We don’t have to tell you how shitty the Vancouver housing crisis is. Rent is sky-high, and although there are cranes on campus as far as the eye can see, there are not enough beds at UBC for all 60,000 of us — let alone reasonably-priced ones. But don’t panic! You have options!
FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR
Much like a relationship, a successful house-hunt starts with clearly defining your needs, preferences and boundaries. The housing search might not provide you with everything you want, so make sure to feel confident on what your deal breakers are and where you’re willing to compromise.
Some key questions: What’s your budget range? How much of a commute can you stomach? How long of a lease are you looking for, and when can you start? How many roommates do you want, and what sort of lifestyle do you lead (e.g. can you handle a garage rock roommate’s band practice)?
Use that information to put together a blurb about yourself that clearly states what you’re looking for, as well as some quick fun facts about yourself — hobbies, job, course of study, etc. Potential roomies and landlords will be more responsive if they can tell that you’re a real person who has a life and is fun and normal to live with.
THE ONLINE LISTING TRENCHES
Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, especially groups for UBC students, can be good for finding rooms in shared houses, people looking for roommates and more affordable basement situations. Just be prepared to send out a lot of messages and cast a wide net because competition is fierce. If you’re looking for a condo or apartment, a site like Padmapper could also work.
Put out calls early if possible, but don’t worry if you don’t find much months in advance —many people don’t put their places on the market until a month before the move-in date. Set aside a few hours each week for searching and check your messages frequently.
UBC also has some helpful resources for this at vancouver.housing.ubc.ca/other-housing/more-campus-housing.
BEWARE OF SCAMS
If a listing doesn’t have a photo or the photo looks like it might be a generic stock image, watch out. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. If you can’t be in Vancouver while searching, always get a FaceTime tour from the landlord (or a local friend!) before paying a deposit.
WORK YOUR NETWORK
If you start asking around your circles, you might find someone looking for a roommate. That roommate could be you! Finding a house through mutual friends or acquaintances can help you vet your new roommates/landlords for quality, or at least sanity.