British Columbia

New short film shows how 2 university students circumvent Vancouver's high rental costs

A local filmmaker working with CBC Vancouver has captured a day in the life of two UBC students trying to make it in a city where, as one of them says, houses "are only for millionaires."

Living in a van is a choice for the UBC students, but others are forced into similar circumstances

A new documentary highlights two international students at the University of British Columbia who have chosen to live in an RV. (Van City)

A new short film shows how two international students at the University of British Columbia have chosen to live in a camper van to cut costs. 

Italians Alessio Brandolese and Paolo Ferronato say they figured living in a van near UBC's Point Grey campus was a reasonable alternative to dealing with Vancouver's sky-high housing costs. 

Local filmmaker Jonah Lee-McNamee, working with CBC Vancouver, captured a day in the life of the two students trying to make it in a city where, as Brandolese says, houses "are only for millionaires."

"Living most of your life outside and not inside, that's something that I really appreciate," he said. 

The two came up with the idea back in Italy before arriving in Vancouver in September. Living in a van, they say, has helped them cut costs, allowing them to afford activities such as skiing. 

It's also taught them to focus on what's "essential," Brandolese said.

In the documentary, Brandolese shows their favourite parking spot on the beach at Spanish Banks. Arriving there after a full day of studies is "really fulfilling," he says.

There are tradeoffs, namely a lack of privacy. 

The short film, they say, is about more than just two young people on an adventure, as it also sheds light on the city's high cost of living. 

Paolo Ferronato (left) and Alessio Brandolese work on their camper van. (Shiun Okada)

Brandolese and Ferronato say living in a van is a lifestyle choice for them, but they have met many people forced into similar circumstances because they can't afford a place to live. 

"These people are kind of limited in their options," Brandolese said. "For them it's not that easy. Maybe some of them don't enjoy it as much as we do."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Account Holder

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?