Renting a place in Toronto, Vancouver or any other major city in Canada is nearly impossible these days. This we already know. What we don’t know is how to charm our way into the system when we’re practically broke, a millennial eager for our first taste of independence and we can’t stop daydreaming about how we'd decorate our own home.

If you're anything like me, then you're a 20-something-year-old, you've just graduated college and it's time for you to spread your wings. For many of us, that means moving out of our parent's house and finally renting your very first place all on your own. 

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With a little research, a quick chat with Toronto realtor Kyra Anderson and some common sense picked up from months of browsing rental websites, we were able to comprise a list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to finding a place called home and then surviving in this constantly rising rental market. 

1. Be prepared to spend 42-50% of your income on rent.

The average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto in 2018 is almost $2,140 and Vancouver follows behind at $2,000. There’s a way to go cheaper if you’re flexible. The next tip will help you spend less on your monthly rent!

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2. The closer you are to convenient transit the more expensive the rent.

Consider units that require longer walks or taking the bus if you want to find more affordable spaces. 

3. If you hire a realtor, your landlord pays them and not you!

As long as the unit you’re renting is not a private apartment (buildings with vacancy signs out front), you’re golden.

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4. Don’t rely solely on the realtor’s effort.

The benefit of having a realtor is they can find you nicer spaces that are advertised privately from owners, so use a realtor and look on different rental sites.

5. Websites to consider:

Padmapper, Viewit.ca, Craigstlist, Kijiji, Rentseeker.ca, Bunz Home Zone.

Via Padmapper

6. Make a list of priorities!

Consider what you can and cannot live without. Are you okay with a place without a balcony, do basements make you feel like you’re in a dungeon or is A/C an absolute must? Try to keep this list short, tight and realistic because beggars cannot be choosers.

7. Be willing to compromise.

Ask yourself how many people you can share a kitchen with. Find an acquaintance to split a two-bedroom apartment, get a group to rent a house or share a one-bedroom apartment and sleep in the living room.

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8. Landlords like a tenant who has their shit together!

Have all your paperwork in order (3 recent pay stubs, bank statement, reference(s) from employer) and go to Equifax.ca for your credit report (costs $25).

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9. Every inquiry on your credit brings your score down.

If your credit has blemishes, have an explanation ready and a promise that it won’t happen again.

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10. The rental market is super competitive.

 All is not fair in real estate and war. People are rent bidding these days but if you can prove that you are a good tenant and have good references, some landlords prefer good tenants to money.

11. If all else fails, consider offering a deposit.

Legally, landlords can’t request them (pet deposits, damage deposits etc.) in Toronto (lease bylaws vary across Canada) but if you offer they can technically accept. Remember, money talks.

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12. Beware of landlords trying to overcharge you.

If utilities are not included, find out who else lives in the space and how to divide the utility costs fairly. Sometimes it’s better to choose a place with utilities included because utilities excluded demands being prudent all the time. You’ll probably go over some months and your budget will fluctuate.

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