Source: UBC

A Canadian Arts student from Calgary flies to Vancouver twice a week to attend his classes at the University of British Columbia.

Originally posting his story to Reddit, Tim Chen said that on Tuesday and Thursday, he flies to Vancouver in the morning and returns to Calgary at night.

“I found there’s absolutely saving on rent since I don’t need to pay rent in Calgary (live with my parents) except just casually paying for utilities, and it’s much cheaper than renting a 1b for 2k or more in Vancouver,” Chen wrote in his Reddit post.

Chen saves more than double what he would pay to live in Vancouver while studying at UBC. He spends about $150 per round-trip flight twice a week, equating to $1,200 a month, compared to the $2,700 he would have to pay for rent.

“I thought, why don’t I just stay at Calgary and then just fly here, it’s like a one-hour flight, that’s like the same as taking a bus,” said Chen during an interview with CTV.

The student had previously been renting in Vancouver for years prior to taking a break from school. When he decided to return, he was shocked at the housing prices.

The average asking rent for all types of apartments in Vancouver was $3,059 in 2023, remaining the most expensive city in Canada. However, while rents in Canada increased by 9% between 2022 and 2023, Vancouver prices declined by 0.7%. The decrease followed an increase of more than 20% in 2022.

Over the past two years, asking rents in Canada have increased by a total of 22%. 

While average asking rents for all residential properties in Canada ended the year at a record-high of $2,178 in December 2023, Vancouver’s one-bedroom rental price averaged at $2,700, an increase of 4% since 2022.

Despite its high asking prices, places to rent remain extremely difficult to find in Vancouver — which had a 0.9% vacancy rate in October 2023, unchanged from its value the year prior. The country as a whole posted a record-low vacancy rate of 1.5% in 2023. 

Chen has three hours of classes a day when he attends university. After his classes, he jumps back on the bus to the airport, a routine he says gives him plenty of time to focus on his schoolwork in the air. 

He plans to continue flying to UBC for his two classes until the end of the academic year when he is set to graduate.

The X page Historic Vids shared a shortened clip of Chen’s interview on Wednesday. The video has already accrued over 60 million views despite being up for less than 24 hours. 

The top reply to the post has 1.4 million views and almost 50,000 likes. 

“When you can fly for cheaper than you can rent, life is upside down,” said one user.