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An international student’s guide to finding accommodation in Vancouver, British Columbia

Updated: May 14

If you’ve chosen Vancouver, British Columbia as the destination of your Canadian education, you’re in for a treat! Finding accommodation in Vancouver is a top priority.

Table of Contents

1.4. Homestay 

An international student’s guide  to finding accommodation in Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver is not only one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but also one of the most popular destinations for international students. Vancouver is the most populated city in the Canadian province of British Columbia, and it welcomes thousands of international students every year. Therefore, the city and the post-secondary institutions in it have progressively increased the number of accommodation options. 

Student housing options in Vancouver can be broken into 4 categories:

1. On-Campus Accommodation

On-campus accommodations in Vancouver typically take the form of student residence buildings at university campuses. Student residences generally have different names and host a considerable amount of students each – in particular first-year students. Most students who choose to live on-campus are motivated by the proximity to their classrooms and other university facilities, the on-campus community and opportunities to network with other students, and on-campus safety. However, on-campus accommodations can be quite pricey, for which many students prefer to live in other arrangements off-campus.

2. Off-Campus Accommodation

Off-campus accommodations in Vancouver encapsulate all housing options outside of university campuses. Given the variety of alternatives, finding off-campus housing can get a little overwhelming, for which it is advisable that you consider why you’d like to live off-campus. Many students choose to live off-campus because they’d like more privacy than what is possible to get in on-campus residences, others want to live with their friends (allowing them to cut the cost of rent), and others simply want to experience Vancouver a little more easily. Whatever your main motivation is to live off-campus, identifying it will narrow down your search, making it easier for you to find the right kind of accommodation for your purposes.

3. Apartment / House Rentals

Renting an apartment or house by yourself or with friends involves a rental lease agreement (also called a “tenancy agreement”) between you and the property’s landlord or building manager. Renting an apartment or house for the first time can be a little scary, as it requires the signing of a law-abiding contract. Hence, make sure you devote enough time to your search and find the best possible roommates to share this experience with. Renting a house or apartment with your friends is a great way to begin life in the city without feeling lonely or unsafe. Additionally, it’s a very cost-efficient solution to the high prices of a city like Vancouver.

4. Homestay

Home-stays are a little less popular than they used to be nowadays but equally good as an accommodation option. The way homestay works is that, as a student, your university or an external housing program assigns you to a local host family who will welcome you in their home and be your support system in Vancouver, helping you settle into life in the city. If you choose this option, you’ll want to find a nice and attentive family that is there to help you with your needs but also lets you create your own student experience in Vancouver, so make sure you research enough to find a family that has lots of positive reviews from other students. Homestays generally suit flexible people better – if you feel like your studies and overall experience benefit from your own established habits, chances are this isn’t the best option for you.

Tips to find good accommodation options in Vancouver:

  1. Explore listings online: one of the easiest ways to find good housing options is to browse through rental listings in webpages like Craigslist, Rentseeker, and Zumper.

  2. Walk around different neighborhoods: In Vancouver, several people still like to do things the old-fashioned way. If you enjoy walking and exploring different Vancouverite neighbourhoods just for fun, why not kill two birds with one stone and keep an eye out for flyers with listings? Several buildings still showcase flyers with listings posted to their front entrances. Especially before the summer hits, you’re likely to see some of these listings in neighbourhoods like Point Grey, Kitsilano, and South Granville.

  3. Check Social Media: Students now take on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to look for listings and posts announcing new rentals. In fact, there are several Facebook groups specific to people interested in finding new apartments and houses to rent in Vancouver – some of which are even restricted to students of particular universities like The University of British Columbia (UBC).

  4. Ask your friends: You’re never at a loss when asking the people you spend the most time with. If you’re looking for your first place or just a new one, ask everyone you know if they’ve heard of anyone who is looking to find someone to rent or sublet their apartment or house to Students.

There’s no way to sugar-code it (and it wouldn’t be fair to you): finding accommodation in any city is no easy task. However, this doesn’t mean it should become a daunting chore. Just make sure you identify what you want your housing experience to be like, and take it from there. Even though housing in Vancouver can be pretty expensive, there are definitely enough alternatives that will help you cut down costs. This way, you’ll be better able to enjoy what the city has to offer.

A Cautionary Note: The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal advice should be obtained, and the readers are asked to refer to the government website for the most updated information.

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