Is it Hard to Find an Apartment in Vancouver?

Vancouver, British Columbia is a beautiful city, surrounded by the mountains and ocean. It’s a desirable place to live, actually ranking 3rd in the world for quality of life! Vancouver is known for its outdoor lifestyle but also has a ton of fun city things to do including great restaurants, bars, nightlife, shopping, and cultural attractions.

If you’re moving to Vancouver, you need a place to live! You might be wondering about how hard it is to find an apartment in Vancouver. Unfortunately, the answer is… hard. Or, it can be hard. People always have different experiences and there are a lot of people moving to the city, so of course, it’s possible to find apartments.

To determine how hard it is to find an apartment in Vancouver, there are a few factors to consider: the price, availability, ease of searching, location, and renter’s rights. Let’s look at each of them further in-depth.

Price

If you know anything about Vancouver, you know that it is an expensive city. It’s the most expensive city in Canada and pretty high up on the international list as well. The biggest driver for this expensive cost of living in Vancouver is the heated housing market. Current statistics show that the average price to buy a home in Vancouver is over $1.2 million. 

So, buying is expensive. It follows, then, that renting an apartment will also be expensive. The average price to rent is around $2,000 for a one-bedroom apartment, which is a 5% increase from 2020. The price may even be higher in the most desirable neighborhoods like Yaletown or Kitsilano. 

There are a few ways that people in Vancouver try to lower their rent, including sharing with roommates or moving further away from the city center. These are, obviously, big lifestyle changes, and they might not suit your needs. However, compromises might be necessary when trying to find an apartment in Vancouver.

Ease of searching

While apartments might be expensive to rent, there are a lot of different services to check out to see what is available. Websites like Cragislist, Kijiji, PadMapper, Rentseeker, and Apartment Love – in addition to Facebook Marketplace – all offer easy-to-use interfaces that connect landlords with renters. You can also connect with other potential roommates on these sites too.

If you prefer a more old-school method, a lot of apartment buildings actually post signs outside or on the door if there is a vacancy. This is a good way to go and personally talk with the building manager and get some more information.

If you are in the market to buy, there are many real estate agents in the city. Because it is such a heated market, you definitely will want to rely on the expertise of a professional real estate agent who knows the area and the market. 

Availability

It may be easy to find available places, either online or in person, but actually securing an apartment to rent in Vancouver can be quite difficult. Things tend to move very quickly with lots of people competing for the same desirable apartments. 

Most renters in Vancouver give just one month’s notice when they are moving, meaning that apartments become available about a month before the new tenant moves in. This means that you need to act quickly to find something! It’s important to stay on top of all the different sites and communicate quickly and efficiently when trying to find a place to live.

Some good news out of the COVID-19 pandemic is that rental vacancies in Vancouver have increased, mostly due to lower demand from international students or immigrants who have been unable to move to Canada. 

Another factor that affects availability is increased construction and development. Particularly in surrounding cities like Burnaby or North Vancouver, there are quite a few new development projects. Some of these cities are densifying, similar to downtown Vancouver, and are adding more apartments that will be available to rent.

Location

Location can be the biggest make-or-break factor when choosing somewhere to live. Vancouver is a fairly large city, with lots of traffic, and a so-so transit system. Therefore, if you’re studying at the University of British Columbia, for example, East Vancouver might be a far commute, even though it’s still the same city. So, keep in mind your daily commute to school or work when deciding on a place to live

Vancouver city, as I discussed, is expensive and challenging to find a place to live. For this reason, a lot of people will move outside the city itself into one of the many suburbs. The greater Vancouver area is made up of 21 different municipalities, fairly well connected by highways and the same transit system. So, it is very possible to live in a city like Burnaby or Coquitlam and still commute into Vancouver.

Just for comparison’s sake, the average cost of a one-bedroom rental in Burnaby is around $1,800 and in Coquitlam, it’s around $1,600. The commute into Vancouver from these cities is about 30 minutes and 40 minutes (driving) respectively. So, there is a trade-off between location and affordability.

Renter’s Rights

The last thing to remember is that, as a renter, you have rights. In British Columbia, there are stringent policies that landlords must follow. For example, landlords are only allowed to raise the rent by a certain percentage, which is determined each year. Also, a security deposit is only allowed to be up to 50% of one months’ rent.

These policies ensure that renters are not taken advantage of. It is possible to go to court if there is anything in dispute between renters and landlords. Tenants are heavily protected under provincial law, so that is definitely a positive thing about trying to rent an apartment in Vancouver!

Conclusion

While Vancouver is a beautiful city and a desirable place to live, finding an apartment in Vancouver can be hard. Prices are high and availability is low. However, with some luck and hard work – and perhaps a compromise on space or location – it is definitely possible to find an apartment to live in Vancouver. 

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Thais R

I moved to Canada in 2016. This was the best decision that I ever made. I created this website to share what I’ve learned with anyone who’s thinking of moving or travelling to Canada.

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