Moving into a new place is very exciting. Yes, moving is tiring, but you’ll get to explore a new area of the city, and decorate all over again! The toughest part about moving is finding a new place to live. Make sure to take your time with this and do a lot of research before signing a lease. Here are a few pieces of advice for students to follow when house-hunting:
1. Decide on a budget
Know how much you’re willing to spend before booking appointments to see an apartment. It’s going to make your hunt that much harder if you see a place way out of your price point and are constantly comparing every other place you see to that one.
2. Ask if utilities are included in the rent price
Utilities can add up - especially if you live somewhere cold, paying for heating in the winter can make your monthly rent go up by $100 or more. Be sure to ask whether utilities are included in the price. It’s likely that internet will not be included, but make sure to ask about gas and hydro.
3. Know how many people you are living with before scheduling appointments
Decide who your roommates are going to be before beginning your house hunt. It will save you a lot of time if you know from the start that you’re living with three other people and need a four-bedroom place.
4. Don’t just rely on classifieds for listings
This is important. Definitely check classifieds when looking for places, but remember that classifieds aren’t the be all end all. They often don’t list all the houses and apartments that are for rent. Instead, take a walk in the neighbourhood you are thinking of living in and keep an eye out for “for rent” signs. Give the number on the sign a call directly and ask what they have available.
5. Find out if the building is students only
Some apartment buildings, especially those near universities, will be student-only. This can be a really good thing. If you intend to throw parties and know your apartment may be a little loud from time-to-time, living in a student building is key. Even if your landlord still forbids it, your neighbours are far less likely to be bothered by a little noise than non-student tenants that have to go to work in the morning.
6. Speak to the current tenants
When you’ve narrowed down your choices, try and speak with the current tenants, whether in person or via text. This is a great way to get answers to questions that the landlord may not tell you. Such as whether there are any structural, electrical, or plumbing issues in the building, how friendly the landlord is, and how quick the superintendent is at fixing an issue if there is one.
7. Research the neighbourhood
Not only to make sure it’s safe, but just so you have a good idea of what’s around. Take a walk in the neighbourhood or do a quick google search to find out where the nearest grocery stores, restaurants, gyms, and clothing stores are. Also, if you live far from campus, make sure there are good public transit options or a parking lot nearby.
8. Get to know the landlord a little
You want to make sure you get a good vibe from the landlord when they show you an apartment. Do they seem approachable? Do they seem trustworthy? Do they live in the building or do they live far away? It’s important not to let them pressure you.
9. Check to see if the building has an elevator
If you’re living in an apartment building, this is very important. Not only will moving be a nightmare without an elevator (assuming you live above the ground floor), but taking the stairs will be tiring on a number of occasions. If you love a certain place, this shouldn’t be a dealbreaker, but it is something to keep in mind.
10. Test out the walk between the building and campus
This is one final test you can do. As you will be travelling this route on a near daily basis, try walking between the building and your university campus. Make sure the walk isn’t too long to handle and that it is relatively nice (walking along a highway every day to get to class may be a dealbreaker).