About this time in first year, I started thinking about where I was going to live in September. I had decided to move out of New College residence, to the great dismay of my stomach, but I just really wanted my independence in second year. The tricky part was finding an apartment in Toronto.
I had gotten together with two friends with the idea that we would live together. We started looking for places, just sort of walking around the Annex, Kensington Market, and the East end near Bay and Yonge. We had the funny notion that the perfect apartment would just appear on the side of the street.
Around this time I went to an apartment search information session hosted at New College. It explained what to expect from landlords, rent agreements, what to look out for, such as poor plumbing and infrastructure. There was an interesting fact that the majority of people never look up and examine the ceiling when they enter a new room or building. There could a giant hole and most people would miss it. So look up!
U of T Housing Services offers a lot of information and resources to help students with the house hunt. They provide students with a Housing Finder, a Roommate Finder and a really cool Interactive Home Inspection tool that offers tips, reminders, and questions to ask landlords about a new apartment. Also, in June and July, Housing Services will be holding Explore Off-Campus Housing Workshops at select residences. Check back with their events page for full details!
In my own search, I eventually turned to other options in Toronto for finding an apartment, such as Craigslist and Kijiji. There is another really good online and mobile service called Padmapper. These services offer a lot of options, a lot of listings, which is good and bad. It’s bad because it can seem overwhelming to wade through it all, but it’s good because you’re bound to find a good, affordable place.
One thing I discovered about these sites: September apartments really start showing up around late June to July. April and May are good times to think about where you want to live, and to try to find roommates. But don’t worry if you aren’t seeing any September 1st listings. In time!
Lastly, there was a useful event that is still being offered at U of T, the Housing Fair on April 5, 2014. It’s a networking event to meet other students who are looking for apartments, roommates, or seeking someone to sublet for the summer. A nifty trick, if one were so inclined, is to meet someone who is subletting and then find out whether they are returning in September. If not, the apartment will be up for grabs!
Ultimately, apartment hunting should be fun, like a mini safari around the Toronto wilderness. Go into it with your friends and explore. Meet landlords, look at ceilings, test water pressure, look in the fridge. Don’t be shy, and really just have fun!
For me, it was my first real apartment. I lived there, I loved it, and I will remember it forever. It was fun!
‘Til next time, stay diamond, U of T