I’m going to study in Canada! Now – where I will live?

As if the excitement of living in a new country with different customs and people weren’t enough, the frustration of not knowing where to live or how to find a place to stay can be a disruption.

By Paula Souza / Translated by Loretta Murphy

Contact the International Students’ Office at the school or university where you will study. Many schools have residences (dormitories) for campus students. Most schools have a bulletin board where people post off-campus rental opportunities.

Staying in university housing is often the best option for new students – especially international ones, who may have more difficulties in getting around in the city than the local students. This is a great way to meet other students – and the fact that the only people on campus are teachers and other students from the university residence also makes it a particularly safe choice. You should expect to share the bathroom, the kitchen, the living room and often, even the room. Meals are provided in most cases. Average cost: CAN$3,000 – CAN$7,500 per year.

Some schools offer homestay programs, where you stay with a family. Generally, you have your own room, and the family prepares all or some of your meals. The homestay is a good way to get used to the culture of the country and it can immediately make you feel at home – you will eat your meals with the family and be encouraged to participate in family activities. Your university will do their best arrange for a family who shares your interests. Average cost: CAN$400 – CAN$800 per month.

Students who intend to stay for a short period may also consider other options that do not need full house resources, such as hostels and bed and breakfasts. If you must have a kitchen, it is worth considering apart-hotels (decorated suites). They have daily, weekly and monthly rates and are generally cheaper than hotels.

Students who wish to live more independently may choose to rent a private house off-campus. A list of houses for rent can be available at your school. The average cost of shared accommodation ranges from CAN$ 50 to CAN$700 per month.

In Canada, private rentals may or may not have furniture, but most include a refrigerator and stove in the rent. Some properties also include washer and dryer. The average cost per month ranges from CAN$700 to CAN$1,500.

If you have questions at the time of signing the lease, do not hesitate to look for a realtor. Generally the service is free for renters and buyers.

Paula Souza is Brazilian, born in Brasília, and lives in Toronto. She is a real estate broker licensed in Ontario and also works directly with international investors wishing to invest in Brazil. E-mail: [email protected]