Once you've chosen a program and settled on a school, you'll need to do some thinking about where you're going to live for the 2 to 8 years you'll be in the city. The city itself or the school you've chosen will sometimes dictate your choice, since some schools are located in small towns without condo style buildings or don't offer student residences. Generally speaking, though, as a student you have four housing options. We'll lay out them out for you here along with a few pros and cons.
Student residences are the most popular option for university students, especially those in their first year. A set fee paid upfront with student loan money ensures that you have a place to live and meals to eat for the entire duration of your year of study. This keeps you from getting evicted from your place and defaults and from making impertinent spending choices that may leave you without enough money for groceries. Most students enjoy the communal atmosphere (and the parties) but others who prefer privacy and quiet may not find the arrangement ideal, especially if they have to share a room.
Renting an apartment is the preferred choice for many students in graduate programs or beyond their first year of undergrad. Though finding, furnishing, paying for, and setting up utilities in their apartment leaves them with more on their plates, the privacy of their own place makes it well worth the effort for most students. Roommates often help ease the financial burden, as living off campus can be more expensive than staying in residence, depending on which neighborhood you choose.
Purchased Real Estate
There aren't many students who can afford to buy a property while attending college, but those who come from wealthy families or have enjoyed business success prior to being accepted into a program can turn their course of study into an investment. A real estate agent can advise you on whether it would be better for you to buy a small place of your own or a larger place and rent out the rest of the rooms to fellow students.
While some real estate isn't particularly expensive, living in places like Vancouver and New York City can be beyond a student's budget. Many students in these situations find themselves living with relatives while they study in exchange for helping out with chores and buying groceries. In the city of Toronto where the rental can be very high, broker, Patrick Rocca has many clients that seek out a room in a large home or even a basement apartment that can be much more affordable. Others are placed with host families who have opened their home to students in need. Arrangements are usually made by homestay organizations. This is the cheapest option, but offers the least independence, as having parties or inviting friends over may not be okay with your hosts.