Are you moving to Toronto as a student and wondering how to get to your place? This is a challenge the thousands of people face every year, and it especially gets difficult for international students. But it’s not a problem you can’t overcome. So, how do students find an apartment in Toronto?
There are four types of student housing in Toronto: on-campus housing, off-campus residence, rental condos, and the HomeStay program. When looking for an apartment, you must know what you’re looking for before you start searching, don’t forget to ask questions and be familiar with the rental rights.
You may also need to consider several factors such as the cost of rent, commute, living alone or sharing an apartment, etc. This article discusses how students find apartments in Toronto.
Housing Options for Students
There are generally four housing options for students in Toronto. They include:
1. On-Campus Housing
This is one of the best housing options for new students. It enables you to experience school life in full as a first-year. Each school has its housing categories designed to integrate students into campus life and form a strong bond with other students. Staying on campus means you get to participate in most activities there. This includes all the recreational activities and academic ones too. Being on campus means you can spend more time in the library, join night classes and group discussions, and be an active member of clubs on campus. It also means you can participate in more recreational and extracurricular activities after school hours. It’s more or less the best way to enjoy all campus facilities to the fullest without any stress. You’d also have better access to dining options, laundry, academic mentorship, etc.
There are several on-campus housing styles such as:
- Private kitchen or common kitchen
- Apartment-style of dorm-style
- Meal plans
- Non-coed or Coed
Your choice will likely depend on various personal factors, including your budget.
Schools that offer on-campus housing in Toronto include:
- University of Toronto
- Humber College
- Ryerson University
- Seneca College
- George Brown
- OCAD University
2. Off-campus Student Residential Buildings
The other option for you is to stay on campus in the privately-owned residential buildings designed for students. It’s similar to the residence on campus and offers the same experience. The only difference is it’s privately owned, which usually means more costs. You can find these buildings in downtown Toronto and popular ones include:
- Campus 1
- Tartu College
- Campus Common
- Harrington Housing
3. Rental Condominium
You can choose to go for regular condos in the city. All kinds range from studio size to three bedrooms. You’ll even find townhouses and detached homes. Some come furnished, and you have to furnish others yourself. Getting a condominium is quite costly, but it’s a proper apartment usually with all kinds of facilities, including a gym, swimming pool, party room, concierge, security, etc.
4. HomeStay or HomeShare Program
This is where you rent a room from a family or individual to live as a student. For example, Toronto has an HomeShare program that matches people around 55 and above who have vacant rooms in their homes and want to earn extra income with students for where to stay. With HomeShare, the rent is usually low, and the student will assist the elderly with light home tasks while also providing companionship. The National Initiative for the Care of Elderly (NICE) runs this program.
HomeStay, on the other hand, is a bit different. It matches individuals, mostly international students or those not native of Toronto, with a host family to help them adjust to the new life. The student gets several choices, such as being independent or becoming a family member. Benefits of this include the lower cost, hospitality, privacy, meal plans, furnished room, and others. HomeStay buildings are usually in very safe neighbourhoods close enough to school. Transportation rarely exceeds 30-60 minutes through the public transit system. The Stay can be for the whole session or just a semester. You can get HomeStay by using platforms such as:
- Canada Homestay Network
- Five Star Homestay
- Student Homestay Services
- Homestay Connection
- Toronto Homestay
- Homestay Plus
For room rentals, you can use social media platforms such as Facebook groups or your school pages to find available options. Your notice board is even a good place to start.
How to get a Find an Apartment in Toronto
As a student, here is the step-by-step guide for finding an apartment in Toronto:
1. Determine Your Search Parameters
You can’t just be looking for any house. You have to know what you’re looking for. So, know your price range, the area you want to live in, the transportation options and other amenities, and how you want to live. Then, you can use these parameters to search and never rent a place until you’ve seen it physically.
2. Start The Search
The most important thing is to start looking on time, and this is usually a month or two before you move in. Most landlords list places for rent like 4 – 6 weeks before the move-in date. However, the waiting list might be up to a year in advance for residence-style accommodation, which means less chance of moving in immediately.
3. Ask Questions
Find out everything possible from the landlord, starting from the rent, amenities to other additional services and costs, if any. You should have a physical appointment with the landlord to see the place, and once you’re satisfied, you can get the lease application. After paying rent, make sure you ask for receipts and other documents.
4. Know the Rental Rights and Rules
Be familiar with the deposits, utilities, references, and tenant insurance regulations. Also, read the lease contract before signing it. Finally, ensure you comply with all the necessary regulations to protect yourself from damage or future risks.
5. Consider What It Means to Share an Apartment.
If you choose to share, you need to lay down some rules. This includes who’ll collect and pay the necessary bills, views of the roommate or landlord on additional roommates, rules on overnight guests, food, smoking, internet, etc. Also, note whose name is on the lease.
Finding an apartment in Toronto as a student is quite easy. It’s all about knowing the available housing options and using the various tools at your disposal to find the best option. Everything from social media to the housing department in your school can guide you through the process. If need be, you can also use a realtor.