July 26, 2022

Your guide to living off-campus

Here are a few things to consider for your accommodation search.
City of Calgary during summer
Kyler Nixon via Unsplash

There are two choices when it comes to your accommodations while studying at university. You can choose to live:

  • on-campus, which means living in a university-owned residence 
  • off-campus either renting/leasing accommodation alone, or with friends/family/roommate(s) 

There are several important factors to keep in mind when making this decision — where you want to live, the type of housing you want, and what your budget for housing is.

This article can help you understand these factors and provide some resources for when you're navigating this process.

Choosing a neighbourhood

UCalgary's main campus is located in the northwest quadrant of the city. Many nearby neighbourhoods are popular choices for students because of their proximity to campus and other areas (such as shopping and public transit). Some of these neighbourhoods include:

  • Capitol Hill: A neighbourhood close that you can walk to the university from
  • Varsity: Has direct bus route to university; has a large shopping mall
  • Brentwood: Easily accessed by bus or train; has a shopping centre
  • Charleswood: A convenient 15 minute walk from the university
  • Sunnyside/Kensington: Located near the Sunnyside CTrain station; trendy neighbourhoods that are easy to get to from the university

Keep in mind that average costs for housing in these areas can vary, and you may have other factors to consider in your search such as proximity to work, shopping options, entertainment, and so on.

Getting to/from home and school (and anywhere else)

Transportation can greatly influence where you’ll ultimately choose to live. You can either expand or narrow your options depending on how you’ll get around and where else you may need to travel.

How will you primarily be getting around? Many students will choose to use their UPass, as it’s included in their fees and allows unlimited use of Calgary Transit buses and CTrains during the academic term. If you’re planning to use public transportation, check that available listings have reasonable transit options for you. If you like to bike or use a scooter, there are many bike paths around Calgary that can make your trip safer and more convenient.

If you’re planning on using a vehicle, that may open more options around the city. However, it can also be more expensive due to gas, parking and maintenance costs. You can use a mileage cost calculator to determine how much it would cost to drive from home, school, or work to see if that'll be a dealbreaker for you.

Understanding your costs

There are costs associated with both on- and off-campus housing. With off-campus accommodation, you’ll usually have more options to choose from depending on the type of housing you want and if you plan to live with others. To learn more about the best places to search for off-campus housing, check out our off-campus housing website.

To learn more about average costs for common housing types throughout the city, RentFaster has a useful summary tool.

Living with friends or roommates is very common for students, as you’re able to share many expenses. If you’re looking for a roommate, check out our article to learn which questions can help you match with the right roommate.

It's also be helpful to plan your budget in advance so you're more prepared. Using budgeting tools like this budget planner from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada can help you keep track of your finances.

Choosing your off-campus accommodations can be a daunting task, and unfortunately there are rental scams to look out for too. To help you spot them, we’ve prepared an article discussing how to avoid rental scams.