Living in Vancouver on a Student Budget

Living in Vancouver on a Student Budget

By: Sugandha Agarwal
  4559 reads

Ranked as Canada’s most expensive city, Vancouver is definitely not the most budget-friendly place to be living in. Nevertheless, hoards of broke students from all over Canada and the world come here every year to attend school. Living on a student budget is a struggle in itself but coupled with exorbitantly high rent and living costs, it becomes all the more challenging. Having survived here for almost a year without breaking my bank account, here are some tips on how to navigate the city without putting a hole through your wallet:

1. Grocery Shopping

As much as I might hate dragging a giant cart through aisles of food, forcing myself to the nearest Walmart or No Frills every two weeks has considerably cut down on my expenses. Stocking my fridge every fifteen days means I am not tempted to eat out or order in food every day and I can be healthy in my dietary choices. Further, buying food in bulk is cheaper and a lot of times I come across really great deals which cuts down costs even more.

2. Eating out (Treat yourself!)

Being cheap does not mean you can’t treat yourself every once in a while. I always look for budget options (under $10) and scour out Breakfast Deals (usually before 10am) and Happy Hours (usually between 4pm and 9pm). My friends and I often order a variety of things off of the menu and end up splitting everything which makes it very economic to dine out.


As a broke student who also wants to look like they’re not broke, I rely on the big red ‘SALE’ sign when it comes to my wardrobe. Brands such as H&M, Forever 21 and Zara almost always have a sale section that you can scour for the cheapest deals. Old Navy and Winners have low prices to begin with and a wide variety of clothes to choose from. Further, look for deals on Black Friday and Boxing Day for maximum savings. Another thing that I do (as much as I hate it doing it) is subscribe to newsletters to receive extra discounts – it only takes two minutes and I get an additional 20%-30% off.

4. Cheap Thrills

While eating out may cost you a bit, taking a walk on the beach or going for a hike are fun things you can do for free! Vancouver is blessed with gorgeous natural beauty and it’s open to its residents free of cost! I also look for weekly deals – for instance, admission to the Vancouver Art gallery is by donation on Tuesdays – that can help me save money without compromising on the fun.

5. Public Transit

Vancouver has one of the best public transit systems in Canada and as SFU students, we have almost unlimited access to it at a lowered cost. A number of beaches, natural parks and hiking trails can be accessed through buses and trains running across the city at no extra cost (such as paying for gas or parking).

School is hard and living in an expensive city is both emotionally and physically taxing, so it’s completely okay if you choose not to focus on money matters sometimes and indulge yourself a little. However, being a little prudent (and clever) with your finances consistently will keep you remain stress-free and go a long way in contributing towards savings.

Image credit: Tourism Vancouver 

Beyond the Article 

Posted on July 18, 2018