Housing


Blanche Macdonald’s three campuses are located in central Vancouver, all conveniently placed for transit, shopping, dining, entertainment and the outdoors. Our City Square Uptown campus is located only minutes away from central Downtown Vancouver, while our Robson Downtown and Atelier Midtown Campuses are located in the heart of Downtown Vancouver. The school is accessible by bus, Skytrain, cycling and walking routes and is approximately 45 minutes from the Vancouver Airport.

FINDING HOUSING

We recommend that you begin your search for accommodation in Vancouver by emailing our Administrative Associates Jasleen Natt and Paniz Jamali at housing@blanchemacdonald.com.

Jasleen and Paniz will help guide you through the process of finding a place to live. If you are looking for a roommate, they can help connect you with other students who are looking to share accommodation. They are also the Administrators of our private Facebook group, Housing Help, which operates on an invite-only basis to help new or current students find housing options.

HOMESTAYS

Homestays are a great option for students looking for a family environment, and are particularly recommended for International Students who want to immerse themselves in Canadian culture and improve their English language skills. Homestays place you in a home with a Canadian family who will provide you with a room and up to three meals a day. To find out more about the homestay option email housing@blanchemacdonald.com or consult the following websites:

Canada Homestay International
Vancouver Homestay Agency
Vanmates Homestay and Rooms

RENTING IN VANCOUVER

Finding a Rental

In addition to contacting our Administrative Associates for their housing help, you can also search for accommodation yourself. Here are some helpful resources for finding housing and accommodation:

Rental Search Engines:

Craigslist
Rent BC
Rentsline
Rentseeker
Viva Liva
Aptrentals.net
Rent Hello
Padmapper
Kijiji

Furnished Suites
Furnished suites are a convenient option for shorter stays, and many include some services, such as cleaning and utilities. Make sure you confirm what services and supplies are included before you make your decision.  
Global Education City Student Residences
Suite Deals
Make Yourself At Home

Short Term Accommodation

If you are looking for somewhere to stay on a daily or weekly basis, or while you are searching for a longer term home, short term accommodations are a great option.
Homestay.com
VRBO
Air BnB
YWCA Hotel

Find out if your rental is clean, safe and in good condition: City of Vancouver Rental Database

CHOOSING YOUR HOME

Before signing a lease or rental agreement, inspect the unit, or have a trusted friend or family member inspect it on your behalf. Discuss any issues with the landlord or property manager. Make sure to check the following:

  • Do all of the doors lock properly?
  • Are the appliances in working order? Check the fridge, stove and any other appliances.
  • Is traffic noise an issue?
  • Do the shower and taps work, and is there hot water? Turn them on the make sure.
  • Are the walls in need of repainting? If so, ask the landlord to repaint before you move in.
  • Is the space clean? If not, ask the landlord to have it cleaned before you move in.
  • Are there any signs of damage, such as water stains or signs of pests, that you should be worried about?
  • What does the rent include? Clarify if you will have to pay extra for heat, electricity, cable, laundry facilities, storage, or parking.

Apartment rentals are regulated through the BC Residential Tenancy Office. Know your rights and responsibilities as a renter in Vancouver. For additional information consult the BC Residential Tenancy Office, and learn how to avoid scams.

TRANSPORTATION AND LOCATION

Blanche Macdonald’s three campuses are all located in central Vancouver, easily accessible by bus and Skytrain lines and walking and cycling routes. When choosing a location, first think about how you will be getting to school. Will you be taking the bus or Skytrain? Do you prefer to cycle or walk? How long are you willing to commute each day? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Is the location in walking distance to transit?
  • Will you need to take more than one mode of transportation?
  • How frequent is the bus, train or other mode of transportation?
  • Is it worth it to you to pay cheaper rent if it means having a longer commute?
  • Is your chosen neighbourhood safe? Are there noise or safety issues?
  • Do you mind biking or walking to school or to shops/restaurants during poor weather, or is it worth the extra expense to live more centrally? Remember, Vancouver is often rainy outside of summer months, and can get cold in the winter months.
  • Do you prefer cooking or dining out? Do you have access to a kitchen and cooking supplies, and/or have easy access restaurants and grocery stores?

To find out more about Vancouver’s transit system and costs visit the Translink website.

VANCOUVER NEIGHBOURHOODS

Deciding Where to Live

When you are deciding where to live, it is important to take the following factors into consideration:

  • Living costs
  • Transportation options
  • Safety
  • Area amenities
  • Neighbourhood character.

Here are some of the most popular and convenient neighbourhoods in Vancouver for our students.

DOWNTOWN (including GASTOWN, CHINATOWN & COAL HARBOUR)
Character: Vibrant, bustling and busy, downtown Vancouver is the cultural and financial hub of the city, with great shopping and dining options, and busy nightlife. On the Northeast side of downtown is historic Gastown, home to high end restaurants and shops, and Chinatown, the historic home of the Chinese community, while to the northwest is Coal Harbour, an upscale neighbourhood on the water.
Distance to Campuses: A great option for students at the Atelier and Robson campuses, which can be reached by walking, cycling or a short bus or train ride from all areas of downtown Vancouver. The City Square Campus can be easily reached by several bus routes and the Canada Line (approx 15-20 mins).
Suitability: If you like a busier, livelier urban neighbourhood comprised mostly of apartments and high rises, this is a great option for you.
Stations: Vancouver City Centre (Canada Line), Granville (Skytrain), Waterfront (Canada Line & Skytrain), Burrard (Skytrain), Stadium/Chinatown (Skytrain)

WEST END / DAVIE VILLAGE
Character: The diverse and dynamic West End is home to a wide array of great restaurants, convenient grocery and specialty stores, and is the proud home of much of Vancouver’s LGBT Community. Beautiful English Bay Beach and Stanley Park are easily accessible.
Distance to Campuses: Atelier and Robson are within walking or cycling distance, or a short bus ride; City Square is accessible by bus and/or train (approx 30 mins, or about a 25-minute bike ride).
Suitability: If you are looking for a diverse and vibrant neighbourhood with all the conveniences and easy access to nature, this is a great neighbourhood for you. Residences are mostly in apartment blocks (some heritage), with limited townhomes/houses.

YALETOWN
Character: An upscale downtown neighbourhood, with lots of high end restaurants and bars and a vibrant nightlife, and easy access to the seawall and waterfront parks.
Distance to Campuses: A short walk or cycle to the Robson and Atelier campuses, and a short bus or Canada Line ride to the City Square campus (approx 15-25 mins).
Suitability: Great for those who would like to live in a bustling, vibrant neighbourhood close to the water, although note that this is one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in Vancouver. Residences are mostly apartment blocks and some townhomes/houses and high rises.
Stations: Yaletown Roundhouse (Canada Line)

FAIRVIEW
Character: A mix of families, diverse communities and businesses, Fairview is central and convenient with great dining and shopping options. The neighbourhood extends on either side of Broadway, one of the main thoroughfares of Vancouver, between Kitsilano to the west and Mount Pleasant to the east.
Distance to Campuses: City Square, located in the Fairview neighbourhood, is easily reached by walking or cycling, while our Robson and Atelier campuses are a short bus, train ride or cycle (approx 15-25 mins) away.
Suitability: If you are looking for a busy neighbourhood with lots of convenience, good transit connections and plenty of shopping and dining options, Fairview is an excellent choice, particularly for City Square Students. Residences are a mix of modern and traditional apartments and houses.
Stations: Broadway City Hall (Canada Line)

SOUTH CAMBIE/CAMBIE VILLAGE
Character: A leafy residential area with a real neighbourhood feel, this area features tree-lined streets with low-rise apartment blocks and a cluster of independent shops, restaurants, coffeehouses and a cinema.
Distance to Campuses: A great choice for City Square students, since Cambie Village is within a 10-minute walk. Robson and Atelier campuses are a short train or bus ride (approx 15-20 mins) away.
Suitability: Well placed for City Square students, this area is perfect for students seeking a spot with a neighbourhood feel that is conveniently located for all amenities and transit.
Stations: King Edward (Canada Line)

OLYMPIC VILLAGE
Character: A contemporary neighbourhood that was revitalized for the 2010 Winter Olympics, this area was used as the athletes’ village, and is now a busy and vibrant area on False Creek with plenty of amenities and dining options.
Distance to Campuses: Located a short train, bus ride or cycle (approx 15-25 mins) – or a moderate walk (approx 25-30 mins) – to all campuses
Suitability: If you are looking for a modern neighbourhood on the water that is centrally located and close to all conveniences, this is a great option. Homes are mostly in contemporary apartment buildings.
Stations: Olympic Village (Canada Line)

OAKRIDGE
Character: A diverse neighbourhood with good travel connections, located near Oakridge Shopping Centre, an upscale mall, and easy access to the Oakridge Canada Line station.
Distance to Campuses: A short train ride or bus ride to City Square (approx 10-20 mins) or downtown (approx 20-30 mins).
Suitability: For those seeking a quieter, more residential family neighbourhood with a mix of apartments and suites in houses, close to all the conveniences and located on the Canada Line to both campuses, this is a good option.
Stations: Oakridge (Canada Line)

MOUNT PLEASANT/RILEY PARK
Character: Trendy, youthful and vibrant neighbourhood centred around Main Street, recognized as one of Canada’s coolest streets, with independent shops, great restaurants and cafes.
Distance to Campuses: A moderate walk (10-30 mins) or short bus ride to City Square, or an easy bus or train ride (15-25 minutes) to our Robson and Atelier campuses.
Suitability: Great for those seeking a real neighbourhood feel in a hip area that is close to all conveniences. Homes are in mostly low-rise apartments, townhouses and suites in homes (some heritage).
Stations: Broadway City Hall (Canada Line), Main Street Science World (Skytrain)

SOUTH GRANVILLE
Character: An upscale neighbourhood with great shopping along South Granville, good bus connections,  a nice community feel and quiet, leafy sidestreets.
Distance to Campuses: City Square is a moderate walk (approx 25 mins) or short bus ride (approx 15-20 mins) away, while the Robson and Atelier campuses are within a short bus ride (approx 20 mins)
Suitability: Great for those seeking a quiet, affluent yet convenient neighbourhood. Homes are located in mostly low-rise apartments, with some houses and heritage buildings.

KITSILANO
Character: A leafy, trendy neighbourhood with great shopping along 4th Avenue, easy access to Kits Beach and the seawall, and lots of dining options, as well as the convenience of Broadway, Kitsilano was once Vancouver’s hippie neighbourhood, and is now famous as the birthplace of Lululemon.
Distance to Campuses: All campuses are easily accessible by bus (approx 20-30 mins) or cycling (approx 25 mins)
Suitability: If you are looking for a place with a neighbourhood feel, lots of conveniences, and easy access to the beach, this is a great option. Homes are a mix of houses and apartments, and with plenty of tree-lined streets, the area is lively yet peaceful.

Other Neighbourhoods

Students have successfully found homes in all areas of Vancouver, including East Vancouver, Commercial Drive, Kerrisdale, Dunbar, Marpole, and many more. For an overview and peek into each of Vancouver’s different neighbourhoods, their attractions and proximity to transit and our campuses, see Tourism Vancouver’s descriptions here.

It is important to note that the Downtown Eastside area is a developing and emerging neighbourhood. While rents may be lower here, the area around East Hastings and Main Street is not recommended for students.

Vancouver Suburbs

Vancouver is surrounded by several affordable suburbs, including Burnaby, Richmond, New Westminster, North Vancouver and West Vancouver. Many local students live with their families while studying at Blanche Macdonald and commute from the suburbs. Depending on the suburb, the commute can take up to an hour or longer.

UTILITIES AND FURNISHINGS

Utilities and furnishings are another factor to consider when renting. Consider the following points:

  • Will you be paying extra for utilities (Heat, Internet, and cable)?
  • Laundry: How will you wash your clothes and how often? Most apartment buildings have communal laundry areas with coin, token or card-operated machines. If you do not have access to a washer/dryer, where is the nearest laundromat?
  • How is the internet quality?
  • Is the apartment furnished or unfurnished? Furnished apartments often make sense for students who will be in the city for a shorter time.

ESTIMATED COSTS

Vancouver is a beautiful, desirable, metropolitan city – and the costs of living reflect that. Be prepared that rent is high relative to many other cities, and will cost a good portion of your monthly budget. Rents can vary substantially depending on the location and condition of the housing, so please note that these are only general guidelines for costs per month:

  • Shared housing (ie renting a room in a house or living with roommates): $750+
  • Studio or Bachelor: $900-1600+
  • One bedroom: $1100-$2400+
  • Two bedroom: $1200-$3200+
  • Three bedroom: $2200+

Please note that additional costs might include:

  • Utilities (heat, water, electricity, internet, cable)
  • Security deposit (one-time)
  • Pet deposit (usually one-time)
  • Furnishings and decoration
  • Food, laundry and entertainment
  • Tenant’s insurance
  • Vehicle costs, including parking, insurance and fuel

ONCE YOU HAVE FOUND A PLACE TO LIVE

After you have found your home, here are some general steps to follow:

1. Security Deposit and Rental Agreement

When renting accommodations, in most cases the tenant has a written or verbal agreement with the landlord called a lease or tenancy agreement. It is highly recommended that this agreement is in writing and it should include the following information:

  • Your name and the name of the landlord
  • Address of the accommodation to be rented
  • The start date of the tenancy
  • Amount of the rent and the due date
  • Amount of security deposit held by the landlord

If there is any pre-existing damage or required repairs, be sure to take photos before you move in. If your landlord says that something will be repaired or cleaned before you move in, make sure that this is documented in the agreement. Ensure that both you and your landlord have a copy of all the agreements you have signed. If you change anything in the agreement, both you and your landlord should initial beside any changes.

Before renting any accommodation, make sure you understand the contract. Here are some questions that you can ask:

  • Who will be paying for the utilities such as hot water, cable, heat and internet?
  • Are cable TV and Internet included in the rent?
  • Do I need to pay a damage deposit? If yes, how much?
  • Can I share the apartment with another person?
  • Are pets allowed?
  • Who will make repairs in the unit?
  • Is parking included?
  • What access do I have to the laundry facilities?
  • Who does the cleaning?
  • Will I be sharing cooking facilities?

When paying your security deposit, ensure that you have proof of payment. Pay by cheque or other traceable method of payment, or get a receipt if you pay in cash.

  1. Utilities

You may need to contact Utilities companies to set up things like electricity, phone, cable, internet, etc, or to have the bills changed over to your name. Here are some important contacts:

  1. Furnish your Apartment

If you are renting an unfurnished home, you will need to buy the basics, such as a bed, desk, chairs and other furnishings depending on the space. Here are some economical options for new and used furnitures and decoration:

  • Thrift Stores/Value Village (multiple locations – used)
  • Craigslist (online – used)
  • Garage sales (used – usually on weekends)
  • Ikea (new – locations in Richmond and Coquitlam)
  1. Get Tenant Insurance

It is highly recommended that you have tenant insurance. This will insure you against theft, fire, and other damage. This can be done through BCAA or another private insurance company.

  1. Know your rights!

For information on renting in Canada, leases, dealing with landlords, and your rights as a tenant, consult the following resources:

Canadian Mortgage & Housing (CMHC) Guide to Renting
BC Residential Tenancy Office
Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre (TRAC)

FURTHER INFORMATION

For a complete guide on renting in Vancouver you can take the free, online video course Renting It Right, offered by TRAC (Tenancy Resources and Advisory Centre) here.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: The information provided is for general information and is subject to change without notice. Every effort has been made to provide accurate and complete information however Pacifique Riche Enterprises Ltd. (doing business as Blanche Macdonald Centre (BMC)) makes no warranty or representation as to the accuracy of the information provided. Some of the information provided may have been provided by independent third parties and should not be assumed to be approved or endorsed by BMC. BMC expressly disclaims all and any liability to anyone who acts in reliance on the information provided, whether the direct recipient of such information or not. Before acting in reliance on any information provided, you are strongly advised to contact BMC or such other person, organization or legal entity as you consider necessary or advisable to confirm that any information you are relying upon is current and accurate. BMC will not be responsible for any loss or damage arising to you as a result of any actions taken by you in reliance on the information contained herein or for any errors or omissions.

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