Money Saving Student Hacks: A student guide to surviving Vancouver
Written by: Eve Eckford
As many of you may have already realized, Vancouver is a very expensive city! Due to its picturesque views and downtown hub, Vancouver has quickly become one of the most desirable cities to live in. Here are some great saving hacks that all students should take advantage of! As a former student and current resident of Vancouver, I have compiled a list of some of the best spending tricks and tips around the city.
Here are 18 tried and true savings hacks.
- Take your student card everywhere! I cannot stress enough that a student card is as good as gold. You would be surprised how many establishments (restaurants, clothing stores etc.) have a student discount. Just because they do not openly advertise it doesn’t mean they don’t have one. Don’t be afraid to ask if stores offer a student discount! (did you know that Apple has a student discount?). So don’t be afraid to ask.
- Try buying your textbooks second hand. This one is pretty obvious. Check if your school has a buyback program or a posting board with used textbook for sale by other students.
- Book your flights ahead of time. Whether you are an international student or local, try and make your travel plans in advanced. This ensures that you get the best possible deals on flight and/or accommodation. Plan ahead!
- Tupperware is you new best friend. Besides being great for the environment, Tupperware is a great way to stop yourself from eating out all the time. Think ahead and pack your lunch! You may also find it convenient to carry around a water bottle or thermos. Many cafes and restaurants will not charge for hot water, so keeping an extra teabag or two with you is a great savings tip.
- Take the skytrain, bus or seasbus. Public transportation is a great way to get around Vancouver. Our skytrain runs through the heart of downtown and to many of its surrounding Burroughs. Feeling extra adventurous? Try taking the seasbus across the water and going to the North Shore. **Vancouver transit now accepts tap credit cards, so no more worrying about how many zones to buy, simply tap and go!
- Community rec centers. Taking advantage of a community rec center is a great way to stay in shape without breaking the bank. Many community rec centers offer great facilities and workout classes at a fraction of the cost of a conventional gym. Most of them don’t even require you to buy a membership! Check the internet for a rec center near you.
- Cheap Tuesday movies. Whether you are a cinephile or just someone who just enjoys going to the occasional movie, by far the best deal is half price tickets on Tuesday nights. Silver City and Landmark Cinemas offer cheap Tuesdays and reduced cost matinees.
- Ride a bike. Vancouver is an extremely bike friendly city. It is one of the best ways to see the sites and get around. There are many different bike rental shops in Vancouver, so make sure you shop around for the best deal.
- Groupon and Mobile Bandit. These are two apps that I would highly recommend downloading to your smartphone ASAP. They offer great deals and coupons to numerous restaurants and activities around the city.
- Get a roommate. If you are considering living in Vancouver, having a roommate may be your best budget option, as living alone can be quite pricey.
- Basement suites. Gone are the dark days of dingy basement suites. Now, many families have above ground basement suites full of natural light. Renting a basement suite is a very affordable way to have more space and be relatively close to many amenities. Basement suites can offer affordable two or three bedroom options for students.
- Vancouver Art Gallery. Located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, the art gallery offers an oasis from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets. Tuesday nights from 5-9 are by donation.
- Nature is free. Vancouver is a terrific place for all things outdoors. Whether its walking the seawall, or hiking the Squamish Chief, you can always find something. Here is a link to a more comprehensive list of free/cheap activities to do around the lower mainland. https://www.tourismvancouver.com/activities/free-almost-free/25-free-things-to-do/
- Car Share. Evo and other car share companies offer the convenience of having a car at a fraction of the cost. Since Vancouver (sadly) doesn’t have Uber, car sharing is the next best option for many.
- Costco and IKEA food court. This may seem like a weird one, but hear me out. Costco offers a great selection of food at a greatly reduced price at their food court. Their legendary hotdog and drink meal for about $2.00 CAD simply cannot be beat. Not feeling like a hot dog? Not to worry, IKEA has you covered with a plethora of cheap Swedish inspired menu items in their cafeteria.
- Pick your grocery store wisely. Not all grocery stores are created equal (in terms of savings at least). Groceries here are notoriously expensive, so try shopping at non name brand stores. Superstore and No Frills are student favorites.
- Spend you evenings in. Ever heard of Netflix and chill? Try Netflix and save! Curl up on the couch and avoid how pricey Vancouver nightlife can be.
- Happy hour. As the drinking age in Canada is 19, this tip is for mature students only. Most bars and pubs offer happy hour discounts on food and drinks. Generally offered anywhere between 3:00pm-6:00pm, check out your local watering hole for their happy hour specials.