Considerations for renting an apartment in downtown VANCOUVER
If you are planning to move downtown Vancouver British Columbia there are quite a few things to consider before renting an apartment. Here is the perspective of someone who has rented over 100 apartments for clients. This guide focuses on the downtown Vancouver core bounded by False Creek, Stanley Park, Burrard Inlet, and Main Street.
Location, Location, Location
Vancouver includes some pretty interesting neighborhoods, so try to pick one that fits your personality, style and budget. Possibilities include:
The Central Business District revolving around Bentall Center, Hotel Vancouver, the bank towers, and Pacific Center. This area is mostly office towers and hotels, with few residential options. The Hudson building at 610 Granville is a notable exception that includes many privately owned rental apartments. The Central Business District lacks a lot of nightlife compared to some areas of Vancouver and it somewhat empties out at night but for easy access to the office tower you work in, it can't be beat.
Yaletown is the premium residential area in Downtown Vancouver with plenty of shiny new residential towers, a few warehouses converted to cool lofts, and few buildings built/converted longer ago than the mid 80s. Hugging False Creek with water bus access up and down the Creek and over to Granville Island, Yaletown has become even more convenient with the addition of the Yaletown/Roundhouse Skytrain Station that connects residents to the Central Business District and the Vancouver Airport.
Crosstown is an up and coming area sandwiched between the Central Business District, Rogers Arena and Gastown, with Chinatown to the East. This is a gentrified area with a bit of grit but lots of conveniences like the Stadium Skytrain Station, groceries at T&T and the markets of Chinatown.
Gastown offers a taste of old Vancouver and is the tourist mecca of the left coast city. Cobblestone streets, trendy clubs and no skyscrapers (other than the new W tower) make Gastown an interesting place to live. Downsides include proximity to the Downtown Eastside and its drug related social problems. Gastown continues to encroach on the Downtown Eastside, Canada's poorest postal code.
Davie Village is Vancouver's own gayberhood and a great place for great eats. It is also a short walk to the beach at English Bay. Rental building are often older, dating to the 1960s or before.
The Westend of Vancouver offers many older and low-rise rental properties and lies closer to Stanley Park. It is very residential in nature with Davie Village providing the conveniences needed for living. Like all Vancouver downtown neighbourhoods, the Westend is within a reasonable walk of the Central Business District.
Coal Harbor is a newer area for highrise living. Higher end buildings on the North edge of the city compete for renters attention. The whole area is so new it seems a little sterile to some residents. Little street action, limited commercial activity but closeness to the convention center and Waterfront Station make up for the lack of character for most residents.
Beach Crescent is a neighborhood of residential highrises, mostly Concord Pacific creations, sitting to the west of Yaletown. There are some pretty high end buildings in the Beach Crescent area, with fantastic amenities. Easy access to the seawall for strolling and some great views of False Creek set Beach Crescent apart from other areas of Downtown Vancouver.
Cost of Rental Suites
At the top end, Coal Harbor, Beach Crescent and Yaletown are going to offer the most premium options. Each area will also include lower priced suites if you are willing to settle for a small suite with no view or an older building.
The Westend and Davie Village offer many options for the budget restricted renter within the confines of the generally expensive Vancouver real estate market.
Crosstown and Gastown are good options for the more adventurous renter since they have both renovated historic buildings and modern highrises, but at a bit of a discount to comparable properties in Yaletown.
The Central Business District in Vancouver is going to be somewhat more expensive for a similar suite than any of the surrounding neighborhoods.
Furnished vs Unfurnished
Many people, like Vancouver bound ESL students, need short-term furnished housing. Unlike many smaller cities, Vancouver offers many furnished apartments to rent. Quality is a real challenge though because many landlord just throw in random old or IKEA furniture and call the suite furnished. Searching Craigslist or one of the many listing agencies for Vancouver furnished apartments will yield a wide range of price and quality options. For good temporary furnished apartments consider working with a professional corporate housing company, even if it is just while you hunt for a long-term lease.