Looking for a new home is stressful and can be a challenge depending on where you want to live. If you're in need of a new apartment rental in the new year, but aren't sure where to look, here are our best tips for finding the perfect property.
Start with a budget
To find an apartment that’s right for you, you'll need to know what you're able to afford to narrow down your apartment rental search. Start by determining your ideal rental budget. It should be easy for you to manage (not too expensive) in case your financial circumstances change and should leave room for any additional charges like internet, heat and hydro.
Choose the overall location
Are you considering moving cities as well as properties? If you don't need to move to a particular place (for work or personal reasons), do your research before moving to a new-to-you destination. Start by researching the average rental cost in your desired destination. If it fits your budget, find out if the Canadian city you're moving to has a good cost of living and quality of life rating. Canadian cities vary wildly in this regard. For your safety, we also recommend exploring the crime rate of the cities you are interested in.
Want to get a feel for a Canadian city you've never visited? These city guides are a great place to start.
Narrow down the right neighbourhood
Before you start searching for available rentals, you'll want to choose your desired neighbourhood(s). For many renters, the neighbourhood can be more important than the home itself because it impacts their lifestyle and commute heavily. Love to go out at night? A downtown location might be best. Need a safe and quiet area close to schools for your kids? The suburbs may suit you best. Want to walk more than drive or commute by transit? Look for neighbourhoods in close proximity to your school or work, grocery stores, shops and entertainment venues.
Many brokerages and realtors operating in Canadian cities have produced detailed neighbourhood guides which you can find with a quick Google search. The Canadian government has also published helpful neighbourhood guides.
Search for rentals within your budget
You probably wouldn't try on an outfit that's worth 10 times your budget. The same principle applies to your rental search. Use an online rental search tool like Viewit.ca, Padmapper and Rentals.ca and be as specific as possible in your search criteria. Search within your desired budget, cities, neighbourhoods and rental needs (1 bedroom, gym onsite, air conditioning etc.). This may heavily refine your search results, helping you avoid wasting time exploring rentals that aren't well suited to your needs. If you don't have time to search for yourself, a real estate agency can also help you find the right property to rent.
Research and tour the property
Renting in an apartment building? Google the building and property management company for reviews to see what other past and present renters think of the property and management team. You want to avoid potential disasters like bed bugs and unhelpful building management. Renting in Ontario? Look for a Certified Rental Building for peace of mind.
Avoid renting a property sight unseen. Request a tour of the property and the rental unit before leasing to ensure it is as advertised and that it looks just as good to you in person as on paper. Moving from far away and can't visit in person? Request a virtual tour with the property manager.
Walk around the property
If the building and unit look good to you, be thorough and walk around the property both day and night. Is it in good condition, well cared for and brightly lit? Would you feel safe walking down the street and coming home alone at night? These little things matter and will greatly impact your day-to-day life.
Sign the lease before paying
Unfortunately there are many apartment rental scams online, so be safe rather than sorry and sign a lease before paying anything towards the rental. Paying your landlord first and last month's rent after leasing is standard practice in many cities in Canada.
We hope these tips help you find your new home and the perfect property for you this year.
To find your home with Hazelview Properties, please visit our Home Finder.