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Montreal vs Toronto Which is a better choice for students

Montreal vs Toronto: Which is a better choice for students?

Studying in a different city is a big decision. Montreal and Toronto are two favoured destinations in Canada, even for international students, because of the high quality of education.

Both have incredible advantages, but when it comes to cost, safety, and job opportunities, which one trumps the other? 

Montreal is a better city for students to study and live in than Toronto because it has more affordable tuition fees and living costs. Both cities have quality education and plenty of part-time job opportunities.

If you want to know which city is best for you, read on! Are you going to study in Montreal or Toronto?

Montreal vs Toronto: Top Universities

Montreal vs Toronto Top Universities' Homepage
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Montreal and Toronto are both known for high-quality education. The two cities boast well-respected universities, attracting local and international students due to the extensive selection of programs and future opportunities.

But when it comes to tuition fees, Toronto international students pay 2x or 3x higher than Montreal’s students, making it more expensive. In particular, the University of Toronto will cost more than others because it’s in demand and is a high-ranking school in the country.

It’s no secret that Canada offers high-quality education. It’s even a popular place for international students and is definitely worth it to study in!

If you plan on studying in Canada (Is it worth studying in Canada?), you will have many top university choices. But between Montreal and Toronto, which has the best schools?

According to Times Higher Education, the best Canadian university is in Toronto. Which one is it? It’s the University of Toronto, of course!

That’s not a surprise to most locals because, for years, the University of Toronto has earned the top spot in the country. It’s one of the most favourite selections for international students, too.

But coming in third is McGill University in Montreal, while the University of Montreal is just two spots down in the rankings. Three of the top five universities are in these two cities, which is an impressive feat, but it does make your decision-making harder.

It’s not just the best-ranking university that students consider. Another factor, possibly the main one affecting their decisions, is tuition fees.

We’ve gathered the average tuition fees for the top universities in Montreal and Toronto to better understand how much it will cost for local and international students. The following fees are for the school year 2022/2023.

Top Universities in Montreal
UniversityUndergraduate – Domestic StudentsUndergraduate – International StudentsGraduate – Domestic StudentsGraduate – International Students
McGill University$2,797 – $8,730$19,886 – $31,500$2,797 – $8,730$17,193 – $27,011
University of Montreal$2,797 – $8,730$25,568$2,797 – $8,730$17,192 – $19,390
Concordia University$2,797 – $8,730$19,581 – $25,650$2,097 – $6,548$12,895 – $22,050
Tuition fees are for full-time students in the arts and humanities program for the school year 2022/2023.
Source: Universities Canada
Top Universities in Toronto
UniversityUndergraduate – Domestic StudentsUndergraduate – International StudentsGraduate – Domestic StudentsGraduate – International Students
University of Toronto $6,100 – $11,760$41,540 – $61,350$6,210 – $10,350$6,210 – $43,990
York University $6,118$32,756$2,871$12,550
Toronto Metropolitan University$6,093 – $6,608$30,100$4,307 – $17,605$22,560 – $30,620
Tuition fees are for full-time students in the arts and humanities program for the school year 2022/2023. 
Source: Universities Canada

Generally, Toronto has more expensive tuition fees than Montreal. International students, in particular, will need to pay higher fees in Toronto than Canadian students.

Montreal vs Toronto: Tuition Fees for International Students

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International students in Canada will carry more financial burdens than local students. Their tuition fees are around four times more expensive than Canadian citizens.

Why is that, exactly? The Canadian government subsidized the tuition fees for domestic students, which led to less expensive costs.

Moreover, international students will need to pay around $20,000 to $30,000 per year. Meanwhile, international graduate students can reach about $40,000 a year.

These costs significantly impact international students in low and middle-income families. Universities in Toronto can affect them more financially because of the generally expensive costs.

International student tuition fees are still higher than domestic students in Montreal, but it’s considerably more affordable than in Toronto.

Montreal vs Toronto: Part-time Job Opportunities

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Getting a part-time job in Canada as an international student is allowed if your study permit has work conditions. It’s incredibly important to meet these requirements to avoid getting deported.

Getting a job in Montreal and Toronto can be challenging but is possible. Both cities have plenty of job opportunities for students.

But in Montreal, you may find the language barrier a problem if you don’t speak French. Some employers will only hire bilingual applicants because Montreal is a predominantly French-speaking city.

In contrast, you won’t have that problem in Toronto because most of the population speaks English as their first language. It’s also a diverse city, giving you plenty of opportunities to meet other nationalities.

Canadian students who want to work part-time while studying can do so. Many top universities are located near shops and restaurants, making job-hunting a bit easier for those who want to work off-campus.

But it’s not as simple for international students. If you’re not a citizen, you can only get a part-time job depending on your study permit.

Moreover, you need to have work conditions on your study permit to get a job off-campus. Many international students hire an immigration attorney to help them with this because their situation may be a little more complicated.

If you don’t have it, you can request an amendment to apply for a SIN, or a Social Insurance Number, in Canada. Once you have a work permit, you can work up to 20 hours a week off-campus.

You can have more than one job, but make sure that it’s allowed on your study permit conditions. If you fail to meet these conditions, you may get deported.

In addition to that, your future applications to Canada can get affected. So, international students need to ensure that they meet the conditions of their study permit to work in the country.

Here are some popular part-time job opportunities for students in Canada and their average hourly rates. Keep in mind that these rates depend on the province, work employment, and level of experience. 

Part-time Job Opportunities for Students in Canada
JobAverage Hourly Rate
Server$13 – $14
Teaching Assistant$15 – $16
Dog Walker$15

Getting a part-time job as a student in Canada can be challenging. There are plenty of job opportunities (Which part-time job pays the most in Canada?) that pays really well, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.

In Toronto, you will find plenty of employment opportunities because it’s a financial and business hub. There are also many shops, cafes, and restaurants you can apply for.

Additionally, it’s a diverse city. There, you will most likely find many foreigners and immigrants because it’s a popular place to visit, work, and study in.

Meanwhile, Montreal offers many employment opportunities for students as well. It’s not a small city and has many shops and restaurants all around.

However, the main obstacle for international students in Montreal is French. Many jobs will only accept employees who speak both French and English.

Montreal vs Toronto Part-time Job Opportunities
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That’s one of the main problems international students will face (What problems international students face in Canada?) in Montreal, sadly. You can live there only speaking in English, but you will certainly feel the need to study French.

Furthermore, Montreal is a predominantly French-speaking city, so speaking at least conversational French will be useful. If you’re going to serve customers, many will speak French and your employer will mostly want someone who can entertain their customers.

Montreal vs Toronto: Which is safer?

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Montreal and Toronto are safe cities to live in for domestic and international students. But Montreal is just safer to live in, and many residents don’t feel anxious walking alone in the city. 

Based on Numbeo’s gathered data, Montreal has a safety index of 68.23, which is about 17% higher than Toronto’s 57.52. For this, the higher the number, the safer the city.

It’s a well-known fact that Canada is one of the safest countries in the world. As a matter of fact, Vision of Humanity ranked it as the twelfth safest in 2022.

It had an overall GPI (Global Peace Index) score of 1.389. Canada was just behind Switzerland with a GPI score of 1.357.

Aside from having top-ranking universities, many international students decide to study here because it’s a safe country to move to on your own.

But just because a country is safe doesn’t mean all cities are. What about Montreal and Toronto?

It’s good to report that one of the safest cities in Canada is Montreal (How safe is Montreal?). According to Numbeo, Montreal has a safety scale of 68.23, and the highest number means it’s very safe!

Meanwhile, it has a crime index of 42.48. It’s a moderate level, with most of the contributors in Numbeo voting that they feel safe walking at night in the city. 

In contrast, Toronto loses slightly in the safety battle to Montreal. It doesn’t mean it’s not a safe place to live in, don’t get me wrong, it does have a safety scale of 57.52.

Although both cities are safe choices for Canadian and international students. It’s just that one city feels safer because not too many people live there.

You see, Montreal has more of an old town vibes (like a French town) and is quieter. Walking in the city feels calmer and safer because it doesn’t feel cramped despite the huge population.

But you can still have fun in Montreal (How can I have fun in Montreal?) despite having a slower pace lifestyle! I know I always enjoy my time there!

Toronto’s fun, too, just noisier and rowdier. If you walk in the city, you will continuously hear noises (*cough* car horns *cough), which don’t feel peaceful.

As I’ve said, Montreal doesn’t feel cramped despite the population of 4.32 million in 2022. This year, it’s expected to increase by just around 0.92%.

Meanwhile, Toronto has 6.31 million people. In 2023, the forecast is that it will rise to 6.37 million.

To give you a better idea of the difference, Montreal and Toronto are the two largest cities in Canada by population. The wide gap makes Montreal feel safer (the safety index helps, too!).

Montreal and Toronto: Crime Comparison
Crime increase in the past 3 yearsLowModerate
Worries about being mugged or robbedLowLow
Worries about home broken and things stolenModerateHigh
Worries about things from car stolenLowModerate
Worries attackedLowLow
Worries about being physically attacked due to ethnicity or genderVery LowLow
Problem with violent crimes like assault and armed robberyLowModerate
Source: Numbeo

Montreal vs Toronto: Cost of Living

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In general, Toronto is definitely much more expensive than Montreal by 28%. Add the high tuition fees and your monthly expenses, you will need to get a work permit to support yourself living in Ontario’s capital city.

If you’re not from Canada, you will be shocked at the high cost of living in Toronto. But it’s well-known to many Canadians.

One of the most dreaded factors for students is budgeting their weekly money. Canada is not the most expensive place to live in, but that doesn’t mean it’s affordable (believe me, we’re all struggling here).

The rising cost of living is negatively impacting many Canadians’ lifestyles. The high costs of food and housing particularly hit low and middle-income families.

It’s the same for international students and their families. Low and middle-income households may need to budget more to send their kids money to pay tuition fees and other necessities.

According to Living Cost, Montreal is 28% cheaper than Toronto. That’s a huge gap, but it is not surprising since Toronto is an in-demand city and is a commercial sector.

Montreal vs Toronto: Average Monthly Expenses
One-person Cost of Living$1,688$2,348
One-person Rent$843$1436
Food Expenses$519$542
Transport Expenses$176$244
Source: Living Cost

Housing in Toronto is known for having incredibly high costs. It rose exponentially during the pandemic and has continued to do so, leading many Canadians to financial insecurity.

Montreal is costly, too. But if you compare it to Ontario’s capital city, it’s definitely the more affordable option.

For instance, a single person in Montreal can find an apartment at $850 a month. But in Toronto, you’re going to have to double or triple that cost since many landlords are increasing the rent up to $2,000 a month!

Transportation is also more expensive in Toronto, and let’s not forget everyone’s love-hate relationship with the TTC.

Although both cities are accessible by cycling and walking, you will still need to use the train or bus to get to other parts of the city. There’s just more traffic in Toronto (What are the disadvantages of living in Toronto?).

Moreover, you will need a monthly budget for that. Toronto’s public transport system is expensive, especially for a student.

Living Cost found that Torontonians spend about $244 per month on transport expenses. That’s higher than Montreal at $176.

Additionally, food expenses are higher in Toronto. Quebec’s city spends an average of $519, while Toronto’s is $542.

Between Montreal and Toronto, the former is definitely more affordable. But it doesn’t mean it’s cheap!

Montreal vs Toronto: Our Final Verdict

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Montreal is the better option for domestic and international students. I mean, tuition fees are already cheaper!

In addition, you won’t have to pay too much for monthly expenses in Montreal. Food costs are rising in Canada, and Torontonians are spending too much on grocery bills, with some looking for more ways to save.

Moreover, you can save more money living and studying in Montreal than in Toronto. But at the end of the day, the decision is up to you because it’s you who will live in your chosen city for years—just budget smartly in Toronto, okay?

Before we end, here’s a comparison table below to summarize everything we talked about.

CategoryThe Better CityNotes
EducationMontrealMontreal and Toronto have top-ranking universities, but Montreal wins because it has more affordable tuition fees.
EmploymentTorontoBoth cities have plenty of job opportunities, but some employees in Montreal prefer to hire English and French-speaking students
SafetyMontrealMontreal has a higher safety index and lesser overall crimes.
ExpensesMontrealToronto’s living costs are higher, with rent prices double or triple the price compared to Montreal.

FAQ about Montreal vs Toronto for Students

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