Cost of Living in Canada vs USA for International Students

Raghuram Sukumar Study in Canada 35 Comments

Question – What is the typical cost of living in Canada vs USA  for international students in Canada. I’m from India and planning  to study Masters, but split between Canada vs USA.

Lets looks at cost of living  in Canada vs USA and compare tuition fees per year for Canadian vs US Universities.

Living Expenses typically include your apartment rent, utilities, food, entertainment, personal expenses, etc.

Typical room and board expenses listed at university websites under cost of living assume you are not sharing your apartment or room.

Students from India share the apartment (2 to 4 person per apartment). When expenses gets shared my roommates, then your cost of living comes down.

Cost of Living in Canada

  • Apartment/Housing Rental: Rent can vary from $300 to $500+. If you live in single bedroom apartment, then it will be expensive. Shared rental will be cheaper. So, it’s based on your preference.
  • Other expenses:  Between $250 to $400 depending on food, eating out, cellphone, internet and television connections.

Total you are looking at $350 + $250 = $600 (Canadian Dollars per month) for your day-to-day expenses.

At time of this writing 1 USD = 0.984189 CAD.

Here is the table  from University of British Columbia on cost of Living

Estimated minimum annual living costs for single person (not including tuition)
Student fees$655Includes U-Pass full public transit pass for 3 terms
Room & Board$12,000On or off-campus housing and food costs
Books & Supplies$800Reading materials, lab/studio costs vary by program
BC Health Plan$648Mandatory basic health coverage
AMS/GSS Extended Health Plan$224Prescription drugs, vision, dental coverage
Personal & Household Expenses$2100Clothing, personal care, household goods, etc
Entertainment $600Having a bit of fun!
$17,027Remember, this does not include tuition

We calculated $600 per month based on sharing an apartment, which comes to $600×12 = $7200 per year including food, entertainment. But, you can estimate around $10,000 in living expenses per year.

Cost of Living in USA

Cost of living in US Universities is along the same lines.

You can negate cost of living factors while deciding between US and Canada if you are comparing similar cities. Major difference comes into picture when you include tuition fees. Lets cover tuition fees between Canadian and US Universities in next post.

Do you have any other questions about cost of living in Canada?


  1. i guess, it should have also pointed out that there is difference in currency value ($) for US and Canada.

  2. Hello HSB,

    You have provided many links and much info regarding Canada universities from past 1 week. Thanks a lot. I have a doubt. Majority of the students apply for USA for Masters; so in USA, there are many scholarships, RA,TA etc.,
    But what is the situation in Canada ???
    Do students who have good resumes get RAs even in Canada ?
    Can you provide rough percentage of getting RAs when compared to USA plzzzz !!!

    1. More details about Canada – coming soon. 1 Post per day about Canada is my Target.

      1. Thank you very much sir. I hope you will be posting few admission ( with RA,TA etc.,) experiences soon.
        Thanks a lot in advance for helping thousands of students !!! 😀

    2. Can u please tell me a bit detail about RA, TA scholarships?
      i am a newly entering member in this blog as well as in this field , to get some scholarship for higher studies in Chemistry,.

      1. RA- Research Assistantship

        It is given to students with good research skills based on their undergraduate work. In this type, students directly participate in the research mission of the unit, or an on/off-campus organization that is affiliated with the unit in student’s field of study, where research may/may not contribute directly to the student’s thesis. The students should contact the professors with mutual area of interest/ Based on the undergraduate research background, the admission committee will accept students with RA. They should work for 20 hours (10 hrs-min or 30 hrs-max) under a specific project/issue. They are paid full tuition fees and health insurance (not in all uni’s) and monthly stipend to meet food and other expenses. Usually 20 hrs per week. They get a stipend which they can save every month. 10 hrs/week RA will waive only tuition and stipend can be sufficient only for food,major expenses only. 30hr/week is very very scarce but one can earn more stipend. Please note that by working 30hrs/week, one cannot manage studies as well as maintain good health as it gives lot of burden both physical cum mental. 20 hr/week is commonly given RA.

        TA- Teaching Assistantship

        It is given to the students who have good communication skills. They should have a very very high toefl score (especially speaking section). They should directly participate in the teaching mission of the unit as instructor of record, lab instructor, lab assistant, or who has responsibilities in direct support of classroom instructions. Usually they should take few english tests and courses before getting TA and are paid annual stipend which covers food, lodging and other expenses monthly with full/half tuition waiver and complete health insurance in some cases.

  3. well i would like to know about some details regarding the offers for Ph.D and what all are there expectationsfor it?? also is there a possibility for applying without GRE!!

  4. Hi HSB,
    I follow your blog regularly and I found that you always have insisted on studying in USA as the first preference. Now that you are posting posts about Canada so does that mean that you are shifting your focus from USA to Canada?
    No offense….I am just asking….I am concerned about both the countries but still not able to decide between the two….coz expenses are less in Canada but opportunities are more in USA.

    If anybody is in same state like me u can plz post your comments….about me? Currently in 3rd yr of Comp Engg. from Mumbai Univ. Obviously thinking of going US/Canada for MS in CS…..

    1. @Jatin – Writing about Canada doesn’t mean I shifting focus from USA to Canada, but I’m merely expanding the blog to include details about Canada. Soon, other countries will follow. I’m providing information based on my views, its your job to use the data to decide which country to pursue higher education.

      1. I feel Canada a great option because, in general there is no a big difference between both the countries (both study quality and living conditions). In the end, we just need better living standards and a life to enjoy with luxury. Hence, as of now U.S job opportunities is less and cost of living is higher, then better we look for other options than to fall for pride !

  5. You have just put cost at Canada(B.C). There is no comparison ! (Canada vs U.S)

  6. I received scholarship for PhD in McGill Canada, urbana champaign and purdue US. I chose US, mainly because of the research topic. I know it may not answer your question, my point is beside of living cost etc, you also may need to consider your research. After all, we got to love what we do. About living cost and facilities, I believe there won’t be jarring disparity. I did my research about canada vs us too back then. You can always study in the US and look for job in Canada and vice versa. But I think we cannot make wrong decision about our research, hope you make the right decision

    1. Hello Nuri,
      I saw you,ve written you got in PhD in Purdue. Could you tell me what factors helped you in getting admit there? And which stream did you get in? What kind of credentials they look for in prospective students? Kindly reply. Thank you in advance.

  7. Hello,
    I m really interested in studying in CANADA but my problem is i have to SEARCH in Google happyschoolsblog canada to get related articles.. could you please create new TAB “Study in CANADA”.. tht would be great.. If you could also include countries like Singapore i’d be great for future students..

    1. 2 Ways to get to Study in Canada
      1) Check the Sitemap (at bottom of the page and select Study in Canada)
      2) Click Study in Canada just above the Blog Title ( Higher EDU > Study in Canada > Admissions

      1. Hey, U just added that? or was that there even earlier… Thank you VERY VERY much.. BOY! tht was quick… you guys are really prompt… thank you very much..

  8. Dear HSB,
    I really appreciate the way this blog works and i would love to read all your blogs. Infact i have recommended many of my friends to read it!
    I feel it would be even better if you could post many articles related to higher studies in many different countries,say for example- Singapore, Australia ,New Zealand, and many other European countries which is a renowned destination for higher education in comparison with USA. I have done my BE in Biotechnology from Bangalore.Although i have got placed in an IT company, i am looking forward to pursue my higher education next year in my field.I would prefer a place which would give more space for research activities! So it would be nice if you could post such articles. Thank you 🙂

  9. I am in last year of engg. and thinking of abroad for masters so is it like that in Canada we cannot do Masters directly we would have to study again Bachelors then only we are eligible for masters??
    pls do reply…….Thnxx

    1. yes chetas u r right!
      Better u look for pg diploma n apply 1 year or 10 months in advance to get admissin n scholarship.
      And ya dont waste ur money by applying for masters they will tell u that submit ur documents and application fees of approx 100CAD but at end , u will get reply that ur bachelors degree does nto meet the standards equivalent to canadian univ. so u r not eligible.

  10. hellow everybody:
    i plan to make my PhD in the united state, in medicinal chemistry:pharmacy, i made my first GRE and got 360 verbal and 640 maths and 3 in analytical writing; then in my next time i got 700 in maths and 550 verbal; and only 2 in analytical writing; you know; now it is revised GRE, i am confused if i have to take it for the third time; only for AW
    ( i want to adopt general result for verbal and maths) or do i have a chance by the first test result”3 in AW”, i mean can i adopt verbal and quantitative from one part and AW from other; and can it be the older; or it is better to make it again, i donot think by the new format”revised” i can have high marks in verbal and maths so what to do? please help me…

  11. i heard that there is no work permit for the students for first six months is that true

      1. Looks like it’s possible to apply for work permit to work off campus in Canada. Once I verify that, I will update it here.

        1. hi, evn i am looking for an admit into canada ,i have a low gre score of 1060 ,if u have any info plz do share

          1. hi for admit in canada we don’t require gre …only ielts or tofel is required ….up to my knowledge ielts is given first preferance

  12. what is the cost of living and expenses dor an international student in the united kingdom

  13. I m planning for masters. Now the question come to my mind is that US recessions and visa rejections. seeing it seems properly to go Canada leaving US. Is it better for me. I got 1070 marks in gre, am I able to get admitted in good college from which campus placement is available.

  14. if i study associate degree which of 2years thn how much years i get work permit.plz reply me as soon as possible

  15. No man its not that much costly to live in Canada for any International student. A person should know where and how to save money according to my experience its affordable.

    1. I want to continue my studies from Canada,could you please let me know about the typical living cost over there,and can i find jobs over there? Iam studying ACCA level 2,hope for you kind reply,thankyou.

  16. i would love to knw about eligibility nd cost structure to study in USA. i wana persue MBA in finance…nd presently i am persuing my bachelor’s degree. i am in my final year…!
    need a proper help and guidence…?

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