Accommodation in Canada
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Updated 2 months ago

To begin your search for housing in Canada, you must first determine what type of housing is best for you. Also check if you can buy a house or an apartment, or if the rental is more suited to your profile. In general, you will find houses and apartments for rent and for sale in classified ads in local newspapers.

Several websites also offer rental, sales and colocation services. Here are some of them:

Kijiji
Craigslist
Remax (sale)
Century 21(sale)
Rentboard (rental)
Padmapper (rental)

Rent an apartment in Canada

In general, it is quite easy to find a house in Canada: housing is available at all times in most Canadian cities. Owners have the right to ask you for proof of employment or to carry out a credit check to verify that you have not gone into debt; however, you will always find understanding owners or owners who are accustomed to renting to newcomers. Note that upon arrival, you will not have a credit history in Canada. You will first need to open a bank account and pay a few bills, such as phone bills.

You do not have to find accommodation before you leave. You can quite rent a hotel room or accommodation on a temporary rental platform - like Airbnb - and take a week or two to find the accommodation of your dreams.

On the spot, you can walk around the different areas of your city and choose the one you like the most. During your walks, be on the lookout for the signs "Vacancies" or "For sale" and "For rent". The cost of renting may vary according to the different regions. Big cities are usually more expensive than small or medium-sized cities. Vancouver and Toronto are reputed to be the most expensive in Canada. Montreal, Edmonton and Calgary are a bit cheaper. Quebec, Ottawa, Moncton, Sherbrooke, among others, are more accessible.

In Canada, signing a lease is not mandatory, although it is preferable. A simple verbal agreement is enough to engage you with an owner. The lease is a written legal commitment between the owner and you. Make sure you have read and understood the contract before signing it. Before accepting an accommodation, check what fees are included in the rent. You may also have to pay, electricity, internet, hot water and heating. Also, make sure you know the duration of the rental. Generally, the rentals last one year. There are also weekly and monthly rentals.

If you leave your accommodation earlier than what has been decided on the rental lease, you will have to continue paying your rent until the end of the rental period. However, your landlord may agree to you giving up your lease or subleasing the home to a replacement. In addition, the landlord may ask you to pay a security deposit that he will keep in case you damage the premises and he will return it to you at the end of the rental period. The amount is usually equal to one month's rent. Note that this procedure is illegal in Quebec. To find out what laws apply in the area where you have chosen to live, contact the provincial or territorial government.

Taking out insurance for your home is not mandatory in Canada, although it is highly recommended. To choose one, you can get in touch with your car insurer or your bank and do some research on the Internet.

 Good to know:

Be very careful if you book accommodation from abroad and that you are asked to pay one month in advance. Most of the ads in which this condition is imposed are scams.

Flat-sharing in Canada

If you have a small budget, living in a shared apartment will be the best option for you, especially if you live in a big city like Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal. This practice of sharing an apartment with several people is very common in Canada. Living in a shared apartment will allow you to quickly meet new people and, in most cases, you will not need to bring your own furniture and kitchenware.

In classified ads websites, the advertised price for shared rooms generally includes the room, furniture, utilities and access to the rest of the house, including kitchenware; But this is not always the case. Before you commit, ask the owner what is included in the price.

In addition to researching classic classified ad websites, do not hesitate to sign up for Facebook groups dedicated to your city of residence and newcomers.

The terminology to know about renting accommodation in Canada

The following table shows abbreviations commonly used in rental housing ads.

Abbreviation

Meaning

Hse.appl.

Household appliances

apt.

apartment

avail.

available

Stu.

One-room apartment, with kitchen and bathroom

br.

bedroom

bst.

basement

cble

TV cable

d/w

dishwasher

furn.acc.

furnished accommodation

h.wat.t.

hot water tank

imm.

free immediately

coll.lndry

collective laundry

lux.

luxurious

refs.req.

references required

Renov.

renovated

lrg.stu.lft

larger studio loft

s. ten.

to rent to someone who is already a tenant

unfurn.

unfurnished

heating. & electr.

heating and electricity costs included

w/d

washer and dryer

1st and last

the rent of first and last months is required in advance

no/h.no/l.

unheated, unlit

elec.

electricity

English terms

 

Apts

apartments/flats

t/h

townhouse

bst

basement/sous-sol

br

bedrooms/chambres à coucher

n/p

no pets

n/s

no smoking

refs

references

1-5 (6) appls

appliances provided

Inc utils

utilities included / charges comprises

d/w

dryer and washer included

 

Notes on accommodations/apartment designations:

  • Studio / Loft consists of a single room with a kitchenette and a bathroom. In Quebec, this type of housing is commonly called a "1½" or a "2½" (the word pieces being implied).
  •  One-bedroom apartment includes living room, kitchen and bathroom, plus one bedroom. In Quebec, this type of housing is commonly called a "3½" or "2 ½ with a closed room".
  •  Two-bedroom apartment includes living room, kitchen and bathroom, plus two bedrooms. In Quebec, this type of housing is commonly called a "4½".

Buying a house or apartment in Canada

When you decide to buy a house in Canada, you will need to build a credit history. Canadian banks will rely on that to determine whether they will give you a bank loan or not. Note that it will be difficult to obtain a loan from a banking institution as a temporary resident. For more information, please visit the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada website.

To buy a house or an apartment, it is advisable to contact a real estate agent. You can find them in the yellow pages of your phone book or on the Internet. Buying a house can be relatively expensive because you have to face many costs: those of the real estate agent, the lawyer or the notary, as well as other expenses related to the completion of work.

You will obviously have to take into account the annual property tax, home insurance, registration fees, various taxes related to the purchase of a house, but also the costs of maintenance, heating, electricity, hot water and sewage. Running water is free in Canada.

In Canada, you can benefit from certain forms of financial assistance for the purchase of a house. For more information, visit the Canadian Immigration Services website.

Things to check before committing

Before you buy or rent a house, you must make sure that the premises do not present any problem of insecurity. For example, check to see if the windows are equipped with a locking device and if there are a smoke detector and an emergency exit in the event of a fire. You should also check that the appliances provided by the owner work properly and that the water devices are not damaged. Also, you have to ensure that the premises are not infested with unwanted insects and rodents. Bedbugs are an endemic problem in major Canadian cities. Do not hesitate to ask questions about this when you visit a property. Finally, make sure that the means of transport are easily accessible and that you will be safe, especially at night.

 Useful links:

Expat.com - Real Estate in Canada
National Post
Canoe
Star Classifieds
GSC Rentals
View It
Search Colocation
Government of Canada - Banking Activities
Canada Revenue Agency
Directory of Real Estate Brokers and Agents in Canada

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.