A street sign in a tropical location, showing the direction and distance to many popular destinations worldwide.

You're a citizen of the world. You can go anywhere, be anything. So how do you decide where to go, what to be? Program selection and campus culture are important, but so is the cost of living. If you're considering studying abroad, insights into costs can help make difficult decisions a little easier. Let's look at some average expenses in the top five countries for international students, as compiled by The Institute of International Education, with comparative price information via Expatistan.com. For convenience, we'll list prices in Canadian dollars (CAD). Find reliable currency conversion at XE.com.

Be sure to consider your environment when choosing your destination. Do you want to live in a bustling city centre, or do you prefer a slower, quieter pace? Do you demand the latest amenities, or are you content with a few simple pleasures? This sort of planning is critical to choosing the right country — and school — for you.

The Cost of Living in the Top 5 Countries for International Students

Simple purple table detailing the findings in the article. China is least expensive, followed by Canada, Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom.


Thanks to its rapid industrialization, China has become a significant landing place for international students, taking in nearly half a million in 2016, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Certainly, your money will go further in China than most other places on our list, with the average apartment costing nearly $1,000. Utilities and internet are cheaper in China, too, at around $110 and $20 a month, respectively, for total monthly expenses of around $1,130. As the country's technical and professional program offerings grow, expect to see more international students choose China — just don't get too attached to your Facebook account.


Renowned for its gorgeous landscapes and friendly people, Canada is a hotspot for international students. According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education, Canada took in over half a million international students in 2018. Broadly, urban centres are more expensive than rural areas, and prices fluctuate accordingly. An apartment that costs $2,100 in Vancouver might run only $975 in Moncton. Broadly, the average apartment in Canada will run around $1,600, plus $100 for utilities and $50 for internet, rounding out at $1,750 per month. The true north — strong, but not quite free.


Sun-drenched Australia is generally known to outsiders for its fun-loving culture and incredible wildlife. It's also a popular destination for international students: in 2018, nearly 900,000 flocked to its shores, says the Australian Department of Education. Costs vary between urban and rural environments, but across the country as a whole, rent in an average neighbourhood runs around $1,900, while utilities and the internet are more expensive than the northern hemisphere, at $200 and $53, for a total of $2,153 per month. But where else can you bump into a kangaroo?

The United States

An enormous country with a wide breadth of highly-ranked institutions, the US attracts over 1 million international students a year, according to the 2018 Open Doors Report. In New York City, a furnished apartment in an average area could cost over $2,100 a month, while in Youngstown, Ohio, that same apartment might cost only $930. Unfortunately, low rent is the exception, not the rule. Across the country as a whole, rent will run roughly $2,000, with utilities ($150) and internet ($65) on top, for a total of $2,215 a month. Things can be pricey in the land of opportunity.

The United Kingdom

In 2016, according to the UK Council for International Student Affairs, nearly half a million international students studied in the United Kingdom, home to some of the world's premiere universities. These prestigious institutions are generally situated in the country's most expensive cities, including London, Oxford and Cambridge. The average costs across the UK are close to those of the US; average rent is around $2,100, while utilities are more expensive ($195) and the internet is a bit cheaper ($40), bringing the total to $2,335 a month. God save the Queen, indeed! Better save your pennies, instead.