8 ways to live on a student budget in Vancouver

May 17 2018, 9:03 am

Written for Daily Hive by Samantha Cheng

Adulting is hard and in a city like Vancouver, it can be expensive too. Sometimes, you just need to crack down on your budget and make rent at the end of the month.

So even if your student ID has long expired, embrace your inner student with these dependably frugal options in the city.

Throw it back to your broke student days with these 8 smart ways to save.

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1. $3 eats to keep your belly full

Wakwak burger


Cheap food is something we can always get behind. But great food in the city for under $3? Time to embrace your inner foodie and take advantage of these steals.

  • $0.99 tacos at The Warehouse (Tuesdays)
  • $2.50 vegan tacos at La Taqueria
  • $2.85 cheeseburgers at Wakwak Burger
  • $2.95 basic breakfasts at Bon’s Off Broadway

2. Decorate your pad at dollar store prices

MUJI Canada/Facebook

Vancouver is home to awesome Asian “lifestyle” concept stores that will have you doing a happy dance at check out. These practically count as dollar stores, but in the most glamorous way possible. You won’t have a problem finding cool stuff for under $5 at Miniso and Daiso. If you’re looking for a little more glam, grab some chic stationery at Muji for under $10.

3. Give and take on local trading sites

Take thrifting to the next level with these online trading and selling sites. For strictly no-cash exchanges, check out the popular Bunz trading community or the Buy Nothing Project—find (or start!) a hyperlocal group near you. Or check out some of Vancouver’s popular Buy & Sell Facebook groups: you’ll be surprised at all the amazing things you can find for cheap. Because dealing with anonymous strangers on Craigslist is so 2005.

4. Yoga by donation in the heart of Gastown

Karma Teachers Studio (Karma Teachers/Facebook)

Karma Teachers Studio in Gastown (Karma Teachers/Facebook)

Get fit for a good cause! Karma Teachers is a non-profit studio that offers yoga classes by donation to make your practice a little more wallet-friendly. When visiting, you pay what you can. If you’re not down to shell out $30 a class, check this place out.

5. Rush tickets for that splash of arts & culture

arts high schools

Young dancers/shutterstock

We’re not New York, but you’ll be happy to know that many of Vancouver’s cultural institutions offer last-minute tickets for young-ish attendees. Have your pick from The Chan Centre ($15), Vancouver Opera ($25), Ballet BC ($23.50) and the Vancouver Symphony ($15), just to name a few. The fine print: you’ll usually have to wait until the day of the show and purchase tickets in-person. But who plans that far ahead anyway!

6. Get your hair styled by a protégé

Save your pennies for a rainy day by getting your hair done at a hair school. Visit the salon at John Casablancas Institute in Gastown for $10 cuts or $35+ colour. That’s a lot of spare cash! Keep in mind that your locks will be treated by student stylists in the making, but who’s to say that you won’t come out with your hair looking totally fresh?

7. Unwind with an affordable massage


On those days when you just feel like sitting on the couch to watch some Netflix, pull yourself together, get up, and treat your body to a massage — you deserve it. Big Feet (many locations around town) and Barefoot Oasis will help you save some extra cash on your spa day. Both offer affordable prices for an hour (or more) of total bliss.

8. Play tourist for free at over 27 events & activities

Downtown Vancouver Public Library / shutterstock

Image: Alex JW Robinson / Shutterstock

This is something that everyone should know about. If you have a Vancouver Public Library card, then you have access to the Vancouver Inspiration Pass (search online and place a hold at a branch convenient to you). This magical pass grants you free access to over 27 events and activities across the city, including museums, gardens, public pools, and more. Check out more things you didn’t know you could do with a VPL card.

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