As the largest off-campus student housing provider in Western Canada, GEC Living operates multiple student rental projects across Metro Vancouver, accommodating over 3,000 students annually since 2017.
While our fully serviced and furnished student residences deliver a comfortable, secure, and convenient student living experience, some may question our rental rates, which, when compared to other options in Vancouver, may not be the most affordable.
To unravel the reasons behind the city’s expensive student rentals and the overall rental market, let’s first delve into the background of this magnificent city.
Vancouver is a popular destination for immigration and education, not only for international students and immigrants but also for Canadians from other cities. Its appeal lies in its natural beauty, ranking as one of the best cities to live in.
World-class institutions like UBC and technology companies like Amazon and Microsoft attract top talent worldwide. The city’s scenic setting, with mountains to the north and the sea to the west, makes it an ideal place for wealth to retire or establish a second or vacation home since the 20th century.
However, this popularity has come at a cost, making Vancouver one of the most expensive cities to live in globally. This translates into mind-blowingly high rent prices with shockingly low occupancy rates across the city in recent years.
Vancouver faces constraints on land for development, surrounded by mountains to the north, the sea to the west, the US to the south, and mostly empty land to the east. Although the government plans to extend the current SkyTrain line to Langley, which is more than an hour away from Downtown Vancouver, and most schools and companies are far from the east.
Additionally, Vancouver’s high percentage of single-detached houses occupied land makes it challenging to build new condos or apartments, as demolishing these houses is expensive.
Even with available land or old houses ready for demolition, obtaining permits to build condos or apartments can take years. The construction industry, hit hard by rising worker and material costs since 2021, and many developers had to pause their projects in Vancouver in recent years.
In summary, the high cost of Vancouver’s rental market is influenced by multiple factors and doesn’t appear to be resolved anytime soon.
In 2015, Global Education Communities Corp. (T.GEC, GEC Living’s parent company) addressed the student housing shortage by acquiring Viva Tower, a luxury serviced residence in Downtown Vancouver. Transformed into GEC Viva, the first off-campus student residence, it offered turnkey accommodation services at an affordable cost, quickly becoming home to over 1,000 students worldwide in its first year.
Since 2015, GEC has expanded its portfolio, establishing partnerships with nearly 100 schools throughout Vancouver. With five locations and seven fully operational residence buildings, GEC has seven additional buildings currently under development.
Before 2020, Vancouver property prices were not as high, making it relatively easier and cheaper for GEC Living to acquire several suitable lands for rental building development. The timing of this rapid expansion is one of the major reasons for GEC Living’s growth in recent years.
Since 1994, GECC has been providing education-related services globally and has established strong relationships with educational agencies and most schools in Metro Vancouver. As the first player in student residences in Vancouver with strong ties to schools, GECC quickly garnered significant support from schools and the government to support its vision.
All current and future GEC Living residences are strategically positioned to cater to the high demand for student housing in Vancouver, offering an ideal commute of no more than 30 minutes to most schools via transit.
A move-in-ready and hassle-free experience is at the core of our business. We ensure all our residences are prepared for move-in, much like returning home from a vacation, with everything organized, cleaned, and ready for residents to rest and enjoy.
All GEC residences offer a complete living experience with fully furnished spaces, in-suite laundry, all-inclusive utilities (hydro, electricity, gas, and Wi-Fi), on-site management, and housekeeping and some residences offer features like gyms and common areas.
Furthermore, GEC Living is one of the few rental accommodation providers that offers a minimum one-month lease compared to a one-year fixed lease with most of the other rental options in Vancouver.
All GEC residences are equipped with CCTV around every corner, centrally monitored remotely. Our in-house team monitors any unsuspected activities across our residences and follows our protocols if further action is needed.
Every GEC Residences has its own on-site management team. Minor repairs and maintenance can typically be addressed on the same day. Our diverse team ensures that all residents have access to assistance for any issues or conflicts that require our expertise.
While GEC Living is not a 5-star hotel or world-class student accommodation yet, we strive for it as our goal. Our experienced diverse team continuously improves based on feedback from residents and partners, balancing considerations like services, design, features, and pricing to provide the best quality at a reasonable price.
It is almost impossible to offer affordable rates when including all the benefits mentioned above, especially when aiming to build and provide more student residences.
However, GEC doesn’t charge the top rent rates either. Our team regularly adjusts prices based on market data, adding a slightly higher percentage to ensure enough funding for future projects.
In conclusion, with such a high demand for student rentals in Vancouver, it’s impossible to accommodate everyone’s needs in a short time frame. Therefore, we aim for a sweet spot that aligns with both student and business needs. We believe that student housing is more than just a space; it’s a platform, like many distinguished universities, connecting like-minded people to build connections, memories, and grow and learn together.