Thanks to its clean air, laidback atmosphere and spectacular natural beauty, Vancouver is consistently voted one of the world’s most desirable expat destinations.
That said, Vancouver also happens to be the most expensive city in Canada and claims the highest housing prices in North America. Expats should note that it may take a few months of hard searching to find a good property at a reasonable price. Fortunately, the city's public transport system is excellent, so distance from the city centre is usually a negligible factor.
Types of accommodation in Vancouver
The sea and mountains limit the construction of new housing in Vancouver. This has led to numerous high-rise apartments, condominiums and an increase in high-density living.
Single, freestanding houses are rare in the city proper. But expats may find such accommodation in the outlying areas and suburbs such as Burnaby, Langley and Surrey. Note that rental options may be limited in these areas due to high owner-occupancy.
Both unfurnished and furnished housing is available, with most accommodation options listed as unfurnished. That said, even unfurnished accommodation often includes appliances, such as a refrigerator and stove, while newer rentals may even include a washer, dryer, microwave and dishwasher.
Finding accommodation in Vancouver
The best way to keep up to date with what's available in Vancouver’s property market is to peruse online property portals. Expats may also consider enlisting the services of a local real-estate agent. These professionals are familiar with the market, as well as the processes of leasing and buying property in Vancouver. Many agents also have accommodation listings on their websites.
Renting accommodation in Vancouver
Renting is definitely more affordable than buying property in Vancouver. West Vancouver claims the most expensive rent, whereas areas such as Surrey and North Delta are slightly more affordable.
Rental periods are usually for a year, although six-month leases are sometimes negotiable. Leases can vary depending on the landlord, and normally require one month's notice before moving out.
Security deposits on rentals in Vancouver are typically one month’s rent. Both the prospective tenant and landlord or agent should do a walkthrough and take careful note of the state of the apartment or house before moving in. If the inventory shows no damage at the end of the lease, the full deposit should be returned to the tenant.
The lease will state whether the tenant is liable to pay for utilities such as gas, water, electricity, cable and so forth, and this will be at the discretion of the landlord. In Vancouver, utilities are generally excluded, but it may be negotiable. When signing a lease, expats should be sure to carefully read the rental agreement to understand what is included in the rental price.