I never thought I’d miss California housing market

This is the text I sent to my friend when I was frustrated with apartment hunting in Vancouver.

In my imagination, I was the perfect renter. I expected to see 2-3 places, pick 1 and be done with it. But the first place I applied to plain rejected me with no explanation. And then a second one the next day. Well, that was unexpected.

I had read that Vancouver had slightly better housing situation than California, I didn’t know many details. Here’s my experience, and hopefully, it’ll save you some time.

Tools: What I Used

  1. MySudo: This is an app offers virtual phone numbers to protect your privacy. I used it to get a local number before I moved. This way, I didn’t have to worry about sharing my real contact details with random websites/people.
  2. Note-taking app: You can use anything but either take notes or videos. You will end up seeing many places. For me, many days were just a blur. I used Tot, but any app will do.
  3. Canadian Bank Account: Most of the places I talked to did not want a US cheque. Some people were ok with wire transfer, but that was costly. I opened a Royal Bank of Canada bank account on the first working day and wired some money to it. I have heard good things about Wise, you may want to use that instead.

Websites: You’ll See These A Lot!

  1. Liv.rent: People on liv.rent were most responsive. There was a good number of listings, and they verify landlords and places. With verification, you don’t have to worry about getting scammed (you still night, so be cautious).
  2. Zumper: Zumper is pretty good with nice filters. I like that you can sort by newest. I found the place via this site.
  3. PadMapper: PadMapper is… fine. Their filters leave a lot to be desired. I’d recommend checking it once a day or so.
  4. Craigslist: Well, it’s craigslist! Be cautious. I mostly called/texted people with phone numbers from there. They let you sort by new, so check in the mornings and evenings. I found that I got responses if I was early enough (less than 4 hours)

Lessons Learned

  1. Most of the places become available on the first of the month, so plan accordingly.
  2. Research about the places. Visit if possible, but at least take a look on Google street view. Furthermore, looking at Google reviews can be helpful. You’ll easily find about noise levels and any other issues there.
  3. Apply everywhere: Once I realized that I wasn’t the renter unicorn that I thought I was, I applied everywhere. I got verified on liv.rent and when contacting places, I just directly sent the application as well. See below for the template I used.
  4. Be ready for rejection: Many landlords will collect applications and then select one of them based on their criteria. So be ready for rejection.

Here’s my message template that had a reasonable response rate:


I’m a Software Engineer working with Amazon and I just moved to Vancouver from California. I’m looking for an apartment for myself and this property seems like a good fit. 

I’m a quiet introvert and I don’t smoke and don’t have pets. I’ll be happy to provide references and proof of income. 

Please let me know if you need any other info and if we can schedule a showing soon. You can reach me at <mysudo email>  or <mysudo phone>.  

Thank you, 

Good luck and consider sharing your experience/advice.