Nine truths: Finding Off-Campus Housing

When I chose to study in the metropolis of Toronto, I knew housing wouldn’t be easy. The application process to live in residence was simple and I ended up with a best friend as a roommate. But when second semester hit and housing groups began to form, the ease that came with living in a dorm room slowly vanished and we started looking for places to rent. Through the highs and lows (and trust me there were lows), here are nine truths I’ve learned about finding housing around the St. George Campus.
  1. Choose your roommates carefully.
Last year I lived with my two best friends, one male, one female. We got along great, but it didn’t work out in the end. This year I’m moving in with 4 girlfriends, and we’re currently still looking for a place. I learned that communication is important! 2) Location Location Location. There are about a million different areas around U of T, it just depends how far you’re willing to go. I like to call these neighbourhoods ecosystems because they’re all so diverse. I realized that the Annex best suits my lifestyle due to the quirky shops and homey-feel of the streets, but there’s seriously an area for every type of student. 3) Timing matters. No matter what my friends at other schools said about how early their housing processes begin, U of T is not Western or Queen’s. I had to accept the fact that units in Toronto don’t go on the market till about 1-2 months before the move in date. 4) Patience seriously is a virtue. IT’S A VERY SLOW PROCESS. When it comes to dealing with landlords, realtors, and even the group you’re moving in with, I had to always remind myself these things take time. 5) Use Your Resources. I ensured that Kijiji, Craiglist, Padmapper and Zumper were all book-marked on my computer. I had to check these at least 3 times a day, most of the time holding my breath as I reloaded the page. Also the U of T Off Campus Housing page proved to be useful! They often have places that are geared towards students and young professionals.   6) Ask for Help. As first-year youngins, we didn’t even realize that realtors usually work for the landlords, meaning that you don’t pay them anything. Most big real estate companies have realtors willing to work with students so check 'em out! 7) Never take a dishwasher for granted. Last year we didn’t have one and dirty dishes in the sink ended up being the source of 90% of our arguments. Looking back, I wish I had ensured that the place we were looking at checked off all of our 'boxes' before we put it in writing. 8) Don’t settle, but don’t be too picky. This one really hits home. In second year we ended up living in a basement apartment that wasn’t awful, but perhaps if we hadn’t signed a May lease we could’ve found something better- It’s a gamble! Currently it's August and my friends and I are still viewing units, but hey, it’s Toronto, we’ll find something eventually! Which leads into my last point… 9) Be positive and don’t give up.  As cheesy as that sounds, I learned that housing is an uphill battle. But when I finally settled into my place in second year and had the first meal surrounded by friends around the dinner table, it was all worth it. Until next week (when I'm hopefully no longer homeless) -R

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