Off-campus housing guide: Finding a place to live in Kelowna

Where to search for housing

Know your budget

The cost of renting in Kelowna can vary greatly depending on location and the rental suite’s condition. Many UBCO campus students choose to live in basement suites (also called “ground floor suites”, “walk-out suites”, or “garden suites”). Basement accommodations tend to be $50 to $100/month cheaper than apartments. 

Knowing the following points when apartment hunting is important:

  • How much rent you are willing to pay 
  • What costs are included in the rental price 
  • What other costs you need to consider  

One-time costs include your security (damage) deposit (maximum of half a month’s rent), and furnishings. Recurring monthly costs include rent, utilities, Internet (if not included), cable television, household purchases, renters’ insurance (optional), and food.

Further up to date information on the costs of renting can be found online. Some websites, like Expatistan, include estimated costs of food, gas and housing.

What to look for in a place to live

Before choosing a house, it is best to know:

  • How many bedrooms and bathrooms you want (i.e., the number of tenants/roommates and whether or not you wish to share a bathroom)
  • Whether or not you need a parking space (and how many parking spaces you need)
  • Whether or not you wish to have laundry available in your unit, on-site, or commute to a nearby laundromat.

It is wise to view any potential living spaces in-person in order to assess if the listing information is accurate and if the unit meets all of your needs.

While viewing a place, it’s a great idea to do the following:

  • Bring a cellphone/camera to take photos.
  • Inquire about what utilities are included with rent, if any. (i.e., Water, Hydro, Gas, Cable, Internet).
  • Make sure to ask the property manager/landlord about the following:
    • Their contact information for further correspondence.
    • Who to contact in the case of an emergency?
    • If you have a pet, are they allowed?
  • Check for laundry machines, or if the laundry is in the apartment building.
  • Take pictures of any damages to the apartment/house.
  • Check functionality of the lights in the house.
  • Check locks.
  • Look for the closest fire exit and extinguishers.
  • Check for heating and air-conditioning and ask about their impact on bills.

How to view potential units if you are not in Kelowna

Here are some tips if you are not able to be in Kelowna when looking for housing:

  • Ask the landlord to have a video showing of the unit (over FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, etc.)
  • If a live-video showing is not possible, ask the landlord to send a video walkthrough of the unit. This helps to better understand the size and current condition of the unit (and a great way to avoid housing scams).

Kelowna Neighbourhoods

  1. Academy Hill

    Academy Hill is where the majority of off campus UBCO students live. It is approximately 5 minutes from campus, and within walking distance. There are multiple ‘U’ buildings on the hill, as well as VEDA living. VEDA offers studio living, whereas the ‘U’ buildings consist of 2–3-bedroom apartments. More information on the ‘U’ buildings can be found at Mission Group Rentals.

  2. Rutland

    Many students find living in Rutland convenient because it is close to campus (15-20 minutes by transit). Rutland is primarily a residential area with essential amenities nearby, such as grocery stores and pharmacies. Mission Creek Park is located in Rutland and is a great place for hiking and cycling.

  3. Quail Ridge

    Quail Ridge is a residential area that is accessible by bus. It is approximately a 25-minute walk from the UBC Okanagan campus. The houses in this area are beautiful and have great views from the hill. Many students have made this place their home.

  4. Glenmore

    Glenmore is primarily residential, so you are likely to find many houses and basement suites available for rent in this area. There are a few restaurants and small grocery stores nearby.

  5. Downtown Kelowna

    There are many apartments and residential houses in and around Kelowna’s downtown area. There are many activities for students downtown, including festivals, cultural events, and a wide variety of restaurants. The main bus loop, Queensway station, is downtown, as well as many other attractions including the Kelowna Museum, library, Prospera Place, and several art galleries.

  6. Lake Country

    There are often many basement suites available for student rentals in Lake Country, which can be anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes from campus. Rent in Lake Country is often cheaper than in Kelowna, but many houses may not be near a bus route. If you have a car, the commute to school is faster than from other parts of Kelowna due to easy access to Highway 97.

  7. West Kelowna

    Kelowna’s Westside is located across the Okanagan Lake, and many families offer basement suite rentals with lake views. The west-side is approximately a 30–40-minute drive from UBC’s Okanagan campus; however, the bus route takes longer.

Transport and groceries

When choosing a place to live, make sure to consider the available transit routes, especially if you don’t own a car. The farther away you are from campus, the more important it may be to have access to a convenient bus route to help you get to UBC Okanagan and other important locations like a nearby grocery store.

All transportation in Kelowna is official BC Transit. The transit routes cover almost the entirety of Kelowna and have busses that travel most times during the day, including early morning and late night for some routes. You can find a map of all of the available routes and bus numbers on BC Transit’s website here.

Mobile Applications and web-applications like TransitNext Ride and Google Maps, are useful when using Kelowna’s transit system to plan your bus trips.

The UBCO tuition also includes access to a U-Pass that allows students to take the bus at no additional charge. The information for UBCO’s U-Pass can be found here.

Grocery Stores

Grocery stores in Kelowna are in abundance. To name a few in the area, there are Real Canadian Superstores, Walmarts, Freshcos, Safeways, Save-on-Foods, Nesters, and more. Searching “grocery stores near me” in Google Maps will allow you to see grocery stores nearby your potential apartment, including some of the more unique grocery stores in the area.

Housing scams and how to avoid them

A “scam” is a fraudulent scheme that fools people into giving away their money for nothing in return. Scams can be common when finding housing over the internet.  

Sites like Craigslist, Facebook and Castanet can be littered with scams. When using sites like these, it is helpful to know the techniques that scammers use and you should never send anyone money until you are confident that the person and the listing is real. 

Below are a few red flags 🚩that could mean a listing is a scam.

  1. It sounds too good to be true
    A 5-bedroom house available for rent for only $800 in a great neighborhood? That sounds like a great deal, right? Beware! If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers will often try to lure people in by giving amazing prices or deals. If it’s super cheap, it could be a scam.   
  1. The photos are the same as another posting
    Scammers often steal photos from other advertisements and then use them in their ad. Now, since there are so many ads you might not know that the photos are stolen, but be on the lookout for this!  
  1. There are too many details
    Scammers often give lots of details about why they are selling something. It can often include a hard-luck or long, convoluted story. This is to either gain sympathy or confuse the buyer. If there are too many details, it could be a scam.  
  1. They ask for money up-front
    This is the most common way of spotting a scam. If someone asks for money before you have seen the unit or signed a contract/rental agreement, then it could be a scam. Before sending a down-payment, ask to at least meet with the landlord in-person, or over a video call. You can also ask them to send you a photo of their driver’s license. 
  1. It originates overseas
    Lots of scams come from overseas so if the seller is located overseas, it could be a scam.

What should I do if I get scammed?

It is difficult to track scammers down, but there are a few ways you can try to get your money back. If you do get scammed, you should:  

  • Contact your bank and cancel any cheques or payments made to the scammer 
  • Contact the police and give as many details of the crime as possible 
  • Contact the online site so that they can prevent the individual from scamming others in the future.
  • Update your anti-virus software on your computer to prevent viruses from the scammer.