Campus housing

Most first-years are guaranteed a spot in UBC’s residences. If that’s you, you’ve probably already applied, been assigned a residence and paid your deposit. Then — phew — you’ll just have to learn to live with a couple hundred of your new best friends.


First years are assigned to Place Vanier, Totem Park or Orchard Commons. Totem and Vanier have a reputation for a stronger sense of community due to more shared areas, while Orchard is more private. That said, meeting new people and making friends in residence is guaranteed no matter where you end up. One of the easiest ways to get to know your floormates is to leave your door open while you study in your room — you never know who might walk by.

If you end up in Orchard, you’ll only be sharing your bathroom with one other person maximum, while most of Vanier and Totem share one bathroom per floor.

Your residence advisor, or RA, is the first person you should go to for any issues or general advice. They’re an upper-year student working to make sure your floor can get along, so try to be friendly to them. Make sure to read your residence contract in your welcome package for all rules. One thing to keep an eye out for is your residence’s quiet hours — dorm walls are thin!

Your rent in any first-year residence includes a mandatory meal plan, called the All Access Dining Plan. That means at any of the three dining halls (Feast in Totem, Gather in Vanier, and Open Kitchen in Orchard), you can use your student card to enter as many times as you like during open hours and eat as much as you want. The plan also gives you a couple hundred “flex” dollars to spend at cafes and restaurants on campus in case you need a coffee after your 8 a.m. lecture.


For shared bathrooms: A shower caddy is a great way to carry all your toiletries with you and shower shoes (flip flops or slides) are an essential.

For snacking: A mini fridge is great for keeping fruit or milk for your morning cereal. You’re also allowed to bring a coffee machine, a kettle, a rice cooker or a toaster — but space is limited so only bring what you really need.

For your desk: You’re probably moving into a smaller space than you’ve lived in before, so organization is all the more important. Find a system that works for you — don’t be afraid to do a Staples or Muji run to get new cabinet dividers.

Other survival supplies: A small fan is a must with no AC, and an ethernet cable or router, depending on your residence is good to have so your ubcsecure connection doesn’t fail while you’re gaming.


Only first-year students are guaranteed housing at UBC. This means that from your second year onwards, you might not get on-campus housing even if you want it because demand for dorms greatly exceeds supply. While first-years excusively live in winter session housing, upper years mostly live in year-round housing, which offers renewable 12-month contracts.

Apply for this on the Student Services Centre AS SOON AS YOU’RE DONE READING THIS ARTICLE. That’s not a joke — getting off the waitlist for upper-year housing can take months or even years. If you’re really set on living on campus after first year, apply for winter and year-round housing ASAP.