Cost of living in Canada for Malaysian Students



Have you always dreamt of studying in the Great White North? If yes, then you’re on the right page. Not only is Canada the best study destination for international students, but the country also measures a total of 9.984 million square kilometres, which makes it a beautiful place that you can rejoice in exploring. 3 Canadian cities, such as Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, made the list of the top 50 student cities according to the QS World University Rankings for excellent quality of life. 


Extra benefit! Living in Canada as an international student, you are eligible to work up to 20 hours per week during school terms and full-time up to 30 hours per week during breaks like your term-end vacations.

Overview of Cost of Living in Canada

According to the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC), they offer a useful online tool that allows any international student to quickly calculate the average cost of studying at universities in Canada. This tool also gives the student with guidance on the documents that they need to provide. But before you depart from Malaysia for your study journey, ensure that you consider expenses like tuition fees, accommodation, transportation, food, and grocery when calculating the average cost of living in Canada.


Sounds tiring? Well, you don’t have to worry about all that because we are here to help you! To make things easier for you, we have come up with a list that assists you in planning your budget more effectively. Keep reading to learn more about the average living cost in Canada.

Accommodation Expenses

Accommodation options for international students in Canada offer a range of choices to suit their preferences and budgets. Whether you prefer the convenience and community atmosphere of on-campus residences, the independence of off-campus apartments, or the cultural immersion of homestays, there's something for everyone.


On-campus residences, with their vibrant community, provide furnished rooms and shared facilities, such as kitchens and bathrooms. Costs for on-campus accommodations vary based on location and amenities, typically ranging from CAD 600 to CAD 1,500 per month.


If you're seeking more independence, off-campus apartments might be your ideal choice. The prices can fluctuate significantly depending on the city and neighbourhood. In major cities like Toronto and Vancouver, expect to pay around CAD 800 to CAD 2,500 per month for a one-bedroom apartment.


For a truly immersive cultural experience, homestays allow you to live with a local host family. In addition to a comfortable room, meals are often included. The average cost for homestays ranges from CAD 800 to CAD 1,500 per month, covering utilities and meals.


To find affordable and suitable accommodation, utilise your university's housing services and explore online platforms. Consider sharing an apartment with roommates to split costs and venture beyond the city centre for more affordable options. It's crucial to factor in additional expenses like utilities, internet, and transportation when planning your budget.


Remember, starting your accommodation search early is key to securing the best options. Now that you're equipped with this information, you're ready to embark on your Canadian adventure with confidence!


Below is a table summarizing the average costs associated with different accommodation options:


Accommodation Type

Average Monthly Cost Range (CAD)

On-campus Residences

600 - 1,500

Off-campus Apartments

800 - 2,500


800 - 1,500

Tuition Fees and Scholarships:

For undergraduate programs, tuition fees for international students vary depending on the institution and program of study. On average, you can expect to pay between CAD 20,000 and CAD 40,000 per year. Remember, this is just a ballpark figure, and prestigious institutions or specialised programs might have higher fees.


For postgraduate programs, the tuition fees can range from CAD 15,000 to CAD 35,000 per year. Graduate programs, such as MBA or medical degrees, might have higher fees due to their specialised nature.


If you're inclined towards research and pursuing a PhD, the tuition fees for international students can be quite different. Many Canadian universities offer subsidised fees for research-based programs, with fees ranging from CAD 5,000 to CAD 15,000 per year. This affordability makes Canada an attractive destination for research-oriented scholars.


Now, let's talk scholarships and financial aid! Canadian institutions and various external organisations offer numerous scholarship opportunities to support international students. These scholarships can cover a portion or even the entire tuition fee, making your dreams of studying in Canada more attainable.


In addition to scholarships, financial aid options such as grants, bursaries, and part-time employment opportunities exist to help alleviate the burden of tuition costs. It's essential to research and explores these avenues, as they can make a significant difference in your financial journey.


Remember, scholarships and financial aid are not only based on academic excellence but can also consider factors like community involvement, leadership qualities, and unique talents. So, don't be shy to showcase your true self beyond your academic achievements.


Here's the breakdown of  tuition fees for international students in Canada:



Average Tuition Fees (CAD)


20,000 - 40,000


15,000 - 35,000

Research Programs

5,000 - 15,000


Transportation and Commuting Costs

From buses and trains to bicycles and car-sharing, there's a multitude of options available to suit various needs and budgets. 

First, the well-connected public transportation system offers buses, subways, and streetcars in major cities. The cost of a monthly public transit pass ranges from CAD 100 to CAD 150, providing unlimited travel within designated zones. 

If you prefer a more personalised experience, ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft are readily available in urban areas. However, it's important to consider surge pricing during peak hours or busy times.


For those seeking a greener alternative, bicycles are a popular choice. Canadian cities are increasingly bike-friendly, with dedicated lanes and bike-sharing programs. You can rent a bike for around CAD 10 to CAD 15 per hour or opt for a monthly membership at approximately CAD 30 to CAD 50, depending on the city.

If you prefer to explore beyond the city limits, trains and intercity buses are reliable options. Train fares can vary significantly based on distance and class, with prices ranging from CAD 50 to CAD 200 for popular routes. Intercity bus fares are generally more affordable, starting at around CAD 20 for shorter trips.


To save money on transportation, consider carpooling or car-sharing services like Zipcar. Sharing the cost of fuel and parking with fellow students or friends can significantly reduce expenses. Additionally, purchasing a student discount card, such as the ISIC (International Student Identity Card), may provide access to exclusive transportation deals and discounts.


Here’s the breakdown of Transportation and Commuting Costs:


Transportation Option

Associated Costs (CAD)

Public Transit

100 - 150 (monthly pass)

Ridesharing Services

Varies based on distance


10 - 15 per hour / 30 - 50 monthly membership


50 - 200 (based on distance)

Intercity Bus

Starting at 20 (shorter trips)

Food and Grocery Expenses:

When it comes to food expenses, the costs can vary depending on your dietary preferences, location, and lifestyle. On average, international students in Canada can expect to spend approximately CAD 200 to CAD 400 per month on groceries. However, this estimate can fluctuate based on factors such as cooking habits, eating out frequency, and individual choices.


To navigate the realm of food costs, it's essential to adopt smart strategies. One effective approach is meal planning, where you map out your weekly meals in advance. This allows you to create a shopping list based on specific ingredients, reducing food waste and impulse purchases. Meal planning also enables you to take advantage of sales and discounts, ensuring you make the most of your budget.


Exploring affordable dining options can also be a savoury endeavour. Many cities in Canada boast a vibrant culinary scene, offering a diverse range of eateries, cafes, and food trucks. Seek out student-friendly spots, local markets, and ethnic neighbourhoods where you can find delicious and budget-friendly meals. Don't hesitate to try out new flavours and cuisines while staying mindful of your budget.

Food Expenses

Typical Monthly Cost (CAD)


200 - 400

Eating Out

100 - 200


Healthcare Costs and Insurance

When it comes to healthcare costs for international students, it's essential to consider health insurance coverage. Many universities and colleges require international students to have health insurance to ensure they can access medical services when needed. These insurance plans vary in coverage and cost, and it's crucial to select one that suits your specific needs. On average, yearly premiums for health insurance in Canada range from CAD 600 to 900.

Part-Time Job Opportunities

Canada offers a plethora of part-time job opportunities for international students, allowing them to earn income while pursuing their studies. These jobs not only provide financial support but also offer valuable exposure to the Canadian workforce and culture. You are eligible to work up to 20 hours per week  

Let's explore some popular part-time job options:

  • Retail Sales Associate
  • Food Service Worker
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Tutor or Teaching Assistant
  • Customer Service Representative
  • Research Assistant


Working part-time can bring forth a multitude of benefits beyond financial stability. Let's delve into the advantages:


  • Financial Independence: By working part-time, international students can supplement their living expenses, covering costs such as accommodation, transportation, and personal expenses. It provides a sense of autonomy and relieves financial strain.


  • Skill Development: Part-time jobs allow you to develop and enhance transferable skills such as communication, teamwork, time management, and customer service. These skills are valuable assets for future career opportunities.


  • Cultural Integration: Engaging in part-time work offers an opportunity to immerse yourself in the Canadian culture, interact with local residents, and expand your network. It fosters cultural exchange and a deeper understanding of the Canadian work environment.


  • Enhanced Resume: Part-time work experience showcases your commitment, adaptability, and work ethic to potential employers. It enriches your resume and sets you apart from other candidates.


  • Personal Growth: Balancing work and studies teaches valuable lessons in time management, prioritisation, and responsibility. It helps foster personal growth, resilience, and self-confidence.

Financial Planning and Budgeting


  • Track Your Expenses:

Keep a record of every purchase, whether it's a cup of coffee or a textbook. This practice will help you gain a clear understanding of your spending habits and identify areas where you can cut back or make adjustments.


  • Create a Budget:

Begin by listing your income sources, such as scholarships, part-time work, or financial support from your family. Next, outline your fixed expenses, including tuition fees, accommodation, utilities, and transportation costs. Allocate a portion of your income for savings and emergency funds. Finally, set limits for discretionary spending on entertainment, dining out, and other non-essential items.


  • Prioritise Essentials:

Ensure that your budget prioritises essential expenses like rent, utilities, and groceries. These are necessities that must be covered consistently. By allocating a fixed amount for these items, you can ensure that you have a stable foundation for your living expenses.


  • Save Strategically:

Include a savings category in your budget to set aside funds for future goals and unexpected expenses. Aim to save a specific percentage of your income each month. 


  • Seek Student Discounts:

Take advantage of student discounts available in Canada. Many businesses, entertainment venues, and transportation services offer special rates for students. These discounts can significantly reduce your expenses, so be sure to inquire and present your student ID whenever possible.

Saving Money and Student Discounts

Tips for Saving Money


  • Budget Wisely: Prioritize essential expenses, such as tuition, accommodation, and food, and allocate a portion of your income for savings and discretionary spending.


  • Cook at Home: Plan your meals, shop for groceries wisely, and embrace the culinary adventures of cooking in your own kitchen.


  • Explore Affordable Housing Options: Consider living in student residences, shared accommodations, or off-campus housing that offers reasonable rental rates. This can significantly reduce your monthly expenses.


  • Use Public Transportation: Take advantage of public transportation, such as buses and trains, to commute around the city. Many cities in Canada offer discounted transit passes exclusively for students.


Student Discounts: 

  • Transportation: Many transportation systems, such as local buses, subways, and trains, offer discounted fares or student passes. Examples include the GO Transit Student ID Card in Ontario and the U-Pass in British Columbia.


  • Entertainment: Cultural attractions, museums, theatres, and cinemas often have discounted rates for students. For instance, the Art Gallery of Ontario offers discounted admission, and Cineplex offers reduced ticket prices with a valid student ID.


  • Shopping: Numerous retailers, both online and in-store, offer student discounts. Examples include Apple, Microsoft, Amazon Prime Student, and various clothing brands. Always inquire about student discounts before making a purchase.


  • Fitness and Recreation: Many gyms, fitness centres, and recreational facilities offer discounted membership rates for students. Local community centres may also provide reduced fees for sports and fitness activities.


  • Technology and Software: Companies like Adobe, Autodesk, and JetBrains offer discounted software licenses for students, enabling you to access professional tools at a fraction of the regular cost.

Cultural Considerations and Social Activities:

Cultural Considerations and Living Costs:


  • Food and Cuisine: Canada boasts a multicultural society, offering a wide range of culinary options. Exploring diverse cuisines can be an exciting adventure, but it's essential to consider the cost. 


  • Festivals and Celebrations: Canada celebrates a multitude of cultural festivals and events throughout the year. Many festivals offer free or affordable admission, allowing you to immerse yourself in the festivities without straining your budget.


  • Language Considerations: Language barriers can impact certain living costs. For example, if English or French is not your first language, you may consider language classes to improve your communication skills. Research affordable language programs offered by community centres, libraries, or language schools to enhance your language proficiency at a reasonable cost.


Affordable Social Activities and Community Engagement:


  • Community Events: Local communities in Canada organise various events, such as farmers' markets, street fairs, and cultural exhibitions. These events often offer free entry or have a nominal fee, providing an excellent opportunity to explore local traditions, crafts, and culinary delights.


  • Outdoor Activities: Hiking trails, parks, and lakes offer opportunities for hiking, biking, picnicking, and other outdoor activities at little to no cost. 


  • Student Clubs and Organizations: Engaging with student clubs and organisations allow you to connect with like-minded individuals who share similar interests. These groups often organise affordable or free social activities, such as game nights, movie screenings, and cultural showcases. Joining these clubs not only helps you make friends but also provides a platform to explore your passions and expand your horizons.


  • Volunteering: Many organisations and charities offer volunteer opportunities where you can contribute your time and skills. 


  • Libraries and Culture Centre: From libraries to cultural centres, there are many places that offer free or low-cost events, workshops, and exhibitions. These venues provide an excellent opportunity to delve into literature, arts, and conversations about a variety of subjects. They serve as valuable locations to engage in intellectual and cultural activities.

Now with an in-depth understanding of the cost of living in Canada, you should feel more secure and organised when it comes to managing your personal finances. With this newfound knowledge, you can calculate what expenses to expect and structure a budget that best suits your requirements.


Are you ready to bring your Study in Canada dream to life? Then AECC is here for you! We provide exactly what you need - from the selection of courses to accommodation and more. Now that your finances are in check, take the next step towards studying abroad with us!

Contact us today!



1) What is the estimated cost of living for international students studying in Canada?

The estimated cost of living for international students studying in Canada varies depending on the city and lifestyle. On average, students should budget around CAD 10,000 to CAD 15,000 per year for living expenses, which include accommodation, food, transportation, books, and personal expenses.


2) How much are the tuition fees for international students in Canadian universities?

Tuition fees for international students in Canadian universities also vary depending on the institution and program of study. Generally, undergraduate international students can expect to pay between CAD 20,000 and CAD 40,000 per year, while graduate programs may range from CAD 10,000 to CAD 35,000 per year. However, it's important to note that tuition fees can be significantly higher for professional programs such as medicine, dentistry, and law.


3) What are the typical accommodation expenses for international students in Canada?

Accommodation expenses for international students in Canada depend on factors such as location, type of accommodation, and whether it is on-campus or off-campus. On average, students can expect to spend between CAD 600 and CAD 1,500 per month for accommodation. This cost may include rent, utilities, and internet access.


4) How can I manage transportation costs while studying in Canada?

To manage transportation costs while studying in Canada, consider using public transportation options such as buses, trains, and subways. Many cities offer discounted transit passes for students. Additionally, some universities provide shuttle services between campus and nearby areas. Walking or cycling can also be cost-effective alternatives if the distance permits.


5) What should I expect in terms of food expenses as an international student in Canada?

Food expenses for international students in Canada can vary depending on personal preferences and dining choices. On average, students can expect to spend around CAD 300 to CAD 600 per month on groceries and eating out. Cooking meals at home and utilising student meal plans, if available, can help save costs. It's also worth exploring affordable dining options such as food courts, student cafeterias, and local markets.

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