Most students who are preparing to move to Vancouver may wonder how much is the cost of living in Vancouver. To answer briefly on this question, the total cost is around $2,700 to $3800 per month. You may be curious about how we come up with this vast number. Let’s dive in and this is the breakdown of all the costs and expenses as a student.
According to Rentals.ca February 2023 Rent Report, Vancouver has the highest rent in Canada. Luckily, Metro Vancouver’s rental prices are starting to drop in late 2022. In this section, we will compare different accommodation options for students, including market rental, on-campus student housing, off-campus student housing, and homestay to give a rough idea of the rental cost in Vancouver.
Market rental is the most common rental option in the market as it’s available for everyone who is looking for a place to stay, which means students need to compete with working professionals and most landlords would prefer a working professional who has a stable income. However, it might be the best option for students, as you may rent or share an apartment with your friends, classmates or families. The most commonly used market rental websites in Vancouver are:
Among the above rental platforms, Craigslist and Zumper offers the most options for rental, and also where people encounter most rental scams. We strongly suggest you to briefly read through our two blogs which will make your rental process easier:
Based on the latest Rent Report from liv.rent February Metro Vancouver Rent Report, it reveals that:
There are 3 main student accommodation options in Vancouver: on-campus student housing, off-campus student housing and homestay. The major differences among the three options are quite distinctive. Usually, on-campus student housing is the closest to campus with an affordable rental price, but only offer to its own students. While off-campus student housing offers slightly higher rental price but with flexible lease terms and all students can apply. Homestay would be the cheapest option but they could be far away from campus and inconsistence with its expectation. Below, we will provide you with some basic information about different student housing options.
There are four major schools – UBC, SFU, BCIT, and CapU that provides on-campus student housing. They all offer a cheap rental price to students and all of them are close to the campus. The downside of on-campus student housing, however, has a limited capacity for its own students. Take UBC as an example, there are nearly 6000 students on the waitlist for housing in 2017.
On-campus student housing at UBC has the largest student housing community in Canada with more than 13,000 students in 15 residences. There are different types of student residences including shared townhouses and private suites.
According to UBC Residences, here is the range of rental price for shared/ private bedroom in an apartment:
*It will be $960 to $1,182 per month per bed
*It will be $1,134 to $1,260 per month per bed
🔔Most of the UBC residences are located within the campus, and it only takes mins to school. However, the major drawback is that students are locked with fixed lease terms, usually semesterly or yearly.
On-campus student housing at SFU has a capacity of housing more than 1,900 undergraduate students at its main Burnaby campus.
According to SFU Residences, here is the range of rental price for private bedroom in an apartment:
*It will be $818 to $950 per month per bed.
🔔Most SFU student housings are located near West Mall Centre, which only need a 10 -15 mins walk to school. But the same issue with UBC student housing, all the leasing terms are fixed, and it would not be refunded even if students want to cancel the stays earlier.
BCIT student residences are located in the Burnaby main campus, and they have limited housing with around 400 beds.
According to BCIT Residences, here is the rental price for private bedroom in an apartment:
*It will be $933 per month per bed.
🔔Same as UBC and SFU student housing, the lease term of BCIT student residences is fixed, and students still need to pay the whole amount if they choose to move out earlier.
For off-campus student housing, there are two major options: off-campus student residences and homestay.
GEC living is the largest off-campus student accommodation provider in Vancouver, it offers 1,000+ beds, 5 different locations which are located within 20 mins to most schools across Metro Vancouver. The key advantage for GEC are its flexible lease, fully furnished suites, professional management, all-inclusive amenities, bills included, in-suite laundry and student focused services/events.
Approx. rent rate of GEC Residences are:
GEC Viva (Downtown Vancouver)
GEC Pearson (South Vancouver)
GEC King Edward (Central Vancouver)
GEC Burnaby Heights (North Burnaby)
Homestay is one of the well-known options for students who study abroad, as it is the cheapest option and provides an opportunity for them to stay with a local family in Vancouver.
However, this might not be the best option for University and college students, since most homestays are far from universities and colleges, and they may have different restrictions and rules that students need to follow, such as curfew, which they should arrive home before a certain time. Another major downside is that there is no consistent standard for homestay. Therefore, it is a hit or miss, and students are not able to tell if it’s good or bad upon their arrival.
As the rate of homestay are vary base on different agency company, we would use Vancouver Central Homestay Ltd. as an example:
Here are the approx. rate of homestay:
Summary – The Range of Rental Cost in Vancouver Per Month: $850 –2,000
One of the most common questions we get from students is what are the food options in Vancouver.
Watch the video below from RRDANCEL, a video creator based in Vancouver. She provides a lot of information on student life with a primary focus on international students. In this video, From RRDANCEL talks about grocery bills to dining expenses. We believe it should be able to give students a brief introduction to the cost of food in Vancouver.
According to RRDANCEL, the monthly grocery bills would be around $400 per month per person.
Vancouver has a diverse restaurants that are full of authentic flavors, and it maybe a bit costly to some international students. Here’s what you may be paying for dining out in Vancouver based on one meal per person:
For instance, if a student would like to dine out three to four times per month, the cost of dining out would be between $150 and $400.
Summary – The Range of Food Cost in Vancouver Per Month: $400 – $800
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.
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.
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:
Summary – The Range of Transportation cost in Vancouver Per Month: $100-200
Apart from all the necessary expenses mentioned above, there are also other expenses that students may need to pay on both a regular basis and an occasional basis. For regular basis: Mobile phone plan, gym membership, utilities bills and Wi-Fi. On occasional basis: Concerts and Movie nights.
👉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. We have another useful blog: Best Cell Phone Plan for Students in Vancouver that has more information on it!
👉Utility Bills: On average, the collective bill of all utilities (including electricity, heating, and cooling) for students are 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 be ranging from $30/month to over $100/month based on the internet speed and packages.
👉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 of the 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
According to all the researches we have done, the monthly expenses of a typical international student is $2700 to $3800 per month, and this is a quick summary of all the costs and expenses for a month:
We understand the cost of living in Vancouver for students are quit high. In order to spend money in right places, we have prepared a list of restaurants that worth trying!