Free Student Housing for University Students in Canada

Finding a place to live while studying is extremely important and there are many important factors to consider. Choosing the right housing style, roommates, price, and proximity to campus are all important to your university experience. In conversations with my friends and through my own research, I’ve compiled some information that you will find helpful in your search for the perfect place to live.

Within a highly competitive and expensive market, it has never been more difficult for students to find reasonable accommodations. To be upfront – cheap housing has never looked so expensive. But there is still hope! Fortunately, there are many students fighting the very same battle. Thousands of university students are looking for the best deals for short term rentals.

Living on campus in student residences is ideal when considering convenience and proximity to campus.  For many, residence is the time of their lives. A perfect opportunity to meet people in a central location with unlimited food in dining halls and activities around every corner. However, for others, residence is unattainable or unenjoyable due to the extremely social environment and extremely high cost of enrolment. While some universities offer residence programming to students past first year, university student populations are growing faster than infrastructure to support them, and this has increased the demand for residence. This means that past first year, it’s nearly impossible to remain on campus as a student. A list of 

Alternatively, there are many more affordable ways to go about finding housing as a student. While living off campus may be a necessity, there are a variety of different apartment styles to choose from. Off campus accommodations, depending on your city, can start around 500-600 dollars per month.  From studio apartments to living in five-bedroom suites, the style you choose influences price and privacy. 


While the aim of this article isn’t to promote one style of apartment over the other, if you do choose to live off campus, the least expensive option will typically be far from campus and in a house with many roommates.

A financial solution for upper year students that often isn’t discussed is working with the university as a residence life don. A residence life don is an upper year student who lives in residence buildings with first years to support their journeys adapting to university. To be clear, being a residence life don is not an easy position and requires a great deal of social abilities and interactions. Although, residence life dons (dons sometimes go by different names, though almost all schools across Canada have a similar program) are entitled to free housing, an oftentimes subsidized meal plan, and are paid for the time they spend working with first years. If making rent is an ongoing challenge and you’re looking to be involved in your school community and make friends beyond first year, becoming a don is the best solution for you! While all schools in Canada have different application processes, be sure to monitor your school to see when and how to apply for your next school term.  Here is a detailed University of Toronto Residence Don contract, including information about subsidized meal plans, housing, and job requirements. Working as a Don also gives your resume a competitive advantage over those of your peers. 

In summary, housing for students is only becoming more expensive. Especially considering the cost of tuition as many students pay international fees, it’s crucial to know and understand how university systems work and can benefit their students – becoming a residence life don is a part time job that can help you find a community within your school as well as save you thousands of dollars in rent.


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