BP103: Living in Canada

Monthly Room Rent Explained For First-Year Students

Discover key insights on student accommodation options and costs across Canada for international students.
Written by: BorderPass Corp.
Last updated:  
April 2024

Dealing with student accommodation can be daunting, especially for students who are far from home. 

Navigating monthly room rent, whether your accommodation includes utilities, and confusing lease agreements can all be stressful. 

Read this article because it offers assistance for international students who want to understand how room rent works in Canada! 

We help you understand how room rental fits into your college experience and how to ensure your accommodation has access to amenities and is within your budget. We cover:

  • How international student accommodation works in Canada
  • Monthly room rental in Canada for international students
  • Room rental in different Canadian cities
  • On-campus accommodation options
  • Off-campus accommodation options
  • Finding suitable accommodation
  • Frequently Asked Questions.

Let’s get into it!

An Overview of International Student Accommodation in Canada

When you’re exploring student accommodation options in Canada, you’ll find there is a huge range of choices available to suit different preferences. 

With options ranging from homestay programs and residence or dormitory living to rented apartments and townhouses, there’s something to suit every need. 

For those that prefer privacy, rented apartments and townhouses are ideal - they can also provide a quiet study environment, although they do tend to be more expensive. For those who prefer a family environment, homestay is a great choice, and for those who want a true university experience, on-campus living is ideal. 

For each option, it’s essential to make sure the accommodation ensures safety and security measures, offers access to amenities and facilitates access to transportation options. 

With a little research, you can ensure your accommodation is convenient and affordable!

Monthly Room Rent in Canada for Students

The cost of accommodation will vary hugely depending on the type you choose. Each type of accommodation has advantages and disadvantages, and you’ll need to take your needs, preferences, and budget into account before deciding. 


Homestay is a great chance for international students to become immersed in Canadian culture through living with a local family. 

This gives students a friendly, safe, family-like atmosphere and also tends to be a little cheaper than other options – ranging from between $800 and $1,500 CAD per month. 

Residence or Dormitory

On-campus housing is probably the most convenient option and is great for students wanting to be close to amenities. 

The cost of accommodation is variable depending on the institution you’re attending but can range between  $3,000 - $7,500 for the school year. 

You will need to pay extra to stay on over the summer or find alternative accommodation if you wish to stay in Canada. 

Rented Apartment

For students who prefer to be independent, a rented apartment is the ideal choice. You can choose your location and living situation yourself, and ensure quiet and independence. 

The price of accommodation will vary hugely depending on where you’re studying - check out our cost breakdown of different cities below!

This option may be more expensive, and it usually requires a lease agreement and a security deposit. It also offers flexibility in terms of your schedule and preferences. You may also be required to provide a rent guarantor in case of non-payment of rent. 


As with rented apartments, townhouses are a great choice for students who prefer to retain their independence. 

They’re often in quieter, more residential areas and are perfect for sharing with some friends. The cost is hugely variable depending on location and the size of the townhouse. 

Shared Apartments

Sharing an apartment with other students is the perfect way to achieve independence on a budget. Students can share their space with their friends and split the bills. 

Choosing this option offers affordable monthly rent, and it often includes a furnished room. If you choose this option, make sure you get to know your roommates well to facilitate roommate communication!

Student Accommodation in Canada Based on Cities

The city where you’re studying has a big impact on the cost of your monthly room rental. Studying in a bigger city usually means more expensive rent, as there is more competition for accommodation. 

Note that although the average cost of accommodation may be high, it’s always possible to find cheaper than average accommodation if you’re willing to compromise. 

Monthly Room Rent in Toronto

The monthly rent in Toronto for a one-bedroom apartment is $2,511 - the second most expensive in the country. This cost can be brought down by sharing a larger home with more roommates or by choosing a cheaper area to live. 

Monthly Room Rent in Montreal

Rent in Montreal is significantly more budget-friendly, with the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom place currently at $1,744. Note that this cost only includes the apartment itself, not utilities and furniture. 

Monthly Room Rent in Ottawa

Ottawa is in the middle, with the average one-bedroom rental currently at around $2,040. 

Monthly Room Rent in Vancouver

Vancouver currently ranks as the most expensive place to rent in Canada, with the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom place at $2,683. 

Students planning to study in Vancouver should consider carefully which accommodation option will be the most affordable. 

Look for places that offer discounts for longer leases and provide furnished rooms to help with costs. 

Some apartments include utilities in the rent, which can also reduce overall costs. You can also check if your university offers assistance with finding off-campus housing. 

Living On-Campus at College or University

Many international students prefer to live on campus, particularly during their first year while they’re getting used to student life. It provides a nice, easy transition for students who are already adjusting to moving overseas and beginning their university careers. 

Residence Room Options

Canadian institutions offer residence room options to meet the needs of students. These include dormitory-style rooms, including single or shared rooms, as well as apartment-style accommodation. 

Residences provide furnished rooms and this often includes utilities in rent, making budgeting simple. Some universities allow roommate matching services and flexible lease terms to create a compatible living situation. 

Benefits of On-Campus Residence

Living on campus is a great way to ensure student safety and security, as well as giving students a chance to engage in community-building activities. It’s a great way for students to get easy access to amenities, and students can be sure their accommodation is well maintained. On-campus housing often:

  • Provides access to amenities
  • Ensures cleanliness of common areas
  • Provides online rental payments
  • Offers discounts for longer leases
  • Assists with roommate conflicts
  • Provides support for international students
  • Offers support for housing-related issues
  • Ensures safety and security measures
  • Ensures compliance with housing regulations and standards.

Living Off-Campus in Private Housing

Private housing is a great choice if you prefer to be independent. It’s also good if you plan to stay in Canada over the summer, as on-campus accommodation leases only run for the school year. 

Housing Terms in Canada

In Canada, you’ll need to sign a lease agreement to outline the terms behind the landlord and tenant. This document will specify what is included in the agreement, such as rent, utilities, and the length of the lease. 

It’s a great way to ensure you know all the rights and responsibilities required of you and ensure compliance with housing regulations and standards. It also protects your rental rights while you’re staying in the rental. 

Signing a Lease and Paying a Damage Deposit

Signing a lease often requires a security deposit, also known as a damage deposit. This is refundable at the end of the lease providing no damage has been done to the property. 

How to Find Private Housing

Your university or college may be able to help you find housing - they may even have a list of available private housing near your institution. Local newspapers, Craigslist, and Kijiji are also great options. BorderPass is also soon to be launching a housing platform that will connect trusted landlords to students and allow for rental payments to be used to build your credit score. There is also going to be a roommate-finder feature allowing you to find a trustworthy roommate who matches your lifestyle and preferences. 

Costs for Private Housing

Private housing costs can be very variable - the cost will depend on the type of accommodation, the city you’re living in, and whether you’re renting just a room or an entire apartment. 

Costs also include utilities, internet, transportation, and laundry expenses, so make sure you include these in your budget. 

Dealing with Your Landlord

Communication with your landlord should be open and upfront. A good relationship can be maintained by keeping to the terms of your lease agreement, paying rent on time, and being polite about maintenance requests. 

If you have issues, your university may be able to help facilitate communication with landlords to resolve any issues. 

How to Find Accommodation in Canada for Students

When finding accommodation, make sure you make a list of what your requirements and deal breakers are, and what you’re willing to compromise on. This will ensure you find somewhere that suits your needs and your budget. 

Inquire About the Facilities

Check whether your accommodation provides access to amenities such as internet, utilities, laundry services, and study spaces. It’s also essential to make sure your accommodation ensures safety and security measures are in place. 

Be Sure About the Meals

If the accommodation provides meals, find out whether they provide flexible meal plans that cater to your needs. This is particularly important for vegetarian or vegan students or those who have allergies or religious dietary requirements.  

Special Services for Students with Disabilities

Many Canadian institutions provide accessible housing for students with disabilities. Each university will have its own system for dealing with accessible housing requests, such as this one from the University of Waterloo. 

If you require accessibility help, contact your university soon so you can organize housing that suits your needs. 

Arrive Early on the Campus

Once your study permit has been approved, we recommend arriving on campus as early as possible to make sorting out your accommodation easy. 

This lets you explore housing options in person and get a feel for the campus and the city. BorderPass can help you get your study permit organized quickly and efficiently, so you have plenty of time to finalize your accommodation before classes begin. 

Key Takeaways

In this article, we’ve looked at the nuances and intricacies of renting a room in Canada as an international student. We’ve covered:

  • Finding accommodation as an international student
  • The cost of monthly room rental for different types of accommodation
  • How costs differ across Canadian cities
  • The best on-campus accommodation options
  • The best off-campus accommodation options
  • What to bear in mind when finding suitable accommodation. 

For international students, it’s essential to understand the different types of accommodation that are available in Canada, as well as the differences in costs. 

The location of your study will also impact the cost, so make sure you’re aware of the average rental cost in the city you’re studying in. 

When choosing accommodation, it’s important to balance cost with access to amenities and campus, as well as how the accommodation will support your lifestyle. 

Things like access to meals that fit your dietary requirement and disability access are important considerations when choosing where to live. 

While choosing accommodation can be stressful, the study permit process itself doesn’t have to be! 

BorderPass can help with all parts of the visa process, and they offer end-to-end support throughout the entire process. Their success rate for approvals is over 90% – far higher than the market average of 55%!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I See the Apartment Before Moving In?

This depends - if you are in Canada in time to attend an apartment viewing before you move in, then definitely. If you secure your apartment while still overseas, you may need to move in sight unseen. 

Which are the Best Areas to Live in Toronto As a Student?

This really depends on your budget, preference, and the institution you’re studying at. Popular student neighborhoods include The Annex, Dufferin Grove, and Kensington Market, but there are many other neighborhoods as well. Scarborough, Brampton, and Mississauga are also great and very popular options. 

Where Can I Find Housing Near the University of Toronto?

To find housing, you can consult local newspapers, Craigslist, or Kijiji to find available housing in your area. Your university may also provide accommodation support for those looking for housing. Once the BorderPass housing platform is available, this will also present you with an amazing opportunity to find friendly roommates and live in great places with an added layer of trust and security.

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