Probably not economical, on a month to month basis. It will probably cost you more each month to buy than to rent. Now, buying a place to live is often a good idea, but 3 years is a relatively short time, in real estate terms. The value of the place might go up in 3 years or it might not. No one has a reliable crystal ball for these matters. All you can do is check what rents are versus what it will cost you to buy and maintain a similar place. Don't forget that as a renter, what you pay is what you pay and that's the end of it. As an owner, you'll have to pay for any repairs, you'll have to pay conveyancing fees when you buy, you'll pay realtor's commissions when you sell. Between the last two, you'll pay thousands, probably equivalent to a year's worth of rent. Run all the numbers and see how it looks.
When I was a student at McGill a lot of out-of-towners did exactly what you've suggested. It was worthwhile back then because the market was so cheap, but buying on the island now is getting expensive (though still cheap for any major city). You can expect to pay around $300,000 for a two bedroom close to the universities. If you go further out, you can find two bedrooms for $150,000, but the quality of the location and the building are probably quite low, because 150k is unreasonably cheap.So, let's imagine that you get a two bedroom for $300,000, you put $50k down and you get a 25 year mortgage, you can expect to pay over $1600 a month, not including any fees, utilities, taxes, furniture and repairs and renovations. So, what can you find for 300k near the university? Something like this:_http://passerelle.centris.ca/Redirect2.aâ€¦or this_http://www.remax-quebec.com/en/inscriptiâ€¦But I think you have to ask yourself whether these places, as cute as they are, are worth paying almost $1000 a month per person. And whether you'll find a roommate who is willing to pay that. I think you could rent similar places for cheaper as most landlords bought when the market was better, so I personally wouldn't ever pay that much to rent a room, when I can rent my own nice, spacious one bedroom apartment for that amount, or share a room in the highly-coveted 900 sherbrooke west for less than that. If you want to live further out and pay maybe $200,000- 250,000 for a two bedroom, then you may find it economical, because the mortgage will be far less. In short, whether it is worthwhile will depend on what kind of apartment you find, where you are willing to live, in what conditions, what kind of mortgage you can get approved for, the amount of your down payment, what your rates will be and the tax and fees associated with the apartment (insurance, condo fees, municipal taxes). That said, if you do buy, now is a good time, because Montreal is in a boom and the housing is getting more expensive every year and your place will probably appreciate quite a bit in the three years you are here, unless something major happens.