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Best city to be a student in Canada 2021

University is the perfect time to explore a new area, gain new experiences and meet new people. Over a million young Canadians enrol at university each year but only 10% leave their province to do so. University offers more than just an excellent education - it's about enriching your life by immersing yourself in a diverse culture and flourishing by exploring the unknown.

We've compared cities in Canada which are home to universities in order to help students find the best place to study. In our research we’ve included tuition fees, the cost of rent, the percentage of young people and graduates living in the city, levels of diversity and environmental factors. We’ve also looked into access to vegan food, crime statistics, proximity to national parks and of course the most important factor when considering where to study - the cost of beer…

City Rank Tuition Housing Young Diversity Graduates Sustainability Veggie National Beer Crime Score
Montreal 1 $3,384 $1,291 12.1% 7.82% 51.35% 1.29 377 207 $6.00 29.05 7.34
Rouyn-Noranda 2 $2,636 $750 13.0% 1.59% 26.89% 1.55 1 504 $5.00 10.29 6.7
Trois-Rivières 3 $2,649 $593 11.6% 1.98% 29.67% 1.14 8 77.6 $6.00 13.66 6.64
Charlottetown 4 $6,878 $969 13.9% 9.98% 45.37% 1.3 23 25.8 $6.00 35.04 6.53
Québec 5 $2,676 $831 11.4% 3.18% 41.95% 1.11 78 174 $6.50 14.65 6.44
Brandon 6 $4,059 $850 13.5% 11.25% 28.66% 0.84 7 98.6 $6.00 42.16 6.35
Edmonton 7 $6,133 $1,171 12.9% 13.12% 43.91% 0.89 137 50.7 $6.00 42.74 6.34
St.John's 8 $3,036 $860 13.1% 5.38% 49.21% 0.61 26 223 $5.50 47.08 6.31
Vancouver 9 $6,335 $2,013 11.5% 14.95% 69.33% 0.71 408 79.8 $7.00 36.57 6.14
Calgary 10 $6,230 $1,206 12.0% 12.02% 53.44% 1.01 177 109 $7.00 34.65 5.92
Toronto 11 $7,999 $2,027 12.5% 14.69% 61.16% 0.74 440 33.8 $7.00 40.03 5.82
Rimouski 12 $2,644 $600 11.4% 1.41% 35.11% 1.41 4 375 $6.50 24.51 5.78
Guelph 13 $6,607 $1,415 13.8% 5.77% 48.09% 0.81 37 110 $5.75 29.84 5.74
Fredericton 14 $7,923 $1,019 14.5% 7.16% 58.33% 1.02 23 153 $6.75 30.36 5.64
Victoria 15 $6,142 $1,633 10.9% 8.25% 62.98% 1.4 132 68.6 $7.00 35.33 5.62
St.Catharines 16 $6,297 $1,142 12.7% 5.20% 31.53% 0.82 72 144 $5.00 46.76 5.51
Saguenay 17 $2,648 $475 10.7% 0.85% 26.35% 0.81 8 372 $6.00 17.35 5.46
Windsor 18 $7,628 $1,046 13.5% 8.09% 34.40% 0.5 177 61.3 $5.99 40.84 5.43
Winnipeg 19 $4,991 $1,037 13.3% 11.67% 42.26% 0.18 106 267 $6.00 56.92 5.39
Abbotsford 20 $4,564 $1,194 12.9% 9.61% 26.21% 0.19 22 117 $5.25 56.24 5.35
Ottawa 21 $7,589 $1,596 13.5% 6.80% 61.38% 0.8 160 134 $7.00 26.07 5.31
Lethbridge 22 $5,319 $977 14.0% 6.33% 32.65% 0.58 33 83.4 $6.25 59.58 5.24
Medicine Hat 23 $4,539 $873 11.5% 4.26% 20.23% 1.04 6 294 $5.00 50.31 5.21
Kingston 24 $8,631 $1,278 13.2% 4.16% 45.75% 1.02 38 65.5 $6.00 30.12 5.14
Kamloops 25 $5,316 $1,203 12.4% 3.83% 28.77% 1.01 17 211 $5.50 48.07 5.11
Moncton 26 $6,633 $930 12.2% 5.24% 35.19% 0.85 101 79.7 $6.50 42.88 5.05
Peterborough 27 $6,118 $1,146 13.1% 2.54% 33.04% 0.98 33 108 $6.50 40.23 4.94
Regina 28 $7,138 $1,022 12.7% 11.16% 40.55% 0.85 39 328 $6.00 52.18 4.92
Nanaimo 29 $5,264 $1,167 11.1% 4.83% 31.24% 0.75 29 88.1 $6.00 47.08 4.84
Red Deer 30 $6,650 $871 13.0% 8.35% 26.05% 0.85 12 200 $6.00 58.44 4.81
Kelowna 31 $4,194 $1,396 11.6% 4.55% 29.92% 0.55 66 197 $6.00 50.31 4.69
Cranbrook 32 $5,395 $740 11.6% 3.48% 21.70% 1.25 4 144 $6.25 62.25 4.68
Halifax 33 $8,985 $1,411 13.0% 5.38% 48.70% 0.72 242 166 $6.50 40.88 4.67
Prince George 34 $5,533 $1,311 13.6% 3.67% 25.46% 0.92 15 374 $5.00 65.85 4.66
Hamilton 35 $8,181 $1,345 12.8% 5.77% 33.49% 0.94 89 99.1 $5.99 52.66 4.61
Thunder Bay 36 $6,490 $1,082 12.4% 2.27% 33.03% 0.94 17 321 $5.00 62.6 4.55
Barrie 37 $6,693 $1,417 13.9% 3.55% 27.58% 0.73 22 70.2 $6.75 38.13 4.52
Oshawa 38 $7,366 $1,217 12.5% 3.48% 22.29% 1.03 24 32.2 $6.00 52.57 4.47
Saskatoon 39 $9,061 $1,159 13.8% 11.06% 44.35% 0.74 46 227 $7.00 48.19 4.34
Whitehorse 40 $3,930 $1,400 11.3% 6.44% 44.55% 0.36 17 218 $7.00 50.13 4.34
London 41 $10,193 $1,332 13.8% 6.97% 41.78% 0.89 51 172 $6.00 48.08 4.32
Sudbury 42 $6,473 $1,035 12.2% 1.66% 28.14% 0.31 17 240 $5.00 56.34 4.21
North Bay 43 $6,026 $909 12.7% 1.35% 29.26% 0.52 11 453 $5.00 57.93 4.18
Sault Ste.Marie 44 $5,865 $992 11.4% 1.83% 28.83% 1.04 7 413 $5.75 55.12 4.07
Courtenay 45 $3,082 $1,217 9.7% 3.34% 31.34% 0.56 13 194 $6.75 62.25 3.96

Top 10 cities to be a student in Canada

Montreal

Sky scrapers over Montreal

Montreal has taken the crown as the best city to be a student in Canada. Situated in the Quebec province, Montreal offers lower than average tuition costs. It scored well for its sustainability and has loads of vegan dining options. We discovered there was a high percentage of graduates living in the city, meaning job opportunities are likely to be good there.

  • Average cost of tuition: $3,384
  • % of the population 15-24 years old: 12.1%
  • % of population that are graduates: 51.35%

Rouyn-Noranda

A lake with a house in the back ground and blue skies

Located in the province of Quebec, Rouyn-Noranda is one of the best places to live as a student in Canada. It’s the least expensive place to study in Canada and has a large graduate population. Rouyn-Noranda scored well for its sustainability and beer is cheap too!

  • Average cost of tuition: $2,636
  • % of the population 15-24 year old: 13%
  • % of population that are graduates: 26.89%

Trois-Rivieres

Metal bridge on the way into Trois-Rivieres

Also in the Quebec province, Trois- Rivieres scored the third highest in our research.

The city offers cheap tuition and rent, has low levels of crime for safety-conscious students and is close to a national park for those who love to explore the great outdoors.

  • Average cost of tuition: $2,649
  • % of the population 15-24 year old: 11.6%
  • % of population that are graduates: 29.67%

Charlottetown

A River with a house on the bank in Charlottetown

The capital of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown has a lot to offer. The city has a high proportion of young people living there, a national park is on its doorstep and rent is below-average.

  • Average cost of tuition: $6,878
  • % of the population 15-24 year old: 13.9%
  • % of population that are graduates: 45.37%

Quebec

Autumn in Quebec with trees and buildings

The fifth-best city to study in is Quebec. The fortified city is steeped in history and has lots to offer students. Cheap tuition and rent are just a few of the reasons it’s so attractive. Low levels of crime also help to make this remarkable city even more appealing to call home while you’re a student.

  • Average cost of tuition: $2,676
  • % of the population 15-24 year old: 11.4%
  • % of population that are graduates: 41.95%

Brandon

The sun coming through the clouds over a river in Brandon

Located in the province of Manitoba, Brandon is the sixth-best city to be a student in Canada. Tuition costs are below-average and many young people live there. The city lacks vegan options but it’s located pretty close to a national park if you love exploring.

  • Average cost of tuition: $4,059
  • % of the population 15-24 year old: 13.5%
  • % of population that are graduates: 28.66%

Edmonton

A bridge into Edmonton with skyscrapers

The capital city of Alberta, Edmonton is the seventh best city to be a student in Canada. Edmonton scores consistently across the board and being so close to a national park helps give it an edge.

  • Average cost of tuition: $6,133
  • % of the population 15-24 year old: 12.9%
  • % of population that are graduates: 43.91%

St John’s

Ariel shot over a river into St John's

The only city in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in the top 10, St John’s is the eighth-best city to be a student. The draw of cheap tuition, accommodation and reasonably priced beer makes St John’s an attractive place to spend your university years.

  • Average cost of tuition: $3,036
  • % of the population 15-24 year old: 31.1%
  • % of population that are graduates: 49.21%

Vancouver

Sunset over the skyscrapers in Vancouver

As one of the largest cities in Canada, Vancouver has so much to offer. It boasts a very diverse and educated population and is very vegan friendly. Vancouver offers an incredible location sandwiched between mountains and the ocean. You’ll pay a lot to live there, but many would argue it’s worth it for the experience.

  • Average cost of tuition: $6,335
  • % of the population 15-24 year old: 11.5%
  • % of population that are graduates: 69.33%

Calgary

Sun coming through the skyscrapers in Calgary

In the province of Alberta, Calgary just makes it into the top ten. The city is a great option for students - it’s a highly diverse area and scores well for sustainability. It’s also close to a national park for times when you want to get out of the city.

  • Avg cost of tuition: $6,230

  • % of the population 15-24 year old: 12%

  • % of population that are graduates: 53.44%

    Map of the best places to be a student in Canada

Montreal ranked best university city for students in Canada

Montreal scored well across the board, it offers relatively low costs for the experience that can be gained there. Accommodation is more expensive than average, but it is overall the best place to be a student in Canada.

Rouyn-Noranda ranked the best city for tuition fees

Rouyn-Noranda has the lowest average tuition cost of any Canadian city. Spend the money you save on tuition exploring the local area and drinking cheap beer.

Fredericton has the highest percentage of young people

Fredericton is a great place to study if you want to be surrounded by young people. It has the highest percentage of 15-24 year olds out of all the cities studied.

Vancouver is the best city for diversity

Vancouver has the highest percentage of non-Canadian citizens so offers a great opportunity to immerse yourself in a diverse population.

Charlottetown is the best city to be close to nature

Charlottetown offers the closest proximity to a National Park of all the cities making it the perfect place for a nature lover to spend their university days.

Quebec is the best province to be a student in Canada

The province of Quebec has the most cities in the top ten. Four of the top ten are located in Quebec including, Montreal, Rouyn-Noranda, Trois Rivieres and Charlottetown.

Sources

Methodology

To calculate the index, we first normalized the data categories individually from 0 to 1 and then summed up the results.

  • Tuition- the cheapest options were weighted closer to 1 and has double the weighting
  • % of young people - cities with a higher population of 15-24-year-olds is weighted closer to 1
  • % of non Canadian citizens - cities with a higher percentage of non Canadian citizens is weighted closer to 1
  • % of degree or above - cities with a higher percentage of people educated to degree level or above is weighted closer to 1
  • Sustainability - cities with the best sustainability are weighted closer to 1
  • Veggie options - cities with the most veggie options are weighted closer to 1
  • Distance to National Park - Cities closest to national parks are weighted closer to 1
  • Cost of a beer - The cities with the most expensive beers were weighted closer to 0
  • 1 bed apartment - The cheapest options were weighted closer to 1
  • Crime - The area/state with the highest rate of crime would be weighted closer to 0