Finding an Apartment to Rent in Victoria

We’re looking for rental accommodation for the first time in nine years. I was really hoping that, in the interim, things in rental property search had improved. They have, but not as much as I’d hoped. Consider our options in Victoria:

  • Craigslist – Everybody loves it, but I think the interface sucks. I can’t filter by location. Plus, the quality of the ads is seriously mixed. I have to wade through a lot of noise for a little signal.
  • – I gather this is’s housing portal. It’s actually really good. It presents results on a map, and you can sort on price, number of bedrooms and so forth. And, wonder of wonder, it looks like I can subscribe to an RSS feed for new results on my search. It’s lame, kludgy RSS, but better than nothing.
  • Random property managers’ sites – These are poorly designed, and have laughable search. Check out these results–they’re clearly designed for the property manager, not the renter. The renter cares about price, not the name of the building.

The essential problem is that, unlike, there isn’t a one-stop rental site that lists every available apartment. I ought to be able to specify my requirements on such a site, and get notified when there are apartments which meet my criteria.

Instead there are a bunch of silos, and only one of them will let me know when there’s new apartments in the inventory.

Two other observations: it’s shocking that so few of the online listings have photos. Even more shocking is the dearth of email addresses for contacting people in the classifieds. Wouldn’t they prefer to receive and manage inquiries via email instead of with a barrage of phone calls?

What We’re Looking For, and a $150 Bounty

For the record, we’re looking for a furnished, two-bedroom apartment within walking distance of downtown for less than CAN $1800, to rent as of March 15 or April 1. We want to live there for one to two years. I’ve rendered our ideal location in the magic of Google Maps:

Unless it’s exceptional, we don’t want to live in a suite in a house. I like the anonymity of apartments. We might consider renting an entire house, though that seems unlikely in this price range. Nice to haves include:

  • Close proximity to a grocery store.
  • We’d prefer not to be on the ground floor.
  • Hardwood floors.
  • A view.

I’m not relishing the thought of searching and checking out a bunch of apartments in rental-starved Victoria. So if anybody finds us the apartment which we eventually rent, I’ll pay you CAN $150.


  1. Oh, and a thought on this post. Heather, my sister, is living over in Victoria and when we last spoke of such things (Dec?) she expressed interest in getting into technicial writing and I reminded her to tap you as a resourse… I am sure the two of you could trade favours and she could help you out with the apartment search. Her email:

  2. Welcome to the neighborhood … almost.

    I used the TC’s for rent listings myself when I was looking.

    Regardless, let me know if you want me to scout a place for you and take pictures of the place.

  3. Aliya: Thanks for that. Indeed, we used PH about eight years ago to manage an apartment that my brother and I owned. I’ll drop them a line.

  4. I hear you with regards to the suckiness of the listings on CraigsList … there’s a great CraigsList / GoogleMaps mashup ( but unfortunately it doesn’t list anything in Victoria at the moment, although from time to time I’ve seen Victoria rentals pop up under the Vancouver heading.

  5. I hate with a deep burning passion. The results are often incorrect, placing apartments in east van in the downtown core, the details are sketchy (as they generally come from newspaper ads, which tells you approximately nothing) and there’s no pictures.

    The nice thing about Craigslist is that I can at least pick the ads that are more “quality” than the shitty ones, since I doubt I want to rent from someone who can’t even put a decent ad together. The newspaper ad style all look like they’re written by the same shitty person that I don’t want to rent from…

    Also, and this is only specific to me, but the fact that I can search Craigslist for “dogs allowed” makes my life infinitely easier than going through pages and pages of “np”.

  6. Darren, you do know that the Food Country in the Cook Street Village is closed? Oxford is still open, but to say it is inadequate is an understatement. They are building a new building where Food Country was, but it looks like it will be boutque retail and yet another coffee shop. For a decent grocery store you’ll be looking either the Thrifty’s in James Bay, the one in Fairfield Plaza, or the Market on Yates.

    I think that’ll find what you are looking for in Harris Green , Humboldt Valley (the Belvedere or Astoria) or possibly the older highrises in James Bay.

  7. Adriana: Top tip on the Food Country closure–I didn’t know that.

    Yeah, we actually were checking out the Belvedere and Astoria buildings. I wonder if there’s some central clearinghouse that handles rentals in those buildings?

  8. I bought near Southgate and Cook about a year and a half ago, and losing that store was *such* a loss to the village.

    About the Astoria & the Belvedere I’ll see what I can see – I walk through there on my way home from work… but maybe not today, it’s horrible outside so I think I’ll be bussing it.

    There are two other buildings nearing completion (the Parkside and the Aria), but March is too soon. BTW, You can catch up on development news in the area on or .com

  9. $1800 for a two bedroom in downtown Victoria? Is that what they go for now. Dang. I’ve put out some feelers with friends if they know of any rentals.

  10. Try but you won’t find many apartments listed, just suites and houses. The market here is tight. Try calling a real estate agent who will connect you with a property manager. Be prepared with references etc. Good luck.

  11. Lloyd: We’re looking for a nice, furnished two bedroom that we can work from, so that’s probably high for your garden-variety two bedroom.

    Lincoln: Heh. Actually, I was just looking at a listing very near the old building. It’s a little far from downtown, but we might end up there.

    LJ: Roger that. To be honest, I don’t really know how much help property managers will be, but I’ve been sending some emails.

  12. Welcome to Victoria. For what you’re looking for, I suspect your options might be pretty limited. It was hard enough as a male student to get people to even show up for appointments to see the house.

    The one thing I might suggest, although you technically don’t qualify, is UVic’s Off-Campus Housing website. They have ( Landlords pay something like $10 to have these things listed and because it’s very much one-stop shopping.

    The reason I put it up there is because a) they have “faculty” listings in there, which might be pretty decent, even if you’re not actually “faculty”, and b) the forms have plenty of information on the properties, and c) every now and again there’s an incredible deal. One of my friends rented a house on Oxford Street for a ridiculously low price last year.

  13. When we were moving to Victoria from Hamilton 18 months ago, we found UVIC’s Off-Campus Housing site (mentioned above) the most useful. We ended up with a nice spot near the Gorge that works for us as a home base and my office. But we had others to choose from too, many closer to downtown. It’s tough to convince people to rent to you when you’re not in the city, but we had friends who would go and meet prospects and send us pictures. Let me know if you want me to check out any locations for you.

  14. Rental accommodation can be tough to find no matter where you are in Canada, especially in smaller cities and towns. Usually the best resource is the local University or College. Most have their own rental listings and if not will direct you to the right sites.

    Canada is definitely behind in online real estate resources but hopefully it won’t take to much longer to catch up and make everyone’s life a little easier.

  15. I have a two bedroom apartment, with views, in the area you want (downtown, walking distance to Parliament buildings); fitness room, swimming pool, laundry room. Unfurnished, rent $1,600/month. Available April 1st. email:

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