DON’T GET LOST IN THE FRUSTRATIONS OF LOOKING FOR A NEW PLACE TO CALL HOME
Whether you’ve just landed a new job or you’re moving for school or personal reasons it’s important to know where to begin your property search. One of the hardest things about moving to a new city is not knowing the area which can be a struggle when your main goal is to find somewhere to live.
I was the person who was frustrated even though I was already living in Canada and the city in which we currently reside. Thankfully I had Mrs. CBB to guide me but that still didn’t ease the stress of making the biggest purchase of our life. Although we weren’t sure if we were going to rent an apartment after moving out from our hole in the ground (the cave) after research and running numbers a property search for a house was our best option.
You may be looking to rent a room, apartment, condo or buy a house in a new city so I’ve put together a few inspiring search options to get you started. First and foremost visiting the area you are hoping to move to will offer you stress relief because stepping foot into unknown territory is half the battle to knowing what lies underneath.
Don’t sweat it if you can’t visit at the moment because there are other options for a property search that you can research before making a visit. Either way I’d suggest doing so whether you can visit or not. Ideally though a visit is beneficial to the outcome you want.
Types of Housing In Canada
If you’re starting a property search whether you are buying or renting it’s always important to know the types of housing available in the community you are moving to. It’s also important to know what will suit your needs.
As listed below Housing in Canada takes on similar roles in just about everywhere.
- Rental apartments: most apartments have one, two or three bedrooms. “Bachelor” units have a single room that serves as a living area and bedroom.
- Rental rooms: large homes are sometimes divided into several private bedrooms that you can rent.
- Condominiums (Condos)
- Houses: Detached, Semi-detached and Town-houses
Get to know the city you plan to begin your property search in by starting your journey at City Hall. Just about every major city will have information about tourism and community living in the area. You’ll be able to talk to someone who can help you network with other professionals in the area and offer property search insight.
Property Search Questions
This is also a great time to create a list of questions you’d like answered before you begin your property search. The reason for this is when you start your journey you’ll always be prepared with something you want to find out answers to.
For example: You could be moving to a city, town, village or far away place but the property search questions most often remain the same or in a similar fashion.
- Does this city have a College and University?
- What is the Bus/Train/Street Car/Subway/Taxi/Uber system like? Costs?
- Where are the best areas in town to being a property search?
- What are some of the best elementary and high schools in the area?
- Do you have a beach or local parks?
- Will there be other roommates?
- How much will the utilities cost?
- What is the crime rate in the city?
- What areas should I stay away from when on a property search?
- What are the best and worst qualities about the city?
- What is the job industry like?
- What are the average house prices in the area?
- How much will property taxes cost me?
- What are the average rental prices and what you get for your money?
- How much does parking cost and how often is it required? Most places in Toronto you’ll pay money to park your car just as you would in London, England. When visiting a smaller city you can expect to pay typical parking fees if any at all. In Toronto $10-$20 is the norm when parking anywhere downtown which can get pricey but finding free parking spots is always a challenge.
- What are food costs like in this city?
- Where are the best places to grocery shop?
- What types of churches are in the area?
- Is there access to a local hospital or one close by?
- Are there any doctors accepting patients?
- Is there an after hours clinic available?
Talk to the locals
During your property search find out where the downtown core is of the city you’re interested in and make it a priority to visit. The downtown core in almost all cities seems to be old in Ontario but where lots of the action happens. You’ll also find city hall tucked away most often in the core of the city and plenty of people to chat with.
Park your vehicle and go for a walk. Explore the area, visit shops, talk to small business owners, customers or just random strangers on the street. Even small towns have plenty of locals roaming around the core of the village. Not everyone you meet will be friendly but putting yourself in the heart of a city is a great way to find out how welcoming the community is.
The people who are living in the area will have some of the best visions to offer you so ask those questions you prepared before making the visit.
If you live too far away from the place you will begin your property search one of the best options is to do an online search. Awareness is important because with knowledge comes motivation. Research the place you plan to call home and make phone calls to appropriate offices that will help answer some of the questions you will have.
If you’re not looking to purchase a home the task of renting can be tough since you don’t often have a real estate agent working for you. Almost all online newspaper sources will have options for buy and sell, renting and buying houses, apartments etc. You can also do a media search in the area to see if there are any print options that you could research or read that offer a rental section where buyers, sellers and renters can advertise.
Facebook groups are a wonderful way to do a property search especially if there are neighbourhood groups to learn a bit more about your potential new home. Almost all rentals and plenty of house sales are available for free viewing on the website Kijiji.ca, so I’d certainly encourage you to visit.
Mastering your property search by accessing houses for sale in the area is an important option not to miss. Realtor.ca is the top online listing website for buying homes in Canada followed by For Sale By Owner websites such as Property Guys. If you want to know what houses look like and cost in Canada and get a feel for living without seeing a house in person this is your main pit-stop.
If you’ve narrowed down your search to a particular neighbourhood, go visit. Park your vehicle and go for a walk around the neighbourhood and even chat to the neighbours you might bump into. Stop and take time to introduce yourself if the situation permits and ask some of those property search questions you prepared in advance. Don’t miss out on getting the experienced view of neighbours living in the area.
I can’t remember if I told you about the time we were going for a walk with our son and someone in a minivan stopped us. The woman rolled down her window and said they were doing a property search in the area and was hoping we could tell her about our neighbourhood. She had questions! Smart lady.
Welcome to Our City
What a better place to find out about the city you want to move to other than City Hall. You’ll find this to be the heart of the city where the community is the body and life-line. You can ask to speak with local politicians who will be more than happy to talk to you about their city. I’d call in advance if you plan to go this route and book an appointment just to be safe.
Take the time to explore the City Hall website where you will find a plenty of information about the city. The City of Toronto website for example offers information on living in Toronto.
Some of the topics discussed online may just answer some of the questions you created at the beginning of your property search. The topics below don’t even begin to scratch the service with the amount of information on the Toronto City Hall website so grab a beverage and enjoy the read.
- Immigration Portal (very helpful when I moved to Canada from the UK)
- Children’s Services
- Environment and Energy
- Festivals and Events
- Parks and Recreation
Real Estate Agent
If you plan on buying a new house then your property search needs may be met by hiring a real estate agent to work with you. Real estate agents who are well established will know the area inside-out or at least should. Even new estate agents may have lived in the area from birth so don’t pass by one for another based on popularity.
Create a list of all the real estate agencies in the area and make some phone calls ahead of time. Do a search online for real estate agents, real estate agent reviews or ask a real estate agent for references. Similarly browse through a free rental magazine if the city offers one to help boost city growth. You know those yellow rental boxes you find at the grocery store, mall or other shops as free reading material. Inside you’ll find information about buying, selling and renting in the city and surrounding area.
Ask a Landlord
If you plan on renting make some phone calls from appealing listings that you find and talk to the landlords. While you have them on the phone or whether you meet in person be ready with questions you want answered. You might not necessarily want to rent from them but they could be an important source of information.
Grocery Store Board
Have you ever just glanced at the grocery store peg board on your way out the doors after cashing out? I have plenty of times but have never really had a need to read it. The only times I might read more than just the headline on piece of paper is if I’m hanging around waiting for Mrs. CBB to hurry up.
Even then I’m more interested in what’s going on around me rather than the cork board. Most often you’ll find landlords looking to fill rentals, students looking to rent rooms, families wanting to buy or rent a house and so on. Sometimes the best ways to advertise can be in the smallest of spots.
University or College housing centre
When I went back to school in Ontario I noticed that there were no shortage of rental listings for students beginning a property search. Many landlords will visit or call the housing centre of a University, College or other educational institutes to post rental ads.
Once you visit the school you are attending chat to students and staff with a smile and you’ll likely find the answers you are looking for. You’ll be surprised what you can learn from students who’ve already been through the property search process, win or lose.
It’s not easy and for many it can be very depressing especially if a city is costly to live in such as Toronto or listing are slim. If you’ve already touched base with some of your professors or meet them in person while visiting on your property search they also might have insight on other areas to explore in the city.
New Immigration Services
Most cities will have some form of support services for new immigrants to the area. When I moved to Canada I made a visit to a local service centre where I was able to find out more about where to begin in my new city. I was also informed about where to get my licence swapped over, education services, housing services (although I didn’t need this). They were very friendly and always willing to help.
The Government of Canada website for new immigrants is a great for those people looking to start their life in Canada. This is where you can learn more about life in Canada, jobs and get help finding a place to live.
Find A Place To Live
Temporary housing, types of housing, renting and buying a home, basic services and furnishing your home
Traveling between cities, getting around cities and towns and getting a driver’s license
Plan Your Finances
Canadian currency, exchanging foreign money, cost of living, tipping, banks, taxes and preventing fraud
Get To Know Canada
Weather, laws, human rights, provinces and territories, family law and your rights and duties in Canada
Provincial and territorial ministries of health, how to get a health card, health insurance and health coverage for protected people and refugees
Getting Help Before Moving To Canada
In-person and online services, finding a job, settlement and languages.
A place to call home
Oh and don’t worry if you’re in a rush to move or have little time to explore at least take the time to know what you are looking for or at least have an idea. The last thing you want to happen is you move into an apartment without seeing it or buying a house in a neighbourhood that just won’t work for you.
Questions…. you need Questions.
Overall, beginning your property search may seem like it sucks up your time and swallows you whole but in the end you’ll be happy you made the effort to get to know the city you are moving to.
What other ways can you begin a property search in a new area?
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