So you want to move to Powell River – how do you find a place to live?

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By Melany Hallam

When I moved to Powell River with my partner many years ago from Vancouver, we found a rental duplex south of town for $450 a month on a 6-month lease. It had two finished floors, including an office for me, a partial ocean view plus a full basement with lots of room for my pottery wheel.

We didn’t know how great we had it! If you’re a newcomer to Powell River currently looking for rental housing, you’re probably reading this and shaking your head in disbelief.

In 2018, making the move to Powell River depends on your ability to find an affordable place to live. I’ve looked at the rental listings on Facebook, Craigslist, Kijiji, the newspaper and real estate rental agencies. Places that used to be $500-600 a month are double that now. Those are the kinds of rents I was paying in Vancouver back in the day. Now, there are almost more ads put up by people searching for housing than by those offering places to rent.

If you’ve decided that you are serious about moving to Powell River, but don’t have the resources to buy a home or to rent on your own, what are your housing options? It may be time to make some sacrifices – at least at first. Here are some ideas:

  • Can’t find a place you can afford on your own? Connect with others and share a larger rental.
  • House-sitting. Taking care of someone else’s home while they’re on vacation or extended times away can be a very inexpensive option, but not that stable.
  • Some motels in the Powell River area provide longer term cabin rentals.
  • Camper, travel trailer or even a tent. One good thing about the Powell River area is our relatively warm climate. If you’re able to get hold of a trailer or camper at reasonable cost, there are longer term spots to park and stay while you work and save up for something more permanent. For example, Willingdon Beach or Garnet Rock.
  • Van life. Stealth camping in a van has also become a popular option for some. There are a large number of videos on Youtube championing this way of life. Not for the faint of heart.

And, as of November 2017, there’s a new option in Powell River: carriage houses. A carriage house is an additional smaller dwelling on a property. It can be offered as a longer term rental and act as a mortgage helper for the property owner. With rapidly rising house prices and a booming construction industry in town, carriage houses may be a win-win option for both property owners and renters.

According to the new Powell River bylaw, carriage houses must to be built towards the back of the property and are legal in Westview, Wildwood and Cranberry but not Townsite, where lots are relatively small. These secondary homes can be a maximum of 968 square feet (60 square metres) and cover a maximum of 10 percent of the lot size.

There is a danger that carriage houses may result in an increase number of Airbnb-type vacation rentals rather in affordable long-term rentals, but the City is discouraging this practice. As of March, there were 10 parties interested in constructing secondary homes on their properties and one of them – at 12 feet x 16 feet in size – had been approved (read about that one in the Powell River Peak here).

Carriage house, house-sitting, roommates – whatever option you choose when moving to Powell River, the key is to be a good tenant. I’ve heard many times from rental property owners that they’re more than willing to keep rents lower for the right person.

So investigate your options carefully and plan ahead before you move. And remember to bring your good tenant references – Powell River is worth it!

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More info on carriage house projects and tiny homes in Powell River:

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