How Much Do You Need to Live in Canada?

How much does it cost to live in Canada? Check out the components of the cost of living, accommodation calculations, transportation, and tips for saving on living costs in Canada in this article.

Canada is one of those countries that offers a lifestyle that appeals to many people. However, to be able to live there, you need to take into account the fairly high cost of living. The cost of living in Canada can vary depending on the area you live in and the lifestyle you live. Therefore, before deciding to live in Canada, it is important for you to know how much living costs are needed to live a comfortable and decent life there. In this article, we will discuss several components of the cost of living in Canada that you need to know.

Cost of Living Components to Know for Living in Canada

The cost of living in Canada is quite friendly for international students, especially when compared to London and New York. as an international student, you need funds of around CAD 10,000 – CAD 15,000 per year, or the equivalent of IDR 107 million to IDR 160 million per year. On the other hand, international students are still allowed to work 20-40 hours per week on the side so they can earn extra money for living expenses. The following is a breakdown of the cost of living in Canada:

1. Food and Beverage Costs in Canada

Apart from local dishes, Canada is famous for its Middle Eastern and Latin American dishes. You can occasionally buy food out with a budget of around CAD 70 in Toronto or CAD 60 in Montreal for two people, or if you want it cheaper you can eat at a fast food restaurant for CAD 10. Of course it’s quite empty if you buy food out. every day, therefore many international students decide to cook their own food at home. Shopping for groceries to stock up for several days will certainly be cheaper than buying food every day. The following is the price range for basic necessities in Canada that you need to know: (source: Numbeo )

  • Milk (1L) – CAD 3.09
  • Bread – CAD 2.86
  • Rice (1kg) – CAD 3.28
  • 12 eggs – CAD 3.46
  • Boneless chicken breast (1Kg) – CAD 14.07
  • Potatoes (1Kg) – CAD 2.69
  • Water (1L bottle) – CAD 2.04

2. Health and Insurance Costs in Canada

Canada has a policy of freeing up health insurance, medical examinations and dental care for its citizens. As an international student in Canada, you also need to arrange documents to get this facility. Regions that provide free health services to international students are Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories and Saskatchewan, other provinces do not.

Your insurance cover also depends on the length of your study visa. You should refer to the university website for further details so you can prepare the necessary documents before moving to Canada! If you don’t get medical coverage, you have to pay a doctor’s consultation fee of CAD 100, and medicines such as antibiotics and flu medicine cost around CAD 10 – CAD 25.

3. Cost of Education in Canada

For 2023, tuition fees for international students at Undergraduate (S1) level have increased by 4.9% compared to the previous year, to CAD 33,623 per year, or around IDR 361 million per year. Meanwhile, tuition fees for Graduate Students (S2) are CAD 20,120 per year, or around IDR 216 million per year, this amount has increased by 3.6% compared to the previous year. This fee will of course be slightly adjusted to each university. 

The following is the range of tuition fees from several affordable universities in Canada:

UniversityTuition fees per year
Carleton UniversityCAD 7,030 – CAD 46,152
University of ReginaCAD 8,856 – CAD 26,308
University of OttawaCAD 4,456 – CAD 38,692
University of WindsorCAD 11,100 – CAD 35,490
Vancouver Island CommunityCAD 13,885 – CAD 34,343

4. Entertainment and Recreation Costs in Canada

There are several entertainment options that you can choose while staying in Canada:

  • The cost to watch a professional sporting event in Canada varies depending on the type of sport and seating chosen. Average ticket costs range between CAD 50-150 per ticket. 
  • Entrance fees to national parks in Canada range from CAD 10-20 per adult, depending on the location and facilities offered.
  • Entrance fees to tourist attractions such as museums and art galleries in Canada vary, but average between CAD 10-30 per adult.
  • The cost to play golf in Canada varies depending on the type of golf course, the time you play and the facilities provided. Average costs range between CAD 50-100 per round.
  • The cost to watch a professional sporting event in Canada varies depending on the type of sport and seating chosen. Average ticket costs range between CAD 50-150 per ticket.

Want free entertainment and recreation? You can bike, hike, or camp in Canada. Unless you want to use facilities or enter certain areas that require special permission

5. Electricity, Water and Gas Costs in Canada

Electricity, water and gas costs in Canada also vary depending on location and consumer needs. Here are estimates of the average costs for utility services in Canada:

  • Electricity: The average cost for electricity in Canada ranges from CAD 0.13 to CAD 0.15 per kWh, with average monthly costs around CAD 100 to CAD 150.
  • Water: Water costs in Canada vary depending on location and use. The average monthly cost for water in Canada is around CAD 50 to CAD 100.
  • Gas: Gas costs in Canada also vary depending on location and season. The average monthly cost for gas in Canada is around CAD 100 to CAD 150.

Transportation Costs in Canada to Consider

Transportation costs are something you need to take into account because this is one of your daily needs to get to campus or other places you need. So it is very important to include transportation costs in your monthly financial records.

Types of Transportation Available in Canada

For your mobility in Canada, it is best to use public transportation. The public transportation commonly used in Canada is the train or metro and also buses.

  • Bus: Usually local people buy a monthly transportation card for CAD 83 or around Rp. 920,000 in Montreal, CAD 107 or around Rp. 1,200,000 in Vancouver and CAD 145 or around Rp. 1,600,000 in Toronto. 
  • Taxis and Ridesharing: If you are located in Toronto, taking a taxi is also an option. Toronto has the cheapest taxi fares in North America. The cost of using a taxi or ridesharing service such as Uber and Lyft varies depending on the distance traveled and time. The average cost for a 5 km trip in a big city is around CAD 15-20 or around IDR 160 thousand to IDR 215 thousand.
  • Train: The cost of using the train varies depending on the distance and class of service. The cost for train travel between major cities in Canada, such as Montreal-Toronto, ranges from CAD 100-200 or around IDR 1 million – IDR 2 million.
  • Boat: The cost of using a boat varies depending on the type of boat and travel route. The cost for a boat trip along the coast of Canada, such as a trip from Vancouver to Victoria, ranges from CAD 50-100 or around IDR 500 thousand to IDR 1 million.
  • Private vehicle: The cost of owning and using a private vehicle, such as a car or motorbike, varies depending on many factors such as vehicle type, age, condition, and location. Fuel costs in Canada are around CAD 1.30-1.60 per liter.

Public Transportation Costs in Canada

In Toronto, the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) is the bus and subway network that covers the entire city. The following is a range of costs for various types of TTC passes:

Monthly pass (monthly card)CAD$156 per month
Annual pass (annual card)CAD$ 143 if purchased per month
Day pass (daily card)CAD$13.50
Single (one way fee)CAD$3.50

In Montreal, the STM (Société de transport de Montréal) is a 4-line subway network that covers almost all locations in the city. The following is a breakdown of costs for some of its services:

Monthly Pass (monthly card)CAD$90.50
Weekly Pass (weekly card)CAD$28.00
Single (one way fee)CAD$3.50

How to Save on Transportation Costs in Canada

As a student who is far from home, of course you have to make savings moves so you don’t waste money monthly. For transportation costs, you can also save, you know.

  • Use Public Transportation: One of the most effective ways to save on transportation costs in Canada is to use public transportation. Choose the monthly or annual ticket option which, in comparison, will be cheaper than buying a daily ticket. Several cities also offer subsidy and discount programs for students or certain public transportation users by showing their student card.
  • Carpooling: if you decide to take a private vehicle in Canada, then you can use the carpooling system with your apartment mates. Your friend can take a car to campus and reimburse the petrol costs at the price you both agreed on. A petrol joint venture like this will benefit you as the vehicle owner, and benefit your friends because they can get cheap transportation to campus.
  • Look for promos and discounts: Don’t hesitate to look for promos or discounts when ordering transportation tickets such as trains or ships. Many airlines, train companies or travel agents offer special discounts to customers who book tickets in advance. Likewise, when using online transportation, don’t hesitate to find out about various discounts that you can use.
  • Avoid rush hours: it sounds simple but avoiding rush hours can save you from expensive parking fees, online transportation rates that increase during peak hours, and save time on the trip.

Calculation of Accommodation Costs for Living in Canada

Most students live in on-campus dorms during their first year of college. On-campus accommodation is usually referred to as ‘residence’ or shortened to ‘rez’. Usually students will be housed in a dormitory, or what is called a dormitory, or a dorm with other students. In the dormitory, facilities such as the kitchen, sitting room and washing machine will be shared with other dormitory residents. You are recommended to allocate around CAD 8000- CAD 10000 per year for on-campus accommodation.

House and Apartment Rental Prices in Canada

After the first year, students will usually rent a house or apartment with other friends to save costs. Usually students rent a room, and use the kitchen, bathroom and sitting room facilities together with other residents. Rental fees depend on location. Big cities like Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver are more expensive than other cities in Canada (however, they are still cheaper than New York or London). You are advised to allocate around CAD 675 – CAD 875 per month to rent a house off campus.

The following is the range of rental costs for a 3 bedroom apartment in several cities in Canada:

TorontoCAD 2,294
VancouverCAD 2,250 
OttawaCAD 2,200 
MontréalCAD 2,555 
EdmontonCAD 2,695 
CalgaryCAD 1,999

Apart from that, there is also a homestay option, where you stay with a local Canadian family. Typically the initial cost of a homestay is CAD 600, and monthly costs range from CAD 900 – CAD 1100 per month, including meals. You can take part in homestay family activities, and improve your English, as well as get to know the local culture, which will be a very valuable experience

Tips for Saving on Living Costs when Living in Canada

So that you don’t waste your finances and can still save, you can do several things to save on living costs while living in Canada.

1. Saving Tips on Food Costs while Living in Canada

  • Shop Wisely at Supermarkets: Look for promotions and discounts when shopping at supermarkets. Choose affordable brands and avoid buying expensive ready-to-eat foods.
  • Cook Yourself at Home: Cooking yourself at home can help you save on food costs and is healthier than eating at a restaurant. Look for easy and cheap recipes and buy food ingredients in large quantities so they can be used for a long time.

2. Economical Strategies for Transportation Costs in Canada

  • Use Public Transportation: Use public transportation such as buses, trams, or subways to save on transportation costs. Choose a monthly or annual pass option which is usually cheaper than buying a daily pass.
  • Look for promos and discounts: when using online transportation applications, often find out what promos you can use when you want to use them. You can also show your student card so you can get discounts when riding buses, trains and other public transportation.

3. Saving Tips for Accommodation Costs when Living in Canada

  • Find an Affordable Place to Live: Look for an affordable place to live with a rental price that fits your budget. Choose a location close to work or school to avoid expensive transportation costs.
  • Look for Subsidy Programs: Look for subsidy programs such as government aid or scholarships to help pay for education or living expenses.
  • Use Alternative Energy Sources: Use alternative energy sources such as solar or wind energy to save on electricity and gas costs. Many energy companies offer subsidy or discount programs for alternative energy users.

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