Updated: February 2023.
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. That’s 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 find accommodation in Vancouver!
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 15th). 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.
When it comes to finding accommodation in Vancouver, you should leave yourself some time to look. Therefore it’s a good idea to come to Vancouver a few weeks before the end of the month. However, please be prepared financially so you can cover your costs wherever you are temporarily staying! Also, when you have found a good place, make sure to never send money online in advance. It’s best to do it in person after you have seen your accommodation.
Most soon-to-be-rented apartments or rooms in Vancouver (and across Canada) are advertised at the end of the month. Start to look online either on rental websites or on social media, such as on Facebook Marketplace, 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.
Use social media to your advantage and look on sites such as Facebook Marketplace or other Facebook groups. There are many rental or roommate groups on Facebook you can join and look through the options for accommodation in Vancouver. 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 ask your questions.
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:
Finding accommodation 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.
That really depends on where you want to live, as some neighbourhoods will be more expensive than others. Plus, you will need to consider various factors like room size, utilities included, and so on. That being said, expect to pay anything from CAD $1,500 up to CAD $3,000 per month for a one-bedroom apartment. For shared accommodation in Vancouver, rent is typically between CAD $800-1,500 per month.
Gastown is a mix of “hip” contemporary boutiques, tourist-oriented businesses (generally on Water Street), restaurants, nightclubs, and newly upscale housing.
Bordered by False Creek, Robson, and Homer Streets. A chic and fancy area, filled with residential loft spaces, cafes, restaurants, and shopping
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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)
East of the downtown area, stretching south from the shores of Burrard Inlet and encompassing portions of the popular Commercial Drive area.
A historically significant city with Westminster Quay and Queensborough as popular neighbourhoods.
Home to Willingdon, Brentwood, and Burnaby Heights, this city also has one of the biggest malls Metrotown at your convenience.
Close to the Vancouver International Airport, this city is known for its Asian influence and is close to the Canada Line.
Known for its hiking and close to local mountains. Upper or Lower Lonsdale, Lynn Valley or Lynn Creek are perfect for outdoor adventure.
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 for accommodation in Vancouver disappear very quickly. 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 explaining your visa and overall plan briefly. You can 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):
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:
So you like the place, the price is reasonable, and you think you found the accommodation in Vancouver that you’re going to rent. 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:
Tips to Remember:
We would highly recommend you read over the BC Residential Tenancy Act website before renting and 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 start your working holiday in Canada but haven’t signed up yet?
Check out our awesome Working Holiday Vancouver program, which sets you up to 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. That way you have less to worry about and can focus on having fun!
“If you are planning on having a Canadian experience with no hustles, then I can assure you that this is the best investment you will ever make. I would definitely pay again with eyes closed! ”
“My adventure with Stepwest was just perfect! If you want a good experience in Canada you should go with them. They were very helpful in getting me to Whistler. I am very happy and I really thank them!”
“Potentially the nicest people on the planet! I was never left to worry during any step of my progress... You feel like they really genuinely care about you going on your adventures :)”
“If it wasn't for Stepwest I wouldn't be in Canada right now, they helped me with everything from getting my visa application started to getting a job here in Canada...”
“Fantastic experience with Stepwest ... they were extremely friendly, quick to respond and offered very helpful advice throughout the whole process. Thank you!!”
“My experience with Stepwest was amazing... I would recommend Stepwest to anyone that wants to have a great experience in Canada.”
“One of the best decisions of my life. They have made everything easy and clear. I am very grateful to the entire team for their attention and dedication. I would absolutely recommend them!”