Deciding where to live is one of the first things you'll need to do after you've been accepted to SFU, and you may find yourself re-making this decision a few times during your stay in Canada. In this section, you'll find tips on finding housing for graduate students.

The generic term for Vancouver is the "Lower Mainland", "Greater Vancouver" or "Metro Vancouver".

Vancouver is divided into several municipalities: Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, New Westminster, Surrey, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Port Moody, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Delta, White Rock, Langley, Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge.

greater vancouver map

Segal Graduate School of Business is located at 500 Granville St, downtown Vancouver:

  • Just one block from Granville skytrain station (Skytrain is a light rapid transit also known as metro system or subway system)
  • Just two blocks from Waterfront Station (a link to the skytrain, WestCoast Express (Train to Port Moody, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam) and Sea Bus (a passenger ferry between downtown and North Vancouver)

The Golden Rule for Housing in Metro Vancouver

Striking a balance between commuting time and housing options.

  • LIVING CLOSE TO DOWNTOWN VANCOUVER → MORE EXPENSIVE HOUSING OPTIONS. If you decide to live close to downtown Vancouver you will find more expensive options for housing, but you will be living closer to Segal Building and commuting times will be shorter.
  • LESS EXPENSIVE HOUSING OPTIONS → MORE TIME COMMUTING. If you decide to live in less expensive housing options you should look to live in municipalities like Burnaby, New Westminster, Coquitlam, Port Moody), but you will be commuting up to 30-60 minutes a day

Note about living downtown: There are suitable options for graduate students in downtown Vancouver but it will take some research and maybe even luck to find a suitable place. Prices downtown are varied, but generally speaking this is one of the more expensive places to live in Vancouver, and more than likely you would be living in an apartment building. Yaletown is at the higher end of the price range; the West End area may be a little more affordable and is right on the water looking across to Kitsilano. Gastown, the oldest and most eastern part of the city, can be cheaper but is also becoming a very popular area. It is aesthetically very appealing and has a lot of history, and while older buildings come with their problems the area is being developed rapidly. With four skytrain stops across the downtown area (east to west: Stadium, Granville, Burrard, and Waterfront), transit is not far away. Many buses also traverse the downtown area, and Harbour Centre campus is right in the centre of downtown Vancouver, next to Waterfront skytrain station. The downtown eastside is probably one of the cheapest areas of the city but there is also a large homeless population in this area, so this should be kept in mind the further east you look.

As a graduate student you will have a U-Pass (A U-Pass BC gives students access to bus, SeaBus and SkyTrain services within Metro Vancouver, as well as discounts on West Coast Express); our recommendation is to live close to:

  • a skytrain station in Burnaby or New Westminster
  • a West Coast Express Train station in Port Moody, Coquitlam or Port Coquitlam
key regional transit connections

Where To Look For

There are many important issues to consider when renting a Greater Vancouver apartment, house or townhome. You need to pick a location, decide how much rent you want to pay and consider the rules and policies of the apartment building. You want your new home to be close to places you visit frequently, like downtown, stores or transit stops. You need to compare rent prices in the neighbourhood so you don't end up paying too much, and you need to make sure that you can live with the landlord's specific rules. Since you will be competing with many others to get the place of your dreams, you should know how to increase your chances.

You’ll find a wide range of housing options, including rooms, apartments, houses and townhouses. It’s a good idea to arrive a few weeks before the beginning of term to give yourself time to find a suitable place to live and to get settled.

The following resources may help:

Online listings for both papers are available at househunting.ca/. Check these listings early in the morning and call right away because rentals go quickly, particularly in August and September.

  • Community newspapers:
  • Rental services: There are agencies that will provide you with a list of vacancies that meet your criteria. These agencies are often advertised in the rental listing sections of newspapers. They can be helpful and may save time, but there is a charge for this service.
  • Word of mouth: Ask other students if they know of any vacancies. There are often many suites in a building, and someone living there would be among the first to hear about a vacancy.

Note: Simon Fraser University does not pre-screen advertisements for off-campus housing and assumes no liabilities for any disputes arising from tenancies or other services advertised here. It is the user's responsibility to check out the listings carefully. You are advised to familiarize yourself with the BC Residential Tenancy Act before signing a lease.

What To Look For

One big difference between Canada and Latin America is that most apartments, townhomes or houses include appliances like a: stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, clothes washer and dryers. Welcome to Vancouver!

When you are viewing places to rent, look for these important features:

  • sturdy locks on all doors and windows
  • working appliances (turn them on to ensure they work properly)
  • working faucets (turn them on and off and make sure water does not drip after they are turned off; also, look under the sinks to ensure the plumbing does not leak)
  • working shower (turn it on and off and make sure water does not drip after it is turned off)
  • working toilet (give it a flush and check for leaks)
  • level floor (not slanting or bulging)
  • freshly painted walls (if they are not painted make sure the landlord paints before you move in)
  • clean carpet (carpet must be cleaned before you move in)
  • pet policy (check if pets are allowed)
  • neighbours (what kind of people live nearby, does it seem safe)
  • noise level from traffic, etc. (open the windows).
  • how much does hydro (water and electricity) cost?
  • Is the cost of hydro and/or Internet included in the price of rent?
  • Does the landlord live locally and easily be on-hand if something should go wrong in the house/apartment?

* Water damage (yellow stains on walls and ceiling), mouse droppings or cockroaches are very bad signs; do not rent anywhere you see these things. If you rent a basement suite, ensure it is not too dark or damp.

* Bedbugs are an increasing problem in Metro Vancouver rental suites. Make sure to search the building's address in the Vancouver Bedbug Registry website before signing a rental agreement.

Lease Contract

Landlords will often expect a security deposit (1/2 monthly rent) very quickly to secure a room, and there can also be a pet deposit if you are bringing an animal with you. A lot of places will allow cats and small dogs, but be sure to check beforehand. You should also expect to sign a lease for typically one year, with the contract switching to a month-to-month basis after the first year. Make sure you read your contract thoroughly, and know how much notice you are expected to give, if it is required in writing, and what other clauses are written in with regards to your damage deposit and the maintenance of the house.

Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre

TRAC Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre provides tenants with legal education and information about residential tenancy law through our tenant Infoline (604-255-0546), website, social media platforms, multilingual publications, and legal education workshops. We provide input about residential tenancy law into other organizations’ legal resources and train advocates on how to best serve clients dealing with tenancy problems. We also work with all levels of government, the media, other community organizations and the general public to promote the legal protection of tenants and the availability of affordable rental housing. TRAC is currently unable to accommodate drop-in visits.

Private Property Insurance

SFU and Metro Vancouver are generally considered very safe. However, as in most big cities or on large campuses, property theft does occur. You are strongly advised to purchase private property insurance, either in Canada or at home before you leave. This should provide coverage for theft or loss of your belongings, as well as property damage due to fire, flood or other unforeseen incidents.


Newspaper ads and notice board postings often use abbreviations to describe the accommodation and its features. These are some of the most common abbreviations:

  • Appl/appliances: stove, refrigerator (fridge) and dishwasher
  • Apt: apartment
  • Bdrm or br: bedroom(s), usually preceded by a number. Bedrooms are separate from the kitchen and living room.
  • Bsmt: basement, below the main floor of the building; usually a self-contained suite in the bottom part of a house
  • cable: extra channels for your television; sometimes included in cost of rent
  • drapes: curtains
  • f: prefer female occupant only
  • f&s: fridge and stove only, no other appliances
  • hydro: electricity
  • hot plate: heating elements for cooking but no oven
  • gas: natural gas (heating)
  • gdn lvl: Garden level generally means a basement suite which may be partially above ground
  • incl util: Price includes cost of utilities (heat, hot water)
  • m: prefer male occupant only
  • n/d: non-drinker (of alcohol)
  • n/p: no pets
  • n/s: no smoking
  • prkg: parking
  • pvt ent: private entrance
  • r&b or rb: room and board (cooked meals provided)
  • refs: references required
  • ste or suite: set of rooms
  • w/d: washer and dryer
  • w/w: wall-to-wall carpeting

'A Few Good Minds' Blog

For a taste of what Beedie School of Business students are involved in both inside and outside of the classroom, please check out our student blog: afewgoodminds.ca

Program Information

For detailed information on our Full-Time MBA, please visit: About MBA

To set up a meeting with an admissions advisor, please contact mba@sfu.ca.