Housing In Vancouver Information Packet

Created for International Student Development. This packet corresponds with information that the International Peer Advisor, Rebecca Foley, International Student Advisor, Lisa Brunner, gave in a presentation March 5th and 7th 2014.

For advice, assistance, concerns, or problems visit the International Student Advisors at International House (1783 West Mall) for drop-in advising from 1-4pm every Monday through Friday.


  1. Neighborhoods
    1. Average Rents
    2. Terminology
    3. Where to look
    4. Things to Consider
      1. Types of Housing
      2. Miscellaneous
      3. What to look for when inspecting a house

1. Neighbourhoods of Vancouver

         While there are many neighbourhoods in what is considered the City of Vancouver.  This packet focuses primarily on neighbourhoods in the West side near UBC, Downtown, and Eastside.

On Campus Year Round Housing:

  • Apply through UBC Housing
  • Marine Drive- Building 1-4 & 6
    • Large Studio ($1,030/mo), Studio ($950/mo), 2-Bedroom ($950/mo each)
    • 3- or 4- bedroom ($800/mo each)
    • Ponderosa
      • Studio ($1,050/mo), 2-bedroom ($1,050/mo each), 4-bedroom ($800/mo each)
      • Fraser Hall
        • One Bedroom ($1,130/mo), 6-Bedroom ($721/mo each)
        • Thunderbird
          • Studio ($870-940/mo), One Bedroom ($1,040-1,070/mo),
          • 2-Bedroom ($740/mo each), 4-bedroom ($680/mo each)

Pros– On Campus, Summer & Winter Living, do not need to reapply each year

Cons– Cannot sublet most residences if you are not here for summer

University Village

  • Apartments and townhomes, some basement suites available
  • Walking/Biking distance to campus
  • Near dollar store, grocery store and food court

Approximate rent:


  • 1 bedroom: $1450-1650/mo
  • 2 bedroom: $1900-2350/mo

Toronto Road townhomes:

  • 5 bedroom: $604/mo each

Pros- On campus- biking or walking distance, close to restaurants and food

Cons- Cheaper rent means a significant decline in quality of housing, more expensive in general, no large grocery stores

Wesbrook Village

  • Primarily High-rise apartments
  • Biking/Walking distance to campus
  • Also accessible by the 33, 41, C18, 25, 480
  • Save-On Foods, BCL, restaurants and Pacific Spirit Park

Average rent:


  • 1 bedroom: approx. $1,650/mo
  • 2 bedroom: approx. $2,150/mo
  • 3 bedroom: approx. $2,600/mo

Pros- Near campus- biking and walking distance and amenities- Save On Foods

Cons– More expensive, less student presence, further from bus access to downtown

West Point Grey

  • Primarily Basement suites


  • 5-10 minutes from campus by bus (14, 4, 84, 44 and 99)
  • 15-20 minutes by bike
  • Safeway at 10th and Sasamat
  • Restaurants along West 10th
  • Buses run frequently and late
  • 40 minutes to downtown by bus
  • Near Spanish Banks Beach


  • Limited options for large groups
  • Can be more expensive due to location
  • Often unfurnished basement suites


  • Apartments, houses, and basement suites


  • 15-20 minutes by bus to campus (14, 4, 84, 44, 9, 99)
  • No Frills at 4th & Alma, Safeway at Broadway & Macdonald
  • Restaurants and store along West 4th and Broadway
  • Buses run frequently
  • 20-30 minutes to downtown by bus
  • Near to beaches (Jericho & Kits)
  • Beautiful views


  • Can be more expensive or smaller due to location
  • Buses fill quickly during morning commute

Dunbar Southlands

  • Basement suites, houses, apartments


  • 10-15 minutes by bus (25, 41, 49, 7 & 99)
  • More options for large groups
  • Relatively less expensive
  • Near Pacific Spirit Regional Park
  • Grocery stores along Dunbar
  • Stores and restaurants along Dunbar Street


  • 45-60 minutes to downtown
  • Buses are less frequent late at night

Arbutus Ridge & Kerrisdale

  • Single Family Homes and apartments


  • More options for larger groups
  • Relatively less expensive
  • 15-30 minutes by bus (25, 33, 41, 49)
  • 20-30 mins to downtown (16)
  • Safeway near Arbutus & King Edward


  • Buses are less frequent, especially at night
  • Can be a longer commute from Kerrisdale
  • Older neighborhood: more families and older people

West End & Downtown

  • High rise and apartments


  • Near beaches and harbour
  • Center of nightlife and culture
  • Stores, restaurants, parks, attractions, festivals and events


  • 35-45 minutes by bus to campus (14, 4, 7&99, 44, Skytrain & 99 or 84)
  • Most expensive area
  • Small Apartments and living spaces

East Vancouver

  • Basements and Low-rise apartments


  • Unique neighborhoods (Chinatown, Main St, Commerical, Mount Pleasant)
  • Relatively less expensive
  • Varied options for housing style and living situation
  • 10-15 minutes to downtown
  • Close to Millennium-line and Expo-line Skytrain


  • 40-60 minutes by bus (99, 4, 14, 84)
  • Some unsafe areas: East Hastings

Vancouver Suburbs


  • Less expensive rent
  • North & West Vancouver near Mountains


  • Long commutes 60-90 minutes by Car or Skytrain & bus

a.  Average Rents


2.  Terminology


Appl. Appliances (stove, refrigerator and dishwasher)
Apt. Apartment
Bdrm. or br. Bedroom
Bsmt. Basement suite (self-contained suite below the main floor of the building)
Cable Extra channels for your television (sometimes included in cost of rent)
F. Prefer female occupant
F&S Fridge and stove only, no other appliances
Hydro Electricity
Hot plate Heating element for cooking, but no stove or oven
Gas Natural gas (heating)
Incl. util. Price includes cost of utilities (heat, hot water)
M. Prefer male occupant
N/D Non-drinkers (of alcohol) only
N/P No pets allowed
N/S Non-smokers only
Prkg. Parking available
Pvt. Ent. Private entrance
R&B or RB Room and board (cooked meals are included in cost)
Refs. References required
Ste. Suite (self-contained set of rooms)
W/D Washer and dryer
W/W Wall-to-wall carpeting

3. Where to look

AMS Rentsline – Run by the AMS but the ads are not monitors

Province and Vancouver Sun classifieds – listings for both newspapers are available online as well as in print, and you could also check the classifieds in the Georgia Straight and the Vancouver Courier

Craigslist – this is popular website for housing and other classifieds

Rent BC – An easy to use site for rental housing search areas in BC.

http://www.chmc.ca/– A new comprehensive rental guide, developed by Canada Mortgage & Housing and rental guide.

Home for Students – This site is a national service, free to students, to provide cheap off-campus housing. It is divided up into provinces, and then sub-categorized by city.

www.padmapper.com– You can use this website to filter rental postings and it shows postings on an easy to use map.

www.eslrent.com– Furnished apartments and shared apartments for rent to international students in downtown Vancouver.

http://www.apartmentguide.ca– A comprehensive guide to Vancouver’s rental apartments.

Apartments Canada – Internet apartment guide for Canada.

Rental services – often advertised in the rental listing sections of newspapers, these services provide you with a list of vacancies that meet your criteria. They can be helpful and quick, but you’ll have to pay a fee.

www.rentseeker.ca-A website which includes rental opportunities specific to students

www.rentgeek.com-A website which includes information about the property and the neighborhood

4. Things to Consider


  • Is the place walking distance to regular transit?
  • Do you have to transfer to get to campus?
  • How frequent and busy are the buses?
  • Are you okay with commuting longer distances for cheaper rent


  • Are your neighbors noisy? (i.e. are they students, young family, young professionals? Etc.)
  • Are you able to make noise at your locations? (who lives around you that would complain, do you like to have people over? Etc.


  • Every place looks good in the sunshine, try and see the places on a rainy, cold day or picture it in the rain.

Proximity to grocery stores and restaurants

  • Do you frequently eat out?
  • Are you planning on making your meals or eating on campus?
  • Do you have access to a car or transit to get to the grocery store

Neighborhood dynamic

Who lives around you? (other renters? Homeowners? Young families? Older families? Students?)

  • Is the neighborhood surrounded by transit or is it largely car based
  • Is the neighborhood safe? Would you feel comfortable walking the streets at night?


  • Is it included in utilities?
  • In case of a basement suite or split house: who controls the thermostat?

Internet and cable

  • Is it included in the cost?
  • Does it matter to you what kind of internet you have?

In-suite or in-building Laundry

  • Is there a washing machine?
  • If not, is there a Laundromat nearby?
  • Are you okay with taking your laundry out to get washed?

Furnished or Unfurnished

  • Be sure to budget for furnishings!
  • Do you have a car to transport furniture?


  • Will you be gone for the summer or other parts of the year
  • Can you afford not to sublet if not?

Considerations for each style of Housing:

Basement Suite-

Also known as Basement Suite, Garden Suite, Ground Level Suite

Noise from above

  • Who lives there? Children, elderly couple, other students


  • Check for heating and who controls the thermostat


  • Generally have small or few windows
  • Make sure you are okay living in a darker place

Ceiling height


  • Low-rise or high rise
  • Noise from above or below
    • Restrictions on noise
    • Complaint center or ways to address the issue?
    • Age of apartment: mold, earthquake safety etc.
    • Environment of building
      • Majority students, young people, old people?


Because of cost houses are often split

  • Who are you sharing with: landlord, students, etc.
  • Yard
    • Who is responsible for yard-work?
  • Parking
  • Laneway House:
    • A small house with access from the laneway. On the same property as the main house but a separate self standing house.

Leasing a place vs. Renting a Room

5. What to look for when inspecting

  • Do the appliances work? Check inside the fridge and turn on the stove.
  • How loud is traffic noise when the windows are open?
  • Are there locks on all doors?
  • Do the shower and taps work? Turn each one on.
  • Do the walls require new paint? If so, ask the landlord to paint before you move in.
  • Is the carpet clean? Ask the landlord if the carpet will be cleaned before you move in.
  • What does the rent include?
  • Will you have to pay extra for heat, electricity, cable, laundry facilities, storage, or parking?
  • Is smoking allowed?
  • Is the place pet-friendly?
  • Can you paint the walls?
  • Are you allowed to hang things on the walls?
  • Water damage (yellow stains on the walls and ceiling), mouse droppings, and cockroaches are very bad signs. Avoid renting suites that have these problems. Be sure to alert your landlord to these issues if they come up after you have moved in.
  1. 6.   Important!

Signs of potential scams – be cautious:

  • Payment by wire service (e.g. Western Union or Money Gram)
  • Payment by cashier’s check
  • Landlord traveling or living outside Canada – unable to meet in person but wants money upfront
  • Price is very low – deal seems “too good to be true”

Also consider:

  • Rooms in houses – Safe? Does bedroom door have a lock?
  • Meeting strangers online – go with a friend!
  • Trust your intuition
  • When in doubt, say: “I need some time to think about it. Can I get back to you?”

 For help or advice, email the IPA at rebecca.foley@ubc.ca. OR follow us on Facebook!