Finding a rental condo in Toronto
While you may be looking forward to your new rental home in Toronto (because Toronto has a lot to offer), you probably aren’t looking forward to actually looking for that new home. It’s time-consuming, it’s stressful, and it can involve more dead-ends than you’d hoped.
But it doesn’t have to be this way! A little preparation means you can narrow down your choices in advance, which means you have a better chance of finding your new dream apartment in less time (really).
Here’s what to do:
Our top 9 tips for making apartment-hunting less painful:
- Take some time to think it through. Sounds obvious, right? But many people, when they realize they have to find a new place, get overwhelmed and start to panic – and then either waste a lot of time looking in the wrong places or end up in a new place that doesn’t really work for them. Making time to think about what you need, where you need to be, and talking it over with whoever you plan to live with will save you a lot of time, and heartache, in the long run.
- Get your financial ducks in order. Most landlords are going to require a credit report, a letter from an employer, possibly a reference from a previous landlord, and first and last month’s rent. You’ll be in a better position to negotiate or move quickly on a suite you love if you have all these things in order before you start looking at potential new homes. (If this is your first rental, or you have a less-than-stellar credit history, you may want to consider lining up a lease co-signer as well.)
- Make a list of your must-haves – and write it down. It’s almost impossible to narrow down your search if you aren’t really sure what you really want – and what you could live without. Do you need easy access to public transit, or on-site parking? Could you live without a bathtub if the neighbourhood was really fantastic? Would you trade a small kitchen for a huge bedroom? The more you know about what – exactly – you’re looking for, the easier it’ll be to find it.
- Set a budget and don’t be tempted by some dream penthouse condo. The truth is that rents in Toronto tend to be high enough without you starting to contemplate whether you really could afford that super-deluxe condo if you just ate ramen noodles all month. There are plenty of great places out there at lots of price points, so set a budget you can live with and stick to it. No one can eat ramen noodles all the time.
- Be realistic. Like most big cities, Toronto has perennially-expensive neighbourhoods (Yorkville); super-hot neighbourhoods (the Junction); and up-and-coming neighbourhoods (East Danforth). Knowing which is which will keep you from wasting time chasing a bargain that just doesn’t exist.
- Consider working with a professional. Sure, sites like Craigslist or Casalova can be good sources of rentals, but they require a lot of searching, constant vigilance, and (often) a lot of dead ends. You might want to consider working with a local property management professional who can do a better job of ‘matching’ you to suites that meet your needs – and who can handle some or all of the paperwork for you.
- Don’t be rushed. It’s true that the Toronto real estate market is hot right now, and that goes for rental properties as well. But that doesn’t mean you have to pull out your chequebook and start signing leases 5 minutes after you tour a property. A landlord who pressures you to ‘act now’ may have something to hide – and may be lying about all those other potential tenants who are lining up to take the place if you don’t.
- Do your legwork…and your homework. Every property manager and real estate agent will tell you that it’s crucial to ‘walk the neighbourhood’ before you make a decision to live somewhere long-term. Even the most beautiful suite can be rendered unlivable if it turns out to be right behind a fire station whose sirens keep you up all night, every night.But you should also spend some time with Google, checking out your potential landlord and building for red flags, such as bed bug infestations, news coverage of poor maintenance or treatment of tenants, negative reviews on Facebook or elsewhere, etc.
- Trust your gut. Sometimes, when you walk into a rental condo, you just know it’s the right place for you – maybe something about the light, or the architecture, or the layout immediately appeals to you. On the other hand, you may get an immediate ‘bad vibe’ from a place or a potential landlord. Listen to your gut feelings. If you’ve done your homework – especially #1-5, above – your gut is probably steering you in the right direction.
Good luck with your search – and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need help finding a new place in Toronto!