Navigating off-campus housing

Anyone who’s lived off campus can tell you just how hard it was to find their place. Whether it’s a beat up basement suite or a newly-built apartment, finding a home in Vancouver is one of the hardest things you’ll do during your university career. Here are a few basics to (hopefully) make your search a little easier.

Knowing what you want

The first step to finding a place is to know what you’re looking for. This includes the number of roommates you want, lease duration, price point and more. With these things in mind you can figure out how to go about finding your place. When you first start out looking for rental units, you’ll probably look for a place that fits all your requirements, but make sure to be flexible too. Create a list of what you are and aren’t willing to give up and a price range to make it easier.

Use rental websites

There are many websites that can be useful for finding a place, but depending on what you are looking for, some may work better than others. For example, Facebook Marketplace is a really useful tool to find a place, but it works better for those who are looking for 2-3 bedroom basement suites rather than a complete house. Craigslist is another great website that caters to people looking for bigger houses. If you’re looking for a condo or apartment, a website like PadMapper may be better. UBC has a website that provides a great list of nearby off-campus apartments to help.


Location is a very important topic to consider. Think about whether a 30-minute bus ride will discourage you from going to class everyday. While it may not seem that far now, a $100 more per month may seem worth it later. Vancouver has a lot of different neighbourhoods and it’s important to get to know them before finding a place. You can learn about them in our Metro Vancouver Guide.

Signing an agreement

The last step of renting a place is signing a lease, but it’s important to be cautious when doing so. Signing a lease comes with many conditions from the landlord which you’re going to want to specify. Some require background checks, references or more. It’s important to know these things so you can make sure this place lasts you the entire year. Do not be afraid to ask your landlord questions before signing the lease — things like their subletting policy, application/security fees and other rules are essential knowledge. While it may not change your opinion on the place, it’s still important to know.

Now that you’ve signed a lease, you can move in and start decorating your new pad! Just make sure to stick by the landlord’s rules so you get your security deposit back.