You may have heard of Whistler's “Housing Crisis”. It’s true, Whistler doesn’t have enough affordable housing for the people that move here each year. There are also no regulations controlling how much landlords are allowed to charge, and little policing of the quality of the property. This can make finding a place to live really challenging!
We've all had the rite of passage of arriving and thinking "Shit, I'm never going to find a place to live.'' It is important to start looking for housing right away, as in Whistler having somewhere to live is almost more important than getting a job. Employers WILL ask you if you have somewhere to live for the season and if you say no, they are unlikely to hire you.
Here's a list of tips to help you find a home in Whistler.
Arrive in summer
There is significantly more availability during the summer season (June through September), and if you can secure a 1-year lease during this time, you're on the path to success. Summertime is when the really good places get snapped up, arriving in November will leave the worst rooms to the highest, most desperate bidder, and competition is fierce.
Slum it in the hostel
Book 2-3 weeks in one of Whistler's hostels before you arrive. Give yourself time to find a place, as you'll have to shop around. There are five hostels in Whistler, with beds for $25-70/night. There's the HI Hostel in Cheakamus, Southside Lodge, Fireside Lodge and Whistler Lodge Hostel (all in the Creekside area), and Alpine Lodge in, you guessed it, Alpine. These are all on the bus routes and provide plenty of information to get yourself familiar with the area.
Get on Facebook. Upload a picture, describe yourself honestly, and state how much you are willing to pay. Landlords will want an honest picture of you, simply writing "young sober professional female" doesn't cut it anymore. Talk about your hobbies, your job, your home habits, etc. to help find a good fit. You can also search for houses on Craigslist, where the same rules apply - don't use a blanket response for every inquiry, try and sell yourself and make each message unique to the place you are applying for! Obviously, don't send any money without viewing a place and signing a deposit form.
Get a job with staff housing
Lots of companies in Whistler offer staff accommodation at a discounted rate (mostly shared rooms), and often you can secure a job and a bed before arriving here if you really fit the part. Bigger companies who offer staff accommodation are Whistler Blackcomb, The Fairmont, The Westin, The Four Seasons, Nita Lake Lodge... there's a lot. Indeed.ca can help you find jobs listed with staff accommodation if you type it in the search bar.
Word of mouth
Ask around. You may be surprised who is about to up and leave town and can put in a good word for you with their housemates. I have secured a room for myself on two occasions by just asking friends, coworkers etc. Keep checking pique news, Facebook, Craigslist, and don't be afraid to ask people wherever you go!
Be wary of scams
When searching for a house, do as much research as possible to get a feel for the market. The key things to remember are:
- Ask for a lease and read it before signing it.
- Never send money until you view a property and meet your prospective roommates/landlord.
- Keep asking questions until you feel comfortable. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- If a landlord asks for money and insists that for whatever reason you cannot come to a viewing, that’s a huge red flag.
Don't give up
When house hunting in Whistler, the most important thing to have (after a deposit!) is patience. You might have to couch surf, or rent month-to-month until you find somewhere with a longer lease. But don't worry, you'll get there eventually!
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