Number of international students on the rise in Canada

With relatively affordable housing and a high standard of living, Canada is a popular destination for international students.

According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education, the number of international students in Canada rose 92% between 2008 and 2015, with 95% saying they would recommend the country as a study destination.

What makes Canada so popular?

According to the bureau, the top three reasons international students choose Canada are:

  • the quality of the Canadian education system;
  • Canada’s reputation as a tolerant and non-discriminatory society; and
  • Canada’s reputation as a safe country.

Real estate professionals in Canada echo this sentiment.

As a safe country offering a high quality of life, Canada is seen as a great place to buy. Even in its largest, most expensive urban centres, properties in Canada remain affordable compared to many parts of the western world.

What about student housing?

Most post-secondary institutions in Canada offer residence spaces to international students, often guaranteeing accommodations in the first year, however, they can’t house everyone.

According to Tracey Mason-Innes, Director of Residence and Housing at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, 53% of her school’s residence waitlist is made up of international students.

While rental units remain a popular alternative to living on campus, REALTOR® Azizali Kanjee, a broker with IPB Realty in Mississauga, Ontario, says a growing number of international learners and their parents are inclined to buy property instead.

“They see it as an investment opportunity,” Kanjee explains.

Rose Yih, of Vancouver’s Royal Pacific Realty, says parents often apply for 10-year multiple-entry visas so they can easily travel between Canada and their home countries.

“The longer those visits, the more likely families are to want property,” Yih says. “After graduation, many students choose to stay and apply for permanent residency.”

According to the bureau, 51% of international students plan to apply for permanent residence in Canada upon graduation.

How to grow your international student opportunities?

With the global education market continuing to grow, REALTORS® can look to increase their referral business.

From getting involved with a school’s international student services department to speaking with the school’s administrator of international student affairs, there are multiple ways to market yourself as a great resource for buying and living in a local community.

Finally, don’t forget about your current customer base; you never know who is considering studying abroad. You could help connect them with a professional in their desired country through CREA’s Global Affiliates program.

The program provides an excellent starting point for making connections and sharing expertise with real estate professionals abroad.

REALTOR® Christine Zhu, a sales representative with Living Realty in Toronto, says having access to the local knowledge of a Canadian REALTOR® can be invaluable to foreign agents.

Sharon von Schoenberg, our Product Manager – Global Services contributes to and implements CREA’s international strategy to increase global opportunities for REALTOR® members. Her initiatives include the Global Affiliate Program, building relationships with international associations and trade-related organizations, developing educational opportunities for members and increasing the relevancy of REALTOR.ca for global visitors. Prior to joining CREA Sharon was a Canadian residential appraiser and held marketing and client management positions in the private and non-profit sector. Sharon holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Ottawa, is a certified association executive and a CIPS designee. As a mother of two teenagers, Sharon stays rooted by practicing yoga.


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