For many newcomers, finding accommodation is one of the most important tasks you need to attend to once you arrive in Canada. Having secure and comfortable long-term accommodation gives you a base to settle as you begin your job search, navigate the school system, and find a home. Accommodation-related costs often take up a maximum portion of your monthly expenses. This is why it’s important in the beginning to adhere to your budget and control spending as you look for job opportunities and a more permanent home.
For people who choose to settle in British Columbia (B.C.), here’s what you need to know about finding both short-term and long-term accommodation in Vancouver.
In this article:
- Types of short-term budget stay options
- How to find permanent, long-term accommodation while on a budget
- Tips to find budget accommodation
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When you first arrive in Canada, you’ll need somewhere to stay and get settled. If you’re not able to rely on the support of family or friends already living in Vancouver, that usually means finding suitable short-term accommodation. This is temporary accommodation for a period of a few weeks to a few months in length, where you don’t have to sign a formal lease to secure a place. Typically, short-term accommodation is cheaper than staying in a hotel. In Vancouver, there’s plenty of different kinds of short-term housing and accommodation available.
Here are some of the different types of accommodation you can expect to find:
1. Serviced apartment: A serviced apartment, also known as an “apartment hotel,” is like having your very own apartment. Often these apartments are available on a short-term basis (from one month onwards) in apartment buildings or are part of a hotel. The advantage of a serviced apartment is the costs are far cheaper than staying in a comparable hotel suite. Different options are available – from one to three bedrooms – and you will have everything you need such as a fully stocked kitchen, bedding and towels, as well as laundry facilities. Depending on the type of building your serviced apartment is in, you may also have access to amenities such as an indoor swimming pool and gym. Individual serviced apartment companies can be searched online, or through sites like Airbnb, Kayak, or Trivago.
2. Hostel: Most people think of hostels as only being for the youth, however, that’s no longer true. Hostelling International (HI) Canada operates 51 hostels coast-to-coast across Canada, including 16 hostels in B.C. – three of which are in Vancouver. You can be any age and take advantage of staying in a hostel. You’ll often find private rooms or four-person rooms available, which are ideal if you’re travelling as a couple or a family. Not only are hostels significantly cheaper than staying in a hotel, they’re often located in downtown areas and you’ll have access to a kitchen and living area. Best of all is the opportunity to meet new people from other countries!
3. Shared accommodation: Long-term shared accommodation is another option. This is a great step for giving yourself some stability and sharing an apartment or house with others while finding a place of your own. You should expect to have your own bedroom and share other living areas with the kitchen, living room and bathroom, with other tenants. Advertisements for shared accommodation can be found through classified online ads or through sites like Roomies.
4. University residence: Another great option for settlers arriving in Canada in the spring and summer months is university and college residence. Generally from May to mid-August when university terms are over, student residences are empty. Rooms are then booked to summer students, travellers, or other visitors through the university’s student residence or housing departments. Accommodation is often clean and modern, and two or three bedroom suites with a kitchen and bathroom is available. Rooms are usually available at a weekly or monthly rate and most residences have 24-hour security available. You’ll need to contact colleges and universities in B.C. directly to inquire or make a booking.
|Get more information on how to rent without a credit history in Canada
See How to rent an apartment with no credit history or job letter in Canada for tips on how to showcase your reliability as a tenant and where to focus your search.
With beaches, mountains, and forest trails right at its doorstep, Vancouver is a popular city for newcomers to Canada. As well as being one of Canada’s most ethnically diverse communities, it also ranks as one of the most liveable cities in the world. Compared to other cities in Canada, rent in Vancouver is pricier. Currently, the average rent in Vancouver for a one-bedroom apartment is approximately $1940 CAD.
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Here are some of the most affordable neighbourhoods for long-term accommodation in Vancouver:
- Location: Situated south of the downtown core, on Vancouver’s south slope of the Fraser River.
- Community: Ethnically diverse residential neighbourhood, with a large Indian and Chinese community, and plenty of green spaces.
- Housing landscape: Predominantly duplexes, as well as small apartment buildings and single-family homes.
- Average rent: Approximately $1,623 CAD for a one-bedroom apartment.
- Prominent stay options in the area: Cassandra Hotel and the 2400 Motel.
- Location: Situated in Vancouver’s West Side, along the south shore of English Bay.
- Community: Once a well-known hippy hangout, it’s popular with young families and students. The neighbourhood is right on the ocean and is filled with restaurants, cafes, and independent stores.
- Housing landscape: A mix of townhomes, single-family houses, apartments, and modern condos.
- Average rent: Approximately $1,775 CAD for a one-bedroom apartment.
- Prominent stay options in the area: Holiday Inn & Suites Vancouver Downtown and Best Westrn Premier Chateau Granville Hotel & Suites.
- Location: South of downtown Vancouver, close to Victoria-Fraserview.
- Community: Known as the Indo-Canadian hub of Vancouver, it has an ethnically diverse community, vibrant shopping area and restaurants.
- Housing landscape: The neighbourhood primarily consists of single-family homes, as well as duplexes and small apartment buildings.
- Average rent: Approximately $1,275 CAD for a one-bedroom apartment.
- Prominent stay options in the area: Coast Vancouver Airport Hotel and Windsor Guest House.
4. Lynnmour South
- Location: Situated in the District of North Vancouver, northeast of the downtown core.
- Community: The area offers an abundance of outdoor activities, and is home to Capilano University.
- Housing landscape: The neighbourhood consists of new townhomes, as well as condominiums and single-family houses.
- Average rent: Approximately $1,638 CAD for a one-bedroom apartment.
- Prominent stay options in the area: Holiday Inn & Suites North Vancouver and the Lonsdale Quay Hotel.
- Location: Situated on the west side of Vancouver.
- Community: Home to Granville Island and the South Granville shopping district. The neighbourhood has an eclectic vibe with cafes, restaurants and upscale stores.
- Housing landscape: A mix of single-family homes, apartments, townhomes, and newer condominium buildings.
- Average rent: Approximately $1,750 CAD for a one-bedroom apartment.
- Prominent stay options in the area: Park Inn & Suites by Radisson Vancouver and the Holiday Inn Vancouver-Centre.
Now that you’ve got some idea of which neighbourhood you’d like to live in when you first settle in Vancouver, you’ll need to start finding the right long-term accommodation for you and perhaps your family. Here is where and how to look:
There’s a wide selection of online sites designed to help you find long-term accommodation in Vancouver. Here are some of the most popular ones you can use in your search:
- Airbnb: When it comes to finding long-term accommodation, Airbnb has plenty of options available. You can search in the exact neighbourhood you’d like to live, adjust the length of your stay, number of guests including children, even select accommodation that allows pets. You’ve also got access to photos, a list of amenities included and reviews of the property and host to help you make your decision.
- PadMapper: Padmapper is an online search engine designed to make apartment hunting easier. You can use the search tools to select the range of rent you’re willing to pay, number of bedrooms, and if you’re looking for short-term or long-term accommodation. It also has a map feature where you can broaden or narrow your search.
- Kijiji: Kijiji is an online advertising service that Canadians can use to post a classified ad and buy, sell or trade just about anything – from cars to jobs to accommodation. Anyone offering long-term accommodation can post an ad privately. The site includes information on utilities, as well as how long an ad has been listed for. As well as being the most popular online classified site in Canada, it’s also a great resource for researching the rental market and discovering what’s currently available. Sadly, scams happen to people when they rent through a classified online ad. To protect yourself, do not make any payments before you or someone else has inspected the property. Alternatively, they may try to organize a transaction that isn’t face-to-face. Kijiji has put together some helpful guidelines when it comes to avoiding rental scams and how you can protect yourself during COVID-19.
- Craigslist: Craigslist is a similar site to Kijiji and runs classified ads for housing in various cities in Canada. You can use their site to look for temporary accommodation in Vancouver, or post your own wanted ad stating what you’re ideally searching for. Like Kijiji, if you’re searching for accommodation online through Craigslist, protect yourself from potential scams by seeing a property before committing to rent it and using a secure cashless payment method.
Word of mouth
If you already have family, friends of work colleagues in Vancouver, then these people are a great resource for finding long-term accommodation. Let them know ahead of arriving in Canada that you’re looking for somewhere to stay and ask them to keep you in mind if they hear of anything. Make use of the network you already have in your new home to help you in your search!
Many cities and towns have organizations that serve newcomers to Canada. One of the ways they’re able to help settlers is in finding suitable accommodation. Look to see if there’s a service nearby and take advantage of confidential and free advice. A list of newcomer services in British Columbia is also available.
If you know you’ll be looking for an apartment or home to rent in the near future, it might be worth connecting with a realtor now. The benefit is a realtor will know about an upcoming rental before it hits the market and they earn their commission from the homeowner. As well as helping you find a home, a realtor may also know of long-term accommodation options, such as a short-term lease or sublet.
If there’s a neighbourhood in Vancouver you have your heart set on living in, then another way to find long-term accommodation is to take a walk around the neighbourhood. You may find notices for shared accommodation or an apartment coming up for rent in the local coffee shop or on a sign outside an apartment building.
Finding a place to live in Vancouver is one thing, finding long-term accommodation that fits your budget is another. Here are a few things to help you:
Perhaps you’ve found the perfect long-term accommodation in the right neighbourhood, but it’s outside of your budget. If it’s being rented by the month, ask if they can negotiate on the price for a longer-term stay or for paying in full upfront, if you plan to stay for one month or more. With the effect of COVID-19 on the rental market and decreasing rent prices in major cities in Canada, now is a good time to negotiate. While the answer may be no, there’s nothing lost by asking confidently and respectfully.
2. Search in the late fall or winter
The spring and summer months are popular times for moving in Canada. It’s when university is out or families want to settle prior to kids going back to school in September. Therefore, there’s more competition or you may find your options are more limited to more expensive accommodation. If you can, search later in the fall, during the winter or early spring when demand is low.
3. Consider other expenses
While housing is typically one of the largest expenses in a budget, when it comes to finding the right long-term accommodation in Vancouver, consider other expenses as well, such as public transportation. For example, a cheaper rental in the suburbs isn’t as cheap if you’re also paying additional transport costs to commute to your job. Factor in other monthly expenses too, including utilities like electricity and gas, which are usually not included in your rent, as well as other expenses such as home internet or parking costs.
Finding the right short- and long-term accommodation is an important first step in moving to another country. Maximize your success by researching the market ahead of time. That way, you’ll be in a better position to hit the ground running as you start your new life in Vancouver!