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Affordable Housing for Who? Students in Canada Pay More in Rent Than the General Population: Survey

Students with moving boxes

Most Canadian students know the struggle of finding an affordable place to live when completing their post-secondary education. But it turns out, it’s not just finding a liveable home that can be stressful — students in Canada are paying 25 per cent more in rent than the general population, according to a new survey.

The Unité de travail pour l’implantation de logement étudiant (UTILE) conducted the Fostering Learning and Awareness on Student Housing (FLASH) survey, the largest statistical study ever done on the residential housing situation of Canada’s 1.5 million student renters. They asked 18,000 students about their housing and found the median student rent paid in 2021 was $1,250 — 25 per cent more than the median cost of all rentals in Canada.

Related: Want to buy a home in Toronto or Vancouver? You need to make more than $220K: new data.

Students are spending over a quarter of their income on rent

From apartments that might have unwanted critters lurking about, to shared housing that might have some roommates that don’t get along, finding the perfect place to live isn’t always a walk in the park — especially when rent is skyrocketing. And the survey also discovered that it’s not just that student housing is expensive — it’s costing students a significant chunk of their income, with seven out of 10 students shelling out more than 30 per cent of their total income on rent.

“What we’re seeing is that across the country the lack of affordable housing near educational institutions is forcing students to rent apartments which exceed their ability to pay,” said Laurent Levesque, executive director of UTILE, in a press release. “This drastically increases student debt and threatens accessibility to higher education.”

Related: How to talk to your friends about your different money attitudes.

Two students doing homework


More housing is needed to support both domestic and international students

The press release on the FLASH survey also revealed that a large number of international students are coming to Canada for their education, with 620,000 students arriving last year. While it’s great for schools to have a more diverse student population, Levesque explains that there isn’t enough housing to accommodate the increased number of students.

“While attracting international students to Canada is great for our country’s economic and scientific vitality, we have built nowhere near enough student apartments in the past decade to accommodate 400,000 additional students,” he said.

How can students save on rent?

If you’re a student looking for housing, living with roommates is a guaranteed way to save some money instead of living solo. But before you move in with your potential roomies, be sure to ask them some hard-hitting questions to see if they’re a fit.

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