Searching for your first apartment

As many of you know, searching for your first apartment is an exciting but sometimes frustrating process. Being used to the luxury of having more than enough space, a back yard, a pool, cable and internet and not having to pay bills, let’s face it: I had it good. Nonetheless there comes a time when you feel ready to venture out and get a place that you’ll be able to call your own.

For many, all that excitement decreases when you actually start to look for your new casa. Your vision of that amazing 2 bedroom apartment with a large balcony, large windows, high ceilings, fire place, original hardwood floors and in the middle of prime location all for under one thousand dollars a month is just not happening. Seriously, snap out of it.

However, adjusting your standards doesn’t mean you have to live in a dreadful place. Here are some pretty common tips to help you find your first place.

Make yourself a wish-list
This being said, be reasonable when making it. You will rarely get all that you wish for by paying within your budget. I wrote down all my must-haves and started eliminating what really wasn’t essential in my first apartment.

Below is a list of popular essentials

        Must be close to transit
        Must be close to schools/ work
        Must be in a decent neighborhood. 
        Must be close to various amenities
        Must be pet friendly
        Must have dishwasher
        Must have laundry in unit or building
        Must have balcony or backyard
        Must have gym/pool near by
        Must be a newer unit model or very clean
        Must be all inclusive (utilities)
Create a budget
To me this is the most important part. A budget will inevitably determine what you take out of your wish-list or not. I think it’s imperative to create a budget that includes all aspects of your income and expenses in order to determine what you can afford.
The categories that you can use when planning a budget for a new place are:

Monthly rent (or mortgage)                                        Food: Groceries
Hydro                                                                       Food: Eating Out
Hot Water                                                                Transit/Parking pass
Home/Tenant Insurance                                             Car Insurance
Internet                                                                      Car Payments
Cable                                                                         Gas
Phone                                                                         Pets
Household supplies                                                     Misc./Others

Start looking months in advance

If it’s January and you’re moving in June or even September, start looking.
This will give you the opportunity to see what the market is like and the ranges of asking prices. It will also give you ample time to research the area and buildings you’d like to live in. If you find something that interests you, ask the landlord or building manager to see if a unit similar to the one that’s for rent/sale now will be available for the date you’re looking for.

Research the buildings and landlords
I’ve had pest problems in the past and believe me it’s not fun to deal with at all. Make sure that you do your research online or ask around about the buildings and their past. Some things can be surprising. Also be aware of scammers. If you’re unsure about any offer that seems too good to be true, google the email or location. More often than not you won’t be the first they are trying to scam.

Don’t be shy to negotiate your terms. That’s what a contract is for. More often than not, it’s easier to negotiate with private renters/sellers; however, you can always try your luck with a corporation.


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