Give Me Back My Five Bucks

I live in a Vancouver laneway house

suite1106-img_2824Vancouver laneway houses are becoming more and more popular. Our cute home is one of only a handful of finished and occupied laneways in my Vancouver neighbourhood, but taking a quick stroll around, and you’ll see many nearly completed or under construction.

When we first started looking for places to rent, my ideal place was a laneway house. These little cottages in the city really appealed to me because 1) I love small spaces, 2) tons of privacy, and 3) you don’t have to worry about noisy neighbours. So when this laneway came up in our ideal neighbourhood, we did everything we could to snag it.

Our laneway is a 685 sq.ft. two-storey, two-bed home. It costs us $1,650/month in rent, and is located in our favourite neighbourhood in Vancouver.

The rent is comparable to any decent apartment in the area (we were looking at a 1-bedroom for $1,700/month before we found this place), so the only thing we are giving up is a little bit of space in exchange for renting an entire structure. And as for the space, it’s about the same size as my townhouse – the only difference is the laneway is two levels.

When you first walk into the house, you are greeted with stairs, as well as the kitchen area, and RD’s computer desk. There is also a small laundry closet off to the right of the computer desk.

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The first floor is where we seem to spend most of our time. I love the kitchen island, and think it was a really smart thing for us to buy. Not only can we take it with us anywhere we go, but I sit there to work on my laptop, it’s the perfect size for two people to prep meals, and it adds much needed seating.

If we were going to entertain (which for us would be rare), we could put away RD’s computer and use the desk as a table.


Walking up the stairs, we have a washroom to the left. It’s clean and modern, and has enough space to hold a trunk full of extra towels, etc.

Photo 2015-11-27, 6 01 44 PM Photo 2015-11-27, 6 02 14 PM

Straight ahead off the upstairs landing is our bedroom. It’s the smaller of the two bedrooms by far, but it fits a queen sized storage bed (which fits all of our sports gear, backpacks, bedding, etc.), night table, and has a pretty big double-door closet for RD’s stuff.

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The last room upstairs is the second bedroom, which we have turned into our living room – with our couch and television.

We ended up having to buy a new-to-us couch off Craigslist. It’s not ideal, but it looks nice and fits the space well.

The only picture of the closet I have is from when we first moved in – but the closet is a semi-walk-in and spans that entire width. It fits a surprising amount of stuff (all of the crap I had in my old walk-in closet fits in the space).

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And that’s our little house! :) It’s small but functional, and the perfect size for us. It took a while to get settled and combine our stuff together, but after about a month of living here full time, it’s starting to feel like home.

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. Jordann says:

    Adorable! Laneway houses are JUST starting to get a foothold in Halifax. In fact, I looked at a flat yesterday that had three microlofts in the backyard.

    I think that space suits you perfectly, and I love the kitchen!

  2. Alex says:

    Hey Krystal, congrats on the home. I’m from Toronto and just curious the definition of a “lane way” house. Is the house completely freehold and the lane way is maintained and owned by the City? (Thus no maintenance fees). Is snow storage an issue for the plows? Also, I’m unaware of the real estate prices in Vancouver other than its really high and sometimes unaffordable. What would be the cost of a home like this on average in Vancouver?


    • Krystal Yee says:

      Hi Alex! A laneway house is a smaller detached home that is typically built in the backyard of a pre-existing lot. In Vancouver you cannot actually buy a laneway house separate from the main house – it can only be rented out (like a basement suite would). I actually spoke to my Realtor about this recently, and right now the only way you can buy a laneway is if the entire property has been stratified (which I understand is rare, but becoming more popular).

      • Alex says:

        Thanks for replying Krystal. That is very interesting that these are becoming more common options amongst millenials/couples looking to upgrade from a condo apartment in order to live in a desired area. I guess we may see these in the future in older gentrified neighborhoods in Toronto soon.

        Yes, potentially the lot can be severed or subdivided to create the new parcel of land but shared reciprocal easements would have to be created for services, access, etc.

        Congrats once again Krystal and enjoy the home!

  3. Brandy says:

    Your house is very cute. Not too small, enough space.

  4. Adrianne says:

    I love your tiny laneway house. Gorgeous! We recently bought a 750 sq foot bungalow, and I am in love with it.
    I think it encourages minimalism to have a small house, but I love not sharing a wall with anyone any more.

    Tiny housing is a sign to me that you’re more interested in saving money and actually being wealthy than you are with appearing wealthy!

    Congrats on your new place!

  5. Catwoman73 says:

    New reader here… I absolutely love your little house! I have been trying to convince my husband to downsize, but so far, I’ve had no luck at all. If I can’t convince him, after seeing your place, I am wondering about the possibility of building a laneway house on our property to help offset the costs of living in our rather large house. I’m going to look into the bylaws in our town to see what is possible. Thanks for making me think outside of the box!!! :)

  6. Liz says:

    Great little house! In the U.S. these are called mother-in-law cottages. I think small living is going to be very popular soon. Less cost, less clutter means you don’t have to work so hard for so long. You can still have all the comforts of modern living.

  7. CanadianSaver says:

    Love the house too! I’m on a 650 sq foot house that I just love too… for 1 person is it perfect and the location is amazing (on a river). I would definitely look at something like you’re in if I lived in the city :)

  8. Debtman says:

    Congrats on the new home! It’s super cute. I don’t think they have those in my city yet. It’s a neat idea. Great alternative to an apartment. Noisy neighbours are the worst.

  9. What a fantastic place! I wonder if my wife & I could make something like that work? And I’m curious, do you have yard space?

    • Krystal Yee says:

      I think it’s definitely worth consideration. Laneway houses are quirky and fun – and because they are quite new to Vancouver, almost all of them are up-to-date, modern, and CLEAN. :) We don’t have dedicated lawn space, but some laneway houses do (some even have tiny little gardens!). There is a decent size lawn that separates our house with the main house though, but our lease indicates that we don’t have access to it. So I suppose it depends on the landlord.

  10. Peter says:

    This is the first I’ve heard of a lane way house. Thanks for teaching me something new.

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Yep I’ve read it! For me personally I’ve never lived in a space bigger than 700 sq.ft. so the size of this little laneway house feels just right. :)

      And when I lived in Germany, I was in 215 sq.ft. with another person for a year. That was interesting and while it worked out just fine, I fully admit that it’s not something that I can do long term/forever. But 675-700 sq.ft? Absolutely.

  11. Your rental is SOOO CUTE!! GAH!

  12. Kate says:

    This is sooo cute! I wish they had these small homes in California. Rent is so expensive here :)

  13. Beth says:

    Hello, thanks for your post. I was wondering if you still live in this laneway? Would you find 2 floors are better or just one level? Any pros and cons for this laneway?

    Thanks so much.


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