapers' classified sections, and libraries.

How much does student accommodation in Canada cost?

Student accommodation in Canada can cost somewhere between CAD 675 to 875 (INR 40,293 to 52,232) per month on average. If a student decides to reside in a city, they should budget an extra CAD 550 to 600 (INR 32,831 to 35,816) for housing in a dorm.

Where do most international students live in Canada?

Most international students who live in Canada opt for on-campus accommodation rather than staying off-campus as it is one of the most pocket-friendly options. Graduate students prefer to live in private flats or apartments in popular cities such as Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Quebec City, etc.

Can an international student rent an apartment in Canada?

Yes, an international student can rent an apartment in Canada. International students should consider renting an apartment because it is a more reasonable alternative for living and is usually rented on an annual basis, though occasionally month-to-month, too, depending on the rental arrangement.

What is a homestay in Canada?

Homestay in Canada is when an international student stays with a host family that offers accommodation. Students that participate in homestay programmes can benefit more from their international education journey. This is due to the fact that homestays give students access to a network of native English speakers with whom they can practise speaking and provide them with daily insights into Canadian culture, particularly its cuisine.

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