British Columbia not only offers a world class education, it’s also a great place to live. There are many safe housing options both on and off campus.

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Housing costs

The cost of living in BC may be higher than what you are used to at home. It’s important you understand the costs of living in BC so you can prepare to support yourself.

Your housing costs will be different depending on whether you live on or off campus. Living in Metro Vancouver is expensive, and it could be difficult to find affordable accommodation.

Talk to your school, college, or university about the resources they have to help you find suitable accommodation for your stay. EduCanada’s website is a helpful resource to prepare your budget and understand living costs while studying in Canada.

Cost of living calculator

Knowing the average living costs in BC is an important part of your financial preparation. To get a better idea, check out this handy Cost of Living Calculator.


Off campus housing

Living off campus is another way to learn more about the area and explore BC. If you live off campus, your rent may or may not include heat, electricity, water, telephone, or internet service. This is an important thing to ask your landlord, as these costs can add up. Typically, landlords expect rent to be paid monthly. Rental costs depend on the city, ranging from roughly $600 to as much as $3,000 per month.

Where to search:

  • Rental agencies – will save you time by giving you a list of rental places that meet your criteria. These agencies can help you find what you need but you will have to pay a fee.
  • Websites – provide a quick and easy way to find rental places in your area. Most websites will include photos and basic details of the unit. It is important to be aware of online scams and to not pay any rental deposit until seeing the place and meeting the landlord. Here are some good sites to visit:
    •  a secure all-in-one rental platform that digitalizes and accelerates the rental process so you can complete the rental process whenever and wherever you are. Renters can easily search for verified listings posted by verified landlords, send digital applications, sign digital BC standard Residential Tenancy Agreements and pay their rent online.
    • Yarrow – Yarrow is designed to cater to the needs of students, offering affordable and vibrant 1-bedroom studios for rent. In addition to the affordable rental rates, 20% of all rental homes in Yarrow and Aster are part of Vancouver’s Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program. These homes, thoughtfully distributed throughout the building, are reserved at below-market rental rates, ensuring a diverse and inclusive community within Yarrow.
    • – This is a fairly new site focusing on finding housing for students across Canada. Search parameters include the school you are attending, which allows you to see the listings’ distance to campus.
  • Bulletin boards – at your campus or on your campus website might list places for rent close to your school. Talk to your campus student services or international education office to find out more.
  • Other classified sites – Padmapper, Kijiji, Craigslist,, etc.

Tenant’s rights

Not all renters are protected by the Residential Tenancy Act. If your name is on a tenancy agreement as a tenant and you pay rent to a landlord who does not share kitchen or bathroom facilities with you, then you are likely considered a tenant and protected by the Residential Tenancy Act. You can only apply for arbitration through the Residential Tenancy Office if you are covered by the Residential Tenancy Act.

Lease is the commonly-used local term for a tenancy agreement. It is a legal document in Canada that an individual may sign with a landlord or property manager in order to rent a property. Once a lease is signed by both parties, a tenancy is begun and the leaseholder and any other occupants listed on the lease (i.e. family members, housemates, etc.) become tenants.

What to know before signing any lease

  1. Educate yourself on tenants rights and responsibilities by completing the free, online Renting it Right courses and reviewing the other resources on the Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre website along with their The Tenant Survival Guide.
  2. Read the lease document carefully to make sure that you fully understand the terms.
  3. Contact the landlord or property manager to book a time to inspect the property in person. Bring a friend or family member with you, make note of any damage (taking photos if necessary), and bring it to the landlord’s attention.

Here are some things to check

  • Do the entrance doors lock?
  • Do the appliances all work?
  • Do all the showers and taps work?
  • Do the walls need re-painting? If they require new paint ask the landlord if the walls will be painted before you move in.
  • If there are carpets, do they need to be cleaned? Ask the landlord to have the carpets cleaned before you move in if they require cleaning.
  • Are there a lot of loud noises that you can hear?
  • How safe does the area look?
  • Are there bus routes close to you if you will be taking the bus a lot?
  • How far away is it from your school?
  • Look out for any water damage (yellow stains on the walls and the ceiling).

Here are some things you should ask before you rent

  • What is included in my rent? Sometimes the following may be included in your rent: heat, laundry facilities, storage, parking or cable.
  • Is the place pet-friendly?
  • Is smoking allowed?
  • How much will your rent be?
  • How do you contact the landlord if anything needs to be fixed or replaced?

On campus housing

Living on campus is a great way for you to meet new friends and learn about the culture of your campus. To find out the availability of on campus housing, contact your institution’s international education office.

On campus housing varies depending on your institution and whether you have a single room, double room, or a room in an apartment-style suite. Costs range from roughly $6,500 to $20,000 per academic year (September to April).


Homestay offers you the opportunity to learn about life in BC by living with a host family.

This type of accommodation involves staying with a Canadian host or host family, who offer a furnished room and meals for a set fee. Homestay accommodation is inspected, and family members are screened either by your school or the agency.

Contact your institution’s international education office for more information on homestay opportunities. If your institution does not co-ordinate a homestay program, it may be able to provide contact information for an agency that does.


You should consider purchasing renters insurance to cover your belongings against fire, theft, and damage. To purchase renters insurance, visit any insurance broker or credit union in your area. Rates may vary depending on where you go.