Thanks to its clean air, laidback atmosphere and spectacular beauty, Vancouver is consistently voted one of the world’s most desirable expat destinations.
That said, Vancouver also happens to be one of the most expensive cities and claims the highest housing prices in Canada. Expats should note that it may take a few months of hard searching to find a good property at a decent price. Fortunately, the city's public transport system is excellent so distance should not be too much of a factor.
Types of accommodation in Vancouver
The sea and mountains limit the amount of new housing that can be constructed in Vancouver. This leads 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 exists, 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 is to peruse online property portals. Expats may also want to consider enlisting the services of a local real-estate agent. These professionals are familiar with the market, as well as the process of leasing and buying property in Vancouver. Many agents host 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 somewhat cheaper.
Rental periods tend to be for a year, although six-month leases are sometimes negotiable. Leases can vary depending on the landlord, and usually require one month's notice before moving out.
The security deposits on rentals in Vancouver are usually two months' 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 upon the departure of the tenant, the full deposit should be returned.
The lease will state whether the tenant is liable to pay for utilities such as gas, water, electricity, cable and so forth, and will vary from landlord to landlord. In Vancouver utilities are generally excluded, but it might be negotiable. When signing a lease, expats should be sure to read the paperwork carefully in order to understand what is included in the rental price.