By: Allison O’Brien
The International Student Office (ISO) says that there are still students, domestic and international, who are struggling to find a place to live in Charlottetown.
While it’s not unusual that some students may still be searching, the issue is exaggerated this year due to a low vacancy rate in Charlottetown and a larger influx of first-year students.
“University accommodations were full, so before coming here I turned to Kijiji, but it was good for nothing because pages often wouldn’t load,” Sakib said. “I tried to find a homestay with a Muslim family, but I couldn’t.”
When Sakib arrived in PEI, he had to sleep on the living room floor of a classmate’s one bedroom apartment, where six other people were also staying.
“They are demanding too high rent. It’s like 600-700 dollars, just for a room,” said Sakib. “So as a new student, I was panicked, I was frustrated, I even told them [my family] I might have to come back to my country.”
Sakib was able to find long-term accommodations five days after arriving in PEI. For 450 dollars a month, he got a room in a four-bedroom apartment that is occupied by five other people. They will share one bathroom and one kitchen.
“I think, how am I going to study like this? There is no privacy,” Sakib said.
Zhaohui (Jerry) Wang from the ISO says that when a student comes to them for help with housing, they are directed to residence first, and if that is full, they turn to the homestay program. They also provide a list of prominent rental businesses on the Island, and other useful information and tips students may need to help find housing.
The university has added a message to international acceptance letters that reads, “It is very important to have your accommodation on Prince Edward Island finalized prior to leaving your home country to begin your studies at UPEI.” They hope this will reduce the amount of students who arrive in PEI without accommodations.
The ISO also advises that students join the UPEI International Students Facebook Page, where they may find students who are looking for roommates.
“Often, students have the best luck by connecting with other students,” Wang says.