Apartment Tips in Vancouver

As part of our recent relocation to Vancouver, for the past 2-3 weeks we’ve been on the hunt for a new place.  We’ve had the luxury of subletting an apartment for 2 months until we found the right apartment for our budget.  I honestly didn’t think we’d find a good place for us until October, but we came across a small condo downtown that we just had to get.

Finding an apartment can be a challenge, especially in a hot market like Vancouver’s.  We established a fairly good rhythm in keeping a close eye on upcoming suites.  I wanted to share a few websites and tips that helped us find the perfect place.

  1. Utilize Google Reader to streamline searches - Both Craigslist and Kijiji seem to have a bulk of the apartment listings in the Vancouver area.  However, repeatedly viewing these sites can often keep you guessing as to which ads you’ve seen and which you haven’t.  Google Reader has the ability to slurp up any RSS feed and both Craigslist and Kijiji searches are RSS friendly.  Simply search the website based on your criteria (rent, location, etc.) and copy/paste the URL into Google Reader.  This also makes it easy to share potential suites via email.
  2. PadMapper (and to a lesser extent HousingMaps) rocks - PadMapper is one of the best websites out there for locating apartments based on location.  Simply provide your city, price range and other criteria and PadMapper will show you apartments using Google Maps.  The ads are pulled from Craigslist, Kijiji and other lesser-known listing websites.  HousingMaps also does the same, but I found that the results just weren’t as good.
  3. Use Google Docs to track places you’re interested in - We came across multiple apartments that we wanted to view in the past few weeks.  When you’re looking at multiple places at the same time you want to make sure that you keep track of each, how much is the rent, when they’re showing, etc.  We used a fairly basic shared spreadsheet in Google Docs to track which apartments we liked and would keep details as to what we thought of them.
  4. Have your shit together - When you go to view a perspective place, you’re probably not going to be the only one viewing it.  You’ll want to make sure you stand out from the crowd, so make sure you have your shit together.  Don’t dress like a bum!  Also bring paperwork that you might want to show your potential landlord.  This includes copies of credit reports, letters of employment, references, etc.  It’s likely you won’t need these when viewing, but it shows that you’re prepared should you want to submit an application then and there.
  5. A good landlord is just as important as a good apartment - We talked to a ton of potential landlords in the past few weeks.  Some were nice, some seemed nice and some might be downright crazy.  Finding a punctual landlord who’s responsive to calls and emails is important, especially if they’re not going to be living in the same building as you (as is the case for most condos).
These tips helped us locate a place in Vancouver in a matter of weeks.  What other websites, techniques or tools do you use to find a great apartment?