Need to find a place to live in Vancouver?


Housing--When I was considering moving to Vancouver, I emailed some students for information on housing, and this page began as a compilation of what they sent me. Thanks to Steven, Jim and Angela for their accurate advice.

First, here is a quick and dirty list of sites to visit in your search for Vancouver rental housing. Much more detailed info on Vancouver's neighbourhoods below.

  • UBC Alma Mater Society, Rentsline.
  • UBC on-campus housing info can be found here
  • UBC Housing's off-campus tips and sources
  • SFU Off-Campus Student Housing
  • The Vancouver edition of Craig's List.
  • There are other sites out there, but most of them are commercial pages that demand a login of some kind before letting you see any useful info. Some include Rentalguru.ca, among others. I can't comment on the usefulness of these, but if you have any experience, then let me know.

    And for Post-Docs, visiting faculty, etc:
  • UBC Faculty Association House Listings
  • Sabbatical Homes search for UBC Vancouver
  • Sabbatix search for Vancouver

    The cost of living in Vancouver isn't that out-of-control, as long as you don't attempt to buy property. Food and other expenses are comparable to those across Canada. Unlike many other Canadian universities, there is no student housing ghetto in the immediate district; UBC is primarily a commuter campus, though in recent times that has been changing. The university administration has been involved with developing several parcels of the campus into market housing. This has done little to change the fact that UBC is located in a wonderfully tranquil and picturesque location, and that it suffers the disadvantages of such splendid isolation. Most students live off-campus, commuting in a half hour or so by bike or bus.

    Rents off-campus can vary tremendously. Decent basement suites, Bachelor and one-bedroom appartments within a half hour bus ride run from $600 to $1000 a month; larger apartments only get more expensive. Such places, despite comparable prices, vary considerably in quality. Be sure to visit potential sites in person and be prepared to shop around (do not underestimate the length of time you will need for this).

    The closest and prime neighbourhoods to search in are Point Grey, Kitsilano, Dunbar, Kerrisdale, Fairview Slopes, VGH (Vancouver General Hospital)/City Hall area (listed as South Cambie on the map above), and the West End (downtown). The first three border the University Endowment Lands. Many UBC students also live in peripheral, less expensive neighbourhoods still within Vancouver - Strathcona, Commercial Drive (Grandview Woodland) and Marpole. Being further away, rent is less in these areas. All the neighbourhoods mentioned are within a reasonable commute. The west side of Vancouver, where UBC is situated, is the 'better' part of town in general, so the apartment costs are higher. Prices decrease on the east side of Main Street, which basically divides Vancouver to West and East.

    Looking for Simon Fraser University instead? By popular request, here are some links that will describe neighbourhoods closer to SFU in Burnaby. These neighbourhoods include UniverCity, Capitol Hill, North Burnaby, and Westridge.

    If you are a smoker or have a dog or cat you may have more problems finding a place that is friendly to your lifestyle (you deviant!). Unlike some other provinces, in B.C. it is ok for landlords to refuse pets. So, in addition to the newspaper, veterinary clinics often have a list of appartments which will accept pets in their vicinity. The chain of pet food stores, Bosley's, also compiles such a list (they have many locations--the one closest to the school is at Dunbar, and can be reached by phoning (604) 266-2667). I also see that one of the recent developments on UBC's campus is advertising itself as being pet friendly, and it is Greenwood Commons. Unfortunately it is very expensive.

    I strongly suggest that you come out in June or July to secure off-campus accommodation for September. Searching in August is horrific, albeit not impossible. Don't be discouraged; the fact remains that every year, thousands of students, many of them of the "starving" sort, do find accommodation and live, work and study here quite comfortably.

    Some advice on house-hunting. Obviously you will need a temporary place to stay, while looking for a place to live. I recommend staying in a private home while you look. This way you can save money (no hotel), and you can ask your host questions about the city. Here are a few sites that you can use to find that temporary lodging:

  • 9flats.com search for Vancouver. This company bought out the former Canadian-based site, istopover.com. Because of this change, I don't know how much they charge for connecting you with a Vancouver homeowner.
  • AirBnB.com, but you will have to do your own location search. This one is American-based, and they will charge you a premium of between 6 and 12%, to connect you with a Vancouver host.
  • Another two options are Roomorama and Travelmob.
  • For a while, Crashpadder.com had the least expensive fee schedule, but this UK-based company has just been bought by AirBnb. This is too bad, since AirBnB is more expensive and their site isn't as nice to use.

    A final note--I am not a landlord. This page is for your information only, so do not email me to ask if I have a place to rent out (I don't). Likewise, do not email me asking if I will find a place for you to live before you arrive in the city (I won't). I only include my email address below so you can correct any errors that you see on this page, and to accept your suggestions on how to make it more helpful. Please do send me a note if you found this page useful--I know that many people access this page but I am not sure it if contained the info that they were looking for. If you really found it useful, then please consider clicking on one of the sponsored adverts, or the search-bar below, as the money generated is what is keeping this page up-to-date and in existence.

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    Last modified on October 9, 2015, David Brownstein - dw861@ncf.ca