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Straight on view of an opened laptop on a light brown desk in a student's residence room. The desktop is illuminated by a light from above
June 26, 2023
4 mins read

Residence 101

The UBC Life Residence Guide

Move-in day is coming up—Aug. 27 for those participating in Jump Start, Sep. 2 for those who aren’t. Click below or scroll through to get the scoop on what lies ahead in residence.

Where will I be living?

Take it or leave it?

What features does residence have?

Who can I turn to with questions?


Where will I be living?

There are 3 first-year residence areas at UBC: Orchard Commons, Place Vanier, and Totem Park.

You might hear chatter that one area is “better” than another, but the truth is, you’ll make amazing memories wherever you live. Give your new space some of your signature flair, say hi to your floormates, grab a meal at one of the dining halls, and it’ll start to feel like your own.

Each of these 3 residence areas is home to between 1,000 and 2,000+ students living in different buildings—which UBC refers to as houses. Get a glimpse into the areas below:

Orchard Commons

The tallest first-year residence, Orchard Commons, has 2 mixed-gender houses and is home to the Open Kitchen dining hall and Hero Coffee + Market.

Orchard Commons
Place Vanier

The closest first-year residence to the beach, Place Vanier, has 12 single- and mixed-gender houses and is home to the Gather at Vanier dining hall and Hubbards Global Market.

A close up view of a stone sign reading "Place Vanier"
Totem Park

The largest first-year residence, Totem Park, has 9 mixed-gender houses and is home to the Feast dining hall and Magda’s Late Night Market.

Totem Park Residence from a distance

Take it or leave it?

Space in residence is limited, so bring only what is necessary. We've rounded up some top things to pack—and leave behind! Be sure to check out the comprehensive what-to-pack list from Student Residence. 

Take it
  • Renter's insurance. Would you drive without car insurance? Didn’t think so! Renter's insurance is a lot like that, but for protecting your new living space and belongings.
  • A power bar or extension cord. Phone charger? Coffee maker? Alarm clock? Laptop charger? You’ll probably need a power bar or extension cord for ALL. THE. THINGS!
  • Bedding! Don’t forget to pack bedding, or order your linens from Campus Linens of Canada before the deadline.
  • A kettle! Waking up to your favourite coffee or falling asleep after drinking your favourite tea is a pretty sweet way to live. Plus, it'll save you lots of money (like $500 to $600!) over the school year if you make your daily cup of caffeine at home.
  • Some dishware! Usually, a set of one plate, bowl, mug, and set of utensils will do the trick. Heat up some leftovers in your community’s microwave, or make a quick cup of coffee or tea.
Leave it
  • Garbage can. I know your favourite homewares store has some cute ones—the “Oscar the Grouch” one I never bought still haunts my dreams—but your room does come with a trash bin. (Plus, each residence has its own waste sorting area to promote sustainable living on campus.)
  • Microwave and other appliances. You’ll have access to a microwave in your floor lounge, and I was always too busy to make myself a midnight grilled cheese anyway. Avoid anything with open coils and anything else on this list, and use your meal plan for any after-hours snacks.
  • A printer. You have money on your meal plan you can use to print at your residence area’s printer or any of the library printers. Just leave a little time to spare to account for any possible line-ups!
  • Your desire to break the rules. Residence Standards exist to create a respectful community and help you and your neighbours succeed academically.

What features does residence have?

  • Front Desk. This is the place to ask a question, pick up your online deliveries or care packages from home, borrow pool cues for a late-night game with friends, and more.

  • Dining halls. Grab a meal, snack, or coffee on your way to class. Added bonus: If your class is closer to another dining hall, you can use your meal plan there, too!

  • Market. Each residence area has a market that’s open in the evenings and stocks a variety of late-night snacking/quick meal options, toiletries, and more! Perfect for study—and Netflix—snacks.

  • Internet access. All rooms in first-year residence have Wi-Fi, with the exception of Ritsumeikan House in Orchard Commons.

  • Fitness rooms. Take a quick spin on the elliptical, do some burpees, or practice your squats at any time of the day. You can also participate in free yoga and group fitness sessions with Fitness in Residence, a program that lets you get active right where you live!

  • Study spaces. Each area offers different-volume study spaces that are available 24/7.

  • Events. Your Residence Advisors and Area Council put on lots of fun and informative events throughout the year, and your area even has its own sports league.

  • Sports facilities. Totem Park and Place Vanier offer tennis courts (rackets can be signed out from the front desk). Orchard Commons has indoor AND outdoor ping pong tables (paddles can be signed out from the front desk).

  • Music rooms. You probably want to learn more than that one Olivia Rodrigo song. Music rooms are conveniently located inside your residence commonsblock (your building's central hub) and help keep your cool reputation with your neighbours intact.

Who can I turn to with questions?

What is a Residence Advisor (RA)?

Each student living in residence is assigned a Residence Advisor (RA). They are upper-year students who have extensive training in building community through various activities and events, promoting safety and security, making referrals to the many resources available to you and helping to keep the peace by supporting residence standards.

There is also a Duty RA each and every night to respond to important community needs. Be sure to get the RA on Duty phone number in your first community meeting and on posters and digital signage throughout residence.

What is a Residence Life Manager (RLM)?

Each student living in residence is also assigned a Residence Life Manager (RLM). RLMs are full-time professional staff who supervise RAs and the overall residence area. Connect with them if you have any major concerns within residence or are looking for ways to get involved. Their office is located in your residence area’s commonsblock. They love to hear about how your university experience is going, so feel free to drop by during their office hours!

What is a Prof-in-Residence?

Each first-year residence has a Prof-in-Residence that offers weekly drop-in hours, hosts student chat sessions, and runs programming on a wide range of topics related to wellbeing and success. Profs are a lot less intimidating with a plate of cookies in front of them, and they genuinely want to hear about how your classes are going.

Connect with UBC Residence on Instagram, Tik Tok, or Facebook for all the latest updates and sneak peeks of living in residence!