How to Find Student Accommodations in Canada

You have accepted your offer letter and must now figure out your accommodations in Canada. You don’t know much about how to navigate the country, let alone how to find a place to live! Where do you begin?

You can choose to connect with your host school for guidance or can choose to do it on your own! What you must first decide is whether you want to live in an on-campus residence, off-campus home or with a host family. Perhaps you want to spend your first term in a residence and your second term with a family. Your options are not limited!

On-campus accommodations

Why consider living on campus? Living in a student residence has plenty of perks. You have the opportunity to connect with others and get involved, making it a very clean transition for you. Most residences are located directly on campus! This means you have easy access to social events, food halls, study spaces, and, of course, your classes.

Typically student residences have a don, someone who is there to support you every step of the way and ensure safety. You can’t go wrong! You may wonder what types of on-campus residences exist. Each school varies, however the most common room types are traditional dormitories, apartments and suites. Schools aim to accommodate the diverse needs of students.

Note: When submitting your residence application, you get a chance to select your preferences. However, there is no guarantee you will be assigned your first pick.

Residence Types

Traditional student dorm

Source: McMaster University

Traditional dorm

This is the most common type of residence in Canadian universities and colleges. Students may be assigned to a single dorm room with only one bed, or a double dorm room with two beds. Typically, this style of room comes with a bed, mattress, desk, chair, lamp and closet space. Students will share facilities such as a kitchen, washroom and lounges.

Apartment/suite-style residence

Source: UBC


This is more of an independent-style of living but with similar social benefits to the traditional dorm style of living. Students may live with up to five students and may either have their own bedroom or may share a bedroom. Units include kitchen facilities, a washroom and living room. Similar to traditional dorms, students may be provided with the same furniture, in addition to standard appliances such as a fridge and microwave.

Cost: The cost of residence varies depending on the school and type, however to give you a price range, you may pay anywhere between $3,000 and $7,500 for each academic year.

Off-campus accommodations

Many students choose to live off-campus especially after their first year. For international students, it’s a great way to meet others! Depending on the length of your stay, you can choose to rent, sublet or live with a host family.

To sublet means to takeover another student’s lease likely because they are away for those months. In most cases, the space is fully furnished (which is a plus!) and utilities (internet, electricity, etc.) may be included.

Sublets vary in time from just a couple months to an entire year. You are sure to find something that will fit your length of stay. You can do this through a simple Google search, Kijiji search or even through your host school’s Facebook group. This is the easiest option for an individual.

To live with a host family means to truly immerse yourself in the local culture. Here, you choose to live with a local family who helps with your transition significantly. In fact, they can act as your local tour guide and can help perfect your communication skills.

Typically, students choose to rent a house, condominium or apartment with two to four other students. Costs can range anywhere from $500 to $1000+ per student, both with or without utility costs. This of course depends on where you want to live and whether or not you plan to live with roommates.

Large cities such as Toronto and Vancouver will be much more expensive in comparison to smaller cities like Waterloo and London. There are many things to consider when choosing to rent. Be cautious of scams on certain websites and do not send money before seeing the unit or meeting the landlord. Take a look at the checklist below!


  • What is your rent budget? Typically, you will pay your rent on a monthly basis, however you must first submit your first and last month’s rent prior to moving in. It’s best to confirm whether the landlord prefers cheque or e-transfer.
  • What is the cost of utilities? Not many off-campus homes include utilities in the rental cost. Utilities may include electrical, heating, telephone, internet and cable. For a general idea on the cost of utilities in Toronto, click here.
  • Do you need to purchase furniture? While some homes come furnished, others may not. It may be best to find a fully-furnished home this way you save the hassle of purchasing your own and can budget. However if you do need to purchase furniture, you can find affordable options through Facebook Marketplace and Kijiji.
  • What is the length of the lease? Ensure you know the length of your lease. Is it one year? 6 months? Be familiar with the lease terms and agreement. If you break a lease, you will most likely be charged.
  • What is your preferred location? We suggest a location close to school this way you can walk as opposed to rely on public transit. Other things to consider shopping centres and entertainment.
  • Do you need roommates? You can connect with both international and local students through Facebook groups or through your host school. In some cases, the rental company can place you in a home with other students looking to fill a room.

If you’re unsure as to whether you should live on-campus or off-campus, we suggest spending your first year in an on-campus residence. This is something you can apply for through your host school.

Securing on-campus residence makes it significantly easier for your transition. You will avoid many challenges and additional costs such as furniture and utilities, because these things are typically included in student residences. You’ll also have the safety of campus security and other students. On-campus living is stress free!

To learn how to search for local student housing, watch our tutorials below!

Tutorial 1: How to find student accommodations in Canada – Local housing company

Tutorial 2: How to find student accommodations in Canada – Kijiji/Google search

ApplyBoard is here to give you step-by-step guidance from before your international studies to after. Get started on your application today by going to www.applyboard.com.