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The basics
Canada: Destination Guides - Must read

The ultimate student guide to Vancouver

Vancouver is a bustling city with a convenient location on the border of Canada and the United States. This hip city is surrounded by beautiful oceans, islands, and forest-covered mountains in every direction.

Study in Vancouver

Vancouver is an international city and one of the most desirable places to live in the world. It was rated as the 16th most liveable city in the world according to The Economist’s Liveability Index, 2021. From coffee shops to cultural hubs, outstanding university courses to city centre accommodation, it’s easy to see why Vancouver is a leading destination for international students in Canada.


It’s known across the country as the capital of cuisine, with the city’s highly diverse community bringing a wide variety of food and drink into its neighbourhoods from around the world. Each area in Vancouver is distinct, offering new sights, smells, and tastes around every corner. The city also benefits from an ideal location on the Atlantic coast. This means lots of fresh seafood and temperate weather for residents and visitors to enjoy. 


Vancouver is surrounded by some of the most beautiful natural landscapes that Canada has to offer. It makes the city an unbeatable choice if you’re looking for snow-capped mountains, expansive forests, and various outdoor pursuits. As a student here, you could find yourself on the beach or skiing down a mountain slope, all on the same day.


With several prestigious and internationally renowned universities calling Vancouver home, you’ll be able to have an unforgettable student experience in Canada while working towards a life-changing university qualification.


What is Vancouver like?


Vancouver is in the province of British Columbia, on the west coast of mainland Canada. It’s in the south of the country and is just 32 miles from the United States border. The U.S. city of Seattle is only several hours south of the city.


Vancouver is surrounded by nature. Across the water from the city is Vancouver Island, while the mountains and forests of British Columbia stretch out far to the north and east.


Vancouver is a diverse city and home to many cultures, religions, and nationalities. Over half of Vancouver’s population are of ethnicities other than European Canadians, and the city is known for its distinct cultural neighbourhoods.


Culture and history 

Vancouver has been home to First Nations communities for over 10,000 years and is located on the traditional homelands of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish peoples. European settlers first arrived in the area in 1827, and the city of Vancouver was established in 1886. The city has grown over the years, due to its ideal location as a port for trade between North America and Europe. Today, Vancouver is an international hub for the arts, film and media, tech, and culture.


Read more about what makes Canada unique



What universities are in Vancouver?


Vancouver is internationally renowned for the quality of its universities, placing in the top 20 Best Student Cities worldwide according to QS 2022, and is a popular choice for students around the world.


The University of British Columbia is a top-rated university in Canada, ranked 47th globally by the QS World University Rankings 2023. A research-intensive university, it offers a range of courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, as well as professional courses.


Simon Fraser University is a highly rated comprehensive university and has been delivering courses to over 24,000 students for 20 years. You can choose from among 100 undergraduate degrees and dozens of graduate courses.


Capilano University is just north of the city and offers a range of educational options across a range of subjects, with a particular focus on music and music therapy. Vancouver also has Columbia College at its centre, Canada’s first independent college offering international programmes. Students can take on a range of English language and university transfer courses.


Discover more universities in Canada


What does Vancouver offer students?


What transport is there? 

Vancouver benefits from being a great city to walk around, as well as having an efficient and easy-to-use public transport network. A variety of vibrant neighbourhoods and major tourist attractions are within walking or cycling distance of each other in Vancouver, but for longer journeys, you’ll be able to use the city’s impressive Translink system.


Various bus routes, the city’s famous SkyTrain and the Canada Line rail network offer quick connections around the city and to the airport. There are even SeaBus ferries that travel along the city’s river.


What’s the entertainment and food like?

Vancouver has an almost endless array of entertainment and cultural options for you to explore during your time there. Whether it’s international theatre or prestigious art galleries, you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for. It’s also home to many sports venues, including hockey, American football, and soccer.


The city boasts one of the most innovative and diverse food scenes in North America, with fresh regional produce combined with an international population and artistic culture to produce a paradise for foodies.


Discover the top five things to do in Canada


What about accommodation?

You’ll be able to choose from on- and off-campus accommodation for your studies in Vancouver, depending on your budget and your preferred lifestyle. For students who want to be as close to class as possible and in the heart of the student community, university-owned and private student halls are a great choice. Around the city, you’ll be able to choose from private rentals in various neighbourhoods, each with unique attractions, cultures, and atmospheres.


Don’t forget that you can apply for financial aid to study in Canada. Check out the top scholarships in the country


How much does it cost to live in Vancouver?


The cost of living in Vancouver can be relatively high compared to other popular student cities in Canada and the rest of the world. Accommodation costs are high, but there are plenty of different living options for student living. Despite this, Vancouver still offers great value for money due to the high quality of life it offers.


Discover more about the cost of living in Canada


Student budget

As a single international student living in Vancouver, your average student budget will be somewhere between CAD 300 and CAD 1,000 per week. This includes rent, utilities, food, transportation, and other living costs. Your budget will vary depending on your living arrangements, lifestyle, activities, and where in Vancouver you’re living.


Explore how to find a graduate career in Canada and the top five graduate jobs


Financial requirements

The Government of Canada asks international students to demonstrate that they can access a minimum of CAD 10,000 per year before they can start their studies in Canada. This is equivalent to CAD 833 per month.


Find out what tuition fees in Canada cost


What are the main attractions in Vancouver?


Vancouver is a popular student city due to its great combination of excellent academic opportunities and energetic city living. You won’t be short of things to do and see between your studies, whether it’s in the city itself or among the breath-taking Canadian landscapes of British Columbia.


Vancouver’s rich heritage is at the heart of its neighbourhoods, and none more so than Granville Island. This area transformed from industrial docks to a thriving artistic hub and is home to various bars, cafes, studios, and creative spaces, along with a famous public market.


A day in the city could also see you taking a cruise around the harbour, ascending Grouse Mountain by cable car to get stunning views of the city, or visiting world-class galleries like the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Polygon Gallery.


Outside Vancouver, you’ll have a wealth of outdoor activities and sports on your doorstep, from hiking and camping to kayaking, fishing, and skiing. It could be mountain ziplining or snowboarding, each season in British Columbia offers unique leisure opportunities and natural attractions.


Vancouver’s high-rise skyline, vibrant neighbourhoods, harbours, beaches, bars, and mountain views make for a city that is always surprising. Together with its universities, Vancouver becomes a truly unique student destination. Explore more study options in Canada and Vancouver with our course matcher tool



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