International Student Homestay vs. Student Residence

Studying abroad is an exciting venture filled with promise and opportunity. For many international students, Canada stands out as a welcoming and vibrant destination, renowned for its quality education and diverse cultural landscape.

As you prepare for your academic adventure, one crucial decision remains: where will you call your home during your studies?

The choice between staying with a host family through a homestay program or opting for the convenience of a student residence can significantly impact your Canadian experience. Both options offer unique advantages and considerations, catering to different preferences and lifestyles.

In this article, we’ll explore both options, their benefits, challenges, and essential factors to consider when weighing the merits of an international student homestay vs. a student residence in Canada.

Keep reading to learn more! 

A student homestay involves living with a Canadian family (known as a host family) in their home. This arrangement offers a unique opportunity for cultural immersion and personal connection, allowing students to experience Canadian life firsthand.

Host families typically provide:

  • A furnished room, shared or private
  • Two to three meals a day
  • Access to common areas like the living room and kitchen
  • A supportive environment conducive to learning and adjustment
  • Access to essentials like laundry and Wi-Fi 

A student residence, also known as a dormitory or student housing, provides accommodation specifically designed for students attending university or college. Living in a student residence fosters a sense of community and independence while providing convenient proximity to academic facilities and campus life.

Student residence amenities usually offer: 

  • A shared or private bedroom 
  • Access to shared common areas 
  • 24/7 residence security
  • Communal laundry and kitchen amenities
  • Access to campus resources
A collage of ILAC’s student residences in Toronto and Vancouver

How can you know if you would be better off living with a host family or staying in a student residence among your peers? Start by considering the following: 

The cost of living with a host family varies depending on the time of year, whether you require a private room or not, and whether you’d like meals provided. 

A single room with three meals a day during peak season (June to August) will cost around $365 a week. If you only want two meals a day, that cost drops to $325 a week. If you’re heading to Canada for the low season (September to May), the cost of a private room with three meals a day costs $325 a week or $300 a week for two meals a day.

If you’re travelling with someone else and would like to share a room, the cost will be discounted by 25$ a week!

On top of that, you will also need to pay international student homestay fees for placement ($225) and a custodianship letter if you are a minor ($150).

Cost can be a big factor in determining whether you study in Toronto or Vancouver. Let’s break down what this looks like for students considering living in residence.

A single, private room in a shared student residence in Toronto starts at $350 a week. This price fluctuates quite a bit depending on whether you want an apartment for yourself, the location of the residence, if you want a private bathroom, and the amenities of the building. The cost of shared student residence in Vancouver starts at $400 a week. Student residence also requires a placement fee ($250). 

Homestays provide a family-oriented environment, offering a supportive and nurturing atmosphere for international students. Living with a family can ease the transition to a new country, providing a sense of belonging and security.

You will need to be respectful of shared spaces and their living arrangements such as curfews and mealtimes. Household responsibilities such as cleaning will likely be shared between you like a normal family. 

Living in residence will afford you more freedom to come and go as you please. You will still need to be respectful of the spaces you share with your peers but expect greater autonomy when it comes to daily routines and activities.

Six international students dining together at a student homestay

Life in a homestay provides a more intimate social setting, allowing students to develop close relationships with their host families and potentially other guests. While social opportunities may be more limited compared to residence, students can still participate in family gatherings, cultural events, and outings organized by their hosts. This includes getting to practice your language skills in a welcoming environment!

Living in a student residence near or on campus gives you more chances to socialize and network with other classmates. Shared accommodation is great for making friends quickly, especially in cases where you end up rooming with others who come from similar backgrounds as you. It can be very fun! 

International student homestays play a pivotal role in providing guidance and assistance with settling in, navigating the city, and understanding local customs. Depending on the hosts, you may also get emotional support, serving as mentors and confidants throughout your stay. 

Student residences at international colleges also provide support through academic guidance, health services, and social programs. 

International Student Homestay Student Residence
Good for students who value cultural
immersion, language practice, support,
and saving money
Good for students who value being
independent, making friends, and
being close to on-campus amenities

You can have a rewarding experience living in either an international student homestay or student residence when you study in Canada. What matters most is choosing the option that makes the most sense for you, both in terms of budget and what you value. 

The good news is that ILAC doesn’t just offer world-class education—we also offer flexible housing options for our students. We can connect you with one of our host families or get you settled into student residences in either Toronto or Vancouver.

Speak with one of our accommodation specialists to learn more about ILAC’s world-class housing programs! 

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