Where to Look

Once you have identified what you're looking for, you're ready to start searching. There are many ways to find a place to rent, but some may not be obvious to the inexperienced searcher. The following lists outline general and online sources that can help you find an ideal rental.

TipGet There First

In a tight rental market (one where relatively few apartments are available), you'll need to review new rental postings quickly and visit properties early before someone else snaps up a prime opportunity.

General Sources

  • Newspapers servicing your search area, including free ethnic papers and community papers.
  • Free publications, often found in local retail stores, that publish rental accommodation ads.
  • Check bulletin board postings at libraries, community centres, grocery stores, laundromats and places of worship.
  • Word of mouth.
  • For students, campus housing offices.
  • Check with local real estate offices found in the Yellow Pages.
  • Visiting neighbourhoods: For Rent/For Lease signs might catch your eye; when you spot a vacancy sign at an apartment building, drop in and talk to the superintendent or the property manager.
  • Some community organizations offer housing assistance and settlement services.

Online Sources

  • Internet mail lists.
  • Electronic bulletin board postings.
  • Specialized Canadian apartment listing Web sites.
  • Web sites of ethnic and community newspapers (classifieds section).
  • Web sites of daily newspapers.
  • Regional Web sites.

A note about online postings: although online listings are becoming more popular, they do not list all available accommodations. Web postings are often run as a for-profit venture, so many sites that target the rental market may not list inexpensive rental units. Many community papers now publish their classified ads online, free of charge.

Looking from Afar?

If you don't yet live in the area where you plan to rent, find out if a friend or relative is already familiar with the area. If they currently reside in the area, they may be able to collect information on your behalf. If you are moving to begin a new job, your employer might help. If you plan to study in a new city, most colleges and universities offer assistance. Some campuses offer better housing information than others do, so it's best to check with the campus housing offices at surrounding schools as well.

Thorough Internet searching can provide listings across Canada as well as information about the general rental climate in a given area. You can find online apartment listings grouped by provinces, regions, or major cities at specialty sites or in the classifieds of newspaper Web sites. Specialized rental sites may include detailed floor plans, descriptions and photographs and some sites provide virtual tours. Simple searches using Canada-specific search engines are a good place to start.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada maintains a listing of organizations that can assist newcomers to the country. These centres can serve as a starting point, as can local settlement services. Available in some areas, settlement services groups can provide consulting and assistance throughout the immigration process, including the location of suitable housing and employment. It is best to research a few different groups offering these services, as the type and cost of the services will vary. The Newcomer's Guide to Canadian Housing is an excellent CMHC publication offered free of charge to help new immigrants have a smooth transition to Canada.

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