“It’s horrible for us at this moment”

International students struggle to manage increasing expenses

International students in Calgary are increasingly stressed as prices continue to rise.

The average rental prices in Calgary are around $1,700 for a one bedroom apartment, $2,200 for a two bedroom apartment, and $2,600 for a three bedroom apartment according to Rent Canada. Many international students choose to rent with several other students to save costs, despite Calgary’s vacancy rate of 2.6 per cent with over 50,000 vacant housing units according to the CMHC.

“Right now, I think there are a lot of options for people with rent around $2,000 and around five people can rent... so it’s around $400 or $500 per month,” says Yash Hingu, an international student at SAIT who also volunteers as an advisor for international students looking for housing.

International student: Yash Hingu is in the software development program at SAIT, having immigrated from India (Photo by Daniel Janson/The Press).

The 20-hour work limit for international students is putting a strain on many students who are struggling to find work and can often only find minimum wage jobs.

“We pay monthly for rent, for groceries and everything," says Foram Patel, an international student from India. "It's just 20 hours that we can work and our wages are just $15 per hour.

“At the end of the month our bank savings just gets to zero. There's nothing left. You have to pay like $20,000 after your fees as  payment to your financial institutions which you will get back when you come to Canada but every month there's only $700 coming into your bank account. The rent is $1,500; what will we do with only $700?”

“I think there should be more job opportunities for us. It's quite important finding a job right now to cover your expenses,” says Laiba Ahmer, an international student at SAIT from Pakistan. “I go for groceries once in three months. I get the most essential things for myself and I try to get them stretched out for those three months.”

International student must also pay tuition fees which can range from an average of $26,000-$45,000 according to Alberta.ca.

“I think the international fees must not be this much. They are like four times more than Canadian domestic students,” says Patel.

With many international students struggling to make ends meet, there is often no time to focus on anything besides school or work.

“In the morning we wake up, we come to school, we go to work, and then we don't have time to go home and make dinner. We have dinner at our workplaces,” says Patel. “It’s horrible for us at this moment. We regret our decision of coming over here but now we don't have the chance to go back because our parents have spent tons of money taking loans to bring us over here.”

Our parents also prepare us mentally for everything. I will not cry. They have trained me that I will find a place to stay with a smile on my face.”

Calgary housing: An apartment complex near Dalhousie Station. Calgary housing has a vacancy rate of 2.6 per cent according to the CMHC (Photo by Daniel Janson/The Press).
About Daniel Janson 7 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Daniel Janson is working as a writer for The Press in 2024.