Comparing 5 Popular Study Abroad Destination Countries

A map of the world, with six faces covering a continent.

Planning your study abroad journey? With many different study abroad destination countries to choose from, selecting the best country for you can be difficult. 

We’ve broken down the location, cost of living and career opportunities in five popular destination countries to make your decision-making process a little easier! With this guide, you’ll get a feel for which country is the right choice for you. Keep reading to learn more!

An illustration of the flag of Australia.

Australia

Australia offers stunning landscapes, high quality of life, and top-tier academic institutions. Students can get a world-class education while enjoying a laid-back, multicultural environment. Australia also makes it easy to work during and after your studies. 

Location

Australia is one of the largest countries on Earth—in fact, it’s wider than the moon! Its landscapes are extremely diverse, with varying climates ranging from deserts to the tropics. The most popular cities for international students are Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth.

Cost of Living

This will vary depending on where you choose to live in Australia, as well as whether you choose to live on-campus or off-campus. Here’s a list of some common expenses with their average estimated costs:

  • On-Campus Housing: A$440–A$1,833 per month
  • Off-Campus Housing: A$380–A$1,760 per month
  • Food: A$140–A$280 per month
  • Personal Hygiene: A$29–A$116 per month

Career Opportunities

If you’re studying in Australia on a student visa, you can work up to 40 hours every two weeks when classes are in session, and full-time during scheduled course breaks like summer holidays. There are also many post-study work options for international students. Graduates can apply for a Temporary Graduate Visa through a Post-Study Work Stream or a Graduate Work Stream.

Want to find the best academic institution for you? Check out our blog on how to choose where to study in the Land Down Under!

Flag of Canada.

Canada

Known for its diversity, post-study work and immigration options, and affordable tuition fees, Canada is one of the most popular destinations for international students. The country ranks among the highest for its quality of life and education system. 

Location

Being a large country, Canada has a range of climates. While some parts of the country face harsher weather conditions, Statistics Canada has found that 66% of Canadians live within 100 km of the Canada-US border. This means most schools are situated in a more moderate climate. The most popular cities for students are Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver.

Cost of Living

Like most other countries, the cost of living in Canada will vary depending on which community you choose to live in, plus other factors, such as living on- or off-campus. Here’s a list of some common expenses with their average estimated costs:

  • On-Campus Housing: C$9,125 per academic year
  • Off-Campus Housing: C$8,819 per academic year
  • Food: C$1,000–C$3,700 per academic year
  • Personal Hygiene: C$1,000 per academic year

Career Opportunities

International students studying in Canada don’t need a work permit to work on or off campus if they’re enrolled full-time at a recognized institution. However, if students have a mandatory work placement or co-op through their study program, they will need a work permit. Eligible students can work 20 hours a week during their academic program, or full-time during the breaks in the academic year. 

There are also many post-study work options for international students. Graduates can apply for the popular Post-Graduation Work Program (PGWP) after graduating from a Canadian post-secondary institution.

Flag of Ireland.

Ireland

Ireland offers lush green landscapes, high-quality education, high international graduate employment rates, as well as plenty of work and study opportunities. It should come as no surprise that thousands of students choose the Emerald Isle as their study abroad destination! 

Location

Ireland is an island nation, located off the western coast of Europe. Its climate is strongly influenced by the surrounding Atlantic Ocean. The climate in Ireland is best described as mild and slightly rainy. Temperatures are neither very hot nor cold, varying between 3° C and 28°C. The most popular cities for students are Galway, Cork, and Dublin.

Cost of Living

Costs will vary depending on where you choose to live in the country, and other factors, such as living on or off campus. Here’s a list of some common expenses with their average estimated costs:

  • On-Campus Housing: €300-€700 per month
  • Off-Campus Housing: €1,200–€2,100 per month
  • Food: €250–€350 per month
  • Personal Hygiene: €75 per month 

Career Opportunities

Eligible international students can work up to 20 hours per week during their study term. Over summer and winter holidays, international students with a valid immigration Stamp 2 are allowed to work up to 40 hours per week. Ireland’s Third Level Graduate Program also allows eligible international students to work for 12 to 24 months post-graduation.

See part one and part two of our top recommendations for universities in Ireland!

A flag of the United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom (UK) is home to the British monarchy, famous historic sights, and some of the world’s most prestigious academic institutions. The UK is home to three of the top 15 institutions in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021, and had more than 65 institutions included in Shanghai Ranking’s Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU)

Location

The UK is composed of a series of islands in Western Europe and has a temperate climate. This means cool wet winters and warm wet summers, and communities are considerably wetter the further west you go. Average temperatures vary between 3° C and 30°C. The most popular cities for students are London, Glasgow, and Edinburgh.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in the UK varies depending on factors such as where you choose to live, and of course whether you live on or off campus. Here’s a list of some common expenses with their average estimated costs:

  • On-Campus Housing: £300-£700 per month
  • Off-Campus Housing: £650–£2,200 per month
  • Food: £70–£200 per month
  • Personal Hygiene: £12–£25 per month

Career Opportunities

Eligible, full-time international students can work up to 20 hours per week during their study term. International students can work full-time in vacation periods, as well as during their academic term if it’s part of an academic work placement. The UK’s Post-Study Work Visa’s Graduate Immigration Route allows eligible students to stay in the UK and work at any skill level for up to two years. 

A flag of the United States of America.

The United States

Considered number one in the world for attracting international students, the United States (US) offers students the opportunity to get a world-renowned education. The US makes up more than half of the world’s top 20 academic institutions, according to Times Higher Education World University Rankings and ShanghaiRanking’s Academic Ranking of World Universities

Location

The US has varying climates, depending on where you choose to study. On average, temperatures vary between -1° C and 32° C. States such as California, Florida, Arizona, and Texas are usually warm all year round, while states like New York, Illinois, Washington, and Massachusetts have more distinct seasonal changes. The most popular cities for students are New York, Boston, and Chicago.

Cost of Living

Your costs will vary, depending on factors such as where you choose to live, and whether you live on-campus. Here’s a list of some common expenses with their average estimated costs:

  • On-Campus Housing: US$5,300–US$8,000 per semester
  • Off-Campus Housing: US$500–US$3,500 per month
  • Food: US$80–US$140 per month
  • Personal Hygiene: US$10–US$40 per month

Career Opportunities

Eligible full-time international students holding an F-1 or M-1 visa can work under certain conditions as an on-campus employee or a government-approved off-campus employee. The US also offers postgraduate short-term study abroad options for international students, who can enroll in a one or two-year-long certification to build or diversify their skills. 

Curious about emerging career options in the US? Find out more with our list of occupations with the highest projected employment!


Each of our study abroad destination countries offers something unique to international students. Each is desirable in its own right, and might be the right fit for you! Use this handy guide to narrow down your options and get a feel for which country will serve your situation best.

Ready to start your study abroad journey? Reach out to us today—ApplyBoard’s team is here to help!

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