Accommodation in Canada

Finding a place to stay is the next important task after securing a place at a Canadian university or college. Let’s now explore the different types of accommodation available.

Short term accommodation

Hotels

Hotel is a convenient short-term accommodation for international students arriving in Canada for the first time. As they are many hotels, especially in big cities, available, it is possible to reserve a room one week prior to arrival. Nevertheless, it is always advisable to do your research early whether or not you are going to stay in a hotel when you arrive and make reservations in advance if staying in a hotel for the first few days is what you prefer; especially during peak May to August season and August is the month when most students will arrive in Canada for their semester/term to start in September.

In Canada, a hotel is defined as having inside access, private rooms, daily cleaning services and restaurants. It is classified by a star system and includes hotels, inns and wilderness lodge known as outfitters. A room in a hotel is often more costly than a room in a Bed & Breakfast or a Youth Hostel.

Approximate price ranges for hotels in Canada:-
5 stars establishment price range: C$200* and above per night
3 – 4 stars establishment price range: C$150* to C$250* per night
1 – 2 stars establishment price range: C$30* to C$200* per night

You may like to start your research at www.trivago.ca

Bed-and-breakfast

Bed-and-breakfast is another option for international students arriving in Canada for the first time. They are often private homes operating as accommodation establishment and are managed by the properties owners or occupants. Such accommodations include a private room; often with shared toilets and bathrooms, and breakfast served on-site. Guests typically do not have access to the on-site kitchen facilities.

Typically, a bed-and-breakfast is located within a community and guests at a bed-and-breakfast comes from all over the world as well as different parts of Canada; thus making it a very good way to meet both local people and guests from around the world. Approximate price could range from C$30* to C$250* per night.

You may like to start your research at www.bbcanada.com

Youth Hostels/YWCA/YMCA

Hostel is a popular temporary accommodation option for international students and they are usually easily found in major cities. Well established hostels tend to be inexpensive, clean and comfortable with basic facilities like toilets, baths and kitchens which are commonly shared. Some establishments may even have pools, fitness centres and even rooms with attached toilets and bathrooms (en-suite) like a hotel room. Staying in a hostel also means meeting other international students like you thus making your stay in a hostel all the more welcoming.

Rates are calculated on a daily, weekly or monthly basis and could range from C$25* for a room to be shared with 4 other people to C$95* for a single room.

You may like to start your research at www.hihostels.ca

Long term accommodation

On-campus accommodation – residence

Residence are housing facilities provided by universities and colleges for students to stay in during their studies. Such accommodation are either located on campus or very close by. They can be single rooms, shared rooms or apartments with a few single rooms and a common kitchen and living area. Usually, toilet and shower facilities are shared among the number of people in a suite or with a few others on the same place. Within each room, each student will be provided with a single bed, desk, storage space, lighting, high speed internet, heating and electricity.

Living in residences is often preferred by first year international students because

  • it is easier to make friends and settle in due to the many activities and support available in residences,
  • being on meal plans also means that food is always readily available and there is no need to worry about grocery shopping and meals preparation,
  • living on or nearby campus means that less time and money is spend on travelling to and from school.

Cost of living in residences varies between universities and college across Canada; however, it could range between C$9,000* to C$13,000* with a mandatory meal plan for one academic year (i.e. 8 months).

Further information on the type and cost of residence can be found on the websites of universities and colleges.

Residence tend to fill up very quickly so be sure to apply as soon as you are allowed to; usually after you have received a place at the university or colleges. It is very common that you are required to put down a deposit when you submit your application for residence so you should apply only if you are sure that you are going to attend that university or college.

Off-campus accommodation – homestay

Homestay refers to staying with a Canadian/Canadian PR family in their home. Each international student will be provided with a single room furnished with a single bed, desk, storage space, lighting, high-speed internet, heating and electricity. Toilet and shower facilities are often shared among the other students staying with the family. Meals are included and students would eat together with the host family as well as get invited to participate in the activities of the host family.

Homestay is also a great way for international students to integrate and settle into Canada. Cost of homestay could average around C$850* per month.

Further information on homestay can be found on the websites of universities and colleges or www.canadahomestayinternational.com.

Off-campus accommodation – renting

Renting is another option of off-campus accommodation for international students. The types of rented accommodation tend to be an apartment, condo, basement suite or room in a shared house. You can rent a private room by yourself which often can be very expensive or share the rental of a suite with 1 or 2 friends/others in someone’s house or share the rental of an entire apartment with a few others/friends.

It is important to note that renting is a private arrangement between you and the person your rent from; hence, be sure to inspect the room, suite or apartment carefully, read the terms of the lease contract and fully understand what are you getting into before signing any documents. However, it is not advisable for a newly arrived international student to go into renting. Go with on-campus accommodation or homestay for at least 1 semester before embarking on renting on your own or with your friends.

Cost of renting varies according to type of space of your renting – a room of a suite in someone’s house or an entire apartment, location, neighbouring amenities, age and condition of the house/building/estate, whether or not the space is furnished, whether or not electricity (hydro), heating and water are inclusive among others.

Approximate price range for renting:-
A small apartment in big cities – C$850* to C$2,000*
A small apartment outside city centres – C$750* to C$1,200*
A 3-bedroom apartment in big cities – C$1,700* to C$2,500*
A 3-bedroom apartment outside city centres – C$1,200* to C$1,800*

Further information on renting can be found on the websites of universities and colleges or www.places4students.com.

It is strongly advised that you review information on renting in Canada, leases, tenants’ rights, and dealing with landlords provided by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and Renting It Right.

Important notes on renting:

  • Never send money to someone you haven’t met or for a unit you have not viewed. If you can’t view the unit, ask someone you trust to see the accommodation and meet the landlord before accepting a rental offer.
  • When renting, you will be asked to sign a rental agreement. Understand the terms of the agreement before you sign. Things to look out for:
    • Is it a lease (fixed term, usually 1 year) or a month-to-month agreement? If you are signing a lease, understand the penalty if you choose to move before the end of the term.
    • What is included with rent? Your rent may include Internet and/or cable television, heat, electricity, parking, laundry, or additional storage. If these are not included, you will need to plan for these additional expenses.
    • How much security deposit is required. This will be in addition to the first month rent.
    • Is it walking distance to regular transit? Living far away from the bus stop can add many minutes to your commute.
    • Will you need to take more than one bus? Bus transferring adds time to your commute and can be frustrating if you miss a connection.
    • How frequent and busy are the bus services? Bus services close to campus are usually very full and sometimes too full to stop for more passengers.
    • Is cheaper rent worth a longer commute? Try picturing yourself after a long, exhausting day.
    • Is your neighbourhood safe?
    • Are you okay with noise from other students, young families with children, or busy traffic?
    • Do you think your new neighbours will be okay with noise coming from your place?
    • Do you mind biking or walking to campus or other places around Vancouver during inclement weather?
    • Is it worth more expensive rent to live within minutes of all the amenities?
    • Do you prefer cooking or eating out?
    • Do you have easy access to a car or transit to get to the grocery store?
    • Can you control your own thermostat?
    • Does Internet quality matter to you?
    • Most apartment buildings have shared laundry rooms with coin-operated machines.
    • Basement suites and houses may or may not have a washer/dryer.
    • Where is the closest laundromat?
    • If the rental unit is already furnished, or if you need to purchase furniture
    • How much furniture will you need?
    • How will you get new furniture into the place? Do you need a truck rental?
    • Furnished apartments often make sense for students looking for short-term housing.

Here’s some sources to look for a rental place:

*Price ranges indicated here serve only as a reference and further research should be conducted to establish the most updated rate.

Think Study Canada Team
All information herein is provided to the best of knowledge at time of research and serves only as reference.