(This post comes from our friendly -and very much alive- Admissions Officer Misa, advising international students on housing in Vancouver)
Moving to a new place is always scary and worrisome. How do I find a place to stay? Are people friendly? Who should I ask for help? Do I see people from my country? How do I get around the city? What if I couldn’t make any new friends? What kind of clothes should I wear? Is it safe to walk at night? What kind of medical coverage can I get? There are countless questions that come to one’s mind. Come to think of it, I was just like you when I first moved to Vancouver 12 years ago. Well, don’t worry. I am still happily alive and here to answer your questions! First of all, check how beautiful the city of Vancouver is: http://www.tourismvancouver.com/. After living here more than a decade, I am still in love with this city!
Okay, now you need housing information. In Vancouver, you can rent an apartment/basement suite, live with a Canadian family (homestay program), rent a furnished room, or share a house with other international students. Here are some websites you can check out to see what’s available:
-Newspaper Classified: Vancouver Sun http://apartments.vancouversun.oodle.com/for-rent/roommates/
-YWCA Hotel Residence http://www.ywcahotel.com
Most international students stay at a hostel or YWCA until they find a place for a longer term. When looking for long term accommodations, make appointments with the owners/managers of the places you are interested in before arriving in Vancouver, so that you can see as many places as possible when you arrive. And don’t forget to introduce yourself when you first contact them. You can tell:
- Where you are from
- Why you are in Canada
- What your occupation was in your country
- How you can make a payment without working in Canada
- Date you move in
- Date you move out
When you meet the owner/manager, check:
- What is included in the rent (Internet, cable, hot water, and furniture)
- Write down the company name of the manager and the contact information (is he/she a real manager?)
- If everything works fine (TV, shower, toilet, refrigerator, doors)
- Payment options (cash, check, or credit card?)
- If you can keep the copy of the rental agreement
- If you are living with others, check their daily schedule
You can also find housing information on the bulletin board at a local market. Or walk around the city and look for “for rent” signs in front of buildings. When you visit a place, bring someone with you so that it’s safer, and you can also get a second opinion.
Since Vancouver is a mix of different cultural groups from all over the world, you will easily find people from your country; there are communities and services that you can reach out to if you need help. Take advantage of those services! It’s always good to know that there are people who are willing to help in your language.