How to Budget as an International Student

The thought of having to budget while studying abroad may be a tough one. Between the cost of your international education, accommodations and various other expenses, you may feel overwhelmed. Cost shouldn’t be the deciding factor of whether or not to study abroad. There are many ways international students can budget and save money. By following these few strategies, you will have little to worry about and will be able to enjoy your time abroad.


Make use of student discounts

With your student card comes a variety of student discounts. This can range from attractions and retail promotions to meal discounts and transportation. Not all places advertise they accept student cards, however they most likely do. Take your student card with you anywhere you go and with every purchase you make, simply ask if the employee accepts student cards. Although it may be a small amount initially, it adds up to a large sum in the end. Some attractions may even come free for students, in which case you could save anywhere between $15 to $60. This is entirely dependent on the attraction and is something you’ll have to confirm with the company directly.

Often in the areas surrounding your host school, coffee shops and restaurants offer some type of student deal. This may be everyday or a certain day of the week. Either way, it helps you cut down on those extra costs. With transportation, schools may include the cost of local transit in tuition fees in which case students can use transit with their student cards. Others may not do this, however students may still purchase a discounted public transit pass or student tickets.

Aside from your student ID, there are additional discount cards you may purchase that will offer an even deeper discount such as the SPC card. This loyalty card offers instant student savings of anywhere between 10-20% at thousands of stores and restaurants across Canada specifically.


Live with roommates

A single apartment may cost you a lot of money in between rent, utilities and food. Depending on the location you choose to study in and type of home you are looking for, you may be paying anywhere between $800 to $1500+ not including the additional cost of utilities. As a student on a budget, it’s best to live with other students to evenly split the cost of additional expenses. If you don’t have friends to live with, you can check for a bedroom in a shared home through a simple Google or Kijiji search. Alternatively, you can connect with other students looking for roommates or a sublet takeover through your host school’s Facebook group.

Living with roommates has a number of benefits to it aside from saving money. Whether they are local or international students, you can have someone to explore new locations and share discoveries with. This is the one of the best ways to experience a new city.

Find out more about student accommodations in Canada in our blog here.


Consider the exchange rate

Being familiar with the exchange rate is a very important factor in your budget. If you don’t know this information, you may be spending significantly more than you plan to. Be careful in considering the cost of certain items and remember, tax is not included on price tags in North America. It’s quite easy to get confused with numbers, however if you have a method of conversion, you will have no problem.

The exchange rate may adjust a number of times during your time abroad. It’s important to check it every so often to ensure you’re spending your money wisely. A number of websites present this type of information to you and offer a currency converter calculator such as the XE calculator.


Search for the best deals

This may be one of the easiest ways to budget your spending. There are many tools available to search for the best deals. Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace may be used to purchase furniture, frames, various supplies and used books amongst many other things. You may even consider checking Amazon and the host school’s bookstore for any used books, rentals or discounts. Oftentimes, students sell books once they’ve completed the course. Students post on Facebook or print flyers on campus informing others of the type of book, its cost and their contact information. The cost of books can truly add up, so you want to avoid paying the full price if you can. Another way to find the best deals is with Flipp, a mobile app. Flipp will help you budget the cost of food as it shares the best deals in the area. There are many ways to find the best local deals. Even by simply connecting with other students you will learn about various promotions.


Studying abroad is an exciting experience. Between travel, food, accommodations and social events, it’s easy for expenses to add up. By implementing these strategies, you’ll have no problem saving money and reducing the overall cost of international education.


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Adrianna Dyczkowsky, Public Relations Specialist at ApplyBoard