6 Things I Wish I Knew Before Apartment Hunting In Canada After Moving From The UK
The process is pretty different.
This Opinion article is part of a
Narcity Media series
. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
When I moved to Canada a year ago, I knew finding an apartment was going to be one of the most stressful things about the move.
From choosing which area of the city to call home, to working out how renting works in Canada there were a lot of things I had to get to grips with very quickly and it was a real learning curve.
If I was doing the whole thing over again, these are the things I wish I knew before I looked for an apartment in Canada.
Scout out locations ASAP
As soon as you move to a new city, scouting out locations you'd like to rent in needs to be a priority. Not only does narrowing down the location help with the search, but you can also start to work out how your life would look from commuting times to how you'll spend your free time.
Having this pinned down as quickly as possible will help move the process on quickly.
Credit scores are super important
One of the biggest barriers to finding an apartment when I first moved was a lack of a Canadian credit score. Although I had a relatively good credit score in the U.K., that really meant nothing when I moved and finding somewhere that was willing to rent to someone with no record was a bit challenging.
Be upfront about your situation when viewing properties and ask your real estate agent or the landlord what you can do to make it work. Some places will be willing to accept a letter from your employer or payslips. Others might ask you for proof of funds to show you can cover rent for a few months. Others might ask for a few months' rent upfront (but be careful of scams).
Some landlords just straight up won't rent to you so just try not to get too disheartened during the process.
You might get more than just an apartment
In the U.K. you normally are just paying for a room or a property. Occasionally landlords might include utilities in your rent but it's fairly rare. However, in Calgary, most places I viewed included heating and water bills in the rent which was a pretty great deal.
As well as those. condo buildings especially might have gyms, workspaces and other bonuses too. My building had a pretty decent gym which meant I could save around $50 a month on a separate membership.
Always take a look at communal spaces and factor these in too when budgeting.
Rent cycles start once a month
One thing I had to bear in mind when finding a place was that in Canada, rent cycles tend to start on the first of the month (some places are on the 15th) so if you're moving at any other time of the month, prepare to make temporary plans.
I spent a couple of weeks at an Airbnb which wasn't ideal but it did give me plenty of time to find the right place and get myself organized to move in so again, it's all about budgeting for unexpected overnight stays.
Look for incentives
If you're looking for a condo, make sure you look at whether the building has any incentives because it could end up saving you money in the long run.
Some places might offer a month (or even two months) of free rent or they might not ask for a security deposit so it's always worth scoping out to see where the best deals are because you could snag a bigger apartment for less money.
Be on high alert for scams
One thing I have noticed in Canada is more people have warned me about rental scams so always be careful and avoid situations that make you uncomfortable.
Avoid handing over cash without being certain that your lease is secured.
Even if you view your dream apartment and the scenario seems perfect, it might not always be what it seems so just take a beat.
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