Today’s post is going to elaborate a bit more on my post on finding your first place and get into the specifics of how much you should expect to pay in rent in Canada.
It’s funny, I always thought I had a good grasp on the value of things until I was on my own and realized I didn’t really know how much things cost beyond clothes, shoes and tuition. When I started looking for my first place, I was honestly shocked to find out how expensive rent was.
I knew living in Vancouver as opposed to a city in the GVRD (Greater Vancouver Regional District) was a bit pricier, but it sure was a big reality check when I started apartment hunting.
Within Vancouver the prices of rentals vary depending on the region. For instance, the cheapest area to rent in Vancouver is East Vancouver, which is as far away from downtown as possible without being in Burnaby proper. East Van is of course where I lived for my first year on my own. Even still, it wasn’t cheap. I needed a roommate to afford to live in a two-bedroom basement suite. At that time I was paying about $550/month not including utilities, which were approximately $50-$100/month.
I honestly couldn’t have afforded much more than that on my income, and the place was actually pretty nice despite being a bit older and fairly dark in the winter months. But my commute to work was only 20 minutes by bus, and although I could have had a way nicer and bigger place if I were to live in say Port Coquitlam, I’m a city girl at heart and having lived in the suburbs all my life, I needed a change of scenery badly.
When my BF and I started looking for a one-bedroom apartment suite closer to downtown, we found that the average price for a suite was $1200/month. Most of the time that means your suite is about 600 sq. ft. and that doesn’t include laundry, parking or utilities. The place we found was a bit cheaper at $1100/month and although parking is another $25/month, it includes heat and hot water, so all we pay is electricity, coin laundry, cable, and internet.
Now, if you are starting to look for your first place, or just your next place, I found some pretty handy information on the CMHC‘s website, giving you an idea of the average rental prices throughout Canada. It’s also good to remember that the lower the vacancy rate, the more expensive rent will most likely be.
If there aren’t a lot of places to rent in a city, then landlords can charge more because they know someone will pay it. That’s why houses in Vancouver are being bought for over the asking price right now. God, damn you housing bubble!
If you are living on a low income, I definitely think it’s worth looking into subsidized housing. My BF lived in downtown Vancouver for a year a while back, and although it was a 300 sq. ft. box, his rent was only $780/month. The particular building, he lived in was built specifically to offer affordable housing to people with disabilities, people who were at one time homeless, or people who suffered from drug and alcohol abuse in the past.
By law a percentage of the rental units in the building had to be available for regular people to rent out who just made below a certain annual income, and at the time my BF made the cut.
I really hope that one day I’ll be able to afford to buy a nice new condo somewhere, even if it’s not in Vancouver, and finally be a homeowner like I’ve always dreamed. But for now, I’m happy living in my old, one-bedroom apartment that’s only a walk away from all the city action.