9 Tips for Living in Vancouver as a Student

Living in Vancouver as a student gives you endless opportunities to explore and have fun while pursuing an education. This beautiful city has stunning natural beauty, a wealth of culture and entertainment, and friendly people. 

But let’s be real, being a student in a new city can feel a bit overwhelming at first, especially if you’re learning a new language and adapting to new customs.

That’s why we’ve put together this ultimate guide, packed with tips to help you make the most of your student life in Vancouver. Check them out below!

1. Find a Convenient and Affordable Place to Live 

So, you’ve chosen to pursue an education in Vancouver! In that case, your first order of business has to be securing accommodation. Lucky for you, international students in Vancouver have a lot of student housing options available to them.

  • Student Homestay: A student homestay offers a chance to live with a local host family which allows you to experience Canadian culture, practice English, and enjoy a comfortable home environment with meals included.
  • Student Residences: Many universities and colleges in Vancouver offer on-campus or off-campus student housing with furnished rooms, shared common areas, and sometimes even meal plans.
  • Renting a Room: Living alone or sharing an apartment with roommates is also another great student housing option when you go to school in Vancouver.

Read more: International Student Homestay vs. Student Residence

2. Study and Practice English

Living in Vancouver as a student will be easier if you can communicate with your fellow students, teachers, and neighbours. Don’t worry, Vancouver offers tons of ways to study and learn English as an international student.

You can enroll in a reputable English language school and get expert instruction that’s tailored to your proficiency level. You can even get started in your home country before you arrive in Vancouver through virtual classes.

Once you arrive, you can practice the language by speaking to locals, getting a language exchange partner, or watching English-language shows. Don’t be afraid to start with subtitles if you need to!

International students learning English at the International Language Academy of Canada

3. Get Equipped With Warm Clothes and Rain Gear 

Vancouver is known for its mild climate, so you likely won’t experience harsh winters like in other parts of Canada. With that said, living in Vancouver as a student may still require some wardrobe changes on your end.

Vancouver’s weather can be unpredictable, so pack layers like sweaters, long-sleeved shirts, and light jackets that you can easily add or remove to adjust to changing temperatures. It also rains at the drop of a hat around here, so be sure to get a good-quality raincoat or waterproof jacket, and don’t forget an umbrella!

Read more: Packing Tips for Your Trip to Canada

4. Find Your Way Around 

Another important consideration for living as a student in Vancouver is finding your way around. The good news is that the city has a relatively easy-to-use public transportation system. If you stay in downtown Vancouver, you can even manage by walking or biking around. 

We do recommend getting a Compass Card to help you commute with ease. It’s a reloadable card that works everywhere on transit in Metro Vancouver.

💡 Bonus Tip: Use the Translink Trip Planner to plan your routes and estimate travel times. 

5. Make Friends With Locals! 

When you live in Vancouver as a student, it’s good to make friends with people from the community. Conversations with locals will expose you to everyday spoken English, helping you pick up natural expressions and slang you might not learn in textbooks. Plus, they have real insider tips on the best places and things to do around the city.

Some schools even organize activities for new students, including welcome parties, pub socials, games and karaoke nights, walking tours, and more! Check out ILAC’s monthly social activities for more information.

6. Stay in Control of Your Budget 

Student life in Vancouver is an amazing experience, but managing your finances can be tricky. The cost of living can be high in Vancouver, but with some smart budgeting strategies, you can still enjoy the city without breaking the bank! Here are some finance tips to help you budget during your stay in British Columbia’s largest city:

    → Take advantage of student discounts.
    → Research free entertainment or cultural activities in your area.
    → Explore grocery stores and farmers’ markets to find fresh, affordable ingredients.
    → Better yet, choose a student residence or homestay that comes with meals.
    → Walk or cycle when appropriate.
    → Track your expenses to identify areas where you can cut back.

A group of international students cycling around downtown Vancouver

7. Adapt to Different Teaching Styles 

International students in Vancouver may notice that professors have different ways of teaching compared to their home country. This is normal, and it is important to be ready for these differences. 

The education system in Canada puts a heavy emphasis on practical and hands-on learning. Instructors often want students to participate in class by asking questions, giving opinions, and discussing with classmates. 

Classes may be more informal, with teachers and students interacting like peers, providing support when needed. Technology is also heavily used—expect lessons to use videos, presentations, online materials and other multimedia, not just books and lectures.

8. Embrace Canadian Culture 

While learning English is of course important, having fun and creating memories is just as vital. Living as a student in Vancouver offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy Canada’s vibrant culture.

The city is a central hub for cultural events and activities, so make sure to schedule some time to attend an event or festival, a museum, a local market, and try local food. Student life in Vancouver also can’t be complete without exploring the many attractions the city has to offer. 

💡 Bonus Tip: Don’t be afraid to share your own culture as well! 

Live Your Best Student Life in Vancouver With ILAC 

Living in Vancouver as a student goes beyond academics. At ILAC we understand that, which is why our students receive a comprehensive support system to help them live and thrive in this vibrant city. 

Our English Programs help students gain confidence in speaking, reading, and writing English, making it easier to adapt to the new surroundings and connect with locals. But that’s not the extent of our offers. We also help students with:

Connect with us to learn more about how we can help you live your best student life in Vancouver!

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