It’s mid way through the semester and for first year students in particular, that means it’s time to start looking for places in which you would like to stay for next academic year, whether if it’s off or on campus. Most students opt to live off campus with friends to experience what it’s like to have a place of your own and live like an adult. I’ve had challenges trying to find a place off campus primarily due to roommate disagreements and commitments. However, the journey to finding a place in Toronto is a worthwhile experience that instils important values of living as adult such as planning, organizing, and communication. In this blog, there are a few tips on how to the find a place off campus and aspects to consider.
Find a roommate that is on the same page
Most students initially tend to find off-campus housing with roommates primarily due to cost or not wanting to be alone. I’ve had a few potential roommates in the past when looking for an apartment downtown, but it never worked out because they were not committed to finding a place and communication was nonexistent. We lost a great place with a decent price and location due to my roommate’s lack of communication. Given this, it is very important to consider who you want your roommates to be (whether a friend or acquaintance). Ensure that they are equally as committed into finding a place, can communicate, and are on the same page on what and where you’d like to live. If you are having trouble finding a roommate, check out U of T’s Roommate Finder under Off- Campus Housing Services. This website allows you to create a personal profile and connect with others who share similar desires in a roommate.
Look for a real estate agent
I find that having a real estate agent assisting you in finding places is extremely helpful. They simply find places that best match your housing requirements and help you file the paperwork between the landlord and you. At that point all you will have to do is take a tour of the potential places and discuss with your roommates. When I was looking for places, I found my realtor through connections with friends, but there are many of real estate agencies in Toronto that you can find online. However if you don’t want to invest in a realtor, then I suggest you take a look at websites like U of T’s off campus housing website, or kiji.
Always have a plan B
Although the initial plan is to live off campus, always have a plan B in case things do not work out. I’ve learned this the hard way. Two years ago after trying to find a place to live with a few roommates, our plans had changed and we each had to find a place to live on our own. It was late March at the time and most of the resident applications were closed and I had no other places to live for the next academic year. I applied to live at St. Michael’s College again just to hedge my bets even though the applications were closed. To my surprise and luck, I actually got an offer to live in the residence. Always have a back up plan whether to live on campus again or live by a relative because sometimes plans never go as expected and you wont end up stuck.
Finding a place off- campus is actually harder that it seems and is a lot of work and commitment. The journey is a lot easier when you have a roommate who is on the same page as you, have a real estate agent, and have a back up plan. It is an exciting experience so don’t be discouraged, enjoy the adventure, and remember to consider all aspects of looking for a place.