What are the housing options?

Most universities offer the option to live on-campus either in residences designated for international students or in residences generally available to all students on campus. However, acceptance at a Canadian school does not ensure accommodation in a residence.

Accommodation In Canada

Students may choose to accommodate/live either on or off campus while studying in a college/university in Canada. Hence there are several kinds of accommodation available.

Accommodation provided by the school/college enrolled in:

Canadian Schools/ Colleges and Universities provide two kinds of accommodation:

 Residence Halls/ Dormitories

In this variety, normally 4-6 students share a flat – like space with individual bedrooms and common living and kitchen areas. This is a good way of making friends, getting to be part of the student community, share chores and exchange cultural tips, while still being able to have one’s own individual space while studying, writing and sleeping.

Gender specific floors or dormitories may be specifically asked for if a student so requires.


Many Canadian families enjoy renting out their extra rooms to international students after their own families have moved out. The advantages of such homestays are many. The student gets to stay in a home-like atmosphere and has the benefit of being part of a family. This is often essential for international students, especially the younger students and helps them adapt quicker. It also gives the student a chance to improve their English or French. Typically the student has a room to her/him and shares meals with the host family.

Since homestays are arranged by the school/college the student has enrolled in, every effort is made to match the student profile with the host family to ensure safe and healthy adaptation.

Prices will depend on the location, placement fee charged by the school/college and whether a meal plan is included or not.

 Off Campus or Private Accommodation

Renting is a popular system of accommodation. However, in this system, there are no set prices or set of amenities provided. Rents may vary vastly depending on location, the lists of amenities and utilities included. Rents are higher in the city centre areas, especially in larger cities while the suburban accommodation may appear or actually be much cheaper. It is important for the student to make a thorough comparison and read the fine print before signing a lease.

The attending college/ institution may be able to provide a list of renting options within the vicinity. Though recommended by the institution, it is still important that the student makes a thorough study to avoid problems later. Often an entire flat or house is too expensive for one student alone to rent out and so one can join a group who is renting by either checking out new students with similar requirements, or keep a lookout on notice boards, newspapers and the like for any single rooms within a house being advertised.

Landlords may take a damage deposit at the start with rent being payable monthly, quarterly or as a lump sum.

 Things to remember when choosing accommodation in Canada:

  • Try to make arrangements ahead of time but be especially sure to do so if you require accommodation during the summer months, and during holidays and festivals.
  • If you are staying in a hotel or hostel, always inspect the room on arrival before making a payment. If you are unsure about the location, ask the local tourism association.
  • Prices can vary greatly according to location and time of year, so try to investigate before you leave. Canada is a friendly and wonderful place, and having made the proper arrangements, you will undoubtedly enjoy your stay regardless of where you choose to live in Canada.

 Youth Hostels/YWCA/YMCA

Youth hostels are a boon for students looking for temporary stay because they have not been able to make arrangements in advance for the longer duration. These are ideal for short stays as they are relatively cheaper and provide the basic amenities. Canadian hostels must be inspected and approved by the Canadian Hosteling Association however these may not be ideal for longer durations. Also these are open to travelers from within and outside Canada, so may be also booked up during holiday or peak season. It is best for a student to make arrangements for even such short stints before one leaves one’s homeland.

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