Whether you’re a newcomer to Canada or an international student looking to study here, this blog post provides an overview of the best cities in Canada for international students. Discover top Canadian cities, including Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal, for excellent education and diverse opportunities. Start your search for the perfect city to pursue your education in Canada with this comprehensive guide.

Here are five of the best cities in Canada that are highly recommended for international students:

If you’re short on time but interested in discovering the top 5 cities for international students in Canada, here’s a quick rundown.

Best Cities in Canada to Live in for International Students

City Province 2021 Population known for:
Toronto Ontario 2,794,356 Most Multicultural City in the World
Montreal Québec 1,762,949 European vibes
Vancouver British Columbia 2,642,825 Mild climate, and friendly people
Edmonton Alberta 1,010,899 Canada's Festival City
Calgary Alberta 1,306,784 Canada's sunniest city

Best Cities in Canada for International Students

1. Toronto

Toronto is undeniably one of the top choices for international students, owing to its exceptional educational institutions and vibrant city life. However, it’s important to note that this city is one of the most expensive in Canada, so it’s essential to budget accordingly if you’re planning to visit or study there.

Why Toronto?

According to a recent study conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Toronto is one of the most educated cities in the world. The study analyzed the educational attainment of adults aged 25 to 64 in 35 major cities globally and found that Toronto ranked second behind Stockholm, Sweden, for the percentage of its population with tertiary education. Almost half of all Toronto adults (48.9%) possess a tertiary education, while the OECD average is just over one-third (35%). This means that Toronto has a higher percentage of adults with a high level of education than any other city in North America, with only four European cities surpassing it: Stockholm, Zurich, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen.

Great Universities in Toronto

Toronto is home to many outstanding universities and colleges, with three of the best institutions distinguished by their academic reputation, research opportunities, and student experience.

The University of Toronto, one of the world’s foremost research universities, is Canada’s most prestigious institution. This university offers a vast range of programs and facilities, and its graduates are highly sought after by employers.

Another exceptional option for students seeking a first-rate education is York University, which strongly emphasizes research and provides ample opportunities to participate in cutting-edge projects.

Waterloo University is a world leader in innovation and technology, with highly regarded programs that prepare graduates to excel in their fields.

In addition to these universities, students interested in pursuing a top-quality education should also consider Western University. This institution boasts a beautiful campus and a solid academic foundation.

Toronto Universities

Institution City Website
University of Toronto Toronto University Website
York University Toronto University Website
University of Waterloo Toronto University Website

Affordable Rent

For students in Toronto, the high cost of rent is a significant concern. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city is $1,500, which is simply unaffordable for many.

The high demand for housing in Toronto, coupled with the city’s strong economy, has led to landlords charging higher rents. Additionally, there is a limited supply of rental units relative to the number of people seeking apartments, further increasing prices.

Fortunately, there are some strategies that students can employ to find more affordable housing. One option is to share an apartment with roommates, which can help split the rent cost and other expenses like hydro and internet.

Welcoming Community

Toronto’s diverse and inclusive community is a significant draw for international students. The city offers many cultural attractions, recreational activities, and educational institutions. There are ample opportunities to engage with the community through volunteering or interacting with locals. Toronto is a vibrant and welcoming city that international students will enjoy calling home.

1. Montreal 

Montreal is a great option for international students due to its lower cost of living than Toronto and its vibrant and multicultural atmosphere. The city is predominantly French-speaking, making it an ideal place to learn or improve your French language skills.

If you have ever visited Europe, you will feel a sense of familiarity in Montreal. This city is known for its European vibes, with many buildings reminiscent of countries like France.

Why Montreal?

Montreal received the highest score in the quality of life category, attributed to its rich cultural scene, diverse food options, and bustling nightlife. Additionally, the city is considered affordable due to its low cost of living and high salaries, making it an attractive destination for young professionals. Montreal also stands out as one of the safest cities in Canada, with low crime rates and high levels of public safety. With its high quality of life and low cost of living, Montreal is a desirable choice for families and young professionals looking to relocate to Canada.

Great Universities in Montreal

Montreal is home to many prestigious universities, but McGill University, Concordia University, and Université de Montréal are the top three.

McGill University is known worldwide for its outstanding research and teaching. It is also one of the most selective universities in Canada, with an acceptance rate of less than 20%.

Concordia University is another top-tier institution in Montreal, offering a well-rounded education with exceptional programs in the arts and sciences. It is also one of the most affordable universities in Quebec.

As the largest university in Quebec, Université de Montréal is renowned for its research excellence and diverse programs, ranging from engineering to business to law.

Montreal Universities

Institution City Website
McGill University Montreal University Website
Concordia University Montreal University Website
Université de Montréal. Montreal University Website

Affordable Rent

Montreal is a cost-effective city for students looking for affordable rent, with a variety of options available. Shared apartments are popular among students as they offer lower rent costs than a single apartment. Many websites and Facebook groups cater to this need by helping students find roommates. In addition, student housing complexes are also an option. These complexes usually offer multiple units with varying floor plans, and most include utilities in the monthly rent price. The average price for a one-bedroom unfurnished unit in Montreal is $1,300, making it an attractive option for students on a budget.

Welcoming Community

Montreal is a student-friendly city that boasts a welcoming and diverse community. With numerous universities and colleges, it’s a top destination for students worldwide. The city’s multicultural atmosphere creates a unique and exciting environment for both studying and living.

Students can enjoy various activities in Montreal, from discovering the city’s rich history and culture to experiencing its lively nightlife. Montreal’s appeal as a student city is evident, with much to offer. Plus, with a high quality of life and affordable living, Montreal is ideal for students to call home.

3. Vancouver

Vancouver, situated in British Columbia, is a bustling metropolis and one of Canada’s largest cities, with a population exceeding 2.5 million. Tourists flock to Vancouver to witness its stunning natural beauty and engage in outdoor recreational activities. The city also boasts a thriving arts and culture scene, with numerous museums and galleries that glimpse its rich history and diversity.

Why Vancouver?

Vancouver’s breathtaking natural surroundings, lively culture, and flourishing economy make it a standout city. Research has delved into what elements contribute to Vancouver’s appeal, and the results are illuminating.

One of Vancouver’s primary draws is its stunning natural landscape. Nestled between the Coast Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, the city offers unparalleled views at every turn. Moreover, with over 200 parks and green spaces, Vancouver’s inhabitants are never far from the great outdoors.

In addition to its idyllic location, Vancouver has a wealth of cultural and recreational activities. From a thriving arts scene to abundant opportunities for outdoor pursuits like hiking, biking, and skiing, Vancouver has something for everyone. Furthermore, the city’s burgeoning tech industry has made it an attractive destination for young professionals.

Great Universities in Vancouver

Vancouver, British Columbia, is home to several prestigious universities, with the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and Vancouver Island University as top choices.

The University of British Columbia (UBC) is renowned for its world-class research programs and consistently ranks among the best universities globally. With a student population of over 60,000, UBC is one of Canada’s most prominent universities, offering a diverse range of programs.

Simon Fraser University (SFU) is another esteemed institution in Vancouver with a strong emphasis on research and a wide array of program offerings. With campuses in both Vancouver and Burnaby, SFU provides convenient options for students in the Lower Mainland.

While smaller in size, Vancouver Island University (VIU) is known for its intimate class sizes and supportive learning environment. Located on Vancouver Island, VIU offers a high-quality education focusing on personalized attention and engagement.

All three universities in Vancouver are renowned for their academic excellence and contribute to the city’s reputation as a hub of higher education in Canada.

Vancouver Universities

Institution City Website
University of British Columbia Vancouver University Website
Simon Fraser University Vancouver University Website
Vancouver Island University Vancouver University Website

Affordable Rent

In January 2023, rental prices for unfurnished one-bedroom units in Metro Vancouver increased by $30 from $2,227 to $2,257, as reported by Liv.rent. This makes finding affordable housing challenging for students in Vancouver, where the cost of living is high.

Despite the rising costs, students can search for affordable rental housing in various ways. Checking the websites of local universities and colleges for off-campus housing listings is a common approach. Students can also explore online classifieds websites and Facebook groups or contact local property management companies directly. It may require creative solutions such as job availability and sharing rent with roommates to make housing more affordable.

While navigating the Vancouver housing market can be daunting, with perseverance and resourcefulness, students can still find affordable housing options. Keeping an eye on rental trends and actively searching for available options can increase the chances of securing affordable housing in Vancouver.

Welcoming Community

Vancouver prides itself on being a unique and inclusive community that welcomes students from all backgrounds. The city is home to a diverse population of students worldwide, contributing to its vibrant and inclusive atmosphere.

In addition to its diversity, Vancouver is known for its friendly and welcoming environment, making it an ideal place for students to pursue their studies. The city offers various support systems for students inside and outside the classroom. Students can find a wide range of services and opportunities to thrive in Vancouver, from academic resources to social and cultural support networks.

Furthermore, Vancouver’s inclusive and supportive community extends beyond the campus, with many initiatives and organizations dedicated to creating a safe and inclusive environment for all students. This sense of community and belonging makes Vancouver a special place to live and study, where students from different backgrounds can unite and thrive.

4. Edmonton

Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, is a prime destination for international students seeking affordability and a plethora of activities. The city offers affordable living options, making it an attractive choice for students on a budget.

Rent in Edmonton is known to be very affordable compared to other major Canadian cities. A one-bedroom apartment in the city center can be found for around CAD 1025 per month, while apartments outside the city center are even more budget-friendly.

Apart from its affordability, Edmonton also boasts a wide range of things to do for students. Nature enthusiasts can enjoy exploring the scenic river valley’s many parks and hiking trails. The city also offers a vibrant nightlife scene, with numerous bars and clubs catering to various interests and preferences.

Overall, Edmonton provides international students with an affordable and exciting environment to live and study, making it a great choice for those seeking a balance between affordability and entertainment.

Why Edmonton?

Edmonton has gained recognition as one of the best cities to live in Canada, and for a good reason. The city offers many amenities and activities for its residents, making it an ideal place to call home.

One of the critical factors that makes Edmonton a great place to live is its abundance of parks, recreation areas, cultural attractions, and events. Residents can enjoy the city’s natural beauty and recreational activities yearly. Edmonton also hosts numerous cultural events and festivals that showcase the city’s diverse heritage and vibrant arts scene, providing ample opportunities for entertainment and enrichment.

Affordability is another advantage of living in Edmonton. The city has a lower cost of living than many other major Canadian cities, making it an attractive choice for families and individuals looking for affordable housing options, reasonable transportation costs, and a lower overall cost of living.

Great Universities in Edmonton

Edmonton boasts a plethora of prestigious universities, such as the renowned University of Alberta, MacEwan University, and Concordia University.

The University of Alberta is one of Canada’s largest and most research-intensive universities, offering various programs and is renowned for its research excellence.

MacEwan University, on the other hand, is a smaller university known for its outstanding arts programs, providing a more intimate learning experience for students.

The Concordia University of Edmonton is a private university offering diverse programs such as business, education, engineering, and health sciences, providing unique opportunities for students.

All three universities offer high-quality education, and choosing the right one depends on the programs of interest and the learning environment that best suits each student’s preferences.

Edmonton Universities

Institution City Website
University of Alberta Alberta University Website
MacEwan University Alberta University Website
Concordia University Alberta University Website

Affordable Rent

Finding a decent place to rent in Edmonton may pose a challenge for newcomers to the city without any connections. However, with thorough research and the availability of resources, there are ways to make the process easier. Some students choose to search for roommates among their fellow students to share the cost of renting a place.

There are affordable rental options available in Edmonton, including apartments in less desirable areas of the city or student residences that offer reasonable rates. However, these options may fill up quickly and require proactive searching and planning to secure a spot. Despite the challenges, students open to living in less desirable areas or sharing accommodations with roommates can still find suitable options with diligent effort.

Welcoming Community

Edmonton is known for its vibrant festival culture and large gatherings, making it a haven for those who enjoy such events. However, beyond its festival scene, Edmonton is primarily a working city with friendly residents, where people come to earn a living or pursue education. Edmonton can provide excellent opportunities for students, particularly for gaining work experience after graduation.

If affordability is a concern, international students may also want to consider other cities in Alberta known for being among the most affordable, such as Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Red Deer. These cities offer competitive living costs, making them attractive options for international students seeking reasonable living arrangements during their studies in Canada.

5. Calgary

Calgary is an ideal destination for those seeking an exceptional place to live and receive an education. The city is known for its stunning scenery, friendly residents, and excellent schools, making it an attractive choice for international students. Calgary offers ample opportunities for post-secondary education and a vibrant atmosphere with plenty of activities to keep you engaged.

Why Calgary?

Calgary, famously known as the “Sunny City” in Canada, offers a unique blend of warm, sunny days and chilly winters. The city boasts excellent schools and a wide range of opportunities for post-secondary education. With its diverse and dynamic atmosphere, you’ll never find yourself bored in Calgary, as there are plenty of things to see and do all year round. Whether enjoying the sunshine or bundling up during the colder months, Calgary provides a vibrant and engaging environment for international students seeking a high-quality education and an exciting lifestyle.

In addition to its excellent schools and diverse atmosphere, Calgary also offers a range of programs and services through the Calgary Public Library that can benefit students. The library is valuable for students looking to enhance their educational experience, from academic resources to recreational activities. So, if you’re seeking a great place to live, study, and access additional resources, Calgary is definitely worth considering!

Great Universities in Calgary

Calgary is home to several prestigious educational institutions attracting numerous international students yearly. The University of Calgary, for instance, is a renowned research and teaching university with a student population of over 85,000, making it the largest university in Alberta. With 14 faculties, over 250 programs, and more than 85 research institutes and centres, the University of Calgary offers students diverse academic options.

The Alberta University of the Arts has also emerged as one of the top three schools in the province, particularly in the field of education. Known for its unique and creative curriculum that encourages students to explore their passions and talents, the Alberta University of the Arts faculty is experienced, dedicated, and passionate about helping students succeed.

Furthermore, Mount Royal University, located in Calgary, is considered one of Canada’s top-tier institutions for education. It has consistently been ranked among the top three universities in the country for students.

Calgary Universities

Institution City Website
Alberta University of the Arts Calgary University Website
University of Calgary Calgary University Website
Mount Royal University Calgary University Website

Affordable Rent

Calgary offers a blend of rental options throughout the city, including apartments near the schools that often have vacancies available. However, it may not be a viable option if you are arriving from abroad or looking for a summer-time rental. In such cases, schools often assist in helping students in finding off-campus residences.

While Calgary’s rental prices may not always be as affordable as those in some neighbouring cities, conducting thorough research and utilizing rental listing websites can yield good deals. Rental options in Calgary vary, with the average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in University Heights currently at $1,439 as of March 2023.

Welcoming Community

Like the other cities we mentioned, Calgary boasts a diverse culture that welcomes people from all walks of life. As a student in Calgary, you’ll have the opportunity to meet and get to know many people. With numerous clubs and organizations to join, you won’t feel alone as a new student in this warm and welcoming community that values its citizens.