Once you know you’re coming to Canada, you will need to a decide where you will be staying. While this may feel overwhelming at first, know that there are several resources available to help you!
If you already know the province or territory or even city you would like to reside in your first step may be to contact a newcomer service in that area. You can do this by entering the city name on Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s website and selecting an organization near you. If you do not know where you will be staying you can read more about newcomer services.
You may not have a permanent place to stay before your big move, and that’s okay. If you are not staying with friends or family, you will want to find temporary housing that will allow you to get to know the city while you look for a permanent place to stay. There are a number of short-term accommodation options including hotels, hostels, AirBnb, sublets, and short-term apartment rental. Make sure to read any reviews available, confirm what the rental price includes (heat, electricity, etc), and that transportation will be accessible to you!
There are two main options when it comes to short- or long-term accommodations: apartments and houses. In either situation you can sublet, rent, or own the unit.
Subletting Subletting normally occurs when a renter will be out of town for a certain period of time with the intention of returning to the same apartment/house. In most cases the person who is renting out the unit will leave certain belongings in the apartment for the short-term tenant to use under certain conditions. Subletting can be a good option if you are looking for temporary accommodations and if you do not yet have your own furniture.
Renting You can also choose rent an apartment. As a renter, you are required to pay the landlord/owner every month for your stay and abide by the rules agreed upon in the lease. It is important to understand your lease with your your landlord before signing it and moving in. Know who is responsible for paying utilities, who is responsible for snow removal, and if smoking is allowed, among others. Renters in Canada have certain rights, which you should be aware of before signing a rental agreement. For example, if the landlord is responsible for heating, a certain temperature must be maintained during the winter. If you have questions before signing a lease or during your stay, contact a newcomer service center for help.
Ownership When you’re ready, buying a house can make your transition to Canada complete. For most newcomers buying a house doesn’t happen within the first year, and some Canadians may choose to always rent rather than buy. Owning a house means you do not have to pay rent or adhere to a rental agreement, but it also means you have several responsibilities. Make sure you are knowledgeable about the property taxes you will pay for your home, among other costs.
International students may have the option to stay in on-campus housing, also known as dorms, or off-campus housing, such as renting an apartment.
When it is available, on-campus housing is usually the most popular option for new students. College dorms may offer private or shared rooms. The price of a dorm room can range greatly depending on the college or university you are attending and may include (or require) services such as a meal plan for the university cafeteria.
Off-campus housing may be difficult to find if you are outside of Canada. If you decide you want to live off-campus, the next decision should be whether you live alone or with someone else. Shared apartments are common options for students, since it usually reduces the costs of rent and utilities. Shared apartments can also provide flexibility. Normally, if you are in a shared apartment and would like to move you must simply work with your roommates to find someone else to move into your room.
If you prefer to live on your own, you will have different options based on your budget. Most students living on their own live in what is called a 1 ½, 2 ½, or 3 ½ apartment. These numbers refer to how many rooms are in the unit. A 1 ½, or studio, is a small apartment with bathroom, kitchenette, and one open room, a 2 ½ is usually similar to a 1 ½ though slightly larger, and a 3 ½ normally has a kitchen, bathroom, and separated bedroom.
When comparing rental prices, make sure to include utilities such as heat, electricity, and internet. Costs for both on-campus and off-campus housing can vary significantly depending on where you’re attending school. It is much easier to compare your housing options once you have chosen the college or university you want to attend!
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