Help me find a place to live for 6 weeks near Simon Fraser University!
February 6, 2011 2:07 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to find a place to live in Vancouver for 5-6 weeks this summer. It needs to be someplace that I can take transit to Simon Fraser University each day, and preferably someplace a skinny male will not be scared to walk alone at night.

I am talking with a professor at Simon Fraser University about working for him this summer. Unfortunately I was only put in contact with him after the undergraduate grant date had past, so he can only afford to pay me for 6 weeks instead of the full summer. His research is very interesting, so I'm willing to take the financial hit of not working the full summer- I'll fill in the rest of it with a couple of summer classes at my home university, which will actually allow me to graduate earlier than I expected. The one problem is finding a place to live for 5-6 weeks. I really don't want to end up paying for a place in Vancouver all summer when I am only using it for 6 weeks at most. I'd pay for 2 months if I have to, but I'm not sure I can afford both my place in Ontario, and one in Vancouver for the full summer.

Complicating this is the fact that I am from Ontario and don't really know anyone in Vancouver, or much about the city other than it rains a lot and you don't want to live in the lower East bit of it (though I have no idea what counts as the lower east bit).

Does anyone have any suggestions for where I can live? I've asked the professor if he knows whether SFU would rent me a room for that period, as they only have semester & daily rates on the website. A fast google gave me a bunch of executive rooms and such, and I have no idea how hard it would be to get from any place I find to campus, though I have been told Vancouver has a great transit system (I do not drive).

I did talk to someone I worked with last year, who recommended something near the "millennium line" or "expo line" skytrains, or possibly in Burnaby.

Thank you for any help, even if it is just 'Try this region' or 'don't live near X'
posted by Canageek to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, I also forgot to say: I can also be contacted at my MeFi name if want more details or don't want to answer publicly. (Or saw this through my twitter feed or such and don't have a MeFi membership. Alternatively, get a MeFi membership and email me. Metafilter is awesome.)
posted by Canageek at 2:10 PM on February 6, 2011

Best answer: You do probably want someplace in Burnaby, and near the SkyTrain. Partly because if you stay in Burnaby you'll be within one fare zone, and yes, living near the Skytrain makes getting around without a car a hell of a lot easier and faster. There's system maps on the website.

Where you definitely want to avoid is the downtown east-side. Especially the area bounded by north of Terminal/1st up to the water, and between Cambie and Commercial. There's some other areas like the Whalley neighborhood in Surrey that can be sketchy.

I'd look at north of Kingsway, east of Boundary, west of the North Rd boundary between Burnaby/Coquitlam).

For temporary housing, out there they're often called homestays. Houses where the landlord rents-out the rooms on a daily or weekly basis. The one's I've stayed in were around $100/week. Essentially a house where the furnished rooms are rented-out, shared kitchen/bathroom, free wi-fi.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 2:43 PM on February 6, 2011

It doesn't rain in the summer! Day after day of gorgeous paradise! Shhhh it's a secret.

The downtown eastside is the place you were told to avoid, though to be honest it is not very dangerous, just very very poor, full of homeless, and struggling with drugs and prostitution and so on. This is the area along Hastings St, bounded roughly by Abbott St and maybe Heatley, and extending one or two blocks north and south of Hastings.

You'll find that SFU is quite removed from the city, being up on a lonely little mountain, and that unless you live on campus you will have to get used to riding the bus. You can approach it from the west via the 135, an express bus that runs along Hastings and connects with the downtown Vancouver campus, or via the Skytrain at Production Station, via a 10 minute bus.

Trying to live near Hastings is a good idea and perfectly safe once you're well east of downtown. There is a great neighborhood near Hastings and Nanaimo, known as "Hastings Sunrise", that is affordable and friendly. You could also live along Commercial Drive, which is a multicultural bohemian neighborhood; the shops and stuff start at Georgia and go south. Plenty of SFU students live around here. These are about 35 to 40 min bus ride to SFU, and maybe 15 minutes to downtown Vancouver, which is nice if you want a chance to see the city while you're here. You could also go closer to SFU (and farther from Vancouver) by living in Burnaby along Hastings, but I don't know that part of town as well.

Alternatively you will find lots of stuff near skytrain stations which would be viable, but you will probably be in more suburban neighborhoods that will not be as interesting or comfy to live in, and you won't save that much time compared to the Hastings bus. Though the skytrain also gives you quick access to downtown.

As for how to find such a place, there are plenty of temporary rentals that appear on craigslist, especially in the summer; odds are decent you'll find something. Ask your prof to spam the department grad students as well.
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:44 PM on February 6, 2011

Best answer: The main routes to SFU are the 135 bus along Hastings and the 145 bus from Production Way station (a station on the Millenium Line of the Skytrain).

If you're using transit, you probably want to live somewhere where you can take one of those routes - they're both quite frequent. Most SFU students I've known have commuted from Burnaby Heights (135) or somewhere in Burnaby/New Westminster/Coquitlam near a Skytrain station (short train ride to Production Way then the bus to SFU).

I really wouldn't worry much about safety.

Also, most housing in Vancouver is found through Craigslist - you should probably start there. There are lots of listings for temporary places, and you might be able to find someone willing to take you on as a short-term roommate.
posted by ripley_ at 2:50 PM on February 6, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers already. I just mentioned the safety as my brother recently started at Laurier-Brantford and stated that even the athletic fit guys like him only go out at night in groups as there have been several stabbings near (and at least one on) campus already.
posted by Canageek at 2:54 PM on February 6, 2011

Vancouver is actually a pretty safe place, over-all. The sketchy area is the quite tiny Downtown Eastside, where you wouldn't want to live, anyway. SFU is actually located in the suburb of Burnaby, this is a good place to live if you don't drive, however almost anywhere in Vancouver east of Main street will work well for you, the dividing line between Burnaby and East Van is purely artificial. Somewhere within easy walking distance of the bus routes along Hastings or Broadway will be adequate, as the Skytrain doesn't actually go up Burnaby Mountain where the Campus is perched.

As an aside, it usually won't really be raining here in the summer (much), don't tell anyone else this, though.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 3:02 PM on February 6, 2011

Just nthing that besides the aforementioned DTES (downtown east side), there isn't really anywhere* I would be uncomfortable living, as a single female. What will make it most uncomfortable otherwise is a lack of transportation, which is why being on a major bus or skytrain route will be essential.

SFU really is in the middle of nowhere, but the good news is that it's served well by transit. All the aforementioned areas are good. If you want to go even cheaper (and aren't really looking for cuture, just functionality), I would also suggest looking into the Lougheed Mall area (also a skytrain station on the 'millenium line'), which is the east side of Burnaby. Metrotown (south west Burnaby) in is also very, very convenient, pretty urban for Burnaby, and is served by two skytrain stations. Keep in mind that Burnaby in itself is pretty huge geographically speaking, just like Vancouver is.

Craigslist is your friend here. You also might want to see if SFU has any sort of housing listing avalable, but others would be better served to give advice on that.

That being said, I'd stay away from Whalley (in Surrey), as well. I've lived there, and would do it again in a pinch before the DTES, but yeah... not the most pleasant area either. The only reason I'm mentioning it is because I don't want the OP to think it's an option because it's got a couple skytrain stations as well.
posted by cgg at 3:25 PM on February 6, 2011

What are you studying? I knew a geology student who would camp in the forest next to SFU. That was 20 years ago, but there's still lots of forest. For six weeks, it might be tempting, even fun (if, of course, officially not allowed.) The nice bathrooms on campus are in Maggie Benston, btw.
Seriously, though, stay in Burnaby or New West - a single bus zone. Parts of New West are run down (though not as bad as downtown eastside), so I'd say stick with Burnaby near Skytrain or a single bus run, for simplicity. Bus/train map is available at Translink website, so you can see which buses go where.
posted by Listener at 3:29 PM on February 6, 2011

Response by poster: Listener: I'm studying chemistry, and have never done anything more than overnight camping before, so that is very much not an option. Thanks for the idea though.
posted by Canageek at 3:43 PM on February 6, 2011

It sounds like you'll be there pretty briefly -- you may ask the professor if there's anyone has a summer sublet -- a number of professors may be gone for a bit and glad for the help with rent. (Or maybe Simon Frasier has an online bulletin board with this sort of thing?) When I was at UBC, I just asked around and someone let me know who had space. Good luck!
posted by Margalo Epps at 4:04 PM on February 6, 2011

Try the sfu student housing office which, at least when I was a student there a couple years ago, have information about off campus housing as well as info in living in residence. Although because sfu is pretty isolated you may be happier living somewhere in Burnaby.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 4:12 PM on February 6, 2011

Which SFU campus will you work in? Some departments are downtown (business school) and others are in Burnaby.

Agree with the recommendation to look into the SFU residences if you are going to Burnaby, there are vacancies there in the summer, and the accommodations are adequate.
posted by seawallrunner at 4:26 PM on February 6, 2011

Response by poster: seawallrunner: It would be the one with the chemistry building, (the one being renovated if that helps), so I am guessing the main campus.
posted by Canageek at 4:31 PM on February 6, 2011

Talk to campus housing. SFU runs all three trimesters, so sometimes there are rooms on campus. You can also try the off-campus housing board. Both should be online.

Make sure you are talking about the main campus in Burnaby, not the downtown Vancouver or Surrey campuses. (There are profs stationed at those, too.) Sounds like you are on top of that.

Are you wanting to be super focused on school? If so, aim for on campus or right near campus. SFU is on a mountain, so you can only get so close to campus if you are not actually on it! Of all the places I lived, my faves was Lougheed Mall, since it was close to school and there were lots of amenities. These days, you also have the Skytrain there, which is great for exploring.
posted by acoutu at 9:53 PM on February 6, 2011

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