12 Cheapest Cities in Canada for International Students

cheapest cities in Canada for international students

Cheapest Cities in Canada for International Students: Studying abroad is an enriching experience that opens doors to new cultures, knowledge, and career opportunities. When it comes to pursuing education in a foreign country, Canada stands out as a preferred destination for international students.

Canada is renowned for providing excellent education at reasonable tuition fees, along with globally recognized degrees. The country boasts world-class universities and a wide range of courses, attracting a significant number of international students. When preparing to study in Canada, it is crucial to consider the cost of living to plan your expenses effectively. 

Moreover, the country is home to several cities that provide affordable living options for students, making it an attractive choice for those seeking a budget-friendly education abroad. Being aware of the most affordable cities in Canada can help you budget wisely for your education journey. For this reason, we will explore the 15 cheapest cities in Canada for international students in this article, analyzing the cost of living, accommodation, transportation, food, utilities, and insurance.

Why School in Canada? 

Canada has gained global recognition for its exceptional education system. Its universities and colleges offer a wide range of programs and courses that cater to various fields of study. Canadian institutions are known for their emphasis on practical learning, research opportunities, and industry connections, ensuring that students are well-prepared for their future careers. 

Furthermore, studying in Canada provides access to a multicultural society that fosters diversity, inclusion, and tolerance. International students not only receive a high-quality education but also have the chance to interact with students from around the world, broadening their horizons and creating lifelong connections.

Hence, studying in Canada not only provides international students with an exceptional learning interface but also provides international exposure to the work-life experience in Canada. The experience gained in Canada can foster both career and educational advancement because the degree received in Canada receives international recognition.

Canada Study Review With a Humber College Student

What Makes a City Affordable for Students?

Apart from the tuition fees charged by educational institutions, various other expenses come into play when students consider their overall budget. The city they choose to live in plays a significant role in determining affordability. Several factors contribute to making a city student-friendly and cost-effective, some of these factors are:

1. Affordable Accommodation:

The availability of reasonably priced housing options, such as shared apartments, dormitories, or student residences, is crucial in reducing living expenses.

2. Pocket-Friendly Activities

Cities with a range of affordable or free recreational activities, cultural events, and entertainment options help students maintain a balanced lifestyle without straining their wallets.

3. Effective Transport System

Accessible and affordable public transportation systems enable students to commute conveniently within the city, eliminating the need for costly private transportation.

The Top 12 Cheapest Cities in Canada for International Students

Here are the top cheapest city in Canada for International Students ranked in no particular order:

  • Victoria, British Columbia
  • Calgary, Alberta
  • Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
  • Regina, Saskatchewan
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, Ontario
  • Montreal, Quebec
  • Moncton, New Brunswick
  • Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • St. Catharines, Ontario
  • Abbotsford, British Columbia
  • Moncton, New Brunswick

Now let’s analyze these cities based on the cost of living, accommodation, transportation, food, utilities, and insurance.

Victoria, British Columbia

Victoria offers a moderate cost of living compared to other cities in British Columbia. Accommodation options include shared apartments or student residences, which can help reduce housing expenses. The city has a reliable public transportation system, allowing students to navigate easily. With its beautiful parks, gardens, and free outdoor activities, Victoria provides affordable entertainment options.

Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, is known as the “City of Gardens” and is recognized as one of the friendliest cities worldwide. With a population of 350,000, it is a peaceful and welcoming medium-sized city. Situated at the southern end of Vancouver Island, it is a renowned destination to immerse oneself in Canadian culture and gain a deeper understanding of the country. 

The average cost of living in Victoria is $3,847/month for a single person who rents. This average is based on many factors including the cost of housing, transportation, groceries, and entertainment. Here is a brief rundown of the cost of living in Victoria, British Columbia: 

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Calgary, AlbertaCheapest Cities in Canada for International Students

Calgary, the largest city in the province of Alberta and Canada’s fourth-largest city, combines world-class educational institutions with fantastic recreational opportunities. With over 200 ethnic groups, Calgary celebrates diversity and fosters an international environment. 

Oxford Economics’ North American housing affordability report ranked Calgary as the ninth most affordable city in the region. The income tax rates in Alberta are lower compared to other provinces, allowing you to earn more annually.

Calgary also boasts one of the highest levels of educational achievement among all major cities in Canada, second only to Toronto, sometimes referred to as the “Texas of Canada,”. It boasts the youngest population among Canadian cities, making it vibrant and dynamic. 

For students interested in creative programs, the Alberta College of Art and Design is a top choice. Known as one of Canada’s leading institutions for design and art education, it offers excellent opportunities for artistic growth.

Furthermore, Calgary embraces a unique blend of cultures, exemplified by its famous Calgary Stampede. This event showcases a rich Western heritage, reminiscent of Texan traditions. In terms of accommodation, the minimum monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment is around CAD 800, providing affordable housing options for students. Here is a brief rundown:

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

While Saskatoon, the largest city in Saskatchewan, may be overlooked by many international students within Saskatoon lies the esteemed University of Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan Polytechnic College, offer excellent educational opportunities.

With a population of approximately 317,480, Saskatoon’s economy thrives in industries such as potash, oil, and agriculture. In recent years, the city has experienced remarkable growth in the digital media and Information Technology sectors. 

Despite its bustling development, Saskatoon remains one of the most affordable cities among major Canadian destinations. This translates to lower costs for accommodation, bills, food, and taxes, making it an ideal choice for budget-conscious students.

Notably, major employers such as McDonald’s, Walmart, Amazon, Best Buy, and Home Depot offer ample part-time job opportunities in Saskatoon. With average annual incomes ranging from C$30,000 to C$40,000, students can supplement their studies while earning a decent income.

Saskatoon’s affordability, coupled with its thriving job market, presents a compelling case for international students seeking quality education without breaking the bank. It’s time to uncover the potential of Saskatoon and seize the opportunities it has to offer.

Regina, SaskatchewanCheapest Cities in Canada for International Students

Regina, the capital and second-largest city of Saskatchewan, Canada, has flourished since the post-World War II era. Once a modest city, it rapidly transformed into a vital transportation, manufacturing, and distribution hub, serving the expansive agricultural region. With excellent accessibility and well-connected infrastructure, including the Trans-Canada Highway and Regina International Airport, the city enjoys seamless connections to major railroads.

Additionally, Regina’s economy thrives on its abundant natural resources, including fertile prairies and valuable minerals. Industries such as oil, natural gas, potash refining, and food processing contribute significantly to the city’s economic backbone. Notably, Regina is home to the world’s largest wheat pool, known as the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool.

With its extensive North American and international alliances, it holds the title of the largest grain-handling company, with its headquarters situated in Regina. Moreover, the city has also embraced the transition into an emerging IT hub, expanding its employment opportunities.

However, various sectors in Saskatchewan, including steel fabrication, manufacturing of farm implements, communications equipment, paints, and building materials, offer promising job prospects. Recognizing the need for skilled workers, the Saskatchewan Government has projected over 98,000 job openings in the province between 2019 and 2023, with Regina expected to seize a significant portion of these opportunities.

Regina is home to a diverse range of sectors, including wholesale and retail, healthcare, agriculture, and educational services, which are actively hiring. Sales, skilled trades, transport operators, business, finance, and administration sectors are also expected to experience growth in the region. When it comes to the cost of living, a single person’s expenses, including rent, typically amount to around C$1,500 per month. Room-sharing options can further reduce this cost to approximately C$1,200 per month.

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Situated near the eastern end of the Canadian Prairies, Winnipeg proudly stands as the capital of Manitoba. Among Canada’s major cities, it has earned the distinction of being the third-fastest growing economy. Immigrants and international students are drawn to this city, thanks to its low rental income and affordable living costs, making it a haven for those seeking a fresh start. Despite its harsh winters, Winnipeg thrives as a manufacturing and hospitality hub, catering to the needs of Canada’s diverse industries.

Winnipeg boasts esteemed educational institutions, including the University of Manitoba, the University of Winnipeg, Red River College, and the Manitoba Institute of Trades & Technology. These institutions have transformed the city into a vibrant student community, fostering numerous job opportunities for both locals and immigrants.

Notably, Winnipeg is a thriving ground for start-ups and growing businesses, offering immigrants rewarding career options. With a strong presence in sectors such as aerospace, advanced manufacturing, creative industries, information and communication technology (ICT), and agribusiness, the city provides a diverse range of employment opportunities.

For students in Winnipeg, the average annual income amounts to around C$34,000, while the average monthly expense stands at approximately C$900. This favourable income-to-expense ratio further enhances the attractiveness of Winnipeg as a study destination.

Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, OntarioCheapest Cities in Canada for International Students

Nestled between 100-120 kilometres (62-75 miles) southwest of Toronto, the interconnected cities of Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge, collectively known as the Tri-Cities or KWC, offer an ideal location for daily commuters and students alike. As housing costs in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) continue to soar, many individuals seek opportunities to work in Toronto while residing in the Tri-Cities, effectively reducing their accommodation expenses. 

Located just a one-hour drive from the GTA, this region is rapidly becoming the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor, emerging as one of the largest tech hubs in North America often referred to as the “Silicon Valley of Canada.” Waterloo, in particular, gained fame as the birthplace of BlackBerry, a smartphone manufacturer that reached a market capitalization of over C$80 billion and employed nearly 20,000 individuals at its peak in 2008. 

Today, the Tri-Cities offer an abundance of opportunities for tech enthusiasts, spanning a wide range of fields, including drones, wearables, intelligent marketing, space manufacturing, and hosting companies like Google. With a perfect blend of green spaces and vibrant downtown activity, Kitchener provides an exceptional work-life balance, making it an enticing place to live and thrive. 

For international students and residents alike, the average monthly living costs in the Tri-Cities amount to approximately C$1,275, while the average annual wage stands at C$40,000. This favourable income-to-expense ratio further solidifies the appeal of the region as an attractive destination for both work and study.

Montreal, Quebec Cheapest Cities in Canada for International Students

Quebec stands out as one of the most budget-friendly provinces in Canada when it comes to finding an affordable place to live. Montreal, in particular, offers unique advantages and a vibrant cultural scene. With numerous colleges and universities, it has earned the reputation of being a university town, attracting a significant number of international students. The concentration of McGill University students in the vicinity has even led to the area being referred to as the McGill Ghetto.

In terms of housing, the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Montreal is approximately CAD 1,290. Many international students choose to reside in the Plateau neighbourhood, known for its eclectic shops, cosy cafes, and reasonably priced restaurants that serve delicious food.

Moncton, New Brunswick

Moncton, which is the largest city in New Brunswick, stands out as one of the most affordable places in the province. The city’s cost of living is 6.3% below the national average, making it a budget-friendly option for residents. In Moncton, you can find a one-bedroom apartment starting at a minimum of CAD 800 per month.

Like many other cities in Canada, Moncton warmly welcomes international students, offering them a promising environment. When considering the cheapest provinces in Canada, New Brunswick takes the top spot.

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Halifax, the renowned and largest city in Nova Scotia, stands out as a hub of university campuses. A quarter of the population in Halifax comprises students, drawn by the affordable tuition and reputable universities that call this city home. With a large student community, Halifax offers reasonably priced options in terms of food, drinks, and fashion, making it an attractive destination. 

Additionally, Halifax fosters a dynamic environment for start-ups, ensuring a steady stream of fresh talent from graduating classes to support the thriving tech industry.

A few years ago, the city witnessed significant employment growth, with the manufacturing sector leading the way at a remarkable 20% increase, followed closely by professional scientific and technical services with a 17% growth rate.

With a cost of living around C$1,230, significantly lower than the average student salary of C$35,000 per year, Halifax offers an affordable lifestyle that aligns with students’ financial needs.

St. Catharines, OntarioCheapest Cities in Canada for International Students

Ranked as the fifth most affordable city, St. Catharines, located in Ontario’s renowned Niagara Region, offers a cost of living that is 0.5% below the national average. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in this city is around C$1,314. With its abundant 1,000 acres of gardens, parks, and trails, St. Catharines is proudly known as “The Garden City.” Moreover, it enjoys convenient proximity to the world-famous Niagara Falls, just a short 20-minute drive away.

Abbotsford, British Columbia

British Columbia is often perceived as an expensive destination, there are pockets within the province that offer budget-friendly options for international students. Among them is Abbotsford, the largest city in terms of area. Living costs in Abbotsford are 3.6% below the national average, making it an attractive choice. The monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in this city is approximately CAD 1432. So, if you’re looking for an affordable place to study in British Columbia, Abbotsford should be on your radar.

Moncton, New Brunswick

Moncton, the largest city in New Brunswick, stands out as an exceptionally affordable place to reside. Its vibrant small-city atmosphere, engaged community, and laid-back lifestyle contribute to its exceptional quality of life. With esteemed educational institutions like Mount Allison University and Crandall University, Moncton offers competitive tuition rates, attracting both local and international students. 

Additionally, international students favour Moncton for its Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program, which facilitates settlement within just six months after completing their studies. Moncton truly offers a compelling choice for those seeking a fulfilling academic and social experience in a budget-friendly setting.

Each of these cities provides unique advantages in terms of affordability, making them excellent options for international students on a budget.

Summary of Cost of Living in Each of the 12 Cities Listed above 

City nameProvince Average House rent in (CAD)The average cost of Living in (CAD)
Victoria British Columbia14955391
Calgary Alberta8003170
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, Ontario12003350
MonctonNew Brunswick8002190
HalifaxNova Scotia13741870
St. CatharinesOntario17954715
AbbotsfordBritish Columbia14801900
MonctonNew Brunswick10591393
Cost of Living in the top Cheapest cities in Canada for International students

Conclusion: Cheapest Cities in Canada for International Students

Studying in Canada can be a life-changing decision for international students. Not only does Canada offer a top-notch education system, but it also provides numerous affordable cities to enhance the overall student experience. 

The 15 cheapest cities in Canada for international students mentioned in this article serve as excellent options for those seeking a budget-friendly yet enriching education abroad. Remember, it’s essential to research and plan to make the most of your time and resources while studying in Canada.

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