How to find temporary accommodation in Vancouver

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If you are landing in Vancouver as a new immigrant then you are probably looking for a temporary accommodation until you get familiar with different areas of the city and decide on a permanent place to live.

This post is about how I went about finding a temporary accommodation and what I would advise to others who are planning to land in Vancouver.

The two factors in deciding a temporary place to live in Vancouver were:

1. Proximity to Downtown – I wanted to live as close to Downtown Vancouver as possible. The reason being that most government offices are in Downtown so it’s convenient to get all the paperwork done if you are also living in Downtown. Plus Downtown Van is beautiful and I wanted to give myself and my family a great experience of moving to a new place. Granted it’s quite expensive to live there so you have to look at your budget.

2. Close to public transport – Relying to taxis can be very expensive when you are trying to save every penny. So my priority was to get a place within walking distance of the skytrain so that we could go anywhere using public transport

Keeping these two things in mind, I started looking for an short-term accommodation while I was in Dubai. I used two main resources for this purpose. Craigslist, and Airbnb. There are a number of temporary accommodation postings on Craigslist but you have to be present in Vancouver to deal with the sellers and the all the transactions are cash based so it was not easy to book a place through craigslist. After realizing that I focused only on Airbnb. The great thing about Airbnb is that it allows you to book a place using your credit card so you can be assured that the place will be reserved for you when you land. Also Airbnb is much cheaper than hotels and other commercial places as it is real people renting out their personal properties.

So I started looking for apartments in Downtown Van, more specifically Yaletown area, but it turned out that it was above my budget. I either had to compromise on the quality of apartment or spend a fortune in order live in Downtown upon landing. None of them were viable options for me. So I decided to look at areas around Downtown, while still being close to transit. After a brief search I found a nice apartment in Mount Pleasant area, which is right next to Downtown and the apartment was only 10 minutes walk from skytrain. Luckily the owner of the apartment let me rent it for a month and just like that I had reserved an apartment in Vancouver for one month from my landing date.

It turned out to be a good decision and great experience. We really enjoyed our stay at Mount Pleasant. It was a central location and all the points of interest were within a few minutes drive. I was able to stay within my budget and enjoy the city. Mission accomplished.

So my advise to those who are planning to immigrate to Vancouver and looking for temporary accommodation is this:

1. Decide how much you are willing to spend on temporary accommodation and how long you need it for. It takes at least 6-8 weeks to find a permanent place and get possession of it so keep that in mind.

2. Decide how will you move in the city. Taxis are always expensive. Most people use public transport. Plus weather is nice in Vancouver all year long so it’s very walk-able. Alternatively you can rent a car which would give you more freedom to go anywhere anytime but also cost a lot. However it is still cheaper than using taxis all the time.

3. Do the research on internet on which areas you can target based on your budget. You don’t have to live in Vancouver. You can decide to live in other cities in Metro Vancouver such as Burnaby, Richmond, Coquitlam, or Surrey. There is public transport in all these cities though they are a bit far from Vancouver downtown.

4. If you know a friend who is already there he can find a temporary place for you through Craigslist or other local listings and reserve it for you. You can then pay him when you land. Otherwise I recommend Airbnb. I had great experience with Airbnb and I am a big fan of it. The thing with Airbnb is that the hosts have to maintain a reputation so they have to make sure the place is well kept and you are well taken care of. Plus you can check existing reviews of the host and go for the one with best reviews.

So that’s it from my side on finding temporary accommodation in Vancouver.

If you have any questions please feel free to use the comments section.

Newegg Opens Warehouse in Vancouver

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Newegg is a niche online store for electronics. Their claim to fame though is computer parts and accessories. If you want to build your own computer, you can purchase all the parts from newegg.

As part of their expansion plan, newegg recently opened a warehouse in Vancouver to cater to the demands of Western Canadian market. I was lucky enough to be invited to their grand opening. I must say they have an impressive warehouse in Vancouver and it feels great to know that I can order anything from newegg.ca at competitive prices and get it shipped to my doorstep within a couple of days.

Below are some pictures from the event.

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So if you are in Canada and want to order computer parts, look no further than newegg. They are really good at what they do.

My Landing Experience at Vancouver Airport

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One of the first interactions you have with Canadian authorities as new Canadian immigrant is upon your landing at a Canadian airport (if you are flying into Canada). The paperwork and other formalities for new immigrants are different from others. Many at times, expected immigrants are curious about the landing process. So for the benefit of future immigrants who are planning to land at Vancouver airport, and for the sake of documentation, I am sharing my landing experience at Vancouver airport below.

I, accompanied by my family, landed at Vancouver International Airport on Wednesday, June 17, 2015 at around 1 pm. When we reached the passport control area, we notified the helper lady that we are new immigrants. She saw that I was with family, so she bypassed me to the front of the queue for passport control. When I reached the counter I again informed the officer that I was a new immigrant. He checked all our passports and other documents, and sent us to an area for the new immigrants. There a lady checked all our documents again and gave us a number. We were then asked to wait until our number was called. We were hoping that our number would be called soon and we will be on our way, but it took more than an hour. Once the number was called it was fairly quick after that. We got the signed documents back and we were out of the new immigrants area and into the baggage claim.

One smart thing we did before entering the immigration area was that we hired a porter and gave him all our baggage tags. By the time we were done with immigration, the porter was waiting with our luggage. Next stop was customs. We were ready with our “goods accompanied” and “goods to follow” lists. However, the customs officer was only interested in “goods to follow” list. She didn’t bother to look at “goods accompanied” list or pictures of jewellery that we had prepared. She stamped on the list and we were out of the airport. The porter helped us load the luggage on a taxi and we were on our way to our first apartment in Vancouver.

So there. That was my landing experience in Vancouver. Overall it wasn’t bad except for an hour long wait at the immigration. We had traveled for over 25 hours and we were dead tired, so the wait was killing us. But other than that it was a painless process and we didn’t face any issues.

3 Awesome Apps for Real Estate Business

The world of house hunters is becoming increasingly digital these days with a reported 1.5 billion smartphones in the world. Anyone who owns a smartphone knows that they come in extremely handy when purchasing property online. A significant number of people have readily embraced e-commerce and prefer buying property through smartphones. Smartphones have allowed people to remain connected to the internet on the go and perform activities such as choosing their ideal property while on the go or from the comfort of their homes. The following apps can help you in choosing your ideal home through your smartphones:

1) Lamudi.pk

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This is an online real estate portal which allows property seekers to find the best bargains to rent or sell their homes. This website also has a smartphone app which is available for both Android and iPhone users and this allows home hunters to search for the perfect home using multiple criteria. This allows the user to not only view different properties with their detailed descriptions and picture but also to compare them with each other. Moreover, the Lamudi app also has a mortgage calculator which allows one to calculate the mortgage they would have to pay.

2) Karl’s Mortgage Calculator

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Karl’s Mortgage Calculator is an app which allows one to calculate the mortgage on their properties on a monthly or yearly basis. It also enables one to choose from multiple different currencies and calculate the mortgage using principal, interest and term. Karl’s mortgage calculator can be used while offline as well. Thus, this makes the whole task of calculating one’s mortgage easier. This has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on the Google Play store.

3) Google Maps

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Google Maps is one of the most used applications for smart phones which makes one’s life fairly easy. For those seeking to buy a property, this app allows you to not only virtually guide yourself to your potential home but also view the surrounding areas of your property. This enables one to view what facilities etc. can be found nearby and what kind of area your potential home is located in.

Smartphones have made it more convenient for people to look at online reviews and ratings for different real estate websites, applications and property listings, thus, enabling them to make informed decisions when buying property. The virtual tour of homes that these online portals offer reduces the need to physically visit the houses. Studies show that people now spend a considerable amount of time researching online before making the decision to buy a property.

Therefore, in today’s digitally driven media, home buyers have come to rely extensively on smartphones for shopping and finding the property which best meets their needs. It would not be wrong to say that technology has revolutionized property-seeking all over the globe.

Have you used a smartphone app for buying or renting a property? Let us know in comments.

5 Awesome Apps to Increase Productivity

These days it seems we have more and more to do and less and less time to do it all. We spend so much time doing the things we need to do that we rarely have time leftover to do the things we want to do.

Thankfully, technology has come to our rescue in form of these amazing apps that make your life easier. From saving time on chores to saving time in restaurant queues, these apps will allow you to reclaim your free time, and get on with doing the things you enjoy. Download them now and see for yourself!

Grabb: skip the lunch queue
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It’s lunch time. You’re hungry. And there’s a queue at your favourite place that stretches around the block. Sound like a familiar scenario? If, like most people, you’re sick of waiting in line for your food, then you need Grabb. This app lets you reclaim those 20 minutes lost waiting in line for your lunch by allowing you to pre-order and pre-pay for your meal. It also has a handy order notification system, and even tells you how far away your restaurant is so you can time your trip perfectly.

Download the Android and iOS versions of the app here, and take back your lunch hour!

Helpling: forget the chores

Chores: they never seem to end. Spend less time cleaning and more time on the important things in life by letting an insured, background-checked cleaner take care of the chores. The Helpling app is a double-whammy time-saver, as it not only allows you to offload your cleaning, but also saves you the time and effort of finding a good cleaner. They’ll find you the perfect cleaner in your area with no effort on your part, and have even taken care of legal checks. So you can rest-assured that you’ll get a trustworthy, reliable helping hand.

Download the app for Android and iOS, and let someone else do the dirty work.

Fast customer: say goodbye to waiting on hold

When you need to contact customer service, it’s always the same story: wait on hold for ten minutes, listen to the same elevator music over and over, and wait for someone at the other end of the phone to be available to take your call. But no more! This app allows you to highlight which company you’d like to speak to, and have them call you back when a representative is available. Use that time you would have spent on hold doing something fun, something productive, or even just take a nap. It’s your free time, so reclaim it!

Download the app for Android and iOS, and never listen to that irritating hold music again.

Urbery: have the groceries come to you

Urban + grocery = Urbery. With this ingenious app, you never have to spend time wandering around the aisles of the supermarket again. Within just two hours, these grocery gurus will bring you the ingredients you need for tonight’s feast. They’ll scour the shelves of all your favourite stores – Whole Foods, Sobeys, Longos and more – to get you the freshest products, and get them to you fast.

This amazing app is coming soon!

Brewster: find what you’re looking for instantly
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You can never find the information you’re looking for when you need it. That article you know someone sent you the other day – you want to send it to a friend now, but where is it? In Skype? Email? Facebook? Forget searching through a million conversations looking for that key information. Brewster saves your correspondence across all channels from each contact in one, neat place, so you can find what you’re looking for in a flash. A streamlined way to unearth that very important cat video you were looking for.

Sign up here and never lose a message again.

What about you – do you have any other time-saving apps that make your life easier?

Vancouver is my new home


After seven and a half years, the time has come to say good bye to Dubai.

I am now living in Vancouver, British Columbia. This is my new home.

I had a tremendous run in Dubai. Seven best years of my life. But Dubai is not a place where you live forever. Sooner or later one has to move on.

Vancouver is a place completely different from Dubai. It’s very green, for starters. And the weather in summer is how it usually is in Winter in Dubai. Oh, and it rains a lot. You get the picture!

I am looking forward to settle down and live in Vancouver. Apparently, it is one of the best places in the world to live, and that was a major factor to pick Vancouver over other cities of Canada. The city has a lot to offer in terms of outdoor activities due to great weather all year. I am hoping to participate as much as I could.

Let’s see how it goes. So far it’s been great. I am here for almost a month now and things have started to make more sense with every passing day. I still have to find a proper place to live, find a job, buy a car, and so on.

I will keep you guys updated with the progress. And thus starts a new category of my blog, Vancouver Diaries.