Most of us don’t realize that once you move to a new country you have to choose whether you’re going to live by yourself, find a roommate or pay the school housing.
In some cases you may need to buy furniture, at least, a bed and a lampshade – most apartments for rent come with all utilities (fridge and stove, sometimes a microwave too) – and food. Then there’re bus passes. Winnipeg’s harsh winters require proper apparel. You will have to invest your money in a good winter jacket, gloves, balaclava, toque, etc.
One of the reasons why Canada has been attractive to international students is because university and college tuitions are cheaper compared to the United States, United Kingdom and Australia – top three destinations for those who want to study abroad.
According to a Statistics Canada report, international students will pay in average $21,932 for an undergraduate program tuition during the school year of 2015-2016. That is a 6.5% increase from last year – international students spent, in average, $20,477 in 2014-2015.
To show the difference, Canadian students will pay in average $6,191 for an undergraduate program tuition in the same period.
Another interesting factor is that Canada is an English-speaking country, although the French-speaking community is very influential. Because it is a universal language taught in most countries since people are little, many choose to pursue their post-secondary education in English.
International students pay at least two times more than a Canadian student. And there’s no award or scholarship involved – in most cases, international students are not eligible to apply for a scholarship.
Last year, I sat down and tried to put on a paper how much money I spent on school, rent, transportation, winter apparel and food. After I had detailed everything, my total was approximate $30,000 in that year.
But now, what does $30,000 mean to my country? Approximately R$90,000 (ninety thousand Reais – the Brazilian currency). It means a lot of work and sacrifice invested in my education.
Deciding to move to Winnipeg took a lot of research. I had to make sure this was the right place for me. And definitely, the fact that Winnipeg’s cost of living is lower compared to other provinces played a big role in my decision.
If you’d like my two cents, here are some things international students should consider, from my point of view:
- Renting an apartment was hard because I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t have anyone to be a guarantor for me. Please note, not all companies ask that you have a guarantor, some don’t mind. Call and make sure they understand you’re coming to a new place where you don’t know anyone.
- Try to rent an apartment that is all included (heat, water and hydro). I find it much easier to pay everything at once.
- I moved to Winnipeg in the summer. So after I got my apartment, I went to several yard and garage sales to find affordable furniture. I got creative and renovated some of them. Another option is IKEA. Fortunately, there’s a good IKEA here in Winnipeg, and they have cheap stuff.
- Storing food saves you a lot of money. We do spend a lot in the beginning, but it saved me money throughout the year. Get a Costco membership, it costs about $60 per year. There you buy food in bulk. I bought a lot of poultry (ground beef, beef, and chicken) and a lot of Ziploc bags. Then I divided everything into single portions.
- If you don’t know, learn. Even though food in Winnipeg is not expensive, we’re on a student budget. Eating out every day, even if it’s at the Tim Hortons on campus, gets expensive.
All the money being invested here is worth it. Believe me and the other international students telling you their stories.