How To Manage Expenses As An International Student In Canada?

Studying abroad in Canada has been an exhilarating journey, a whirlwind of new experiences and endless discoveries.

From the stunning landscapes to the diverse culture, every day feels like a chapter in a thrilling adventure. But amidst this excitement, there’s the constant dance with expenses that occasionally brings a challenge to the table.

During my undergrad years in Canada, managing finances became a skill I had to hone quickly. There were moments when budgeting felt like solving a complex puzzle while trying to make the most out of my time here.

Yet, I learned that with a bit of ingenuity and some solid budgeting strategies, it’s entirely possible to enjoy the beauty of this country without constantly worrying about expenses.

Understanding Your Expenses

Understanding expenses while studying in Canada as an International student was a bit of a learning curve for me. Here are some tips from my experience that might help you out too!

First things first, make a list of all your costs—accommodation, food, transport, the works. Once you’ve got that down, it’s like having a map of where your money’s headed.

Then, scout for sweet deals! Compare prices for stuff like housing and transport (some of my biggest expenses). Sometimes a little extra travel time can mean big savings on rent.

Budgeting’s key! Set limits for different things and stick to them like glue. Also, make sure to read this article on creating an effective budget while studying in Canada.

Oh, and student discounts and cashback? They’re gold! From public transport to fun outings, flash that student ID and watch those prices drop. You can also read this article on how you can get amazing cashback while shopping in Canada.

6 Types of Expenses As An International Student In Canada

Tuition Fees

Ah, tuition fees, the big ticket item!

During my time in British Columbia, I found that tuition costs really depend on your program and whether you’re doing undergrad or postgrad studies. Well, I can’t deny the fact that international student’s fees made a big hole in my pocket. LOL

But the final tuition fees depend on the course and the college or universities you are selection for your level of education.


As for accommodation, that’s a whole adventure!

Rent in BC can be a bit of a rollercoaster. I stayed in different setups—once in a dorm, another time sharing a house with strangers.

Utilities and other housing expenses do add up, so it’s essential to factor those into your budget. For example, when I moved to an apartment my average utilities cost sums up to $150 per month including internet, and tenant insurance.

Also make sure that you are not going to an expensive location, because the type of place you choose can affect costs significantly, so exploring different options is key.

Food and Groceries

In Vancouver, managing food expenses was a balancing act.

Despite maintaining a vegetarian diet, my monthly expenses for food and groceries averaged around $250. Cooking at home helped keep costs down, but I also enjoyed exploring local eateries once or twice in month.

Prices varied based on where I shopped and the diversity of my diet, but budgeting wisely allowed me to maintain this expense within my means.


Getting around in British Columbia was an intriguing puzzle to solve. I opted for the SkyTrain, which set me back around $185 per month.

This cost was well worth it for the convenience and efficiency it offered. Exploring public transit options, like the SkyTrain, proved to be a smart choice, balancing both affordability and ease of travel.

Considering different transportation methods based on your location can significantly impact your monthly expenses.

Health Insurance

So, in British Columbia, there’s this thing called the Medical Services Plan (MSP) that’s all about health coverage. For me, getting MSP meant shelling out around $75 a month.

It covered doctor visits and stuff. Having MSP was a big relief because, you know, unexpected health costs can be a real headache.

Checking out and signing up for MSP in BC was like having a safety net for any medical stuff that popped up. It’s like your guardian angel against those surprise bills!

Phone Bills

Lastly, I used FIDO for my phone service, paying around $60 each month. With FIDO, I got a generous 50GB data plan and the bonus of making international calls.

Their network was incredibly reliable, which made staying connected a breeze. Having that much data meant I could stream, browse, and connect without any hassle.

Overall, FIDO’s service was top-notch, making my communication experience smooth and stress-free, especially for those international calls. If you require a solid phone plan while you’re here, FIDO might just be your go-to choice!

3 Tips To Budgeting Like a Boss

Now that you’ve got an idea of where your money will go, it’s time to budget:

Create a Budget Plan

List down all your expenses and income sources. Be realistic and track everything, from rent to that coffee shop treat.

Set Priorities

Identify your needs versus wants. Prioritize your spending on essentials like rent, groceries, and transportation before splurging on non-essential items.

Look for Student Discounts

Many places offer discounts for students, from restaurants to entertainment venues. Flash that student ID and save some cash!

3 Saving Tips and Tricks

Being thrifty doesn’t mean missing out on fun. Here are some tips to save without sacrificing the experience:

Cook Meals at Home

Eating out is enjoyable, but cooking at home can be cost-effective. Invite friends over for a potluck to share the joy and expenses!

Buy Second-Hand Items

From textbooks to furniture, consider buying second-hand items. Check out thrift stores, online marketplaces, or university bulletin boards for good deals.

Take Advantage of Free Activities

Canada offers plenty of free activities like hiking trails, museums with free entry days, and community events. Explore and enjoy without spending a dime.

Earn Some Extra Bucks

Finding a part-time job or freelance gigs can help supplement your income. Many universities have job boards or career centers to assist students in finding work opportunities that fit their schedules.

Final Thoughts

Starting a journey as an Internation student in Canada is hard but follow this financial tips can make your life much easier. Well, this is something, I wish someone has told me before moving here.

But in your case, you can follow in the footsteps of my experience to save big while studying in Canada. But always make sure that you are comparing options, nabbing student discounts, and setting budgets to pave the way for thrilling experiences.

Lastly, it’s not just classes—it’s a tapestry of culture, friendships, and memories. Dive in, seize every moment, and paint your Canadian canvas. Your adventure awaits, filled with endless possibilities!

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