5 Best Cities for International Students in Canada

JUL 22, 2022



Canada offers internationally recognized degrees from well-renowned universities and colleges. If you are an international student who plans to live and work in Canada, you can choose from an abundance of city options that may be ideal for you.

According to Statistics Canada, 2020 called for a global pandemic and saw 528,200 international students flocking to Canada, which is 17% lower from the influx of students in 2019.

In 2021, there was a whopping increase to 621,600 international students, and the numbers continue to grow at an exponential rate as we move forward into 2022.

Canada’s educational system strives for equity, diversion and inclusivity when it comes to foreign students. With programs and courses that aim to empower students from all walks of life, Canada continues to rank as one of the leading destinations for international students.

In turn, you may ask: what are some of the best cities for international students in Canada?

Canada’s boasts some of the best cities for international students, let us take a look at the top ten universities in Canada with their located cities.

Below are some of Canada’s highly ranked universities as per the data shown on QS World University Rankings 2022:

Ranking in Canada World Wide Ranking University City
1 26 University of Toronto Toronto
2 27 McGill University Montreal
3 46 University of British Columbia Vancouver
4 111 University of Montreal Montreal
5 126 University of Alberta Edmonton
6 140 McMaster University Hamilton
7 149 University of Waterloo Ontario
8 170 Western University Ontario
9 230 University of Ottawa Ottawa, Ontario
6 140 McMaster University Hamilton
5 126 University of Alberta Edmonton
6 140 McMaster University Hamilton
10 235 University of Calgary Calgary, Alberta  

By now, you have an idea of the top ten world-wide ranked universities in Canada, and now we will unravel Canada’s most preferred cities from students’ perspective as per QS Top Universities in 2022:

City Ranking Student Desirability
Montreal 9 87.6
Toronto 13 97.5
Vancouver 18 90.7
Ottawa 53 81
Quebec City 113 53.9

Understandably so, there are a myriad of factors to consider before you choose a city to live and work in Canada. We therefore urge international students to always conduct thorough research on the province or city they choose to study in, as well as the said university and college.

Factors such as cost of living, safety and security, crime level and culture are fundamental aspects to consider before we can deem it as one of the best places in Canada for international students.

If you are a student who is considering studying abroad, and need guidance related to immigration options suitable for your needs and circumstances, feel free to get in touch with a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) who will advise and guide you through the entire process.

Let us dive into what makes each city ideal for both international and local students of Canada.


If you are looking for a student-friendly city, then Montreal is the city for both local and international students. The city is home to the well-renowned Cirque de Soleil - a circus of artists and performers who undergo acrobatic training, gymnastics, music, dance and much more. This eco-friendly city boasts some of the leading artificial intelligence (AI) research with Microsoft and Google investing in its AI industry.

As for the University of Montreal, which ranked at #151 in Best Global Universities, you can obtain a quality education with diverse courses to choose from. In addition to this, you can also expect an abundance of employment opportunities such as nurses, educators, engineers, construction workers and programmers which are currently high in-demand in Montreal.


The cost of living in Toronto vs Vancouver is way lower, which makes this city ideal for international students in Canada. To top it off, Toronto scores high when it comes to a multicultural community, so much so that the city hosts inclusive international festivals for people from all walks of life. Additionally, with 700 undergraduate and 200 graduate programs to choose from, you can explore current in-demand occupations such as school teachers, registered nurses, transport drivers and much more upon completion of your studies.


Vancouver is known for its spectacular landscapes, majestic mountains and oceans. This city also embraces diversity and does not discriminate against ethnicity and religion. If you are an international student looking to live and work in Canada, you can become engrossed in exploring the West Coast that offers an eco-friendly city and a wealth of innovation and opportunities for graduates.

For tech savvy students who enjoy IT and programming, the University of British Columbia would be one of the leading universities since it offers award-winning programs and student-friendly activities.


Ottawa ranks as one of best student-friendly cities in the world, offering exceptional quality education at a reasonable price. Home to international festivals, this city also has an all time low cost of living with a thriving economy. Students can enjoy the famous ice skating rink, its natural beauty, tantalizing cuisines and friendly citizens. If you’re an international student looking for one of the best places to live in Canada, Ottawa would top the list. The university of Ottawa offers ground-breaking research in science, social studies, health sciences and the humanities sector. Current in-demand jobs in Ottawa, to name a few, would be web developers, human resource (HR) managers, veterinarians, financial advisors, welders, pharmacists and administrative assistants.

Quebec City

If you love all things French then the Province of Quebec may be the city for you. Immerse yourself in fun activities such as trekking, cycling, paddling, canoe camping, ice climbing, skiing, sea kayaking, and camping - not to mention that this city is aesthetically pleasing with its cobblestone streets and stunning architecture. However, the University of Quebec has a dedicated scientific research and development department with a vibrant study experience for students, giving them the opportunity to learn French. Current in-demand job opportunities are business, health professionals, sales and service, and managerial positions.

How Can I Immigrate to Canada as a Student?

Now that you have an idea of the best places to live in Canada for local and international students, you may want to know which immigration options are available for you. Below are the most commonly preferred study pathways for international students, or students who wish to gain permanent residence in Canada:

  • Canadian Experience Class
  • Federal Skilled Worker Program
  • Provincial Nominee Programs
  • Quebec Immigration Options
  • Post-Graduation Work Permits

Furthermore, you can apply through the Express Entry system - an online points-driven system which comprises three immigration options. These are: (1) Canadian Experience Class, (2) Federal Skilled Program and the (3) Federal Skilled Trades Program.

Note that candidates applying via Express Entry have to receive an Invitation To Apply (ITA) before making the actual application. The invitation is valid for 60 days so applicants must apply before the 60 days expires.

Irrespective of the immigration program you choose, you have to go through these steps when applying to immigrate to Canada:

  1. Step 1: Check if you Meet the Program Criteria
  2. Step 2: Check your Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) Score (under Express Entry or other points driven programs)
  3. Step 3: Gather your Documents in Advance
  4. Step 4: Create your Online Profile
  5. Step 5: Apply to the Program and Submit your Application

A Final Word…

We urge applicants to double-check that they have all supporting documents in place and that all required fields are filled out correctly before they officially submit their application.

Note that the final decision on your application will depend on your eligibility and admissibility to Canada. Additionally, you would need to submit your medical exam results and comply with background checks before a decision can be made.

Start Your Journey as an International Student in Canada Today

Both international and local students have a chance to achieve a promising career in Canada - a multicultural country with an abundance of opportunities tailored for your needs and circumstances. However, it is of utmost importance that students conduct thorough research on the current economic state of the province or city, university requirements and the chosen immigration program before deciding to settle in Canada.

If you are still a bit uncertain about where to start, feel free to get in touch with a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) to advise and guide you through the process.


1. Which city is better for students in Canada?

Canada is a multicultural country that offers a variety of cities that appeal to students. However, the city you choose depends on the individual’s needs and preferences. Current top ranking cities based on students’ preferences would be Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and Quebec City.

2. Where is it better to live, Toronto or Vancouver?

Every city has its own advantages and disadvantages. However, if we are comparing Toronto vs Vancouver, then Toronto would score high here. Note that factors such as inflation and deflation are constantly changing which can alter a city’s economic performance instantly, therefore making Vancouver the better option.

3. Which city is best in Canada for permanent residence (PR)?

When it comes to permanent residence, foreign nationals would have to think about what they are seeking out in a city. The needs and preferences would differ from person to person. Even so, Canada makes PR easy with over 100 immigration options and visas to choose from.