Five things every student should know for apartment hunting

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So, you’re finally saying goodbye to your tiny dorm room. No more communal showers or microwave ramen—you’re on to bigger and better things, like apartment hunting! Getting your first place is a big deal, but it can also be a big headache.

To help keep things fun, we complied five things to keep in mind to help make the search for your first home sweet home a little easier.

1. Start looking early

Where you’re searching can mean different peak seasons for listings. Common times are May–June (for the upcoming school year) and September–October (for the following school year). Make sure to check all your local rental websites regularly because new properties pop up almost every day.

2. Make a list of must-haves

Living on a student budget can mean making sacrifices, including when it comes to where you live. Rent is just one part of the equation—there’s also utilities, tenant insurance, groceries, and fun to consider, too. To get the most bang for your buck, make a list of your absolute must-haves. Think about things like: Do you need parking? Can you manage with just one bathroom? Character flat vs new build? You may not be able to swing the newest digs in town, but making a list of what you need and what you can sacrifice will help you narrow the search.

3. Roomies?

Sharing your crib with a group of friends can be a blast. But it also comes with its fair share of obstacles. Labelling your food in the fridge, dealing with late rent cheques, and conflicting ideas of cleanliness can all cause drama within your house. On the plus side, living with roommates typically means cheaper rent and more people to split the bills with.

When you live on your own, however, it’s your house and your rules. You’re only responsible for yourself when it comes to paying rent, cleaning up, grocery shopping, and inviting guests over. But that also means there’s nobody else to shoulder the financial side of things either.

4. Do your homework

Sure, the place you’re viewing might look like your dream home (for right now), but make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. During your viewing do things like flush the toilet and turn on the shower. Check every nook and cranny and ask lots of questions. Check the appliances, check the windows and doors, and check for damage. Notice what might need a little bit of love and make sure you mention it to your landlord. It’s also not a bad idea to arrange some time to talk to the current tenants—after all they have to have some reason to be leaving—to get the real talk about the pros and cons of the place.

5. Know your rights

When you’re a student, renting a property can feel intimidating. Unfortunately, some landlords and property companies are all too aware of this and don’t act with your best interests in mind. It’s important to know your rights and responsibilities so you can avoid a negative experience.

Your landlord may review the act with you as well as your lease, but ultimately it’s on you to make sure you know what you’re agreeing to. Knowing your rights and also your responsibilities is every bit as important as figuring out where to put your couch or which bedroom to choose.

Moving into your first pad is an exciting time! So get out there and get to it! Just try not to get a noise complaint from the housewarming party, ok?

Find your provincial Tenancy Act:

Nova Scotia:">

New Brunswick:

Prince Edward Island:

Newfoundland and Labrador: