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A guide to student accommodation in Canada

Explore your options for student accommodation in Canada with this helpful guide to the main accommodation types

Seeta Bhardwa's avatar

Seeta Bhardwa

Editor, THE Student
July 20 2021
A guide to student accommodation in Canada


Thinking about where to live when embarking on your study abroad journey in Canada is one of the biggest things you will have to organise. There are a range of factors to consider, such as your budget, whether you want to live on campus, how you will make friends in Canada, whether you would prefer to furnish your home yourself and so much more.

Luckily Canada has a range of options that prospective international students can choose from, which you can have a look at below. 

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1. On-campus accommodation

On-campus accommodation will tend to be university dorm rooms with shared kitchens, bathrooms and lounges. There will be variation on how many other students you will share these facilities with, so it will be down to you to choose whether you want to share with lots of other students or just three or four. 

In on-campus accommodation students are likely to have to pay one charge that will include all bills including electricity and internet. Additionally, most student accommodation will be fully furnished, meaning that students won’t have to think about buying furniture. Students will likely have to bring their own bedding, which can be bought on arrival. 

Usually first year students will opt to stay in on-campus accommodation as a good way to meet other students, stay connected to the campus community and attend student and university events. 

On-campus accommodation can often be quite competitive so it is worth applying as soon as you possibly can. Once you have received your university acceptance letter, start to have a look at the different options that are available and their prices. 

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2. Off-campus accommodation

Off-campus accommodation will likely be an apartment or house for which students can sign a one-year lease, which they can choose to renew if they want to stay in the same home for longer. 

The first thing to consider when looking for off-campus housing is your budget. Work out how much you think you can spend a month on rent and also consider how much you can budget for bills and food. Bigger cities such as Toronto and Montreal may have a higher cost of living so it’s also important to bear that in mind. 

Most rentals will require a deposit that will usually be the cost of two months rent, so ensure that you have that amount readily available so that you don’t miss out on a property that you love. 

The other thing you need to make sure you consider when searching for an apartment is the area it is located in and how far away from campus it is. You will need to make sure that there are good transport links, and that the area is safe and somewhere that you would want to live for at least a year. 

Most landlords will require some paperwork such as proof of ID and character references, so be sure to check what you will need and have it all ready so you can snap up a home as soon as you see one you like. 

The best way to search for a private rental is through a local landlord. Make sure you do some research on ones that have worked with international students before and don’t hesitate to ask your university if they have any recommendations. Additionally, if friends of yours have studied in Canada, ask them how they went about renting a property and what tips they would have. 

Some apartments or houses may not come fully furnished. Keep that in mind when searching and consider whether you would have the time/budget to furnish an apartment or whether you would prefer something that is ready for you to move in to.

Postgraduate or second, third and fourth year undergraduates are usually more likely to rent privately as it’s usually much easier to find a suitable place when you are already in the country and have a better idea of which areas to live in. 

3. Homestay

A homestay is where students stay with a local family while attending university in Canada. Some students choose this option as it enables them to fully integrate into the local community and it can help students to feel more at home while away at university. 

At first glance it may seem as though a homestay is a more expensive option, however meals will usually be included in the monthly price as well as bills. The rooms are also likely to come fully furnished. 

Some students tend to choose a homestay as a short-term option to help them meet new people and to immerse themselves in the local community. 

In order to find a reliable and safe homestay, ask your university’s international student office if they have any specific families or homes that are looking to take in international students, or join your university’s international student club to see if any current students have any tips or recommendations for you. 






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