Student Guide and Resources
NIC prepared extensive information to assist you navigate your academic life, prepare for living in Vancouver and have a better understanding of Canadian culture. Access these resources through the topics below:
Moving to a new city can be both daunting and exciting. Because of this, you may want to consider initially staying at a Homestay, which is a type of accommodation that defines the phrase a home away from home. Vancouver is known for being expensive when it comes to apartments.
A studio apartment of 400 sq.ft. / 37 sqm can run for CA $1,000 a month all the way to CA $2,200 depending on whether it’s furnished and includes utilities, as well as on the location (Downtown Vancouver versus surrounding areas and beyond – in theory, the farther, the cheaper).
Before choosing an apartment, consider your needs, as well as the cost of transportation and groceries and how they work out for you in the overall budget you have. You may also want to consider rooming up with fellow classmates, or in apartments seeking roommates. Additionally, there are a lot of scams out there, so we advise students never to give a deposit upfront before viewing an apartment. This gives you a chance to confirm its legitimacy before signing a rental contract.
Most students search online for accommodations to rent. Here are some commonly used websites:
- Rentals.ca https://rentals.ca/vancouver
- Rent faster: https://www.rentfaster.ca/bc/vancouver/
- Kijiji: https://www.kijiji.ca/b-apartments-condos/british-columbia/c37l9007
- PadMapper: https://www.padmapper.com/apartments/vancouver-bc
- Craigslist: https://vancouver.craigslist.org/d/apartments-housing-for-rent/search/apa
- Roomies: https://www.roomies.com
- NIC List: https://www.niclist.ca/
Choosing a Neighbourhood
When choosing a neighborhood consider the following:
- Do you want to live within walking distance to campus?
- Will you be taking transit to get around?
- How close is the nearest bus stop?
- How close is it to places like grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants, and banks?
- What are the terms of the rental agreement? Month to month? Yearly?
- It is furnished or unfurnished? Furnished accommodations usually cost a bit more but buying furniture and everything else you need to set up a home can be expensive. It is common for shared accommodations to be partially furnished; for example, the kitchen and living room might be furnished, but you would need to furnish your bedroom.
- Are utilities like electricity, water, and gas included in the rent?
- Are there laundry facilities, and are they free or do you have to pay?
- Are cable and internet included in the rent?
- Is it shared with other people? Are they also students? Will you share the same lifestyle?
Protecting Yourself as a Renter
Review the Tenancy Policy Guidelines
to understand your rights and responsibilities
as a tenant in BC.
Utilities and Internet
Typically, the utilities that you need to set up are outlined in the lease. If there is any doubt, ask your landlord. You may be responsible for some or all of the following:
Electricity: BC Hydro has been British Columbia’s largest generator and distributor of electricity for decades and this government-regulated utility provides all the electricity for the entire lower mainland and beyond.
Setting up an account is easy and can be done on-line. For renters, you’ll need to provide your new address, phone number, and your landlord’s name and contact information. You will be charged a nominal fee for set up (about $14).
Gas: Depending in your home’s heating type, you will need to hook natural gas. FortisBC (https://www.fortisbc.com/ ) is the sole regulated distributor of natural gas in Vancouver. You can set yourself up, close, or move your FortisBC account on their site.
Water/Sewer: This is typically taken care by your landlord. If this cost is passed on to you, the tenant, you can pay your utility bill at variety of financial institutions, at City Hall or through pre-authorized, automatic monthly payments.
Internet/Cable: Most often these utilities are purchased together though not necessarily. Do your research to determine best rates and the best service for your specific needs. Visit https://www.comparemyrates.ca/ to run a comparison of rates for internet, mobile, cable, car insurance and more. In Vancouver,
the biggest providers of internet and cable services are Shaw and Telus.
Garbage/Recycling Collection: In the Greater Vancouver area, property taxes ensure garbage/recycling pickup on a weekly basis. The City of Vancouver website is also a good resource. Look up your pickup schedule so you know when to set out your bins if you are in a house, duplex, triplex or fourplex. If you live in an apartment tower, you will not be responsible for garbage/recycling collection. Just do your part and recycle properly!
Refer to the City of Vancouver’s https://recyclebc.ca/vancouver/ if you are unsure of what can or cannot be recycled.
Homestays and shared accommodations
New Image College work closely with partners that can help you find the best solution for you when you move to Vancouver. At first, it may be a good idea to avoid the commitment of a contract, and have enough time to meet new people, get to know your classmates, establish friendships and decide if you want to room with anyone. We understand that individuals have different needs and because of that we offer many types of accommodations:
It is a type of accommodation that defines the phrase a home away from home. It involves staying with a family which gives you the chance to connect with local people that can help guide you, and where applicable, the opportunity to improve your language skills.
It is a type of accommodation that offers its guests exclusive, comfortable, spacious, well located furnished and equipped apartments and houses which are shared among students. This option is recommended for independent, mature, and responsible individuals open to share cultures and interests with other students (couples welcome!)
Suite accommodation offers the convenience and comfort you may experience at your own house. Guests choosing this option relish quality time and value the urban perks of living in a private Suite just minutes away from public transportation and walking distance to your School.
If you do not already have a Canadian mobile plan, you may want to consider the option of obtaining one for communications purposes. This may include the need to purchase a new phone locally, or you can bring an unlocked phone so that you can install a Canadian or Vancouver specific SIM card into it. Another option is that many Canadian cellphone providers offer cheap or free cellphones if you sign a contract (cancellation fees may apply if the contract is two years of duration or less). You may need a Canadian credit card and documentation (such as a BC ID card or your passport) to purchase a monthly post-paid phone plan or SIM card. Different cellphone providers will have different requirements.
If you are from Canada, please be aware that not all contract or prepaid plans cover country-wide minutes / messaging / data and may be province specific, thereby incurring additional usage costs to your existing plan. You may want to consider an upgrade, or a new plan upon arriving in Vancouver.
If you are from the United States or Mexico, a viable temporary alternative may be networks from your own country that occasionally provide plans benefiting from NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) / CUSMA (Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement) that allow you to use your plan minutes, messages and data while in Canada at no extra cost. You should only consider this as a temporary solution, and only combined with a local VoIP number through services such as Fongo (www.fongo.com), while considering a more long-term solution. VoIP numbers are prone to failure outside of access to good wireless internet and mobile data networks, or may otherwise not operate as expected due to limitations for your specific device, faulty software, or from interference in the area you may be in.
Mobile plans in Canada tend to be more expensive when compared to other countries, so take your time assessing your needs in terms of minutes, texting and data. Look for reviews posted online regarding the many available networks. Some offer data only plans which may suffice for your needs, others are talk and text exclusive plans, others have a mix of all of the above. Some may offer discounted rates for being local only, or province wide. The priciest plans are the Canada-wide plans that also sometimes include international calling and/or roaming to specific countries and regions. Some networks you may want to take a look at include:
SIM cards can be purchased with different plan options at kiosks throughout the city and inside stores. There are several telecommunications companies hosted at Pacific Centre a few blocks from New Image College as well.
Voltage and Electrical Outlets
Voltage: 120 V.
Frequency: 60 Hz.
The power sockets/plus: type A and B.
Identification and Documents
In Vancouver most forms of personal ID are considered acceptable, including international IDs, but we’ll cover a few options. It is always a good idea to carry a piece of photo identification with you, but we recommend that you leave your passport at home in a safe place whenever you do not require it for something specific.
If you are Canadian, your Passport and valid government recognized photo IDs will be accepted.
If you are an international or co-op student, you will be asked to have a valid passport as well as your respective permits to have access to certain services. For simpler identification purposes, other forms of photo ID from your home country may be acceptable, but always review all the requirements for any given situation such as visiting establishments providing alcoholic beverages.
Identification documents issued by the government are considered the most credible forms of ID. This is because of the security and screening processes used to verify each person’s identity.
Both provincial and federal governments provide citizens with ID. Find out how to get these important ID documents:
Provincial Government ID
Federal Government ID
If you have lost your wallet, make sure that you cancel and replace all of your important cards. Here is a list to help you through this process so that you replace your cards and identification in the right order:
Immediately report that your debit or credit cards are lost by contacting the bank, financial institution or retail store.
Let the police know that you lost your wallet, in case it gets turned in.
Social Insurance Number (SIN)
Once in Canada, you can apply for your SIN Number: a nine-digit number that is required for work in Canada and grants access to government programs and benefits. Click here to learn more.
SINs are issued to one person and cannot legally be used by anyone else. Your SIN is confidential, and you should protect it. We recommend that you store any document containing your SIN in a safe location and do not keep it in a wallet or on your person. Do not share your SIN unless it is required.
Your SIN will usually have the same expiry date as your study or work permit. Make sure you keep your SIN valid by extending your SIN each time you extend your temporary residency in Canada, such as getting your extended study permit.
Nearest Service Canada Office:
Service Canada Centre
Office 125 – 757 W Hasting
Family Resources Programs of BC
Non-profit membership organization dedicated to promoting and supporting community-based Family Resources Programs.
Westcoast Family Centres
Contributes to the healthy development
of children, youth, and their families. Their
mission aims to strengthen the relationship between families and their communities.
Child Care/ Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre
Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre provides information, referrals, training and resources to families, individuals and organizations who are seeking the best childcare and early learning.
Vancouver Public Library
The Vancouver Public Library system extends across the entire metropolitan area and offers a wide range of free services to everyone and is worth taking a look into. Across 21 locations, https://www.vpl.ca/hours-locations, VPL is the most-visited major urban library per capita in Canada. The library provides community information, programs for children, youth, and adults, and delivery to homebound individuals
Vancouver is a city with a rich and diverse culture, a mix of Pacific Northwest outdoorsy-ness, First Nations history and art, and Chinese Canadian and Asian-Canadian heritage. Vancouver’s top cultural attractions each embody an aspect of Vancouver culture and are the perfect way for visitors to get
a feel for what makes the city so exceptional.
Top 10 Museums and Galleries in Vancouver: https://www.tripsavvy.com/top-museums-galleries-in-vancouver-3371170
- Towns: White Rock, Steveston, Port Moody, Horseshoe Bay, Bowen Island, Victoria, Whistler
- Ski Hills: Grouse Mountain, Mt. Seymour, Whistler, Cypress Mountain
- Beaches: English Bay, Kitsilano, Wreck Beach, Second Beach, Thirrd Bach, Sunset Beach, Spanish Banks, Jericho Bay
- Hikes: Lynn Canyon, Capilano Suspension Bridge, Quarry Rock (Deep Cove), The Grouse Grind, Mounte Fromme, Squamish
Check out Hello BC: https://www.hellobc.com/places-to-go/vancouver/ and Tourism BC: https://www.tourismvancouver.com/ for more exciting tourist information.
Vancouver hosts a log of events in arts and culture. There is always a cool festival, event, live music, opening taking place. Here are a few websites to keep track of all Vancouver has to offer.
This section is for the students taking Makeup, Special FX, Nails or Spa program. You will need to purchase products during your program to replenish items in your kit and for various projects. Here a list of suggested places to start if you are looking into stocking up.
- Kingdom Beauty
- West Coast Beauty
- Special FX
- Studio F/X
- Fiber Tek
- Esthetics (Nails and Spa)
- Secret Nails
- Sally’s Beauty
- West Coast Beauty
Getting Around /Transportation
Public Transportation: Metro Vancouver has a transit system (known as TransLink) that includes buses (including express and night buses), the Sea Bus (passenger-only ferries between downtown Vancouver and the North Shore), community shuttles and the West Coast Express (a commuter train between downtown Vancouver and Mission). In addition to these, there is also the SkyTrain (an elevated rapid transit train, metro system or subway system). SkyTrain links with a network of buses at many stations and the Sea Bus at Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver. SkyTrain runs every three to five minutes.
- For trip planning see: https://www.translink.ca/trip-planner
- For fare zones (pricing by region and mode of travel) see:
- For information on the reloadable fare Compass Card see: https://www.translink.ca/transit-fares/compass-card
Bicycles & Bicycle Sharing: Vancouver is known worldwide for being a bike friendly city. There is a lot of emphasis on physical and outdoor activities such as hiking, sight-seeing, walking and biking! So, you may want to consider this as an alternative to public transportation or even a car.
The city has provided bike routes, air pumps, parking/racks/ corrals for your convenience, and most residential areas and towers in and outside of Vancouver provide facilities for stowing your bike. Click here for more information.
Vancouver’s public bike share system – Mobi by Shaw Go has bicycles located across the network at secure, easy-to-use docking stations, Mobi by Shaw Go offers a convenient, comfortable, flexible, and affordable way to get around. Mobi is available by purchasing a 24-hour, 30-day, or 365-day pass. The rates are best suited for short rides, while those looking for longer rides will find better rates at local bike rental shops.
Cars & Car Sharing: Driving in Vancouver is relatively easy, and laws are generally respected and well observed. Obtaining a Driver’s License can be as simple as walking into an Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) office with the right documents but will depend on a case-by-case basis.
You should consider applying for a British Columbia Driver’s License for a stay that will extend beyond six months. For more specific laws, regulations, and requirements, please review the information provided by ICBC (www.icbc.com). Licenses can also include your MSP Personal Health Number (PHN). There are additional licensing options with travel features to the US for Canadians, such as the Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) and the Enhanced ID (EIC). Requirements will vary depending on your province or country of origin.
Car sharing is also available throughout Vancouver such as Evo Care Share (www.evo.ca) and Modo (www.modo.coop) among others, which provide convenient locations throughout the metropolitan area for occasional vehicular use. It is as easy as having an account, an attached credit card, and using their apps to find a car.
Taxi: Vancouver has a few taxi companies available, some of which possess apps that can be used to hail a cab, but otherwise, you should call for a cab or request one (for example: at the airport). Some of the companies are:
- Yellow Cab – (604) 681-1111 – iOS & Android App Available
- Black Top & Checker Cabs – (604) 731-1111 – iOS & Android App Available
- Vancouver Taxi – (604) 871-1111 – iOS & Android App Available
Parking Transit and Accessibility
Vancouver is known for being a very walkable city with a compact downtown core, so you’ll likely find many of the places you want to go are just a short walk.
New Image College campus are conveniently located in Downtown Vancouver. Everything you need (transit stations, restaurants and cafes to grocery stores, pharmacies, libraries, community centres, health and leisure facilities) is only a short distance away.
Parking at the campus can be found in the paid underground parkade as well as surrounding paid lots and side streets. You can find all parking information here.
When arriving in Vancouver, you have several options to get to your accommodation. Options for transport: