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Finding accommodation in Vancouver: A living nightmare

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

Vanmates can help you out!



Finding accommodation is probably one of the biggest struggles for international students, particularly for newcomers! There are a bunch of things you didn’t even consider when it comes to renting a place in Vancouver, and by the time you figure all of these things out, it might already be too late. It happens all the time! People who didn’t book accommodation before arriving in Canada because they thought they could do it easily on their own. By the time they board the plane, they still don’t have accommodation.


It is a common story, and sadly, people lose tons of money in this process because they ended up renting an Airbnb or a bedroom in an expensive hotel while trying to find something else. (knock on wood, we hope this is not you in the future)


But, what is it that makes this process so hard?


One reason: Saturated Market!!!


Between local residents, immigrants and international students, Vancouver has a really big problem when it comes to housing. An availability issue! Therefore, there’s high demand but low supply. This puts those who own or already rent a property at an advantage.


As a result, prices have gone up, and people are allowed to offer really small rooms for ridiculous prices!! Heck, we once saw a den being offered for $950 per month. Don’t know what a den is? Remember Harry Potter’s room under the stairs? That’s it, that’s basically a den!

Furthermore, the renting requirements landlords are asking for nowadays have made it genuinely difficult, if not impossible, for international students to rent. They ask for:

  • Previous landlord reference (Form Canada, of course)

  • Proof of employment or income (which you also don't have)

  • Credit score check (Again, Canadian credit score. Which you don’t have)

  • Paperwork (passport copy, local id, etc.)

  • A commitment of at least one year of tenancy (That’s what most people ask for)

  • Tenant insurance. Just to name a few!

You probably get where we are going with this. It is unquestionably hard for international students to find accommodation! Especially when they are just arriving, as the lack of availability and the extensive requirements reduce the number of places that you could actually rent to almost 0.


What’s the alternative?


Good question! What we recommend, and no, this is not an ad, is for you to book accommodation before arriving in Canada. And to book one that is offered specifically towards international students, as they are cheaper than a hotel or other alternatives. Stay there for at least 1, 2 or even 3 months while you get settled. You will have time to get to know the city, and the neighbourhoods, get used to the lifestyle you are having here and find a job without the concern of needing to find accommodation… after all that, then you can start looking for your own place. Now, there is a couple of types of accommodations that are offered to international students:


  • Homestays, a concept in which you arrive at the house of a Canadian family and they rent a room to you. (But you will be living under their roof, therefore, their rules)

  • Shared Accommodation/Student Housing: Consists of a dormitory in either a building or a house that is exclusive to international students. The rooms in this type of accommodation could be shared or single, and depending on the type of accommodation, the kitchens and washrooms would be shared. *Note: we have another article that explains more about this😉



Thrivve’s recommendations? Go with the second option. Go to Vanmates!


Vanmates is one of the most important accommodation providers for international students in Vancouver and what we like about them is their commitment and dedication to helping international students by providing them with great accommodations. Some of the advantages that you will get if you decide to follow our advice are:


  • Well, first of all… You would actually have a place to live! Plenty of students think the same thing, that they can “outsmart” everyone else, and they are capable of finding an accommodation that is up to their expectations (and budget). But the sad reality is that the probability of you achieving this is really low! So, coming directly with an accommodation provider like Vanmates really eases one of the biggest pains of being an international student, finding accommodation.


  • There are no complicated requirements: Bank account, employment references, landlord's references, etc. The process is specifically made for international students! So the requirements to hire their services are quite easy 😉 This way, you’ll avoid all the crazy requirements Canadian landlords are asking for.


  • You avoid the struggle of scouting for a place: It takes a lot of time! But it’s necessary. Can you imagine renting a place without even seeing it in person?? Well, Vanmates has already scouted for you by choosing properties with proper living conditions.

  • A certain quality of life is guaranteed! You can have the certainty that by going to these types of accommodations you will have a bed, a desk, proper common areas and kitchen facilities. Which, doesn't sound like much, but go to Craigslist, explore for a while what people are offering and you’ll see the value of these simple things 😉

  • Fixed prices: Vanmates prices are always adjusted to however the market behaves, yes, but, despite that, they are always trying to provide a price that is student budget-friendly, as they have been in your shoes! So you know they will never go crazy with their prices. Plus, whatever price they quote to you for a place is the price that you can be sure you’re going to continue paying to them. You’ll never receive random “rent is increasing” notes under your door!


We like Vanmates because they go above and beyond with their placement process, and they really care about their students. They hear your needs, and they ask about which area you would prefer to live in. They also take into consideration which school you are going to and your personality so that they can try to match you with like-minded individuals in your household.


Want more information about them? Check out their website and discover more! You can have a sneak peek on how they work and some of their properties for you to have an idea of what they look like 😉


Please also feel free to share your opinion about this topic on our forum with the rest of the Thrivve community. Good luck with your search for accommodation, Thrivvers!



Did you enjoy this article and need more help? Contact us here and we’ll get you connected.

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