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What you need to know about student housing in Canada

Have you been accepted to study in Canada? Congratulations! Now it’s time to find a place to call home. The good news is that there are plenty of housing options for international students across Canada – including on-campus accommodation, homestays, and more.  

In this guide, we’ll look at what kind of accommodation students can expect to find in Canada. We’ll also explore accommodation options around two universities in popular student cities – Ryerson University in Toronto and McGill University in Montreal. Let’s check it out: 

On-campus housing 

Living on-campus is a popular choice for many international students. In Canada, it’s called “living in residence”. The residence provides you with a safe, supportive, and convenient place to call home as soon as you arrive. It’s also a community hub. With shared living spaces, study rooms, and student event nights, living in residence is an excellent way to meet new friends in Canada right off the bat.  

Residences across Canada are all pretty different, depending on where you study; some are in tall city buildings with private studio apartments, and others are in a historical house with shared bathrooms and kitchens. Some student housing in Canada also comes with a mandatory meal plan – meaning you can eat in cafeterias and restaurants on campus using a prepaid card.  

To get a better idea of what residence is like in Canada, let’s take a look at what Ryerson University and McGill University offer students:  

Ryerson University residence  

Ryerson University has three residences, which are all high-rise buildings located in the heart of downtown Toronto. They consist of shared apartments, single rooms, and double rooms, and all come with a mandatory meal plan. The residences are open to first-year students and international students. 

Living in residence costs about $7,600–$13,000 CAD per school year, plus the price of a meal plan (up to $5,400+ CAD per year).  

McGill University residence 

McGill University offers residence options for first-year undergraduate students, as well as separate accommodation for undergraduate students in upper years and graduate students.  

There are studio and one-bedroom apartments, single and double rooms with shared bathrooms, as well as single rooms available in various houses across campus. Some options also have mandatory meal plans.  

At McGill, living in residence costs about $4,800 - $14,300 CAD per school year. A meal plan costs $5,475 CAD. 

Read more: What is the cost of living in Canada? 

Off-campus housing 

Off-campus accommodation is designed just for students and is usually located close to universities and colleges. While it’s not managed by the institutions themselves, this type of housing offers a lot of the same amenities, support, and community atmosphere as on-campus housing – and institutions usually list off-campus accommodation options for students on their websites. 

Here’s an idea of what’s around Ryerson and McGill:  

Student housing near Ryerson University 

Toronto is filled with student housing. With this, there are plenty of off-campus housing options close to Ryerson University in the downtown core.  

For example, HOEM student residence is located just steps from Ryerson campus. It offers apartment-style rooms as well as support for international students – including tutoring and academic workshops. Rent cost between $375–$425 CAD per week. There’s also Parkside Student Residence, which starts at $1,260 CAD per month for a shared double room.  

Student housing near McGill University  

There are lots of off-campus student housing options in Montreal, too. Campus1 Montreal, for example, is located right across the street from McGill. A shared room here starts at $995 CAD per month, and the residence community features a whole range of cool amenities – including an indoor basketball court, a movie theater, and a gym.  

Private rentals 

If you prefer a different kind of living arrangement, you can also rent an apartment of your own in Canada.  

To do so, you’ll likely have to fill out a rental application. Landlords might ask questions about your income, if you can provide a credit check, and if they can contact past landlords for references. They can’t ask you questions about your religion, ethnic background, or whether or not you’re a Canadian citizen. Most landlords also require payment of the first month’s rent upon signing the lease, and last month’s rent as a security deposit.  

The cost to rent a 1-bedroom apartment differs across Canada, and is usually cheaper in smaller towns and cities. In Toronto (one of Canada’s most expensive cities) a 1-bedroom apartment downtown costs $1,942 CAD per month, on average. In Montreal the cost of living is cheaper, and a 1-bedroom apartment costs 1,269 CAD per month, on average. 

You can look for apartments across Canada on websites like Rentals.ca and RentSeeker for students

Living with roommates  

Many students in Canada decide to live with roommates to cut down on rent. This can be a good option for international students, since roommates don’t always ask you to provide as many things as a landlord does – like first and last month’s rent or a Canadian credit check. And of course, living with roommates is also a great opportunity to make new friends outside of class.  

To look for roommates, it’s a smart idea to search through Facebook groups for student housing at your university. For example, both Ryerson and McGill students communities have off-campus housing Facebook groups where people often post looking for roommates.   

Your institution’s student housing office might also have accommodation and roommate listings for students. They will also be able to help you understand your rights as a tenant in Canada.  

Homestays 

Want to really immerse yourself in Canadian culture? Why not live with a homestay family? Living at a homestay lets international students improve their English skills at home. You’ll also get the chance to celebrate holidays together and learn more about what day-to-day life in Canada is like. 

With a homestay family, you have built-in support. They’ll help you to open a bank account, learn how to get around town, and will be there in case of emergencies. Many homestay arrangements also include full meal plans – which is convenient for busy students.  

Home Sweet Homestay and Canada Homestay Network are two popular homestay options in Canada.  

Canada is incredibly student-friendly – and there are lots of flexible housing options that support international students' needs. So, happy searching!  

Learn more about how PTE Academic can help take you to Canada.