You want to know what living in Whistler is really like. In this blog post, I’ll give you the lowdown on finding a job, finding an apartment and whether its better to be a skier or a snowboarder in Whistler.
Whistler has been my home for the past two years, and what a crazy, beautiful madness it is. Living in Whistler is unlike anywhere else I’ve ever lived. It’s an adrenalin-junkie’s dream with skiing & snowboarding being the sport of choice in the Winter. Which winter sport you choose will determine your destiny here, more on that below.
I’m sure you’ve already heard/ read that Whistler is one of the best ski destinations in the world. And in Summer you can enjoy downhill mountain biking or kayaking in its many lakes. You can even try your hand at the very unique sports of bobsledding and axe-throwing in Whistler. There are just so many unique things to do in Whistler!
In Winter, the town almost triples its population, with young people flocking from Australia and the UK predominantly, to call this ‘Winter Wonderland’ their temporary home.
If you’re interested in applying for a Working Holiday Visa to Canada, read all my detailed instructions!
Living in Whistler: Finding suitable housing
As you can imagine, it can be very difficult to find decent housing in Whistler. It is a very competitive market and rent is incredibly expensive and most of my friends shared a room with several others. Some people even live in their campervan in the villages’ outdoor carpark (we don’t recommend this – it gets very cold in Winter).
To be successful in finding a place to rent in Whistler, here’s what we recommend:
- Join the local housing groups on Facebook such as Whistler Housing Rentals for Locals and Whistler Winter or Summer to find apartments and rooms for rent
- Search in the Pique – the local online magazine classifieds section
- Ensure you have good previous rental references (even if they are from overseas) and enough money for a bond and your first months rent
- Try to arrive in Whistler before the peak seasons begin – if you’re planning to stay for the Winter season arrive in October and for the Summer season arrive in April. This way you will have more choice and slightly more reasonable rental options available to you.
How much is rent in Whistler?
Rent prices in Whistler vary massively, our two-bedroom apartment in Bayshores was $1800 CAD per month. Which was very reasonable, but the maximum number of tenants allowed was two. A big plus was it had a large wrap-around balcony and garden.
For units in Whistler village you are likely going to pay at least $2000 CAD per month for a studio, and from $2200 for a one-bedroom apartment. If you go further afield to Pemberton (a 30 minute drive) average rental prices for a one-bedroom decrease to about $1500 CAD per month. Further away in Squamish, a 45 minute drive from Whistler you’re lookign at about $1600 CAD for a one-bedroom.
If you really want to save money on rent, you can rent a bed in a room from about $500 CAD per month, this is just a bed so you will be sharing the room with one or two other people. Again this price massively depends on where the house is located and the condition of it. Some share houses are truly awful. Similarly, you can rent your own room in a share house from $1200 per room.
Read Next – doing a road trip while living in Whistler is one of the best things you can do. Our three favorites include the drive from Whistler to Banff, the road from Banff to Jasper and the long but worthwhile drive from Whistler to Jasper!
The best neighborhoods to live in Whistler
There are a couple of neighbourhoods in Whistler, here I will list the best/most popular. We lived in Bayshores for two full years and loved it.
- Whistler Cay – is the closest area to Whistler village, the prices here are a little more expensive but the apartments/ houses here are generally of good condition
- Creekside – the “original Whistler village” is a mini-village in itself and has some stores, bars and even the gondola to go up the mountain – meaning you don’t have to make your way into Whistler to ski
- Bayshores – a family-friendly neighborhood with some beautiful chalet-style homes. It is a 10-15 minute drive into Whistler and a 15-20 minute walk to Creekside. Regular bus services operate from here.
- Alpine Meadow/ Rainbow – home to Meadow Park Sports Center and a large supermarket. It is a very popular and relatively cheap area to rent. It’s a 10-15 minute drive into Whistler, with a regular bus service operating.
- Function Junction/ Cheakamus Crossing – these are the first neighborhoods you will come across as you drive up from Vancouver. Function Junction is more of an industrial area with some housing scattered within, it is home to the locally famous Re-use It Center. Cheakamus Crossing is the furthest neighbourhood from Whistler village, but most of the rental units here are new.
We recommend (if your budget allows) renting a cheap airbnb whilst you look for suitable long-term housing, here’s a list of some airbnbs we recommend –
- This Studio apartment in Whistler Village, costs from $75 CAD per night. It features a gas fireplace, Queen bed, Queen pull-out bed and is steps away from all the restaurants/ bars in Whistler.
- This Studio Apartment located in Creekside, costs just $45 CAD per night. It is located above locals favorite Creekbread restaurant and features a seasonal pool, patio with BBQ and a hot tub (which is available all-year for a small fee).
- This Cozy Studio on Main Street with a hot tub & pool costs from $75 CAD per night. From the Studio it is just a 7 minute walk to the base of both Whistler & Blackcomb Mountain.
Living in Whistler: Finding a job
We got incredibly lucky with our apartment and our jobs, even though I had to work two jobs to ensure that I had enough money for my number one hobby – travel. Regardless of the long hours we worked, we were incredibly happy living in Whistler. I worked at the Fairmont Chateau hotel during the day and the Mexican Corner restaurant in the evenings. My husband worked in construction in the Summer months and in the kitchen of an Italian restaurant in the Winter.
How to find a good job in Whistler
Unlike the limited amount of good housing available, there are heaps of good jobs available to you in Whistler. You have to remember that Whistler is a booming tourist destination, so, most of the jobs here are in the hospitality sector.
Below is a list if the best places to search for a job in Whistler:
- Pique online magazine, as mentioned above the classifieds section of the Pique is where a lot of businesses will advertise available jobs
- Craigslist – not as popular in Whistler as it is elsewhere in Canada, you will likely find short-term jobs listed here
- Indeed – most of the large hotels or office-type businesses will advertise available jobs here
- Word-of-mouth – get out and socialize in Whistler when you first arrive, locals know that the best jobs are obtained by a good referral from a friend or acquaintance
Is it expensive to live in Whistler?
Whistler is definitely expensive, but once you start earning money you will notice this less and less. Items like chicken and cheese are notoriously expensive in the supermarkets. But, thankfully you can dine out quite cheaply – firm favorite El Furniture Warehouse does meals for $5.95 CAD and a lot of other restaurants do locals deals.
One of the best value for money supermarkets we found to be Your Independent Grocer out in Rainbow. Otherwise if you have a car you can save money on groceries by hitting up Squamish for Save-On-Foods.
Day to day costs in Whistler tend to be reasonable, for example eating out, drinking out and your takeaway coffees are no more expensive here than other major cities in Canada. Your biggest expense is of course going to be your rent. For our power we went with BC Hydro and found them to be very fair and reasonable price-wise.
My estimation is that start-up costs to move to Whistler will cost you approx. $5,000 CAD. This figure takes into account your first months rent, your rental deposit (usually half-a-months rent), a ski pass, ski gear, stuff for your apartment like bed sheets, cooking utensils etc. But thankfully most places here come fully furnished.
Are you a snowboarder or a skiier?
I’m a skier as are most Europeans whereas the majority of Australians and Canadians prefer snowboarding. On the mountain you will likely ski with your skier friends only, and vice-versa for snowboarding. Skiing and snowboarding are at different paces. The saying goes it’s easier to learn to ski but harder to ‘get good at’, whereas snowboarding is harder to learn but easier to ‘get good at’.
Best hotels in Whistler
Hilton Whistler Resort and Spa – right in the center of Whistler Village and very close to the gondola, this large hotel is very popular with families
Nita Lake Lodge – located in Creekside, a 10 minute drive from Whistler Village and looking onto stunning Nita Lake this is one of my favorite hotels in Whistler
The Westin – is a nice luxury option in Whistler’s lower village, it’s right next to the gondola and the rooms are spacious with great views
Four Seasons Resort – this is probably the most luxurious hotel in Whistler, located in Whistler’s Upper Village and close to Blackcomb Gondola this hotel is frequented by celebrities
What we love the most about living in Whistler
We love the long cold days spent skiing, the quirky restaurants, our amazing multi-cultural group of friends, but above all we will love the fun, care-free environment Whistler seems to effortlessly emanate at all times.
Have you ever considered living in Whistler or a similar Ski resort? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.
Thanks for reading my blog, Aimee x
Thanks so much for reading. I hope this guide has helped you plan your move to Whistler! If you found this blog helpful, be sure to browse around some more! I have guides on Canadian road trip tips, luxury vacation to Whistler as well as doing a ski season in Whistler and so much more!!
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***This post originally appeared in Quinns Quill Munster News