Choosing where to live while you are studying at UBC can be a daunting prospect. But there are plenty of resources to help you find the right place.
You can stroll to lectures and get home quickly – just two of the advantages to living on campus.
Graduate Student Colleges
UBC has two residential graduate colleges that offer accommodation dedicated to graduate students, visiting scholars and postdocs:
Both Colleges require a separate application. The Colleges have compulsory meal plans.
UBC Student Housing
The UBC Housing website contains information about other on-campus housing opportunities that are available to graduate students., including details for all residences that are available for graduate students. Please note: on-campus housing is in high demand. You will have to apply very early to be able to receive a placement in time for your program start date. We recommend you apply for on-campus housing at the same time as you apply for a graduate program, or as early as possible once you know you will be attending UBC!
Once you have applied, you can check your position on the waiting list through the online service centre at https://secure.housing.ubc.ca/
Tip: as graduate student you have a better chance of getting into on-campus residence if you apply for year-round housing. If you apply for the winter session only, you will be competing with undergraduate students who have priority.
The MBA House is primarily for students in business programs, but sometimes has rooms available that they offer to graduate students.
Students with mobility disabilities
St. John's College has a limited number of wheelchair accessible rooms available. Green College is not suitable for students with mobility disabilities. UBC Housing has several residences (e.g. Gage Apartments, Fairview Crescent, Thunderbird and Marine Drive Residences) that are suitable for students with mobility disabilities. Priority for assignment is given to students with substantiated disabilities that might prevent them from commuting to UBC from an off-campus residence. Please contact UBC Student Housing and Hospitality Services directly to get all details regarding availability and eligibility.
If you prefer to live in the city there are lots of fantastic neighborhoods to choose from. Look at the map of Vancouver to help you decide. Make sure you visit the area during the day and at night before deciding to live in a neighbourhood. In general, you might want to avoid accommodation in the Downtown Eastside.
Neighbourhood or city
People new to Vancouver are sometimes confused about the boundaries of Vancouver. The metropolitan area includes several neighborhoods such as Kitsilano, Kerrisdale, the West End or Downtown. However, it does not include Richmond, Surrey, New Westminster or Burnaby which are all individual cities that belong to the Greater Vancouver region.
Vancouver's West side is convenient for UBC students because it's close to campus (15 to 20 minutes to campus by bus). West side’s main neighbourhoods:
- Kitsilano (Kits) – offers many apartments and is very close to the beach in what is considered a trendy neighbourhood.
- West Point Grey and Dunbar/Southlands – these offer many basement suites.
- Arbutus Ridge and Kerrisdale – offer single-family homes and apartment buildings.
Some students choose to live in this trendy area of downtown (40 minutes to campus by bus). It's close to the beach and beautiful Stanley Park.
The East side of Vancouver is farther away from campus but is also cheaper. The Commercial Drive neighbourhood is popular for its diversity (35 to 40 minutes to campus by bus).
You can use these resources to explore the different neighborhoods:
TransLink manages public transport in Vancouver and offers a trip planner which will provide information to you about commuting times from various neighborhoods at tripplanning.translink.ca.
On campus housing does not allow pets. In general though, Vancouver is very dog- and cat-friendly. You will find lots of off leash areas and dog parks etc. However, not every landlord allows pets in an apartment. Many of the newer condos in downtown (such as Yaletown) do not allow pets. This seems to be more flexible in the older buildings, e.g. in West End. AMS Rentsline allows you to search for pet-friendly accommodation. Sometimes landlords will state that animals are not allowed, but if you only have a small dog or cat they might agree to it. It cannot hurt to ask!
When you compare prices for accommodation, make sure you find out about utility costs. In on-campus housing several utilities are already included, whereas you might have to pay for these if you rent your own apartment. Most commonly only the rental rate gets published and you will have to ask what utilities you will have to pay for. Utilities can be things such as
- Heat (depending on how the rental place is heated, it might add to your electricity/gas costs)
- Hot water (depending on how the water is heated, it might add to your electricity costs)
- Internet (typically not included in rentals)
- TV/Cable (typically not included in rentals)
- Home phone / landline (typically not included in rentals)
If you get a room somewhere in a house or share a place, it is common that things like Internet, cable and phone are already available, but you will be asked to share the bills. In many apartment buildings heat and hot water are included, but if not, this can be a significant added cost.
If you intend to rent a property privately, the Residential Tenancy website may help you find out more about your rights as a tenant.
Resources to help you in your rental search can be found on the UBC Housing website.
Other listings websites include:
- UV rentsline
- Co-operative Housing Federation of BC
- Even Better
- Kijiji Real Estate
Some of these websites are known to provide platforms for scammers. Be careful with any offers that seem to be too good to be true - typically they are not true. You should never hand over money in advance, send it by mail, or transfer it without inspecting the accommodation beforehand and being sure that the offer of accommodation is legitimate.
Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies does not recommend any commercial enterprises, but provides this list of local services for information only.