What Are the Different Types of Student Accommodation?

What Are the Different Types of Student Accommodation?

4 min read

If you have made the big decision to study in Canada, the next big decision is where to stay. There are different types of accommodation for students, including Alma Student Residence. Important considerations when choosing the accommodation type are the price range, distance to the campus or other places of interest, the social scene, and the preferred amenities. Other important considerations are security, internet connectivity, accessibility to essential services, and roommates. With all accommodations in Canada, ensure your university or, at the very least, your classmates know where you live not only for your security but also in case of an emergency. So, where should a student stay in Canada?


Some universities provide dormitories (or dorms) on-campus or near the campus. Dorms are large buildings that are divided into different rooms (dorm rooms). These rooms house one or more students. The dormitories have shared areas for cooking, entertainment, and exercising. Shower and bathroom facilities are also shared most of the time. Hot water, heating, and internet are usually available at a subsidized fee. Dorms usually come pre-equipped with closets, desks, chairs, beds, and mattresses.

Dormitories are ideal for first-year students, where they get to make new friends and assimilate into the campus lifestyle. In most cases, cleaning services are included, while you have to do the cleaning yourself with most apartments. Proximity to the class, library, cafeteria and on-campus events make for a more enjoyable experience. You do not have to worry about bills with dorms, and you will enjoy more security.


Some universities provide townhouses for students. These are detached buildings that have 3 to 6 bedrooms, with each room being reserved for a single student. Townhouses are more expensive compared to dormitories.

They are ideal for second, third, and fourth-year students and graduate students who want more privacy and freedom than a dorm can offer. With both dormitories and townhouses, there are usually food courts, cafeterias, or other eating establishments around.

Shared Apartment/Condos

There are shared apartments or condo housing for international students in Canada. Apartments, just like townhouses, are usually shared, with single occupancy bedrooms with shared bathrooms, kitchens, living rooms, and dining areas. Note that apartments are off-campus, and as such, universities may not assist you in finding them (although the university housing office, student association, or student union may refer you to an agency). For larger cities like Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, where housing is generally expensive, off-campus housing can be costly. The price is lower in smaller cities and towns.

Apartments offer more freedom than you would get with dorms and townhouses. Although there are rules and guidelines, these are less strict compared to dorms. You will be able to enjoy the Canadian way of life and become more independent. However, note that this freedom comes with more responsibilities. Living in apartments allows you to choose your roommates, which is impossible with dorms. Apartments also have more space compared to dorms.


If you want the sense of security associated with living at home, consider staying with a host family. This is a common phenomenon in Canada, where the host family usually provides a single-occupancy private room and where you get to eat 1 to 3 meals per day (although options of room-only and room-sharing options are also available). Internet access is also provided. Homestay allows you to get a better feel of Canadian culture and customs. You need not worry about your safety and security – homestay families are screened to ensure they are safe for students. You will be able to participate in such family activities as weekend getaways and sit-down dinners. The downside is that the commute to and from school is usually longer (between 30 and 50 minutes).

Furnished and Unfurnished Apartment Rentals

You can find a furnished or unfurnished rental apartment through sites like Airbnb, Craig’s List, and Kijiji even before you get to Canada. These are usually private rentals. You can rent for between 6 and 12 months or sublet for a shorter period. A lease is a legal document that stipulates the responsibility of the tenant, the responsibility of the landlord, and other details like the notice period (usually 60 days). Responsibilities of the tenant include keeping the room clean, paying rent promptly, damage repair, and not making noise. You can choose to live by yourself or with a roommate. It is the responsibility of the landlord to provide utility services (electricity, heat, and others) and keep the room in a good state of repair.

Common features of furnished apartments are beds, a sofa, tables, a dresser, and basic household appliances like a fridge, a cooker, and a microwave oven. Although you will pay more for a furnished apartment, you get to save money in that you do not have to buy furniture and appliances. A furnished apartment also offers convenience and gives you greater flexibility since you can move at any time. You will be required to pay the rent for the first and last month immediately, which is meant to protect the landlord should you decide to leave with no notice. Be sure to read reviews to ensure you get what you are looking for.

At Alma Student Residences, we provide housing to local and international students studying at the University of Guelph. So, what is the difference between student housing and dorms? Our student housing is located 5 minutes drive from the campus, allowing you to enjoy the best of both worlds. Each room comes with a double bed, a desk, a chair, a couch, a microwave, a dry bar with a mini fridge, and a TV. Some of our rooms even come with balconies, complete with Muskoka chairs for the balconies. Our facility features a commercial-grade kitchen, bike storage, a fitness center, study spaces, and even an arcade to allow you to blow some steam off. Our focus is on your health and well-being. Call us today to secure your preferred suite.

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