What is the best city in Canada for international students? Is it affordable and conducive to learning? You may be asking these since Canada is consistently ranked among the most expensive countries to live in.
Even so, there are affordable cities international students should consider, like the ones on our list. Learn about the best city in Canada for students, its pros and cons, and other important facts.
- The best cities in Canada for international students include Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary, Kingston, Moncton, Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, Halifax, Sherbrooke, Abbotsford, St. Catharines, Laval, Regina and Victoria.
- Tuition fees for international students in Canada for 2022/2023 averaged $36,123 per year for international undergraduate students and $21,111 per year for international graduate students.
- The cheapest courses in Canada for international students include Education, Business Administration, Nursing, and Architecture.
Cheapest and Best Cities in Canada for International Students
Compared to countries like the US or UK, Canada is less expensive and, therefore, an ideal country to study for international students who are always on a budget.
With that, here are 15 of the cheapest and best cities in Canada, the universities and colleges in the area, and the advantages and disadvantages of living there.
Find out as well about the cheapest university in Canada for international students in 2023.
1. Winnipeg, Manitoba
International students can look to Manitoba for world-class education and an affordable cost of living. For a single person with rent, the estimated cost of living in Winnipeg is $2,064 per month.
Some of the most affordable and highly-rated universities in the city are Canadian Mennonite University, Université de Saint-Boniface, University of Winnipeg, and University of Manitoba.
Aside from the low cost of living and affordable tuition, Winnipeg also prides itself on its multiple employment options, access to healthcare, and diverse culture. Some drawbacks of living here are the extreme weather, few airports, and lack of public transport infrastructure.
Related: Cheapest places to live in Manitoba
2. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Saskatoon is a safe and ideal community for international students who prefer excellent yet affordable academic institutions and a competitive cost of living. The monthly cost of living in the city for one person (with rent) is $2,105.
When it comes to cheap universities, the University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon), First Nations University of Canada (Regina), and Saskatchewan Polytechnic (Saskatoon) are among the most affordable in the area.
Living in Saskatoon has several benefits, such as low cost of living, affordable housing, less crowd and traffic, low car insurance, and low sales and tax rates. Some of its disadvantages are cold winter months and a higher crime rate than other areas in the country.
3. Ottawa, Ontario
Ottawa is one of the most highly-rated places for international students in Canada due to its world-class education yet cheap universities, such as the University of Ottawa, Carleton University, and Dominican University College.
The cost of living is also moderately affordable. A single person can expect to spend $2,499 per month (including rent).
Ottawa is a highly livable city with benefits like low crime rates, high quality of life, and excellent public transport and healthcare facilities. The cons of living here include expensive house prices, traffic congestion, humid summers, and freezing winters.
Discover these cheapest places to live and rent in Ontario.
4. Montreal, Quebec
The city of Montreal is one of the top destinations for international students, with 11 universities and 60 colleges. Vanier College, Concordia University, and Université du Québec à Montréal are among the most affordable universities in the city.
The cost of living in Montreal for a single person with rent is $2,253 per month, which is comparatively less expensive than in other cities in Canada.
Among the pros of living in the city are affordable living costs, low crime rates, and low education costs compared to other bigger cities. The cons of living in Montreal include a language barrier and cold weather.
5. Calgary, Alberta
Calgary is another top choice for international students due to its high-quality education from affordable universities like the University of Calgary, the University of Lethbridge, and Ambrose University.
The estimated cost of living in the city for one person with rent is $2,574 per month, which is more affordable than in other cities like Toronto and Vancouver.
A safe community, a high standard of living, and the opportunity to earn while studying are among the pros of living in Calgary. Its major cons include traffic congestion and long, cold winters.
Check out these cheapest places to live in Alberta.
6. Kingston, Ontario
Kingston is among the most popular destinations for international students, with around 4,000 studying in universities and colleges, such as Queen’s University and the Royal Military College of Canada.
The cost of living in Kingston for a single person is $2,148 per month, which is more affordable than other cities in Ontario. Housing is also less expensive compared to other major cities in the province.
Some advantages of living in this city include superior-quality yet affordable education, lower cost of living, and proximity to major cities like Toronto. Limited public transportation, fewer job opportunities, and harsh winters are some disadvantages.
7. Moncton, New Brunswick
International students have several choices of affordable universities in Moncton, including the University of New Brunswick, McKenzie College, New Brunswick Community College, and Mount Allison University.
The cost of living in Moncton is $1,917 for one person (including rent), which is lower than most other cities, making the city more affordable for international students.
Living in Moncton offers several benefits, such as affordable living costs, a low crime rate, and access to healthcare. Disadvantages include limited job opportunities and harsh winters with heavy snowfalls.
We have listed the cheapest places to live in New Brunswick here.
8. Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, Ontario
Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge is a highly preferred city for many international students in Ontario. The major universities in the area are the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, and St. Paul’s University College.
The city is moderately affordable, with the cost of living at $2,201 per month for a single person. This is cheaper than Toronto, which is just an hour’s drive away.
The major benefit of living in this city is that it offers big-city amenities without the higher cost. It is safe, affordable, and offers many housing options. Its drawbacks include harsh winter months and heavy traffic during rush hour.
9. Halifax, Nova Scotia
Halifax, the largest city in Nova Scotia, is known for its good-ranking universities and lower tuition. Dalhousie University, Saint Mary’s University, and Mount Saint Vincent University are three of the cheapest universities in the city.
The living cost in Halifax for one person is $2,506 per month (with rent), which is lower than the cost of living in Toronto or Vancouver.
Low cost of living, low crime rate, affordable housing, free bus passes for university students, and no traffic are among the pros of living in Halifax. A poor job market, lack of job infrastructure, and harsh winter weather are some disadvantages of living in this city.
10. Sherbrooke, Quebec
Sherbrooke, the sixth largest city in Quebec, is the cheapest city in Canada to live in. Popular with international students, it has a handful of affordable universities offering superior education, such as Bishop’s University, Universite de Sherbrooke, and Cegep de Sherbrooke.
The average monthly cost of living in Sherbrooke is $1,020 (excluding rent). A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre costs under $800 monthly on average.
Lower housing costs, inexpensive electricity, and access to high-quality services are some factors that make living in Sherbrooke an attractive option for those on a budget. Language barriers, traffic, and harsh weather are some drawbacks of living in Quebec.
11. Abbotsford, British Columbia
Abbotsford is one of Canada’s best cities for international students, with education alternatives like the University of the Fraser Valley, Northern Lakes College, and Summit Pacific College.
The city is one of BC’s most affordable major cities. The cost of living for a single person living in Abbotsford is $1,978 per month, including rent.
When it comes to pros, Abbotsford boasts of a thriving job market, a healthy local economy, and low unemployment rates. In contrast, limited options for public transit, a moderate amount of crime, and damp weather are among the disadvantages of living in this city.
Here are the cheapest places to live in British Columbia.
12. St. Catharines, Ontario
St. Catharines is the largest city in the famed Niagara Region. It is also home to Brock University, a top-five Ontario university with world-class research activity, and other institutions like Niagara University and Kingston College.
The city offers an affordable cost of living at $2,349 per month for one individual, including rent. This is less expensive than other cities in the province, such as Toronto.
Excellent education structure, safety, and access to both Canadian and American markets are among the pros of residing in the city. Lack of public transportation, limited job opportunities, traffic congestion and extreme weather conditions are some of its downsides.
13. Laval, Quebec
One of Quebec’s larger cities, Laval, has cheaper universities and colleges, such as the University of Quebec and Université Laval, which offer tuition fees lower than the national average.
If you choose to live in Laval, your estimated living costs plus rent would be $1,892 per month, which is more affordable than Montreal’s and lower than Canada’s average.
Some reasons to live in Laval include a good quality of life, a prosperous city that offers excellent education, and a modern but affordable location. Alternatively, poor infrastructure, high taxes, language barrier, and extreme winters are some cons of living in Laval.
Related: Cheapest Places to Live in Quebec
14. Regina, Saskatchewan
Regina is the second largest city in Saskatchewan and among the most affordable. It is also home to some of the best universities in the country: the University of Regina, First Nation University of Canada, and Luther College.
The average cost of living in Regina is inexpensive, at $1,955 per month with rent. This is lower than the cost of living in Saskatoon.
Among the benefits of living in Regina are a strong economy, low taxes, a high employment rate, and affordable public transport. Disadvantages include extreme weather and higher crime rates in some areas.
15. Victoria, British Columbia
Victoria is another great city for international students seeking higher education. It offers an excellent education at several of its cheap universities, such as the University of the Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island University, and the British Columbia Institute of Technology.
The cost of living for one person, including rent, in Victoria is $2,729 per month. While it is higher than other cities listed here, it is much lower than the cost of living in Vancouver, which is $3,126 a month.
Great education and facilities, low crime rates, multiculturalism, and part-time job opportunities are some reasons to live and study in Victoria. The downsides include the high cost of living, traffic congestion, and tourist crowds.
What Are the Cheapest Universities in Canada for International Students in 2023?
As discussed in our article on the cheapest universities in Canada for international students, there are several affordable universities in Canada, including the University of Calgary, the University of Ottawa, and Dalhousie University.
The University of Calgary in Calgary, AB, is ranked #182 in the QS World University Rankings 2024. The tuition cost for most programs is $26,849.00.
The University of Ottawa in Ottawa, ON, ranks 203rd in the QS World University Rankings 2024. The tuition fee for most undergraduate programs is $21,667.54.
Dalhousie University in Halifax, NS, is the cheapest university in Canada for international students in 2023. It currently holds the 318th position in the QS World University Rankings 2024.
Tuition fees for undergraduates at Dalhousie University range from 5,542.70 to CA13,358.20, depending on the faculty you choose.
What Are the Cheapest Courses in Canada for International Students?
In the article referenced above, a few of the cheapest courses in Canada for international students were mentioned, including:
- Veterinary Medicine – $10,672.31
At the University of Calgary, undergraduates can enroll in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine for $10,672.31. This includes the full-time student tuition fee of $6,664.57 for two terms, plus general fees, books and supplies, and personal expenses for two terms.
- Education – $21,262.54
Undergraduates can enroll in Education at the University of Ottawa for a full-time (flat-rate) at $21,262.54 per term. The cost goes lower the more units you take. For example, if you take 12 to 22 courses, your tuition fee goes down to $20,313.32.
- Business Administration, Bachelor – $24,372.00
At Vancouver Island University, Business Administration (Bachelor) costs $24,372.00 for the first year. The cost includes student activity fees, student union fees, student co-op fees, and books.
- Arts – $22,935.75
The University of Regina offers the Undergraduate Arts program at $22,935.75 for two terms (Fall 2023 and Spring and Summer 2023). The program has a total of ten standard classes (30 credit hours). The cost includes tuition and fees.
- Veterinary Technology – $16,503.83
The Undergraduate Veterinary Technology program at Dalhousie University costs $16,503.83 for one year. This includes international fees, incidental fees, and books/supplies.
Amounts are in Canadian dollars.
How Much Does Tuition Cost for International Students in Canada?
Tuition costs for international students at Canadian universities depend on the program and the university you choose.
According to data from Statistics Canada, tuition fees for international students in Canada for 2022/2023 are:
- $36,123 per year for international undergraduate students
- $21,111 per year for international graduate students
Over 100 public and private universities in Canada offer more than 15,000 programs at all levels. University degrees in the country provide bachelor, master, and doctorate degrees.
Quebec is the cheapest province in Canada for international students. Three of its cities – Sherbrooke, Laval, and Montreal- all offer affordable universities with world-class education, cheaper tuition fees, and lower cost of living.
Although both are expensive cities, Vancouver is cheaper in terms of cost of living, rent prices, and groceries. Toronto has consistently ranked as the most expensive city in Canada.
A Visitor visa that includes a super visa (single or multiple entry temporary resident visa) costs $100 per person. A Visitor visa for a family of 5 or more people costs $500 per family. These are for temporary residence.
It is worth it because Canada is a prime destination for anyone wanting to pursue high-quality, internationally-recognized education in top-ranked universities. Canada also attracts more international students because its tuition costs are lower than in the US, UK or Australia.