Amid Vancouver housing crunch, students choosing Mom and Dad as landlord

Click to play video: 'Returning post-secondary students face growing housing crunch'
Returning post-secondary students face growing housing crunch
WATCH: Returning post-secondary students face growing housing crunch – Aug 29, 2018

With just days until classes pick up again for the school year, thousands of students are pouring back onto campuses across B.C.

And while it’s weeks until the first midterm, many of them are already facing stress of another kind: keeping a roof over their heads.

At Simon Fraser University, hundreds of students who’ve chosen dorm life have already arrived at the school, and opinion is split on whether it’s a smart move financially.

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“Off-campus is a little cheaper if you can find a place,” one returning student told Global News.

“It seemed easier to make ends meet when I lived on campus rather than when I lived off campus,” said another.

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However, whether or not dorm life makes dollars and cents is a moot point for many. While 1,600 students are moving onto campus, another 200 are on a waiting list.

The university says it’s working hard to make more room, but it will take some time.

“We are building new residences that’ll open up in a couple years,” said SFU housing director Tracey Mason-Innes. “We could always have more students live with us.”

At UBC, waiting lists are an annual feature of the student housing experience, with the number of students looking for housing regularly outstripping the available space.

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That’s left many students looking off-campus.

But with Vancouver’s 0.9 per cent vacancy rate and a lack of purpose-built student housing, things aren’t easy — and a growing number of students are choosing Mom and Dad as a landlord.

WATCH: Affordable housing crisis impacts B.C. university students

Click to play video: 'Affordable housing crisis impacts B.C. university students'
Affordable housing crisis impacts B.C. university students

A recent study by Coast Capital Savings and Insights West found the financial squeeze is driving more and more youth back to their parents’ place.

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“More than 50 per cent of students today are really struggling with the idea of being able to leave their parents’ home,” said Tracey Arnish with Coast Capital Savings.

“More than 50 per cent of them are telling us they cannot do that and if they can, it would have to be subsidized by their parents.”

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Insights West president Steve Mossop said about half of students even said they were dependent on their parents to help cover their cellphone bill, a sign of just how tight their budgets are.

“About 25 per cent of the population of youth really feel challenged, about 10 per cent [say they’re] on the verge of crisis,” he said.

“We’ve only got about a quarter that really feel like they have themselves set up for the future — they’re able to pay their bills and feel optimistic about the future.”

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Experts say both students and parents need a financial plan these days, in order to navigate this new reality.

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