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Money and Living Expenses in Canada

Make the most of your money

In order to enjoy a healthy lifestyle in Canada, it is important to be aware of the amount dedicated to living expenses. Consequently, this amount can vary depending on the area in which you choose to live.

It is suggested you will need to allocate between $7,000 and $20,000 Canadian dollars (CAD) annually to account for the costs of accommodation, food and compulsory health insurance, while also paying for your tuition fees, plus any required student, administration, application or permit fees. Keep in mind that you will also need money for your personal and social life; be it going to the movies or meeting up with your friends.

Your banking and payments options

In Canada, you generally pay (and receive payments) in dollars and cents. Individual coins may called by their nicknames - nickel (5 cents), dime (10 cents), quarter (25 cents), loonie ($1) and toonie ($2).

Most Canadian banks will offer to open an account for you during your stay in Canada. For this, you will require:

  • Your passport
  • A document confirming the school, college or university you are admitted in
  • Proof of your residence at home and in Canada
  • Bank statements and references from your bank at home

Certain banks provide special student discounts, including perks such as free banking and concessions on travel. Contact your bank to check if you are eligible for any such discounts.

Regardless of which account you choose, make sure you read the fine print to familiarize yourself with all the necessary information, including the fees.

Phone and Internet

When it comes to phones, you would want to sort that out soon after arriving in Canada. You may be posed with three options:

Landline: usually only applicable if you live off campus. You might get a better package by combining your landline service with internet access, or you might choose to just keep a mobile phone.

Mobile – prepaid: enables you to control spending and you can stop using it whenever you want. Pre-paid SIM cards are available across most Canadian shops and supermarkets, and are given by mobile phone providers as well. They tend to include a fixed number of calls, text messages and data.

Mobile – contract: Depending on your usage and requirements, a contract with a Canadian mobile phone provider could be more economically feasible.

Making international calls

International calls can be a much more costly compared to calls within Canada. You might want to purchase an international calling card (which provides you with better rates and are available at most convenience stores) or use social media such as Skype or FaceTime instead. In order to call a Canadian number from overseas, you need to enter the country code - 1 - followed by the area code and then the telephone number.

To call an overseas country from Canada, enter 011 followed by the respective country code followed by the area code (where necessary) and then the telephone number.

Accessing the Internet

While a variety of options for internet access may be available in Canada, it is worthwhile to search for the most favorable plan with respect to price and bandwidth.

Most educational institutions provide complimentary Wi-Fi which you can access using your student log-on ID and password. If you are unable to access the Internet using your personal electronic device, laptops and computers are available in the student library, at an off-campus public library or internet café.

While some places offer free Wi-Fi, some Internet cafes may charge by the hour. Make sure to be aware of the network security information.


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