What’s The Cost Of Living In Vancouver As A Student? [February 2023]

November 14, 2022   |   9 Min. Read

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.

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

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 Rentals 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:

  • City of Vancouver area has the highest rental price on average, $2,525 for 1 bedroom apartment per month, which make sense as most corporates and schools like UBC, SFU and BCIT are located in downtown area.
  • The rental price in the Burnaby area is relatively high on average, $2,374 for 1 bedroom apartment per month. Similar to City of Vancouver, Burnaby is also home to big corporates and schools like SFU, BCIT, LaSalle College and Coquitlam College.
  • The rental price is slightly lower in Richmond area on average, $2,223 for 1 bedroom apartment per month. Richmond is one of the most popular areas for new-comers as it’s budget friendly and convenience, it’s also home to KPU and TWU Richmond campuses.

Student Accommodation Options in Vancouver

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.

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 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.

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

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:

👉Shared Bedroom

  • Ranging from $11,521.99 to $14,191.96 per year per bed.

*It will be $960 to $1,182 per month per bed

👉Private Bedroom:

  • Ranging from $13,612.00 to $15,1122.99 per year 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.

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 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:

👉Private Bedroom:

  • Ranging from $3,272 to $3,800 per 4-month semester per bed

*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 Housing (On-Campus)
three guys are chatting happily in the dorm

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:

👉Private Bedroom:

  • $3,732.33 per 4-month semester per bed

*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.

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 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)

👉Shared Bedroom:

  • Starting from $1,200 per month per bed

👉Private Bedroom:

  • Starting from $1,600 per month per bed

GEC Pearson (South Vancouver)

👉Shared Bedroom:

  • Starting from $1,200 per month per bed

👉Private Bedroom:

  • Starting from $1600 per month per bed

GEC King Edward (Central Vancouver)

👉Shared Bedroom:

  • Starting from $1,300 per month per bed

👉Private Bedroom:

  • Starting from $1,700 per month per bed

GEC Burnaby Heights (North Burnaby)

👉Shared Bedroom:

  • Starting from $1,200 per month per bed

👉Private Bedroom:

  • Starting from $1600 per month per bed


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:

  • Homestay (no meals): $850 per 4 weeks (Lowest)
  • Homestay (2 meals): $1000 per 4 weeks
  • Homestay (3 meals): $1050 per 4 weeks (Highest)

Summary – The Range of Rental Cost in Vancouver Per Month: $850 –2,000

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

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.

Dining Out

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:

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

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

#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 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.

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. 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.

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 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

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

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:

Cost of living in Vancouver as a student

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!