A student working on her laptop in her residence
July 7, 2022
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. 3 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: Totem Park, Orchard Commons, and Place Vanier.

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:

Totem Park

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

Totem Park Residence from a distance
Orchard Commons

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

Orchard Commons
Place Vanier

The closest first-year residence to the beach, Place Vanier, has 11 mixed-gender houses, 1 single-gender house, and is home to the Gather dining room and Hubbards Global Market.

Building sign for Place Vanier Residences

Take it or leave it?

We've rounded up some top things to pack—and leave behind! For a comprehensive list, be sure to check out the Student Residence website.

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! With all the features below, you might think it’s a hotel, but 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 or branch 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. 24/7 support for the times when you lock yourself out of your room or want to check out the pool cues for a late-night game with friends. They’re also the people that hold your mail when your online deliveries or care packages from home arrive.

  • Dining halls. Grab a meal, a snack, or a 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. Almost 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 an RA. They’re an upper-year student who is there to put on fun and informative events, offer you support, resources, and tips, as well as keep the peace and enforce standards. There is also an “RA on Duty” in each area every night if you need anything—they’re only a phone call away. Be sure to get that number in your first community meeting or find it on posters throughout your residence.

What is a Residence Life Manager (RLM)?

Each student living in residence is also assigned an RLM (Residence Life Manager). RLMs are full-time professional staff who supervise RAs and the overall residence area. Connect with them if you have any questions about 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?

First-year residence has a dedicated professor who has office hours in residence, and even hosts dinners and fun events that you can attend. 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 or Facebook for all the latest updates and sneak peeks of living in residence!