How to Rent in Vancouver during Your Working Holiday in Canada

It can be super exciting when you finally land in Canada and begin your Working Holiday adventure! However, you’ll eventually realize something important amongst the excitement – you need a place to live! Although our Working Holiday Programs have add-on options for homestay accommodation, some of our participants prefer to find their own place. We can understand and appreciate that here at Stepwest, which is why we decided to gather some information to help you with your search.

Depending on how long you’re planning to stay in Canada, it shouldn’t be too difficult to rent an apartment or room. If you’ve decided to have your Working Holiday adventure in Vancouver, then you’re in luck because we’re going to walk you through how to rent in Vancouver for Working Holidays! Keep on reading for more information!

Enjoy daily views like this if you choose to live in Vancouver's False Creek

GETTING READY TO START YOUR SEARCH 

A general word of advice is that accommodation is usually rented starting on the 1st of the month (you can sometimes find availability on the 15). This is important to note because if you arrive near the beginning of the month, you may need to stay in an Airbnb, hostel, or hotel until the end of the month. You should leave yourself some time to look so it’s a good idea to come to Vancouver a few weeks before the end of the month BUT please be prepared financially so you can cover your costs for wherever you are temporarily staying. Also, when you have found a good place, make sure to never send money over online in advance. It’s best to do it in person after you have seen your accommodation.

STEP #1 – LOOK FOR AN APARTMENT ONLINE

Most soon to be rented apartments or rooms are usually advertised at the end of the month. You can start to look online either on rental websites or on social media like Facebook groups, as opposed to looking in newspapers or using agents. Generally, it’s better to look in the early mornings or later in the evenings (after 6pm) because that’s when most people will be posting their ads.

If you are using Craigslist, you can make use of the map feature to see the area where a particular rental is located

Rent from Facebook Marketplace (and others!)

You can use social media to your advantage and look on sites such as Facebook Marketplace or Facebook Groups. There are many rental or roommate groups on Facebook that you can join and look through. Not only do these groups post rental ads or roommate requests, but they also have tips and comments from other newcomers to Vancouver and it will be helpful to have a place to read relevant advice and also ask your questions.

How To Read Ads – An Overview On Abbreviations

Now that you’ve found the ads, reading some of them can be confusing. Depending on where you’re looking, some sites charge posters depending on the length of their advertisements so many choose to write with abbreviations. Here are some popular abbreviations:

  • ½ bath: Toilet and sink only
  • appl: Appliances
  • avail: Available
  • br: Bedroom
  • bsmt: Basement
  • d/d: Dishwasher and Disposal
  • den: A small room without a closet. May not have a door but an entryway
  • dep: Deposit
  • dr: Dining Room
  • d/w: Dishwasher
  • eik: Eat-in-kitchen: a kitchen large enough to hold a table and chairs.
  • elec: Electricity
  • fmr: First month’s rent
  • furn: Furnished
  • ht, htd: Heated
  • imm occ: Immediate Occupancy
  • inc/incl: Includes or Including
  • mo: Monthly
  • nr: Near
  • no fee: No charge by a real estate agent or broker
  • non-smo/ns: A person who does not smoke cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, etc.
  • no pts: No pets
  • nwly ren/reno’d: Newly Renovated
  • owner: Owner manages the building
  • owner/occ: Owner occupied: the owner lives in the building
  • pvt bath: Private Bathroom
  • pvt rm: Private room
  • refs req’d: References required
  • sec/sec dep: Security Deposit
  • T: Near public transportation.
  • util: Utilities (gas and electricity)
  • util incl: Utilities are included in the monthly rent

STEP #2 – FIGURING OUT YOUR DESIRED LOCATION

Renting in Vancouver can be a little bit confusing if you don’t know the area well. You can refer to the map below for a breakdown of the neighbourhoods within Vancouver. Although the city can be divided into 23 individual neighbourhoods and the area around the University of British Columbia (UBC), an easier way to categorize is simply ‘Westside Vancouver’ and ‘Eastside Vancouver.’ With the exception of Downtown Eastside, which has higher rates of homelessness, all Vancouver neighbourhoods are fairly good choices to rent in and have easy access to libraries, medical clinics, and public transit for you to get to work.

There are so many different Vancouver neighbourhoods to live in, each with its own characteristics. Get in touch for advice on where to live

Popular West Vancouver Neighbourhoods:

*Price references depend on various factors like room size, if utilities are included, etc. Prices were taken from real postings on Craigslist and Kijiji.

Gastown

Price Range (Shared Apartment) $950-$1500 per month

Gastown is a mix of “hip” contemporary boutiques, tourist-oriented businesses (generally on Water Street), restaurants, nightclubs, and newly upscale housing.

Yaletown

Price Range (Shared Apartment) $950-$1500 per month

Bordered by False Creek, Robson, and Homer Streets. A chic and fancy area, filled with residential loft spaces, cafes, restaurants, and shopping

Kitsilano

Price Range (Shared Apartment) $750-$1000 per month

Mostly residential with two main commercial areas, West 4th Avenue and West Broadway, known for retail stores, restaurants and organic food markets. Trendy and health-oriented area.

West End

Price Range (Shared Apartment) $800-$1000 per month

West of Burrard, east of Denman, and south of West Georgia. Adjacent to the downtown core business and financial districts, with mini-parks and many residential heritage buildings.

Fairview

Price Range (Shared Apartment) $800-$1200 per month

From 16th Avenue in the south to Burrard in the west, to Cambie in the east, and to False Creek in the north. Shopping areas include South Granville Rise, City Square Mall, and Granville Island.

 

Popular East Vancouver Neighbourhoods:

Mount Pleasant

Price Range (Shared Apartment)  $700-$900 per month

Up and coming neighbourhood. Many first-time homeowners and young professionals, as well as a growing number of families in the area. Stretching from Cambie to Clark Drive.

Strathcona

Price Range (Shared Apartment) $600-$850 per month

It is bordered by Chinatown to the west, Clark Drive to the east, Burrard Inlet on the north, and Canadian National Railway and Great Northern Railway to the south.

Hastings Sunrise

Price Range (Shared Apartment) $500-$800 per month

With a dense strip of shops along Nanaimo, Broadway, Boundary Road and Renfrew Streets. Recently has become an attractive location for young professionals.  Price Range (Shared Apartment)

Renfrew – Collingwood

Price Range (Shared Apartment) $600-$900 per month

Residential with a predominance of single-family homes on the boundary of Burnaby. Vietnamese, Filipino and Chinese languages are the most prevalent.     Price Range (Shared Apartment)

Grandview Woodland

Price Range (Shared Apartment) $700-$900 per month

East of the downtown area, stretching south from the shores of Burrard Inlet and encompassing portions of the popular Commercial Drive area.

 

Popular Neighbourhoods Outside of Vancouver:

New Westminster

Price Range (Shared Apartment) $600-$800 per month

A historically significant city with Westminster Quay and Queensborough as popular neighbourhoods.

Burnaby

Price Range (Shared Apartment) $600-$800 per month

Home to Willingdon, Brentwood, and Burnaby Heights, this city also has one of the biggest malls Metrotown at your convenience.

Richmond

Price Range (Shared Apartment) $600-$800 per month

Close to the Vancouver International Airport, this city is known for its Asian influence and is close to the Canada Line.

North Vancouver

Price Range (Shared Apartment) $600-$800 per month

Known for its hiking and close to local mountains. Upper or Lower Lonsdale, Lynn Valley or Lynn Creek are perfect for outdoor adventure.

STEP #3 – INQUIRING ABOUT THE POTENTIAL RENT

When contacting the poster, it’s best to try to call them if they have a phone number listed, as opposed to texting or emailing. This is because good deals disappear very quickly in Vancouver. Ask some of the suggested questions below, if the information is not already listed. When the landlord asks for more information about you, we suggest explaining what you are doing in the city (on a working holiday), and to explain your visa and overall plan briefly. You may then ask any other questions that were not already answered in the listing.

Some Questions to Ask the Poster (if not already listed in the ad): 

  • “How much is the security deposit?” (can’t be more than half the month’s rent in BC)
  • “Are utilities included? If not then how much is it?”
  • “What date is the accommodation available?”
  • “Are there laundry facilities/parking/etc?”
  • “When can we set up a time to see the room/apartment/house/etc?”

Note: While you’re looking, please be aware of common scams that are out there. A type to watch out for are ads posted by “families” that claim that they are “moving abroad”, hence renting out their apartment or house for an extremely cheap price. Almost all of those postings are not real. Use your common sense, do your research, and if you come across a very cheap deal in an area that is normally expensive, then it’s more than likely a scam.

Other Signs of A Scam Rental Ad:

  • No pictures of the apartment at all
  • Very poor grammar or spelling in the posting
  • Does not disclose the address of the apartment
  • Reluctant to meet up/give a tour of the apartment
  • Questionable “credit check” websites linked in an email response
  • The “From” email of the poster is nonsense like cjkn97koj0@gmail.com
  • Make sure to refer to our table of Vancouver neighbourhoods above and check that prices are somewhat similar to the ones we’ve listed. If you find a place with a price that is grossly different, be hesitant and do further research.
If you live in Kitsilano, you will have the beach at your doorstop!

STEP #4 – ACTUALLY RENTING (ALWAYS AFTER VISITING!)

So you like the place, the price is reasonable, and you think you found the accommodation that you’re going to rent in Vancouver. That’s great! Now, your landlord will give you a lease that you need to sign. Make sure you read through everything before you sign your name, so you know what you’re exactly agreeing to. If you don’t understand something, ask a friend or search it up online to clarify your doubts.

Rules on Security Deposits:

As per the Residential Tenancy Act, here are the rules about security deposits:

  • Your security deposit can’t be more than half of your first month’s rent
  • Your landlord can only request a deposit at the beginning before you move in
  • Only one deposit is needed per rented unit, even if you’re sharing a room with friends, etc
  • If you can’t pay the deposit within 30 days after starting the agreement, then your landlord can end the agreement by giving you at least one month’s notice
  • Once you pay the deposit, your tenancy agreement has officially started, even if you haven’t signed the lease yet
  • You are able to get your deposit back at the end of your lease (providing you didn’t damage anything). A good idea would be to take photos of your accommodation when you first move in, in case a dispute should come up about whether or not you damaged anything during the length of your stay.

Tips to Remember: 

  • Always ask for a receipt when you pay in cash – with the name of the tenant and the amount you’ve paid
  • Keep a written record of interactions and conversations with your landlord regarding your rent
  • Depending on how long you’re staying, you may want to look into getting content insurance, as your stuff is NOT covered by your landlord’s own property insurance, regardless of fire, water damage, etc.
  • Remember to not change the locks, unless if you have permission to do so. Otherwise this can be grounds for terminating your rent
  • Your rent can only increase every 12 months AFTER you move in, and it can only increase by 1.5 % for the 2022 year, which is set by law.
  • An increase in rent notice must be given to you at least 3 full months ahead of when the increase starts

We would highly recommend you to read over the BC Residential Tenancy Act website before renting, and to refer to it if you are having issues or have questions about your rent at any time.

There is still a lot of information out there and it’s important that you do your research and understand your rights and responsibilities as a tenant.

Ready to live in Vancouver?

Ready to start your Working Holiday in Canada but haven’t signed up yet?

Check out our awesome Working Holiday Vancouver program that lets you live and work in one of the most livable cities in the world – Vancouver!

Want a more adventurous and outdoorsy program? Then be sure to check out our Working Holiday Ski Resort or Summer Resort Programs, where you are guaranteed a job in a top Canadian resort as well as staff accommodation so you have less to worry about and can focus on having fun!