LIVING in edmonton

International students have been coming to MacEwan University for many years, and they’ve taught us that living and studying so far from home can be a challenge. We know it may take some time to adjust to your new city, but we’re here to help.

Services and resources

Use this information to prepare for your stay in Edmonton and settle in to your new community after you arrive. If you have questions or need help, we are happy to lend a hand.

Housing and utilities

It’s important to know where you are going to live in Edmonton before you arrive. The three most common options are MacEwan University student residence, homestay arrangements and renting an apartment or house with other students or friends.

MacEwan Residence

Live on campus in the heart of downtown Edmonton just steps away from the library, your classes, study spaces and the fitness centre.

Choose from furnished bachelor, two-bedroom and four-bedroom suites. Electricity, heat, water and Wi-Fi are included in your residence fees. As an international student, you can apply to live in residence as soon as you have been offered admission to the university.

MacEwan Residence


International students who want to live with a Canadian family can do so through a homestay arrangement. If you choose this option, you are responsible for finding your own homestay family. MacEwan University partners with Canada Homestay Network, a national homestay company. Contact them for information on rates and services.

Canada Homestay Network

Off-campus rentals

You may prefer to live off campus in an apartment or house by yourself or with friends. Information on rental properties can be found in local newspapers or online on sites such as Kijiji or RentFaster.

You may be asked to sign a legal contract binding you to certain conditions and payments. You will need to provide a security deposit (sometimes called a damage deposit) when you agree to move into the property. NEVER send money or sign a lease before you see the apartment or house.


If you live in residence you don’t have to worry about a monthly utility bill—electricity, heat, water and Wi-Fi are included in your residence fees.

If you rent off campus, you may need to organize utility services for your new home. Check your rental agreement or lease to confirm the services that are included in your monthly rent.

There are a number of cell phone plan providers available in Edmonton. You can check out various plans at a local shopping mall and find the one that suits you best. To make your decision, consider how you will be keeping in touch with friends and family back home.

Health & safety

Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan

If you study in Alberta for at least 12 months, you are eligible to apply for the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP). This insurance is free, but you need to apply within one week of moving here. Alberta Health Care covers the cost of your visits to doctors, hospitals and other basic health care needs.


Short-term studies and insurance

International students who will study for less than 12 months are not eligible for Alberta Health Care Insurance. We strongly encourage you to purchase private insurance to cover medical needs during your time in Canada. is recommended for short-term international students who are already in Canada.


SAMU health and dental benefits

The Extended Health and Dental Plan provided by the Students’ Association of MacEwan University (SAMU) covers many health care needs that are not paid for by Alberta Health Care, such as the cost of prescription medicine, dental work and physical therapy.

Not all students are covered. If you see the Health Insurance Fee and Dental Insurance Fee included on your Term Enrollment and Account Summary, you are automatically enrolled in the plan. Confirm your eligibility and review your plan details on the myStudentPlan website.

SAMU Coverage & Benefits

MacEwan University Health Centre

The MacEwan University Health Centre at City Centre Campus is open to all students. You can book an appointment with a doctor.

MacEwan University Health Centre

Alberta Health Services

Alberta Health Services can connect you with doctors in different parts of Edmonton and offers a Health Link telephone line if you would like to ask a nurse a question from home. You should go to a medical clinic for minor illnesses and non-urgent medical care.

Alberta Health Services


The Royal Alexandra Hospital is the nearest hospital to MacEwan University. There are several other hospitals around Edmonton. Call 911 if you have an emergency.

Location iconView Map

There are several options for pharmacies within walking distance of City Centre Campus.

  • Central Point Pharmacy | 0.9 km (13 min walk) | Location iconView Map
  • London Drugs | 0.9 km (13 min walk) | Location iconView Map
  • Shoppers Drug Mart | 1.1 km (15 min walk) | Location iconView Map
  • Call 911 for emergencies where life and safety are in immediate danger (ambulance, fire and police).
  • Call 377 or (780) 423-4567 for a non-emergency police line.
  • Call 211 if you are in mental distress or have questions about getting food, shelter, clothing or financial support.

If your passport is lost, damaged or stolen after you arrive, please report this to the nearest Edmonton Police Station and contact your Embassy or Consulate.

Safety and Security

Your safety is very important to MacEwan University. Security officers patrol campus all day and night, seven days a week. The officers can also help you if you’ve lost something on campus or even if you are not feeling well. Call Safety and Security if you need assistance.

Safe at MacEwan

Safe Walk

Safe Walk volunteers can walk with you to Residence, your car, a bus stop or the LRT train station if you are going home after a late class.

Safe Walk

Phone scams targeting international students and permit holders in Canada are increasing. These include fraudulent calls, texts and emails from people impersonating:

  • The Canada Revenue Agency (tax)
  • The police
  • Potential employers
  • CBSA/Immigration
  • Other Canadian government agents

These scammers often ask for information such as:

  • Social insurance number (SIN)
  • Bank account information (e.g., account numbers)
  • Credit card information and numbers
  • Other personal and private information

They will often ask for payment in:

  • Bitcoin (i.e., depositing cash into a Bitcoin ATM)
  • Gift cards (e.g., Amazon)
  • E-transfers

In Canada, official agencies will never notify you of a potential arrest or request money from you via phone call, text or email. They should also not request sensitive information such as your SIN or credit card information.

Do not click through links on any email or text whose source you do not trust or can’t verify.

Visit the Government of Canada’s Anti-Fraud Centre to learn how to protect yourself from scams and fraud.

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

Money, banking & jobs

The unit of currency in Canada is the Canadian dollar ($). Credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express and debit cards (bank cards) are widely accepted.

Shortly after arriving in Edmonton, you should open a bank account. A representative from the bank you choose will describe available services and help you choose the account that best meets your needs. 

Alberta Banks

  • ATB Financial
  • Bank of Montreal
  • CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce)
  • RBC Royal Bank
  • Scotiabank
  • TD Canada Trust

In Alberta, the 5% national Goods and Services Tax (GST) is added to the displayed cost of most goods. In provinces other than Alberta, a Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) or a Provincial Sales Tax (PST) may be added.

At MacEwan University, our international specialists can answer your questions about financial matters and make sure you are aware of the various forms of assistance available to you.

Contact us

Financial resources

Going to university in a different country requires a significant investment. International students on a study permit are expected to have sufficient and available financial resources, without working in Canada, to pay for the tuition fees and living expenses as per IRPR 220.

The cost of living in Edmonton may be different than the cost of living in your home country, so it’s important to prepare sufficient funds to cover expenses during your studies.

Scholarships, awards and bursaries

If you are a current international student, you may be eligible for a number of MacEwan University scholarships, bursaries and awards. Scholarships are also available for new and returning international students in 4-year degree programs. You should not apply if the requirements say that you must be a “Canadian citizen or permanent resident” or “resident of Alberta.”


Government of Canada scholarships

The Government of Canada offers scholarships to international students who want to study in Canada.


If you plan on working while you are attending classes, you might want to find a position early in the term, before your workload gets too heavy.

To apply for a job, you need an up-to-date, relevant and professional-looking resumé and a cover letter that will impress your potential employer. Before you attend a job interview, spend some time thinking about the abilities, expertise and personal qualities you have that will benefit your employer. Then practice talking about these competencies before the interview takes place.

MacEwan’s Careers and Experience staff can help you find a job and prepare for an interview. They provide a range of useful services, including personalized coaching sessions, resumé and cover letter assistance, career workshops and self-paced online career programs.

Careers & Experience

Volunteering is a great way to build networks and gain job-related experience. Volunteer experiences are unpaid, but sometimes they can be considered work under Canada’s Immigration Regulations. You may require a work permit or an authorization to work on your study permit for some volunteer activities.

Be sure to review IRCC requirements related to volunteering as an international student before you accept a volunteer position.

Learn more about volunteering as an international student in Canada on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website.

IRCC // Volunteer work conducted by foreign students

If you are having trouble determining if the opportunity you have will be considered work or volunteering, book an appointment with an international student specialist at MacEwan International.

Income taxes are a portion of your income paid to the government or deducted from your pay to help provide government services such as education and policing. The amount of tax you owe is based on your income and on the deductions, tax credits and expenses you claim.

If you work while you go to university, you are required to complete income tax forms and submit them to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). In Canada, we call this process “filing a return.” If you have no income to report or were not specifically asked by the Canada Revenue Agency to file a tax return, you are not required to complete tax forms, but you may be eligible for certain benefits or credits.

We recommend that all international students file a tax return each year, even if you do not work.

Tax receipts

Your employer will provide official receipts for any income you earn.

The T2202 is the official certificate issued by MacEwan University for tuition and education tax credits that may be claimed on the income tax return. Download your T2202 each year using myStudentSystem.

Tax receipts

File an income tax return

Tax returns are filed either online or by completing and mailing a paper-based return. In your first and last year in Canada, you will not be able to complete a tax return online. You will have to complete a paper-based tax return and send it to the Canada Revenue Agency.

Learn more about the income tax return process from the Canada Revenue Agency. Information changes annually and you should check for notices and announcements each time you file a return.


Financial Literacy

Create a budget and manage your finances carefully to set yourself up for success during your studies and beyond.

Financial Literacy

Getting around

MacEwan International staff and volunteers can give you a tour of campus and help you find where you want to go: your classrooms, the library, the gym, quiet study rooms, coffee shops and food venues. You will learn more about campus at the orientation for new international students.

Maps & Parking

Public transit

The Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) connects MacEwan University with all areas of the city. You can use the ETS trip planner to find your way around by bus or train. As well, ETS recommends a few real-time apps that let you know exactly when your bus will arrive.

Call 311 if you have questions about bus/LRT schedules or routes.


Car service

Taxis or Ubers are available for short one-way trips. Uber is a ride-sharing service that is an alternative to public transit.

If you prefer to drive yourself and you have a valid license to drive in Canada, try Communauto. Communauto is a car-share transportation option that allows you to borrow a car for short trips.

Other options

Walking and biking are always an option. In the summer and fall, e-bike and e-scooter rentals are available on many downtown street corners. There is a bike grid in the downtown Edmonton area.

Bike routes & maps

Cycling rules and information

There are several options for groceries and other essential items within walking distance of campus.

  • Safeway | 500 m (6 min walk) | Location iconView Map
  • Save-On-Foods | 650 m (8 min walk) | Location iconView Map
  • Loblaws City Market | 1.3 km (16 min walk) | Location iconView Map

Participate in SAMU’s Breakfast Club to enjoy a healthy breakfast with other students.

If you find yourself in a situation where you don't have enough food, you can sign up for support from a Food Bank.

Places to eat

City Centre Campus is surrounded by restaurants, cafés, bars and bakeries. On campus, you can meet friends for coffee or a meal, stop by the pub or pick up snacks at the convenience store. You can buy fresh, healthy food all across campus.


If you dine in a restaurant, a 15% tip is considered standard. Dining establishments may automatically include the tip in the cost of the meal for large groups.

Liquor laws

The legal age for the consumption of alcoholic beverages in Alberta is 18. It is unlawful to consume liquor in a public place or any place other than a residence or licensed premises.

We are located in the heart of downtown Edmonton’s arts, culture and music scene. Skate at the downtown community arena, take in the exhibits at the Royal Alberta Museum, walk or bike to the river valley trails. Your new neighbourhood has it all.

  • Rogers Place | 1.5 km (20 min walk) | Location iconView Map
  • City Downtown Farmers Market (GWG Building) | 1.7 km (23 min walk) | Location iconView Map
  • Royal Alberta Museum | 1.6 km (21 min walk) | Location iconView Map
  • River valley trails | 1.7 km (22 min walk) | Location iconView Map
  • Legislature grounds | 1.8 km (22 min walk) | Location iconView Map
  • High Level Bridge | 1.9 km (24 min walk) | Location iconView Map
New home. New adventures.
When it’s time to take a break from studying and homework, you can explore Edmonton’s unique neighbourhoods and stunning river valley. Festivals and markets, outdoor stages and indoor galleries—come out and enjoy our vibrant city!
Female student playing in the snow Explore Edmonton

Canadian manners and etiquette

Going to school in a new country is exciting, but learning new customs and social expectations in a new culture can be challenging. When you understand Canadian manners and etiquette, you can make the transition into your new community more easily.


We’re here to help
Talk to an international student specialist online or in-person. Visit the MacEwan International office, book an appointment or attend an online drop-in session.