For many international students, one of the most stressful elements of studying in Canada is figuring out where to live. Some students choose to live on-campus, close to their classes and libraries, while other students prefer to live away from campus, relying on public transit, walking, or using a vehicle to travel to and from school. The good news is that Canadian educational institutions offer high-quality services to assist prospective students with finding accommodations.
Most post-secondary school in Canada have an international students’ office, where international students can access resources to help them find housing options both on- and off-campus. Many educational institutions have residences or dormitories on campus where students can rent housing for part or all of their period of study. Most schools also operate an online resource where off-campus accommodations can be posted.
Educational institutions in Canada frequently offer students the option to rent on-campus accommodations owned by the school. These accommodations are called dormitories or residences and offer many advantages. Living on campus allows students to live in close proximity to their classes. Many students prefer on-campus housing because they it allows them to live among their peers, providing networking opportunities and facilitating new friendships!
On-campus housing sometimes includes the purchase of a meal plan, which allows students to eat meals at on-campus cafeterias allowing them to spend less time cooking and more time focused on their studies. Sometimes on-campus housing comes with other benefits as well, like access to fitness or aquatic facilities operated by the school. The cost of living on campus depends on the school, and maybe more or less expensive than off-campus options.
Off-campus housing options will vary depending on the location of an educational institution. Schools located in expensive metropolitan cities, like Toronto and Vancouver, will likely have a range of apartments and condominiums for rent nearby. Schools located in smaller cities and towns may have fewer options, though it is quite common for the cost of housing to be cheaper in less populated areas. Wherever the school is located, there are usually both short- and long-term off-campus housing options available.
Short-term housing is usually preferable for international students, who generally lack the financial capacity and certainty to invest in a long-term property. The most common short-term housing options are rental properties. These are available for single occupants, groups of roommates, or families. Since rentals can be expensive, many students choose to live with roommates to share the cost. Note that a rental agreement or lease is a legal agreement with the person who owns the property, the landlord. Such agreements are legally binding and the renter will have certain responsibilities, like paying rent on time and not intentionally damaging property.
Before signing such a rental agreement, carefully review the terms and check with the international students’ office if they have any concerns. Another popular off-campus housing option is a homestay program.
Some schools pair students up with families in the area where they are studying, these are referred to as homestay. Each homestay is different, but the student usually has their own room but otherwise lives with the family, sharing meals and responsibilities.
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