Housing in the Vancouver area can be a challenge to figure out, particularly for newcomers. So, it’s best to start researching housing options as early as possible. We’ve created this guide to provide you with useful accommodation options and rental tips to help you find a safe and comfortable place to live.
If you are not yet familiar with the region, orient yourself with our Navigating Metro Vancouver Guide.
BCIT Student Housing
BCIT Student Housing is a group living environment on our Burnaby Campus shared with other students from around Canada and the rest of the world. It is conveniently located near to a number of outdoor and indoor sports and recreation facilities, pleasant Guichon Creek, our campus library, and offers lovely views to the Coast Mountain Range in the distance.
Some off-campus sites of interest within walking distance (or a short bus ride) of BCIT Student Housing include:
Space is limited so apply for BCIT Student Housing early if this is your first choice!
GEC Living is another kind of student dormitory option with several locations around Vancouver and Burnaby. Although GEC is not affiliated with BCIT, they do sometimes offer exclusive deals for BCIT students and we have heard positive feedback from our students,
Doing a homestay can be a good option for several reasons:
- You can get to know a local family and learn more about local culture from them
- It is generally cheaper than renting an entire apartment
- The length of stay is often flexible, making it ideal for short-term stays or even just for your first months here while looking for a more permanent housing solution
- Your meals are often included, so you won’t need to spend a lot of time cooking or spend a lot of money on take-out or restaurant food
Each homestay is different though so it is important that you understand all of the house rules and read carefully through all of the information before signing any contract or agreement.
Please note that BCIT doesn’t offer custodianship for students. If you need assistance finding a custodian, consider approaching companies that provide such services for a fee. Most homestay companies will offer this service to international students.
The following companies offer local homestay options:
Subletting can be an affordable, short-term housing option. It is essentially an informal agreement to temporarily take over someone’s rented living space and to pay rent and sometimes utility bills on their behalf. You may or may not be asked to sign any agreement document, but beware that with no signed agreement to refer to you may have little legal protection if there were to be any kind of dispute. If you are considering this option, stick with people that you either know or who come recommended by someone you trust. Local friend and family networks are a good place to start.
Accommodations listed on vacation rental sites such as Airbnb and VRBO may expand your options, which can be helpful especially if you are struggling to find a long-term housing solution and are worried about having a place to stay when you arrive. These are generally intended for short-term bookings and tend to be more expensive than any of the above options. However, vacation rentals may allow you to book the exact dates of your choosing and some offer discounted weekly or monthly rates.
What to know before signing any lease
Lease is the commonly-used local term for a tenancy agreement. It is a legal document in Canada that an individual may sign with a landlord or property manager in order to rent a property. Once a lease is signed by both parties, a tenancy is begun and the leaseholder and any other occupants listed on the lease (i.e. family members, housemates, etc.) become tenants. In BC, tenants have certain rights as well as responsibilities as established by the Residential Tenancy Act.
Before signing any lease:
- Educate yourself on tenants rights and responsibilities by reviewing the Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre website along with their The Tenant Survival Guide and free, online Renting it Right courses.
- Read though the document carefully to and make sure that you fully understand the terms.
- Contact the landlord or property manager to book a time to inspect the property. Bring a friend or family member with you and make note of any damage (taking photos if necessary) and bring it to the landlord’s attention.
For any newcomers to Canada, we would advise NOT to attempt to sign a lease to rent your own place right away. Unfortunately there are scammers out there who try to steal people’s money, and newly arriving international students tend to be in a higher risk category. Even if you would prefer to rent your own place, we strongly encourage you to choose a reputable short-term accommodation option for at least your first few months to allow you time to familiarize yourself with the local area and to view any property before signing a lease.
Other off-campus housing
Once you have been living in the region for a while, you may consider looking to rent an accommodations off-campus on your own or with family or friends. Here are several places to begin your search:
- myBCIT Mobile App (housing discussion forum)
- Craigslist Vancouver – Housing
- Kijiji – For Rent (Greater Vancouver area)
This list is provided for informational purposes only. We do not endorse any of these particular companies outside of BCIT, nor do we take any responsibility for any interactions students may have with them.