Searching for a rental unit can be tough, time-consuming, and stressful. Whether you’re desperate to move now or even looking well in advance, some tricks and tips can help ease the process so you can relax in your new home as soon as possible.
1. Know your limits and must-haves
These limits should incorporate all requirements for your new home. For most, the main limit is the budget. Work within a minimum and maximum window. Some don’t think to set a minimum, but choosing a minimum monthly rent can actually help eliminate units way below your standards and save you hours of search time. For example, if you are looking to spend $1500 on a 1 bedroom apartment, a good budget window is $1250 – $1750. The lower limit still allows for some larger bachelor or studio units worth looking at and the upper limit may include add-on’s such as a den, parking, etc..
Do you want to be close to work or school and have regional boundaries? Select a grid from which you will map the available units and try not to deviate far from the outermost streets you set. If you want to walk to work in under 20 minutes, make sure that these boundaries abide by that rule. You don’t want to regret moving 10 blocks further away to save $100/month in rent if it requires you to spend even more on public transit each day.
What is your move-in date? Do you need parking? A storage locker? An apartment or condo with gym and pool access? These are all things to consider.
2. Search multiple online resources
By far, the easiest way to sift through thousands of rentals is online. Take advantage of websites such as Craigslist, Kijiji, MapLiv, Realtor.ca, and Padmapper, which allow you to peruse the latest rentals and quickly contact home owners, realtors, and landlords. In some markets, units can be signed away within hours. It is best to keep up-to-date on the current listings if you’re serious about finding your perfect new home.
3. Be picky about viewings
Initially, it may be best for you to take a look at a ton of units in your desired area so you can get a feel for what it is you want. This also helps you to figure out the size or layout you like and distinguish between what is a good unit and a good photographer. Once you are able to make judgement calls based on provided photographs or descriptions, you can cut down the viewings by about half. Only go see the units you would seriously consider leasing. It is not worth your time or effort to check out a basement apartment if your main requirements include floor-to-ceiling windows. By selectively setting up viewings for only the best rentals, you can spend your searching time more effectively with fewer disappointing results.
4. Check out the neighborhood
You have found the perfect rental unit. It fits your budget, general location, and size requirements. Before signing the lease, take a look around. This is easiest to do on the way to the viewing or immediately after. Do you feel safe walking the surrounding streets alone? Are there grocery stores nearby? Pharmacies? Coffee shops? Think about your daily (and nightly) activities and make sure this neighbourhood can offer you most of what you want. It’s not necessary for it to have everything on your wishlist, just know that it will create a positive atmosphere. If you want to be close to the nightlife, you may be happier with a 5 minute walk than a $20 cab ride to the hottest bars and clubs.
These tips can still apply when working with a realtor or looking to purchase a home. Now that you know some key concepts involved with the house hunt, you can spend less time searching under stress and more time enjoying your new pad.