Vancouver is perceived to be the most expensive city in Canada for both Canadians and people from foreign countries—Is it a myth or a truth? If the cost of living in Vancouver is that high, why is it so popular amongst international students? We answer all your questions and more below.
Is Vancouver expensive to live in?
Yes, Vancouver is expensive to live in. According to the 2020 Demographia International Housing Affordability Report, Vancouver is the second most expensive city on the globe. Vancouver’s current score is lower than its 2019 score; however, the affordability of the city is still a problem due to the costly living expenses.
Metro Vancouver’s rental prices are rarely stable. We have followed an upwards movement in rental prices during 2021, and 2022 prices seem to show a similar trend. As we move toward the colder regions of the country, like Edmonton, the rent drops down significantly.
Market rentals may be a bit tricky if you are new to the city. It is hard to find an apartment with such high demand in Vancouver. And if you do not have any friends in the city, you may have to move into an apartment with complete strangers.
To inform you about common scams and give you tips on creating your rental budget, we wrote a detailed article so you can cope with the cost of living in Vancouver; you can read here.
According to the monthly Metro Vancouver Rent Report provided by Liv.Rent in March 2022,
If you are a newcomer in Vancouver, the most cost-effective option may be renting a place in on or off-campus student housing options. Usually, student housing rental fees include extra costs like utilities, Wi-Fi, amenities, etc.
On-campus options like UBC, SFU, BCIT, and other student residences, only rent their apartments to their students; in addition, they can only accommodate a small percentage of those students. This makes it hard for students to find housing provided by their institutions.
UBC Student Housing (On-Campus)
UBC has a lot of different student housing options including private suites and shared townhouses. The prices for rent change based on buildings and the number of people in your unit. Certain fees are not included within your rent based on the building as well; so, there isn’t a fixed price at UBC student housing.
To give you an approx. range, here are the two different private unit options at different UBC Residences:
*If you’d like to check up to date fees and review all pricing options at UBC Student Residences, please go to https://vancouver.housing.ubc.ca/applications/fees-payments/
SFU Student Housing (On-Campus)
SFU has a number of student housing options including family housing for its Burnaby campus. If you are studying at one of the other campuses, like SFU Downtown, you may find it easier to stay at off-campus housing like GEC Viva.
To give you an approx. range, here are the two different private unit options at different SFU Residences:
BCIT Student Housing (On-Campus)
BCIT has fixed rates for students; the fees do not vary by residence (*based on 2022 fees):
For detailed rent fees at BCIT student housing, https://www.bcit.ca/housing/housing-rent-fees/
For those who aren’t lucky enough to secure their units on campus, or simply want to live off-campus, GEC is their best bet!
GEC Viva Student Housing (Off-Campus)
GEC Living is the largest off-campus housing community in Vancouver. GEC Viva, one of the central GEC Student Housing properties, is located near UBC, SFU, UCW, Emily Carr, and other important institutions. GEC offers fully furnished apartments, property management, and flexible leasing options to its residents. Wi-fi, utilities, and in-unit laundry are included in the rental fees of every unit at GEC.
Based on 2022 rates*,
*Rates are subject to change periodically.
*If you’d like to check up to date fees and review pricing options, please inquire through the link: https://gecliving.com/book-now/
One of the most common questions we get from students is about food and how much it costs. We explained different types of restaurants and food sources, including their estimate prices, below.
To give you a glimpse of the fast-food prices, we chose a global brand; view the 2022 prices at McDonald’s below. Based on the cost of living in Vancouver, most fast food chains stay in a reasonable price range.
Vancouver has a diverse restaurant scene full of authentic flavors. Here’s what you may be paying dining out in Vancouver:
Cooking at Home
Due to the recent inflation, grocery store prices slightly increased in Vancouver. According to Canada’s Food Price Report of 2022, a family of four will pay $14,767 annually for their grocery bill.
We have included a list of basic expenses based on the 2022 article by Moving Waldo.
|Item||Price (per 1 kg)|
|Loaf of bread||$3.31|
Cooking at home can definitely save you some money – But, if you don’t have time for it, keep reading below.
If you have a busy life, you may find ordering meal plans to be a good option. Our trusted vendor, Upmeals, offers customizable healthy meal plans and delivers it right to your door.
Upmeals currently offers weekly new menus with recipes curated by award-winning chefs and nutritionists. You can set up a one-time purchase or subscribe to the ongoing service.
Vancouver has various transit options like the SkyTrain, Bus, SeaBus, and West Coast Express; however, the most common one is the SkyTrain. There are 3 SkyTrain zones, each covering different areas of Metro Vancouver.
Expo Line: Downtown Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Surrey.
Millenium Line: East Vancouver, Burnaby, Port Moody, Coquitlam.
Canada Line: Downtown Vancouver, Vancouver International Airport (YVR), Richmond.
Most institutions in Vancouver have a U-Pass program that has cheaper transportation rates for students.
How much does an international student spend in Vancouver?
Most articles forget to talk about basic rental costs for activities in Vancouver. People who do not have a car often choose to rent a car for road trips or certain activities that require a car. Other activities like biking, skiing, snowboarding also have additional rental costs and seasonal passes.
Rent A Car
One of the commonly used car rental services in Vancouver is Enterprise. Enterprise’s rental costs start from $75.35 CAD per day (including taxes and fees).
There are many other services in which you can directly rent a car from the car owner; the most commonly used one is Turo. You can rent an expensive supercar or the cheapest one from the listings depending on your needs!
Carsharing is also very common in Vancouver. Most locals choose Evo Car Share as it covers a lot of different regions. You can simply download the app from your app store, sign up and hit the road! You can also park for free at any Evo designated spots.
Rent A Bike
Biking is a great way to get around since insuring a car is quite expensive in Vancouver! Vancouver has a city-wide bike share system with public bicycles called Mobi. They can be borrowed on a short-term basis from several stations.
Rent Ski or Snowboard
As you may already know, Vancouver is a central location for all skiers and snowboarders! Tourists all around the country visit Vancouver during the winter season to enjoy the winter activities at Mount Seymour, Grouse Mountain, Whistler Mountain, and Cypress Mountain.
While owning your own skis would be the cheapest option if you are planning to ski every year, you can also rent your gear locally instead of paying a higher price in the ski resorts.
Here are a couple Rental Shops for Winter Sports Gears – you can rent daily or seasonally!
Based on our experience, monthly expenses of a typical international student is $2500 to $3000, and will look like this:
Well, now that we concluded that living in the Metro Vancouver area is significantly expensive, we can look at how you can add an extra income. Whether you want to reduce your parent’s burden, or want to get extra money to pursue your dreams, we did the research for you and published several articles that may help:
Still unsure about moving to Vancouver? Direct us your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org