Life in Vancouver

Apartment Hunting

On Thursday morning we embarked on our apartment hunting journey.

Sidenote – we’ve had conversations since we’ve been here about phrases in English vs Canadian and agreed that if English words or phrases make it hard to be understood we will need to adopt the Canadian version. Relevant to this story, we’ve learned to say “apartment” not “flat”, and “elevator” not “lift”.

We went out for breakfast as it was our first day here, and after we finished we maximised the use of the cafe wifi and began setting up viewings. There wasn’t a lot of choice within our budget and the areas we were looking, but there were some. They all seemed very similar too, in budget, age and location. So really it was down to viewing it and making a decision from there.

What’s very different here to back in the UK is the rental process. There are a lot of open houses, or time windows where the building manager will be available, you show up and look around, most often with other people looking too. Next up, if you’re interested, you either fill in an application there and then or give your email address to be sent an application form later.

The application forms ask for current address and landlord details, previous address and landlord details; current work and supervisor details, previous work and supervisor details; next of kin; bank information; contact details. Considering we own our property so don’t have a landlord, Tom’s lived there five years so doesn’t remember his previous landlord’s details; Tom is now working freelance so has no supervisor, I am currently unemployed and my previous job was for three months; we only just set up bank accounts here so won’t have a credit history; and finally only Tom has a Canadian phone number – all of this made it pretty tricky to fill in these application forms.

Each apartment gets lots of applications – the housing market is very competitive in Vancouver. We very quickly learned this and the above things added pressure to each viewing. Thankfully our friends here set us up with places to stay for the next month if needed, so there was no pressure on having to find somewhere within a certain time frame, other than that we want to set up in our own place!

Thankfully, one place we saw and really liked was on the 8th floor with a broken elevator. We think this made it a lot less desirable to most people. For us though, all we have is 4.5 suitcases and 2 backpacks of belongings, so moving in won’t be as bad for us as someone with lots of furniture etc. Obviously we will need all of that, but the elevator should be fixed by September so we’re thinking we can live minimally until then.

The rent is less than our max budget, so we were quite happy with it. It’s got hardwood floors, top floor so no upstairs neighbours, balcony with views looking south, lots of storage, big windows in the bedroom, and a more modern kitchen than a lot we’d seen. The building was erected in 1966 and it’s concrete so it’s a lot quieter than a lot of the wooden blocks we’ve seen.

The apartment is literally at 10-15 minute walk from my favourite beach, and the same in the opposite direction to our favourite coffee place. It’s in Kits which has loads of restaurants and cafes and little shops etc. Public transport it right on our doorstep. Once the elevator is fixed, we’re going to have ourselves a pretty amazing deal.

We’ve been to buy a mattress today, so that we can move in at some point soon. We figured that’s the one item we don’t want to buy a dirt cheap version of – everything else furniture wise we can get at Ikea or from Craigslist. We managed to get a pretty good deal on a mattress in the end – quite a fun experience laying on a bunch of super expensive mattresses in the shop and gradually working down the price scale with the salesperson.

The mattress will be delivered on Sunday, and up to the third floor. We’re hoping we might be able to pay the delivery people a little extra to take it all the way up, but if not, it means we only have to take them up four floors rather than the full lot.

We’re thinking once the mattress is in, we can set up from there, and get the rest as we go! So hopefully we will be able to move in on Monday! Yay!

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