Top tip: Finding and securing housing

Choosing where to live while you are studying at UBC can be a daunting prospect. You can stroll to lectures and get home quickly if you live on campus, but maybe you want a more immersive experience living in Vancouver. There are lots of things to consider, and UBC offers a number of resources to help you find the right place.

Graduate student residences

UBC has two residential graduate colleges that offer accommodation dedicated to graduate students, visiting scholars and postdocs: Green College and St. John's College. Both Colleges require a separate application and each have compulsory meal plans.

Other on-campus housing

If you’re applying to UBC right now, it is not too early to think about accommodation, and if you’re hoping to live in graduate student housing on campus, applying sooner rather than later is key. Demand far exceeds availability for on-campus housing, and no guarantees for on-campus housing can be given.

We recommend that you apply for UBC residences at the same time that you apply to a graduate program, or as early as possible once you know you will be attending UBC, in order to be placed on the waitlist for a good chance at an offer in time for your program start date. If you are hoping to be placed in family housing, you should apply even sooner.

Tip: As a graduate student you have a better chance of getting into on-campus residence if you apply for both winter and year-round housing. You can do this with one application fee, if you apply at the same time.

The UBC Housing website contains information about on-campus housing opportunities including details for all residences that are available for graduate students. Depending on housing type, once you have applied, you can check your position on the waiting list through the Student Housing Online Service Centre. Year-round housing shows an ongoing waitlist, whereas for Winter session housing you won’t know your place on the waitlist until June. 

Off-campus options

If you prefer to live in the city, there are lots of fantastic neighbourhoods to choose from. Look at the map of Vancouver to help you decide, research the areas you are interested in, and if you can, try to visit the neighbourhood you’re interested in during the day and at night to get a good sense.

Consider your commute. Neighbourhoods further away from UBC often offer cheaper rent, while those with shorter travel times are usually more expensive. TransLink manages public transportation in Vancouver and offers a trip planner which provides information about commuting times from various neighborhoods at tripplanning.translink.ca.

Don’t forget about utility costs when comparing prices for accommodation. 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 which utilities are included and which are at an additional cost. Utilities may include gas, electricity, heat, hot water, internet, and TV/cable. 

If you rent a room in a home or share a place with roommates, it is common to share the cost of things like internet, cable, and phone. In many apartment buildings, heat and hot water are included, but if not, this can be a significant added cost.

Know your rights. If you intend to rent a property privately, the Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre is a great resource to help you understand the renting climate here in Vancouver and your rights as a tenant. Additional resources to help you in your rental search can be found on the UBC Housing website and the Accommodation/Housing section of the Grad School website.

The online Graduate Student Community has an accommodation forum with posts related to housing and accommodation such as available places for rent, sublets, finding buddies to share places with etc. You will access to this online community once you have submitted a graduate program application.

Tip: Be careful with any offers that seem to be too good to be 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.