Are you ready to move out? Going away to school? Looking to buy your first house? Finding the right place to live can take a bit of work and involve quite a few decisions. What can you afford? Will you live with others, or by yourself? Is living in residence a good choice for you? What do you need to have to run a household? Below are some tips and links that can help you to plan your move to a new place to live.

The Basics:

  • Start by thinking about what you can afford. Do you have a budget? A reliable income? With all of your other expenses, how much of your income will be available for rent, utilities, insurance and furnishings? If you want to buy a house, have you budgeted enough for mortgage payments, property taxes, repairs and renovations?
  • Going in with others on a rental place may save you money on rent and utilities, but could also lead to a lot of aggravation! Be sure to select reliable people who will be able to pay the rent and utilities each month. Discuss in advance who will be responsible for cleaning common areas, dealing with the landlord and making sure that the bills get paid. Establish some house rules about sharing cooking space, noise, guests and pets.
  • Location, location, location! Scout the neighbourhoods in your price range to see what kinds of shopping and services are available and where. How close do you need to be to work, school, shopping, night life, parks, a gym, friends or family? Will you walk, bike, take public transit or drive? How long would your commute be to each place?
  • Some tips for finding an apartment include:
    • Let your friends know you're looking. They may know about a place for rent, be looking for a roommate, or know about someone moving out of a great apartment or house.
    • Find Internet sites listing local rentals.
    • Look on message boards at university or college housing offices, supermarkets, laundromats and other public places.
    • Scout neighbourhoods regularly for "For Rent" signs.
  • Some things to watch for when choosing a place to live include:
    • Is the building safe and secure? Are there smoke alarms, accessible escape routes, secure locks and proper lighting?
    • Do the appliances work? Are the drains clear and the taps and toilets working? Is there a washer and dryer? Does the heat work properly? Is there air conditioning?
    • Is the property clean and well-maintained?
    • Is there enough space for you and your stuff? Is there on-site parking?
    • Who pays for the utilities (heat, electricity, water, cable television), you or the landlord? Will the landlord shovel the snow in winter? Can you paint the walls, and will the landlord pay for it?
  • Renting a house or apartment usually involves signing a lease, which is a legal document outlining the rental terms and responsibilities that apply to you and your landlord. Provincial and territorial laws set the legal context for your lease. In other words, the lease terms have to be consistent with what is allowed in the law. Read a lease document carefully before signing and ask the landlord for clarification if you do not understand what is meant by any of the details.
  • Consider purchasing tenant's insurance to cover the value of your property. If you're renting, your things could be damaged by water, destroyed in a fire or stolen. Your landlord's insurance policy may not cover you.
  • Are you going away to school? Trying to decide whether to live in residence or rent an apartment? Whether residence or rental is cheaper or better for your grades and social life depends on how you want to live:
    • You may save on housing cost by renting, but have to pay for transportation and spend time commuting to and from school.
    • Preparing your own meals instead of buying a meal plan may be cheaper, but you'll have to go grocery shopping and spend time cooking. The dining hall chef at school may also be a better cook than you are!
    • Living in residence provides lots of opportunities to meet people and make friends, but it can be loud and disruptive when you want to study.
    • One advantage of renting is that it gives you a chance to choose a space and location that appeals to you.
    • An advantage of living in residence is that the buildings are often close to the wide range of facilities that each school has to offer, such as athletic facilities, libraries, classrooms, laboratories, club meeting spaces, and entertainment venues.
  • Buying a house is the largest purchase that most people will ever make. Extensive information about budgeting, selecting a home, getting a mortgage, house inspection, insurance and energy efficiency is available from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, or a real estate agent.
  • Before you move, be sure to arrange to have your utilities (electricity, heat, water, phone, cable television, etc.) transferred to your name and available when you move in. Contact Canada Post to have your mail redirected to your new address, let your bank, insurance company, and credit card company know where you have moved to, and do not forget to update your address and other contact information on your driver's license and health insurance card.

Helpful Web Sites:

  • Learn how to prepare your search for rental accommodations, evaluate the places that you are interested in, plan your move, and deal with issues such as emergency repairs, lease renewal and rent increases by viewing the information for tenants on the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Web site.
  • Details of each province and territory's tenancy laws are available at the Provincial and Territorial Fact Sheets section of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Web site.
  • Learn more about renting an apartment, signing a lease and getting tenant's insurance at the Young - Out On Your Own section of the Consumer Measures Committee Web site.
  • The Government of Canada has several programs to help young homeowners and tenants purchase or repair their dwellings, including mortgage insurance, upgrading for energy efficiency, and making emergency repairs. Find out more at the Housing section of the Service Canada Web site.
  • Use the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation guide to buying a home to learn more about financing, mortgage insurance, selecting a home and the roles of professionals, such as real estate agents, mortgage brokers , lawyers/notaries, inspectors and insurance broker, in completing your home buying process. This site also includes budgeting advice and a mortgage calculator tool.