I think that one of the scariest, most adult-like things I have ever done is find an off-campus apartment. I loved living in residence for my first two years, but all I had to do to get my pre-furnished room was sign up and pay the bill. Venturing out into the competitive waters of Toronto’s housing market was terrifying at first, but was ultimately so rewarding once I realized I could handle more independence than ever before.
And it’s that time of year again: you should start your search anywhere between 2 weeks and 2 months before your desired move-in date. For September, that’s now!
So you’re looking to move off-campus, but don’t know where to start? Whether you’ve got some friends together or need to find roommates, Housing Services at U of T has some great services and resources to help you out!
If you’ve never embarked on an apartment hunt before, you should consider attending the Explore Off-Campus Housing workshop offered by Housing Services. It’s running on a number of days throughout the summer, and should be a great introduction to important topics. You can also learn more with their useful and thorough Resources section.
Here are the common steps of the process:
1. Do you need to find roommates? Create a profile on U of T’s Roommate Finder or pay attention to ads looking to fill one bedroom of a multi-bedroom apartment.
2. Find some apartments! Check out U of T’s Housing Finder. Tell it what you’re looking for (how many bedrooms, price, etc.) and browse through the listings. You’ll find some great stuff in here, but widen your search too. Check Craigslist, Padmapper and ViewIt for more listings. And don’t forget good old word-of-mouth! Ask your (Facebook) friends if they are planning on moving out or know of any places that might not have ads listed.
3. Set up some viewings! Call the number on the ad and let the landlord know you’re interested in coming to see their place. The Toronto housing market moves fast, so try and choose a date and time as soon as possible, though it’s best if all of the people you are moving in with can go so you can make a decision together. Don’t be afraid to go see apartments without pictures in their ads – I got my first 4-bedroom apartment right next to campus because many people didn’t bother to go and see it based on its picture-less ad!
4. Visit the apartment! Bring a copy of this checklist from Housing Services to help you know what to look for. Ask the landlord lots of questions!
5. Make it yours! If you want the place, you’ll probably have to submit an application. Bring your cheque book to every apartment you visit so you can apply on the spot if you want to. A lesson I learned the hard way is to keep looking at other apartments until you hear back about whether your application was successful; you don’t want to put all of your eggs in one basket!
Good luck out there, U of T! It will all be so worth it when you settle in to your new apartment. Share your tips for finding off-campus housing in the comments.