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 ahead of time 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. Visit EduCanada’s website to prepare your budget to study in Canada.


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.

Live on-campus

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).

Live off-campus

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 $2,600 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.
  • Newspapers – are a great resource to help you find listings in your area. Find the local paper in the area you decide to study in. Many of them will have websites with online rental listings.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Tenant’s rights

Before you rent make sure to visit to become familiar with some of the rights that you have as a tenant, designed to protect you.

Before you sign a lease or pay a deposit make sure that you thoroughly inspect the place you are reviewing.

Here are some things to check:

  • Do the entrance doors lock?
  • Do the appliances all work?
  • Do all the shower 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?


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.

Television and internet

Depending on the rental unit, cable television and/or internet may be included in your rent. If they are not included you must purchase a subscription from a local provider like Shaw or Telus. Be sure to ask if there are any student discounted rates.

Furnishing your place

If you are renting it is possible to find places that are fully furnished. Most places are not furnished so you may need to buy some items to furnish your place.

BC has many shopping malls and big outlet stores. A more economical route is to look in your local newspaper under the classifieds, go to garage sales, look online, or visit the Salvation Army or Value Village for good deals on used furniture. Check your campus bulletin boards for people selling their furniture and household accessories.