Canada

Living in Canada | Costs, Culture, and Accommodation

Ashley R. Cottrell

As the second-largest country in the world, there’s so much to do and explore in Canada. From multiculturalism to its wondrous national parks, a simple vacation isn’t enough time to see and fully experience all that Canada has to offer. If festive cities, outdoor excursions, and unique wildlife spark your interest, you’ll enjoy living in Canada for a season.

At GrowPro, we help dozens of young people from all over the world visit and live in Canada. In this guide, we’ll answer all of your questions about living costs, accommodation, and culture, and also provide plenty of tips on living in Canada to help you enjoy the experience even more. Let’s get started!

Reasons to Live in Canada

view of Toronto, CA

Many of our “growers” have shared with us their experiences in Canada, all of which we’re sure you’ll also enjoy. Here are the top eight reasons why you should live in Canada!

1. Abundant wildlife and nature

Covering almost 10 million square kilometers and holding 10% of the world’s forests, Canada is an enormous country filled with beautiful nature and landscapes. To start, Canada has some of the world’s most incredible national parks
!

2. Safety

Peace and security are two of the major reasons people choose to live in Canada. Its crime rate is among the lowest in the world, so much so, that the Travel Channel lists Canada as one of the top 10 safest countries in the world.

3. Strong economy

As one of the wealthiest countries in the world, Canada has a large economy. This means high-income rates, low unemployment, and growing job sectors. Also, there are several visas for Canada that will allow you to work while living and studying there.

4. Multiculturalism

Canada is such a diverse country filled with a variety of cultures and ethnicities, you will feel right at home!

5. Top-ranked education

If you’re considering studying in Canada, we have good news for you. As of 2020, Canada ranks third on the list of 20 best countries for education, and ranks second as the most welcoming country for international students!

6. Great cuisine

From food festivals to appetizing delicacies, the passion for gastronomy in Canada exudes across the country, especially in cosmopolitan cities like Vancouver and Toronto.

7. Study English

With English as one of the official languages, Canada is an ideal place to study English abroad and improve your proficiency.

8. Outdoor Adventure

Do you have a passion for sports and outdoor activities? Whether it’s skiing, snowboarding, rafting, or canyoning, there are plenty of sports and experiences to do in Canada!

As you can see, there’s an abundance of reasons to live in Canada, but we’ll leave the rest for you to discover once you are there!

Cost of Living in Canada 

Canadian dollars in a wallet

One of the most common questions among people who want to live in Canada is how much it will cost to live there. While the cost of living varies by city, Canada is regarded as one of the more expensive countries, in comparison to other western countries. Fortunately, most visas allow you to work in Canada to help cover your living expenses.

General Living Expenses 

Before settling in Canada, it’s important to first assess your basic living needs. To calculate this, you must account these main expenses:

  • Price of plane tickets
  • Visa cost (150 CAD)
  • Medical insurance coverage during your stay
  • Accommodation
  • Groceries
  • Transportation (bus fare, rideshare fees, car rentals, etc.)

Other Factors to Consider 

In addition to your basic living needs, other factors can impact your monthly expenses:

  • Where you live: The cost of living in Canada will vary depending on the city. Larger metropolitan cities tend to be more expensive in comparison to the smaller cities in more remote areas.
  • Course fees: What school will you be attending? How long are the classes or programs? Be sure to include your tuition fees and other school-related costs, such as textbooks, meal plans, and campus housing.
  • Your spending habits: If you find yourself spending more money than you’re making, there are several ways to help you save on daily costs. For example, you can alternate walking or carpooling with classmates on certain days to cut down on transportation fees. As for accommodation, having a roommate can help split rent and utility bills. Small changes like this can make a noticeable financial difference!

With all of these in mind, the best way to manage your money is to develop a personal budget. Once you start working, you’ll be able to compare how much money you’re bringing in with how much you’re spending. A good rule of thumb is for rent to be less than ⅓ of your monthly income. Also, we strongly recommend that the majority of your spending is on essentials.

Remember, most visas for students restrict the number of hours they’re allowed to work per week during the school semester, so your income may fluctuate throughout the year. Luckily, you can create a free online budget tailored to your needs directly on our website. Click one of the experiences below to see for yourself:

Canadian Culture 

outdoor event for Canada day

Although English and French are its official languages, Canada is still a multicultural country that is rich in diversity. It has a blend of indigenous, British, and French traditions, and as of lately, cultural influences from immigrants. For example, Toronto, one of Canada’s largest cities, consists of over 200 different nationalities that speak over 140 languages.

In Canada, freedom of religion is a constitutionally protected right. It welcomes individuals of all religions and beliefs, where immigrants can find churches, mosques, temples, and other associations across the country.

Lifestyle in Canada

Canadians are known for being polite and peace-loving. Due to strong French influences in certain provinces, such as Quebec, Canadians may greet you with a friendly kiss on both cheeks, instead of the general handshake. Also, punctuality and courteousness are very important here. Consider bringing a small gift, such as a bottle of wine, if a coworker or classmate ever invites you over for a meal!

Sports and outdoor activities are very popular in Canada as well, where citizens enjoy skiing, visiting national parks, and sightseeing. The country is also very lively and social, having plenty of theaters, museums, cinemas, and concerts. The Toronto Film Festival and the Montreal Jazz Festival are two popular events that occur here each year!

Canadian Celebrations

Celebrations are very common in Canada, where a variety of them occur throughout the year, both nationally and internationally. While Canada celebrates traditional holidays such as Christmas, it also hosts several holidays exclusive to its country. Below are the most popular:

  • National Day of Canada (July 1): Canada celebrates its country’s independence each year through parades, shows, and fireworks.
  • Winterlude (the first three weekends in February): Canadians celebrate the winter season through annual recreational activities, both indoors and outdoors, such as ice skating, ice sculpture competitions, concerts, and various parades.

Accommodation in Canada 

lakeside home in Canada

There are many accommodation options to choose from when living in Canada, including hostels, apartment rentals, student housing, and homestays.

Hostels

With popular festivals and national parks, Canada is a major travel destination for backpackers. That’s why it’s so easy and convenient to find temporary accommodation, like hostels. These are low-cost, shared lodging where you can rent rooms and meet other travelers and visitors from around the world.

Costs 

Hostels in Canada range from $20 per night for shared rooms to $100 per night for private rooms. Prices vary per city, depending on the popularity and area.

Advantages

  • Affordable and flexible to book
  • Convenience (usually includes free breakfast and fully-equipped kitchens)
  • A social hub for meeting other travelers and locals
  • Offers fun activities (group travel, resources for local events, etc.)
  • Security (key access and strict guest policies)

Disadvantages

  • Lack of privacy
  • Limited staff services
  • Generally has a curfew for lodgers

Finding a Hostel in Canada

Websites such as HostelWorld serve as a search engine for hostels in popular cities worldwide. Backpackers Hostels Canada is another hostel search website that caters specifically to Canada.

Homesharing | Having a Roommate

Sharing an apartment is another way to save money on accommodation. With a roommate, you can live in Canada comfortably by dividing rent and utility costs.

Costs 

The average cost of apartments in Canada is 1,500 CAD. Keep in mind, however, prices can vary greatly depending on the city and size of the apartment. Renting in larger metropolitan areas is generally more expensive than smaller cities.

Advantages

  • Can have a roommate to save money on rent and utilities
  • Apartments are the most similar experience to living as a Canadian citizen
  • Can negotiate a lease to match your duration

Disadvantages

  • Generally have to pay a security deposit upfront
  • >May require tenants to have a certain income
  • You must obey the rules of the landlord/lessor

Finding an Apartment in Canada

We recommend using Canada-based apartment searches, such as GottaRent and Capreit Apartments, that help you find the best rental for within your price range and city of choice.

Student Housing

If you decide to study in Canada, many Canadian colleges and universities offer on-campus housing, including dormitories, residence halls, and apartments. Some institutions also help you find private, off-campus housing that is within proximity of the school.

Costs 

The average cost of on-campus housing can range from 3,000-8,000 CAD per school year.

Advantages

  • Convenience: fully furnished, kitchen and laundry facilities, close to classes
  • Live with and meet other students/li>
  • Generally includes a meal plan from the university

Disadvantages

  • Must abide by the school’s housing rules
  • Limited privacy
  • Generally cannot stay once classes end for the year

Find Student Housing in Canada

You can check with your school’s website or housing administration for availability and reserve your on-campus housing before the start of the semester.

Homestay | Living with a Canadian Family

Many international students choose “homestays,” which involve living with a local family to fully immerse in the language and culture of that country. There are plenty of local families that partner with Canadian schools in their area to provide homestay opportunities for students.

Costs

Homestays in Canada are approximately 400 to 800 CAD per month. 

Advantages

  • You can improve your English or French by living with a Canadian family
  • Homestay families generally provide you with meals and occasional transportation
  • The comfort of a home

Disadvantages

  • You are subject to the rules of their household
  • Some homestays may be further from the school or town of choice

Find Homestays in Canada

There are a few ways you can connect with Canadian families offering homestay experiences. You can check with your university to see if they have a homestay program available. Another option is to use popular homestay websites such as Canada Homestay Network and Homestay.com that help match you with a family.

Tips on Choosing Accommodation in Canada

We highly recommend staying in a hostel during your few weeks of living in Canada to help save money and dedicate yourself to learning more about the area in which you live. After a few months of becoming familiar with the city, you will discover which areas you like best and that suit your needs.

Things to Do in Canada 

people on a ski lift in Canada

Now that you’ve learned about Canadian culture and living options, it’s time to discover all of the amazing things you can do in your spare time. Canada is a country with a wide range of activities and experiences to explore!

Canadian Sports & Activities

  • Fishing:  If you like fishing, Canada is one of the most interesting places to do so! The beautiful Canadian landscapes are home to dozens of rivers and lakes full of various fish species. Lake Ontario is a popular location for both amateur and professional fishing.
  • Ice Hockey: From the National Hockey League (NHL) to childhood games, ice hockey is one of the most popular sports in Canada. Playing it is a great way to meet a local and embrace the Canadian culture!
  • Winter fun: Whether it’s skiing, sledding, or snow tubing, Canadians love winter activities. The country is famous for its great ski resorts, such as the famous Whistler Blackcomb.

Attractions & Events in Canada

  • Breathtaking Northern Lights – This is one of the most spectacular natural sceneries you will ever witness! An ideal region to observe the Northern Lights is in Saskatchewan, the central province of the Canadian prairies.
  • Music festivals: As a diverse and multicultural country, Canada hosts a wide range of festivals, especially in the musical field. If you’re a music lover, you can’t miss the Grand Jazz Festival in Montreal, which is considered the best jazz festival in the world, or the Summer Festival, where artists including Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars have performed!
  • Niagara Falls: Last but not least, you have to visit the infamous Niagara Falls, a group of three waterfalls that sit within the U.S. and Canadian borders. Living in Canada exposes you to all of the best views of nature and events!

Popular Cities in Canada 

Cities in Canada each have a unique personality that differentiates them from the rest. Let’s explore some of the major cities in Canada to see which best suits your needs and lifestyle:<

  • Vancouver– The third biggest city in Canada, there’s so much to see in Vancouver. Take a stroll through downtown to visit the Museum of Vancouver and experience restaurants, bars, and nightlife. If you enjoy the natural scenery, you can visit Stanley Park, Vancouver’s national park!
  • Toronto: Over half of Toronto’s population was born outside of Canada, making it the most multicultural city in the world. It is also the largest city of Canada, where you’ll encounter street art, botanical gardens, diverse cuisines, and dozens of annual festivals.
  • Whistler: One of Canada’s smaller, yet touristy towns, Whistler has a youthful and friendly atmosphere. It sits between several lakes and mountains, making it the best destination for winter sports such as snowboarding and skiing.
  • Montreal: The second-largest city in Canada, and also home to a large percentage of French-speaking Canadians, travelers come to Montreal for its exotic cuisines and historical landmarks. Take a tour and visit popular places such as the Olympic Stadium, the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, and the art district of Saint-Laurent.

Canadian Food

poutine Canadian dish

While there is a wide variety of Canadian cuisine, there are two popular dishes that keep visitors coming back for more. One of them, the Poutine, is a plate of fried potatoes covered with melted cheese and hot meat sauce. Tourists and locals alike can grab a quick plate of Poutine from a food truck and enjoy it on the go!

Another popular Canadian dish is Butter Tart, which is a small pastry made with butter, sugar, maple syrup, and eggs. All of its ingredients are baked in a pastry shell to have creamy filling with a crunchy top.

Check out our article on typical Canadian food to learn more about it’s diverse, savory cuisine!

Weather in Canada

couple enjoying weather in Canada

Canada’s weather changes throughout the year, where you can experience all four seasons. Summertime in Canada can get rather warm, where temperatures range between 30-35ºC. Winter in Canada, on the other hand, is generally between 20-25ºC and comes with plenty of snow.

Fortunately, Canadians are used to the cold weather, having powerful heating systems in homes and, in some cities such as Montreal or Toronto, a network of underground streets to take during cold weather conditions.

As a huge, northern country that stretches from Pacific to Atlantic shores, Canada has drastically different climates. For example, northern Canada has a colder arctic climate, while Vancouver’s climate is more temperate. To learn more about Canada’s climate, check out our detailed guide on the climate of Canada in its main cities.

How GrowPro Experience can help you live in Canada

airplane of Canada airline

If you’re eager to live in Canada after reading this, we’re here to help! At GrowPro, we specialize in preparing young, adventurous souls like you to plan and embark on unforgettable journeys around the world. Whether it’s living, studying, or working in Canada, we’ve designed some of the most amazing experiences for you to do there. Check out a few below, and discover dozens more on our website!

About the author

Ashley Cottrell