1. Before you start looking, figure out what you need
The first thing you need to do before apartment hunting is to figure out your budget. Calculate the most you could pay for an apartment, and ensure that any place you visit costs less than that after factoring in any additional fees such as parking and electricity.
Tip: Don’t visit an apartment that’s outside your price range. You might just fall in love with it and end up signing a lease for more than you can afford.
Take the time to ask yourself what you need:
- What neighbourhood do you want to live in?
- What floor would you like to live on?
- How big an apartment do you need? How many rooms?
- Is there enough space for your furniture and appliances?
- Do you prefer getting sunlight in the morning or afternoon?
- Would it take you a lot of work to paint and decorate the apartment to your liking?
Once you know this, you can limit your search to that specific type of apartment.
2. Starting looking
There are many places you could look to find the perfect apartment. Visit real estate websites, check the newspapers and look through the classifieds. Don’t forget to ask people you know. Maybe someone knows about a good deal or can recommend a great real estate website. It never hurts to check in with your network!
3. Keep an eye out for key elements that make an apartment (almost) perfect:
- Lots of windows and light
- Lots of storage space, including large closets and a kitchen pantry
- Space for a washer, dryer and dishwasher (if needed)
- Balcony or walkout to the yard
4. When you visit, look for telltale signs that an apartment is not right
- Can you hear the neighbours?
- Are there signs of mold (check near windows and in the bathroom)?
- Are the fixtures (toilet, bathtub) clean?
5. Check out the neighbourhood when you visit the apartment
Your visit is the best time to view the apartment and the surrounding neighbourhood. Look at the type of people living there (students, families, etc.), the type of neighbourhood where it’s located (noisy, families, busy street, etc.), and what services are available nearby.
Feel free to talk with the real estate agent or the owner when you visit. This is when you should be getting answers to your questions. Ask them if the building is fire safe, how many parking spaces are included, whether pets are allowed, and if there is storage space included.
6. Show up to the meeting prepared
Sometimes apartment rental decisions are made very quickly. When you visit, if you choose to rent the apartment, you may be asked to fill out certain documents. You should bring with you:
- Some ID
- Your chequebook
- Contact information for your current landlord
Found the perfect apartment?
After looking and looking, you’ve finally found a place you’re happy to call home? Congratulations! Now all you have to do is sign the lease and prepare for the next step: the move!
And whether or not the landlord requires it, it’s a good idea to get tenant insurance so you can have coverage for general liability, your property and to cover your needs if your apartment becomes unlivable as the result of an accident or other incident.