Before you embark on the adventure of studying abroad in Canada, a major country in North America listed on health-beauty-guides, you should not fail to find out what the costs will be. Because in addition to the travel costs and the tuition fees, you also have to pay the cost of living. For a “representative shopping basket” you have to pay around 14% more in Canada than in Germany. But: Your cost of living in Canada does not necessarily have to be higher.

Like everywhere else in the world, spending on accommodation, food and free time depends on your individual lifestyle and where you study and live. It is obvious that it is much more expensive in Vancouver or Toronto than in Winnipeg or Antigonish, for example. In order to avoid nasty surprises, you should get an idea of what additional costs you will have to face and how you can reduce your expenses before you leave.

Rent and housing costs in Canada

The biggest cost of living in Canada is of course rent. As in Germany, there is fierce competition for apartments in metropolitan areas and rents are therefore particularly high. Those who want to live downtown have to dig much deeper into their pockets for their accommodation than for an equivalent on the outskirts. On the Pacific coast, rents are sometimes twice as high as in other parts of the country. Those who live in a small town or even in the country pays the least, but may have to spend more money on transport costs. By the way, Canadians spend 35 to 50 percent of their income on living and ancillary costs (water, electricity, telephone, etc.). In particular, heating costs can be very high in view of the long and icy winters.

Most students in Canada are accommodated either on-campus in hall of residence or in small apartments, or off-campus in host families or private shared apartments. Which variant is the cheapest depends on the respective circumstances and your own requirements.


Many students prefer to live on-campus while studying abroad: the distances are short and contacts can be made quickly. Another advantage: utilities such as electricity, water and internet are usually included in the rent. However, living in a student residence is not necessarily the cheapest option. It is not uncommon for there to be no cooking facilities in the dormitories and students in the dormitories are therefore obliged to book a so-called meal plan. This costs between CAD 400 and CAD 600 per month.

Host family

Many international students look for a host family in Canada for their semester abroad, with whom they can live (homestay). This is often the cheapest option, especially since all ancillary costs and, in some cases, meals are also included here. Under certain circumstances, however, you could face higher transport costs, depending on how far you are from the home of the host family to the university.

Shared apartment

A very popular and usually inexpensive option is living in a shared apartment (shared house / shared apartment). Here you should of course make sure that the room offered is furnished. You share the additional costs with your roommates.

Below is an overview of the different options for accommodation in Canada and the average costs:

Average monthly rental costs Average monthly electricity and gas costs Average monthly internet costs (flat rate)
On campus without a meal plan CAD 400 to CAD 1100 Usually included Usually included
Homestay CAD 400 to CAD 1000 Usually included Usually included
Shared room CAD 250 to CAD 700 Share of the total amount averaging CAD 150 (85 m²) Share of the total amount of an average of CAD 50 to CAD 60

The rent for the dormitory accommodation and the cost of the Meal Plan are in most cases given for the entire academic year. You have to pay the amount in advance for a semester or an academic year. The costs for a homestay or a room in a shared apartment are mainly given per month, but sometimes also per week. You should definitely pay attention to this in your search.

Food costs in Canada

Those who have not booked the university’s meal plan have to provide for themselves. Even if the basic food in Canada is more expensive than in Germany: The cost of living for studying in Canada is still lower with self-sufficiency than with going to the canteen every day. Dairy products are particularly expensive in Canada, due to the fact that milk prices are controlled by the government to support dairy farmers. The food on the market (Farmer’s Market) is by the way no more expensive than in the supermarket. At certain times you can even get the fresh fruit and vegetables for half the price. The food prices in Canada vary widely and it pays to keep an eye out for the latest offers. Many supermarkets offer discounts if you have a customer card.

Below is a list of certain foods and their average prices:

Product Average price in CAD
Milk (1 liter) 2.47
Eggs (12 pieces) 3.33
Bread (675 grams) 2.99
Water (1.5 liters) 2.16
Cornflakes (675 grams) 5.00
Bananas (1 kilo) 1.69
Maple syrup (0.5 liter) 15.99
Root Beer (2 liters) 1.25
Pizza (takeaway) 9.90

Attention: Unlike in Germany, prices in Canada are shown in net terms. This means that this is the price excluding VAT. There are three different taxes on products in Canada:

  • GST: Goods and Services Tax (5%, levied by the government)
  • PST: Provincial Sales Tax (5% to 10%, levied by the provinces / territories)
  • HST: Harmonized Sales Tax (merging of GST and PST)

Since the level of the PST can be different in the individual provinces and some provinces even do not levy any PST at all, there are correspondingly considerable fluctuations in gross prices.

Cost of Living in Canada Part 1

Cost of Living in Canada Part 1
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