Studying in Vancouver vs. Toronto: Which Is Right for You?

So, you have decided to pursue your studies in Canada—that’s great! With affordable, world-class education and a growing economy, the country has become a highly sought-after destination for international students across the globe. In fact, over 800,000 students came to Canada in 2022.

This decision comes with another important choice: Should you study in Vancouver or Toronto?

From local cuisines and cultural exchanges to various outdoor experiences, both cities boast a vibrant environment where newcomers can enjoy student life and immerse themselves in new cultures.

That said, it’s important to weigh the differences between Vancouver and Toronto to see how each fits into your lifestyle and educational goals. In this article, we’ll compare these two popular destinations to see which one is right for you!

What Students Should Know About Living in Toronto vs. Vancouver

Whether you intend to study in Vancouver or Toronto, familiarizing yourself with the cost of living in these Canadian cities is vital. More than that, it’s also crucial to know what both cities can offer to enrich your student life outside of your educational pursuits.

Living Expenses

When weighing your options, the cost of living in Toronto vs. Vancouver is likely top of mind. Students should be aware that it’s generally more affordable to live in student accommodation or housing in downtown Toronto.

As of 2024, the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Vancouver is $2,700 per month while a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto lands around $2,521. However, opting to live in an on-campus accommodation or student housing might ease your cost of living expenses. 

A landscape view of the Vancouver skyline at twilight.

Lifestyle

Both major cities offer an impressive array of activities and cultural events, from world-class music festivals and giant sporting events to outdoor activities like camping and kayaking.

Toronto is well-known for being a film, TV, and digital media hub, and is home to Canada’s largest film festival, the Toronto International Film Festival. If you’re into the music and arts scene, you’ll fall in love with the city’s many music venues, including the iconic Echo Beach and Budweiser Stage situated on Lake Ontario, overlooking the city’s breathtaking skyline. Or, spend a rainy day exploring the Royal Ontario Museum or the Art Gallery of Ontario for inspiration or reflection!

If you choose to study in Vancouver, the city offers students a more laidback approach to living in Canada. You’re never too far from nature—whether it’s spending the day in Stanley Park, at the VanDusen Botanical Gardens, or taking a day trip to Vancouver Island. If you’re more interested in outdoor adventures, Vancouver might be the right choice for you.

Food

If you’re a foodie, the decision between living in Toronto vs. Vancouver may come down to the types of restaurants and food choices there are.

With Vancouver, British Columbia located on Canada’s west coast, it’s no surprise the city boasts plenty of fresh seafood options, so students who love sushi or want to try multiple types of wild salmon can take advantage of what’s available. If you’re on a budget, Vancouver’s food trucks offer cheap and quick bites to satiate a more frugal student lifestyle. 

International students in downtown Toronto can enjoy a wide variety of street food and local cuisines wherever they go. However, the real treat for your palate can be found exploring its many cultural neighbourhoods, such as Chinatown, Little India, Little Italy, and Koreatown. 

Higher Education and Job Opportunities

Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa are home to some of the top-ranking universities and colleges in Canada.

In Toronto, international students seeking higher education often find a bustling and diverse environment, with students coming from all over the world. This multicultural and vibrant city is perfect for students who want to connect with other cultures from all walks of life, offering a unique experience to widen their perspective.

Some of the well-known universities in this Canadian city include the University of Toronto, York University, Toronto Metropolitan University, and OCAD. For colleges, students can pursue further education at George Brown, Sheridan, Humber, or Centennial College.

Vancouver, a cosmopolitan city surrounded by nature, also offers a supportive and multicultural environment where students can excel. The city is home to several world-class universities, such as Simon Fraser University, Capilano University, Emily Carr University, the University of British Columbia, and the University Canada West. Colleges in Vancouver include Vancouver Community College, Langara College, and Columbia College.

All of these institutions offer a wide variety of courses that help students enhance their employability. If the biggest reason for living in Toronto vs Vancouver is job availability, know that either options provide ample economic opportunities and career growth.

Toronto’s skyline featuring the CN Tower in broad daylight

Study in Toronto If You…

  • Prefer a diverse cultural hub
  • Want to attend world-class universities
  • Want to live an urban lifestyle filled with social activities
  • Require efficient public transportation options
  • Want to attend cultural events and exciting festivals
  • Are looking for a safe and secure place to live
  • Want to live closer to New York City, Montreal, or Quebec City

Study in Vancouver If You…

  • Prefer to live in a smaller city
  • Want to receive high-quality education in a stunning environment
  • Love nature, the ocean, and majestic mountains
  • Can’t stand the idea of harsh winter weather—Vancouver is much milder compared to Toronto
  • Are passionate about being eco-conscious and sustainable
  • Want to live closer to Whistler, Banff, Portland, and Seattle 

Pursue Your Dreams and Set Yourself up for Success With ILAC

Will you choose to study in Toronto or study in Vancouver? The answer lies in what you want your student life to look like. If you want to be near trendy shops and a lively cultural scene, Toronto is the perfect fit for you. On the other hand, if you want to have a nature-filled adventure every weekend, Vancouver may be more your speed.

If you still have doubts about the two cities, you can always connect with one of our advisors at the International Language Academy of Canada to help you make an informed decision!

As one of the most awarded English language schools in the world, ILAC provides excellent training and support services to our students. Our campuses in Toronto and Vancouver both offer a dynamic and friendly atmosphere that is sure to enrich the lives of all our international students.

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