Accommodation for International Students in Canada
Relocating to another country is exciting and is challenging too. Along with other basic necessities, accommodation tops any international student's priority list. There are many factors to keep in mind while deciding living options, like budget, proximity to campus, and city of residence. Assessing all these factors can get confusing. This article will guide you through the various types of lodging available, and what to bear in mind as you hunt for a place to call home for the next few weeks or months.
Living on-campus at college or university
Most colleges and universities provide on-campus housing for their students. These are also called ‘halls of residence’ or ‘living in residence’. Many on-campus living options feature a room that can be private or shared with a bed, desk, shelves, bathroom, wifi, laundry, etc. A meal plan, which allows you to eat breakfast, lunch, and supper on campus, is commonly included in the cost of living in residence.
What are the benefits of on-campus accommodation?
It’s not mandatory for international students to live on-campus. However, this is a good housing option for international students due to the following benefits:
- No stress of cooking and grocery shopping on your own.
- No extra/separate monthly maintenance and utility bills
- No wasting time on the commute to classes
- Easy access to facilities like library and gym
- Security and 24/7 student housing support
- More opportunities to network closely with staff, faculty, and peers
What is the average cost of on-campus accommodation?
It can cost anywhere from $6,000 CAD (smaller universities like St. Francis Xavier) to $14,000 CAD (University of British Columbia) or $16,000 CAD (University of British Columbia) for an eight-month on-campus housing and meal plan (University of Toronto)*. Confirm the cost of on-campus housing with your university.
How to apply for on-campus accommodation?
This type of housing is not automatic and is not a default part of your application or admission process. Also, on-campus accommodation is in high demand at various institutions due to its convenient location. You should contact your college or university's student housing office as soon as you receive your acceptance letter to discover how to apply. It's possible that you'll have to pay an application fee.
Living off-campus in private housing
If you choose to live off-campus, you may save money on rent compared to living on campus. However, keep in mind that you'll have to pay for more things. Few of these include paying for utilities, food, groceries, transportation to campus, internet, maintenance supplies, furniture, etc. Location and transportation are important aspects to consider while choosing off-campus accommodation. You’ll have to manage your commute to campus as well. Rocketman is a free transit app that provides real-time transit alerts and arrival.
What are the benefits of off-campus accommodation?
The benefits of living in private housing can include:
- Cheaper rentals
- More freedom
- More privacy
- More opportunities to discover Canadian life beyond your university's campus life
What is the average cost of off-campus accommodation?
Price and quality will vary depending on the type of housing and the city. The average rental price in Canada's larger cities (for example, Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal) is greater than in smaller cities and villages. In a shared accommodation setting, a fair starting point for rental cost is between CA$700 and CA$1,000 per month, per room (apartment, house, or student housing).
How to find off-campus accommodation?
Your first point of contact should be the housing office or student association of your college or university. They can assist you in finding private housing options near the campus. Check their website too for information. You can also check Canadian rental websites. The most popular ones are Craigslist, Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace. There are also many realtors and real estate agencies who can assist you. Because the landlord pays the realtor a commission, the cost may be included in the rent.
What are the different types of private housing?
You should be familiar with the following types of accommodations:
HomeStay: Under this housing option, you live in a house with a host family. Typically, one to three meals are served per day. A homestay will cost between CA$600 and CA$1000* a month depending on how many meals and amenities are included. It's possible that you'll be charged by the night rather than by the month. You can find homestay placements in Canada Homestay Network, HomeStay In, and YES Canada homestay. Homestays may be a little more expensive, but there are many benefits too that includes:
- Safety and security
- Homely atmosphere
- 24/7 emergency assistance
- More time for your studies
- No worry about cooking and maintenance
Apartment: Apartments range from walk-up units in low-rise buildings to units with elevator access in high-rise structures. There are a variety of amenities available, ranging from a single onsite washer and dryer to full laundry rooms, common rooms, and fitness facilities. Security and maintained surroundings are benefits of apartment living.
Townhouses: There are also townhouses, duplexes, semi-detached, and single-detached houses for rent. Many people consider a basement apartment to be an apartment. House rentals provide more space than most apartments, as well as access to some outdoor spaces including patios, lawns, gardens, and parking.
Rooming Place: Rooming homes offer both short-term (week-to-week) and long-term (month-to-month) leases. Several rooms come with their own refrigerator for personal use.
Short-Term Rentals: If you haven’t been able to find a place to stay on-campus or any long-term housing placements, then you may want to consider living for a few days in short-term furnished rentals. Airbnb, Vrbo, Sublet, Kijiji, and other popular rental sites all have short-term rental listings. These temporary arrangements help in warming you up with the neighborhood, culture and transportation options.
How to find the best student accommodation in Canada?
By now you should know that Canada has a lot of housing options to offer. From overseas, it is difficult to decide what is the right accommodation for you. Besides, the information provided above, here are a few tips to assist you in making an informed decision:
- The first thing you should consider is your budget, after which you should look for options that fit your budget.
- Research, online and offline, each accommodation option carefully.
- To save time and cost, choose an accommodation that’s on-campus or close to your campus.
- Book your initial stay prior to arrival. If you are struggling with finding accommodation, consider short-term rental options.
- Organize, manage and record all payments properly.
- Speak with the institution's housing advisers and go on a campus tour.
- On-campus housing options are in high demand and limited. Book well in advance.
- When it comes to online listings, be cautious to prevent scammers or listings that are misrepresented.
- While booking, read reviews and check the legitimacy
- Never send unnecessary personal information to agents or a potential landlord
So, once you start submitting your student applications to various institutions, start researching accommodation options too. By the time you receive your Acceptance Letter, you can book your stay in Canada, whether it’s institution-managed housing or a private one. Just keep in mind the following before finalizing your housing option - budget, location, surroundings, safety, and transportation.
(Source: Canada Homestay Network, Arrive, Canada.ca)
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