Student flies from Calgary to Vancouver twice a week to save on rent


A University of British Columbia (UBC) student is making headlines for choosing to fly from Calgary to Vancouver twice a week to save money on rent.

"Super commuter": Final-year UBC economics student Tim Chen shared his unique commuting experience this month in a Reddit post aptly titled "Super-commuting” under the username @brownsugar1041.

“I’m a super commuter at UBC and I live in Calgary. I have two days that need to go to school for class (tues and thu), I fly to Vancouver in the morning and return to Calgary at night. I’ve been flying on Air Canada for all these flights, and for Jan, I did 7 round trips like this. I found there’s absolutely saving on rent since I don’t need to pay rent in Calgary (live with my parents) except just casually paying for utilities, and it’s much cheaper than renting a 1b for 2k for more in Vancouver. Anyone doing the same thing or similar?”

He also mentioned in a reply to a commenter that his family home in Calgary is only 10 minutes from the airport, making flying the most convenient commute option for him.

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How much he is saving: In an interview with CTV News, Chen explained that he previously rented in Vancouver while attending UBC, but rising rent costs prompted him to explore alternative options. Chen’s round-trip flight costs approximately 150 Canadian dollars ($111), which totals around 1,200 Canadian dollars ($897) monthly, significantly less than the $2,500 ($1,852) he estimates Vancouver rent will cost.

Housing affordability issue: While UBC offers options like residence halls, challenges persist for many of its students already facing high living costs. Renting off-campus in Vancouver has become prohibitively expensive, exceeding provincial rent increase regulations. Some students housed by the university have even seen rent hikes above these limits in the current semester.

UBC Associate Vice-President Andrew Parr acknowledged the housing challenges faced by students, stating that high costs are the reason the university is actively constructing below-market housing options.

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“We recognize that finding affordable rental accommodation in Vancouver and Kelowna is a challenge for some of our students, as it is for others renting in the communities,” Parr said, according to the Daily Hive. “In Vancouver, it is especially difficult.”

Netizens’ reaction: Chen's cost-saving strategy prompted mixed reactions on Reddit. While some commended his approach, others expressed concerns about the feasibility and toll of frequent air commutes.

"This is super neat!" wrote one user. "Thankfully my parents live in Vancouver but if my father worked at a different airport and I lived a distance away, this might have been my option hahahah. I still commute 2 hours each way every day but it’s much better than that flight to Vancouver."

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"I was actually thinking of doing something similar for summer courses," a commenter wrote. "A lot of the time I don’t go to class so I was thinking of just attending first week/midterms/exam. Something that ppl [sic] are not mentioning here is that you’ll get exhausted and wasting time in security lines."

"I feel like it would be easier to stay in the commuter hostel or something for tue [sic] and wed night than take a round trip in between tuesday and thursday classes," another suggested.

Another super commuter: Last year, a University of California, Berkeley, student identified only as Bill similarly went viral after revealing he took planes three times a week from Los Angeles to avoid expensive rent in the Bay Area during his studies. Bill, who accumulated frequent flyer miles, claimed in his own Reddit post in July that the unconventional approach saved him money on rent.

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