Posted on Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Looking for a place to live while in post secondary can be a tough task! Whether you are going straight from living at home or from residence, living in your own place will be a major life change. The journey of house hunting can be a stressful one, especially if you are looking during the school year. Here are a few guidelines to make your experience a little more enjoyable and to make sure the house you choose is right for you!
Where to look
* You schools Off Campus Housing Board - most schools will have a section on their website geared to off campus housing where current rental properties are listed with a description. You can also go to your school’s Housing Department where they will have a bulletin of properties
* Forums – many schools offer online forums where students post roommate requests with a description. This is a great option if you are new to the area and need someone to live with
* RentBoard.ca – the website allows you to choose the city you will be living in and lists various properties they have to offer in that area http://www.rentboard.ca/
* Place4Students.com – this website has an interactive map where you can choose either the United States or Canada and then choose your region. They offer both University and College rental properties https://www.places4students.com/Index.aspx
* Kijiji – this is a wonderful website where many students find their housing accommodations. You can choose your city, how many bedrooms, the area you are looking for, price and they are connected to Google maps where you can map out where the property is located. http://ontario.kijiji.ca/
* Ask around, sometimes older students you know will be moving out or know someone who is!
* The majority of rental properties ads will be listed from December and continue throughout the summer. Keep in mind however, that most properties will quickly become occupied by mid-March. Properties will still
be available in the summer, but you may be left with fewer choices something you do not like. ACT FAST!!
* Most properties will start their lease on May 1st. Keep this is mind when you are looking. If you prefer a lease that starts September 1st, do the majority of your searching in June as many landlords will not know till then if their current tenants will be renewing their lease or not.
* City - Being a student, you want to be as money conscious as possible, however you have to keep in mind what city you live in. People in London, Ont., where the housing market is cheap, will be paying a lot less then someone who is renting in Toronto or Ottawa.
* Utilities - When a property says $500/a month that does not mean you will be paying a flat rate of $500. Look to see if utilities are included (most of the time they are not), and if they are which ones will you still have to pay for. If it says heat and water is included, you will still have to pay for cable, wireless Internet and hydro. Utilities can cost you anywhere from $50 to $100 extra
* Laundry – in many apartments and some houses laundry is not included, which means you will have to pay extra every time you use the machines
* Parking – many apartment buildings and some shared houses will charge you extra to use the parking facilities. Keep this in mind when you are totally your monthly living cost, and don’t forget to add the schools parking fees on top!!
Mapping it out
* Before you decide map out the distance from the house to your school on Google maps. Use all 3 options – ‘car’, ‘bus’ and ‘walking’. This will come in handy if you miss your bus and are forced to walk to school!
* When you go for a viewing of the property, time the distance of which route you will be take to get to school, the grocery store etc.
Questions to ask your potential landlord
> Do you want first and last rent when we sign the lease?
> How much do you predict utilities will be?
> If I need to, is it possible to cancel my lease before it is up?
> Is there parking available? And is it free?
> Is this property pet friendly?
> If we need a repair, how quickly will you respond to come fix it?
> Is laundry included, or is it a coin machine?
> Can we paint our rooms?
> Have there been past issues with the house?
> Have there been past break-ins/ robberies?
Remember to talk it over with your parents/caregivers before you make any rash decisions. Insure all of you roommates are happy with the decision and don’t feel obligated to settle on a house you are not completely in love with. Weigh your other options – you can always do residence again.
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