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Rental Tips for Students

August 31, 2022

kitchen with table in an apartment

Finding student housing doesn’t have to be a struggle. Whether you’re moving out of home for the first time or transitioning from a university residence to an off-campus property.

 

Living in a university residence can be fun, but you just don’t get the same independence that you do when you rent your own place. That’s why the majority of students in Kelowna opt to rent condos, apartments, and houses. In fact, the UBC Okanagan Facts and Figures page states that only 16% of university students actually live on campus. If you’re thinking about renting an off-campus home, these are a few things to consider before you put down a security deposit.

1. Determine Your Budget

When it comes to deciding how much rent you can afford to pay, remember that there are other expenses you will also have to cover including food, tuition, textbooks, and possibly utilities like heat and electricity. Some places will also require you to pay a security deposit or first and last month’s rent. It’s also important to think about where you can save money, for example, there are plenty of apartments for rent within walking distance of UBCO, which can cut down your gas costs. Think about how much money you will have access to every month and then come up with a budget that will cover all your expenses and leave you some extra money for leisure or emergencies.

2. Start Your Search Early

Even though you may not be planning to move until the semester starts, you want to start searching at least a few months ahead of time. This gives you enough time to see what’s out there in your price range and weigh the pros and cons of different neighbourhoods. In addition, there will be hundreds of students just like you also looking for a place to rent, so starting early gives you a head start on the masses.

“We’re seeing a very low vacancy rate this year, as a result of increased renters, and in particular, an increase in student renters due to a backlog of program deferrals caused by the pandemic,” reflects Tina Thygesen, VP of Property Management at Mission Group. “More than ever, it’s important for students to begin their search early, have a shortlist of ideal properties that they can watch and wait for vacancies, and know what their dealbreakers are in a home.”

With only 2,120 beds for the nearly-12,000 students who attend the Okanagan campus, Tina notes that students should begin to plan their housing needs as soon as they are accepted to their program of choice. “At Mission Group, our goal is to ensure that students have a positive, fun, and friendly experience finding housing — this is the beginning of a new adventure for many of our residents, and we believe it’s our responsibility to make sure it’s as smooth as possible. With the high demand for homes on campus, we encourage students to consider their choices and get on waitlists as early as possible to avoid disappointment.”

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3. Visit the Property in Person

No matter how many pictures there are online of a particular property, you can never get a true sense of a place unless you see it in person. A site visit allows you to experience things that you would never get to online including noise levels, lighting, and the atmosphere of the neighbourhood. On your walk-through, you can also try the faucets and electrical outlets to make sure they work, make note of any furnishings you may want to buy, and discuss any questions or concerns with the landlord.

4. Make Sure You Understand the Lease

Every lease is different, so you want to make sure you know what’s included. For example, your monthly rent may not cover things like heat, electricity, internet, or parking. Some landlords may take a security deposit or first and last month’s rent to ensure that they’re covered in case anything is damaged or in the event that you leave before the rental contract is finished. Some other things to ask about include how long the rental period is, whether pets are allowed, and if you can sublet the property.

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Finding the ideal student rental can take time, but it doesn’t have to be painful. There are plenty of resources available to make the process as seamless as possible!

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