In March 2018, the apartment-finding website PadMapper reviewed 1,207 rental listings in Vancouver, finding that “the average rent for a studio apartment is $1,600, and the median rent for a one [bedroom] apartment is $2,000.” Vancouver has one of the most expensive rents in Canada.
The high rental costs in Vancouver pose challenges for international students who have fewer options. Langara international student Ravleen, who is from India says, “An international student has to pay for the rent whether it is expensive or not. They don’t have any other option to live anywhere else.”
Vancouver’s pricey rents force many students to work, but for international students this comes with the added challenge of applying for a work visa. Navpreet, another Langara international student from India says, “I have a friend; when she first came here she just came on a study visa, so she had to apply for a work permit. She can’t work without a work permit.”
For international students, tuition fees are already costly when compared to those for Canadian students. Working while studying means that international students have less time to experience Canadian culture, which is one of the reasons they choose to study abroad.
However, finding cheap rent isn’t the only challenge. With low vacancy rates in Vancouver, international students may encounter scams while trying to find affordable housing. An August 2017 article in The Georgia Straight, titled “BC Students Caught in Vancouver’s Housing Crunch,” reports the problems international students face when using websites such as Craigslist. Listings for cheap accommodations either show small, dingy basement rooms for rent or are posted by fake accounts that ask for payment up front. Scams can be hard to spot if listings are not written in the student’s native language, or if the rental process is different from what the student is used to.
The affordable housing crisis affects everyone already living in or looking to live in Vancouver. However, if the crisis continues to worsen, there’s the possibility that international students who cannot afford Vancouver’s rent will seek education elsewhere—with BC institutions losing out on considerably higher tuition payments.