What’s The Cost Of Living In Vancouver As A Student? [Jan 2024]

January 10, 2024   |   7 Min. Read

How much does an average student spend on a month of living in Vancouver?

To briefly answer this question, the total cost ranges from CAD $2,350 to $3,750 per month, including rental, groceries, bills, entertainment, and transportation.

You might be curious about how we arrived at this substantial figure. Let’s delve into the breakdown of all costs and expenses:

#1 What’s The Average Cost of Rent in Vancouver?

According to liv.rent’s Jan 2024 rental report, the average rental cost for an unfurnished one-bedroom apartment in the City of Vancouver is around $2,627 per month, and $3,610 per month for an unfurnished two-bedroom apartment.

While most students won’t rent private apartments for themselves during their studies, these rental costs impact other accommodation types like shared living and homestay.

In this section, we will compare different student accommodation options, including market rental, on-campus student housing, off-campus student housing, and homestay, to estimate the rental cost in Vancouver.

Market Rental In Vancouver

Market rental is the most common option since it’s available to everyone looking for a place to stay.

But it also means that students must compete with working professionals, who landlords often prefer due to their stable income.

However, it might be the best option for students, as they can rent or share an apartment with friends, classmates, or family. The most commonly used market rental websites in Vancouver are:

Among the above rental platforms, Craigslist and Zumper offer the most options for rentals, but they are also where people encounter most rental scams.

We strongly suggest you read through our two blogs, which can make your rental process easier:

The picture below shows the average rental cost across Metro Vancouver in Jan 2024, according to liv.rent:

Student Accommodation in Vancouver

There are three main student accommodation options in Vancouver:

  • On-campus student housing: UBC, SFU, BCIT, CapU
  • Off-campus student housing: GEC Living and other sublet provider
  • Homestay

The major differences among these three options are quite distinctive.

On-campus student housing is the closest to campus with affordable rental prices but only offers accommodation to its own students.

Off-campus student housing offers slightly higher rental prices but with flexible lease terms, and all students can apply.

Homestay would be the cheapest option, but it could be far away from campus and inconsistent with expectations.

Below, we will provide you with some basic information about different student housing options.

Two students are in their dorm chatting with each other.
Photo Credit: UBC

On-Campus Student Housing Options in Vancouver

There are four major schools – UBC, SFU, BCIT, and CapU – that provide on-campus student housing.

These institutions offer affordable rental prices to students and are conveniently located close to the campus. However, a significant downside of on-campus student housing is its limited capacity, available only to its own students.

Take UBC as an example: nearly 6000 students on the waitlist for housing in 2017.

UBC Student Housing (On-campus)
Two students at UBC dorm studying together.
Photo Credit: UBC

On-campus student housing at UBC boasts the largest student housing community in Canada, accommodating more than 13,000 students across 15 residences. These accommodations range from shared townhouses to private suites.

According to UBC Student Residences, the rental price range for shared and private bedrooms in an apartment is as follows:

👉Shared Bedroom

  • Ranging from $11,521.99 to $14,191.96 per year per bed, or $960 to $1,182 per month per bed

👉Private Bedroom:

  • Ranging from $13,612.00 to $15,1122.99 per year, or $1,134 to $1,260 per month.
SFU Student Housing (On-Campus)
A view of new SFU on-campus student housing at Burnaby campus.
Photo Credit: SFU

On-campus student housing at SFU can accommodate more than 1,900 undergraduate students at its main Burnaby campus.

According to SFU Residences, the rental price range for a private bedroom is as follows:

👉Private Bedroom:

  • Ranging from $3,272 to $3,800 per 4-month semester or $818 to $950 monthly.
BCIT Student Housing (On-Campus)
three guys are chatting happily in the dorm

BCIT student residences are located on the main Burnaby campus, and they offer limited housing with around 400 beds.

According to BCIT Residences, the rental price for a private bedroom is as follows:

👉Private Bedroom:

  • $3,732.33 per 4-month semester, or $933 per month.

Off-Campus Student Accommodation Options in Vancouver

For off-campus student housing, there are two major options: off-campus student residences and homestay.

GEC Living (Off-Campus)

two students are chatting happily at GEC Burnaby Height.
Photo Taken: GEC Burnaby Heights

GEC living is the largest off-campus student accommodation provider in Vancouver. It offers over 1,000 beds in five locations within a 20-minute commute to most schools across Metro Vancouver. The key advantages of GEC are its flexible leases, fully furnished suites, professional on-site management, all-inclusive amenities, included bills, a 24/7 centralized security system, in-suite laundry, and student-focused services/events.

The approximate rent rates at GEC Residences are:

GEC Viva (Downtown Vancouver)

👉Shared Bedroom:

  • Starting from $1,300 per month per bed

👉Private Bedroom:

  • Starting from $1,800 per month per bed

GEC Pearson (South Vancouver)

👉Shared Bedroom:

  • Starting from $1,300 per month per bed

👉Private Bedroom:

  • Starting from $1800 per month per bed

GEC King Edward (Central Vancouver)

👉Shared Bedroom:

  • Starting from $1,300 per month per bed

👉Private Bedroom:

  • Starting from $1,800 per month per bed

GEC Burnaby Heights (North Burnaby)

👉Shared Bedroom:

  • Starting from $1,300 per month per bed

👉Private Bedroom:

  • Starting from $1800 per month per bed


Homestay is a well-known option for international students, as it is the least expensive choice and offers them an opportunity to live with a local family in Vancouver.

However, this might not be the best option for university and college students. Most homestays are located far from universities and colleges, and they often come with various restrictions and rules students must adhere to, such as a curfew that requires them to return home by a certain time.

Another significant downside is the lack of a consistent standard for homestays, making it a gamble; students might not be able to determine the quality of the homestay until they arrive.

As the rates for homestays vary based on different agency companies, we would use Vancouver Central Homestay Ltd. as an example:

  • Homestay (no meals): $1,000 per 4 weeks (Lowest)
  • Homestay (2 meals): $1,200 per 4 weeks
  • Homestay (3 meals): $1,600 per 4 weeks (Highest)

Summary: The Range of Rental Costs in Vancouver Per Month: CAD $1,000 – $2,600

#2 What’s The Cost of Food in Vancouver?

One of the most common questions we receive from students pertains to food options in Vancouver.

Watch the video below from RRDANCEL, a video creator based in Vancouver. She provides a wealth of information on student life, primarily focusing on international students.

In this video, RRDANCEL discusses everything from grocery bills to dining expenses. We believe it should give students a brief introduction to the cost of food in Vancouver.


According to RRDANCEL, the monthly grocery bills would be around $500 per person.

Dining Out

Vancouver boasts diverse restaurants with authentic flavours, which may seem costly to some international students. Here’s what you might expect to pay for dining out in Vancouver, based on one meal per person:

  • A meal in a budget-friendly restaurant: $20 – $30
  • A meal in a mid-range restaurant: $40 – $60
  • A meal in a high-end restaurant: $70 – $100

If you would like to dine out three to four times per month, dining out costs between $150 and $400.

Summary – The Range of Food Cost in Vancouver Per Month: $500 – $800

#3 What’s The Cost of Transportation in Vancouver?

There are four major transit options: SkyTrain, Bus, SeaBus, and West Coast Express. The most commonly used transportation system for students would be SkyTrain and Bus.

U-Pass (Universal Transit Pass)

Most institutions in Vancouver have a U-Pass program that has cheaper transportation rates for students. It covers the cost of all transit systems, and it may includes in your tuition fee.

Monthly Pass (Compass Card)

To those who do not have a U-Pass option, the best option for students would be purchasing a monthly pass if they need to travel by transit every day. Monthly Pass provide unlimited travel on SkyTrain and SeaBus within the number of zones purchased.

There are three different types of monthly passes:

  • 1 Zone: $102.55 per month – for students studying in Downtown area, e.g. UCW, ILAC, FDU, UBC, BCIT and SFU
  • 2 Zones: $137.10 per month – for students studying in Burnaby and Richmond area, schools like SFU and BCIT (Burnaby campus) and KPU and TWU (Richmond campus)
  • 3 Zones: $185.60 per month – for students studying in Coquitlam and Surrey area
a translink map in Vancouver.
Photo by Translink

Summary – The Range of Transportation Cost in Vancouver Per Month: $100-200

#4 What’s The Cost of Other Expenses in Vancouver?

Apart from the necessary expenses mentioned above, there are also other costs students may need to cover regularly and occasionally.

Regular expenses include a mobile phone plan, gym membership, utility bills, and Wi-Fi.

Occasional expenses may include events like concerts and movie nights.

Expenses on Regular Basis

👉Mobile Phone Plan: A phone plan with data usually starts around $60 with major telecommunications providers. Students may choose a cheaper mobile plan from other providers like Phonebox, starting at $35 per month. Check out Best Cell Phone Plan for Students in Vancouver for more information about different phone plan options.

👉Utility Bills: On average, the collective bill of all utilities (including electricity, heating, and cooling) for students is around $107 per month.

👉Gym Membership: While there are cheaper options like Fit4Less (approx. $15-20 per month), there are also more expensive gym memberships like Anytime Fitness’ (approx. $70+ per month)

👉Wi-Fi and Internet: The Wi-Fi fee will range from $30/month to over $100/month based on the internet speed and packages.

Expenses on Occasional basis

👉Concerts: Students can buy tickets online on Ticketmaster and TicketLeader. The tickets would be varied depending on the performers. On average, the general Admission (GA) tickets are $70.

👉Movies: Most movies at Cineplex are around $10.99 – $12.99 for normal tickets and $19.99 for 3D tickets. (Tickets on Tuesday are cheaper!)

Summary – The Range of Other Expenses in Vancouver Per Month: $200 – $350

#5 Summary: What’s the cost of living in Vancouver?

According to all the research we have done above, a typical international student’s monthly expenses range from $2,350 to $3,750. Here is a quick summary of the monthly costs and expenses: