Let’s accept it, looking for a place to live in a new country is horrible. It’s time-consuming and stressful, even more for new international students. Not knowing where to search, who to live with, and what neighborhoods to consider, is overwhelming.
I am an International Student myself, and I have been in the same struggle more than once. I share some tips that could help you make the housing hunting more pleasant:
1. Before Arriving: Do Research & Book a Hostel or Airbnb
Before leaving home look up some neighborhoods in Ottawa. The most comfortable option is to look around your university or college. If your budget is low, you can consider other areas, such as Gatineau. Gatineau is in the province of Quebec but is right next to Ottawa, which makes it feasible for students to live there.
Booking a place to stay in advance is extremely important, remember that August is quite busy and many more students will be looking for places to stay. You can find Airbnb as low as 13 Canadian Dollars per night in the Gatineau/Ottawa area. You could also check some hostels in Ottawa here.
2. Schedule and Visit Homes
With your list of prospect neighborhoods, start looking for available offers.
Free and great places to look for housing are:
Kijiji: A popular platform in Canada, where you can sell and buy goods and services. Make sure to select Ottawa/Gatineau as your location before searching.
Zoommate: An innovative platform that allows you to look for housing and roommates at the same time! You need to open an account, choose your ideal roommates’ preferences and select the homes that you like. Zoommate matches you with other students based on compatibilities, and groups you to visit a house that you all love.
Facebook groups: Group members share posts related to renting offers, looking for roommates, or selling stuff. The most popular groups are Housing, rentals and Sublets in Ottawa, Carleton/ Ottawa Off-Campus Housing, Rentals or Sublets, and Ottawa/Gatineau House & Apartment For Rent.
3. Look for Roommates, or Meet Them Before Compromising
Housemates will be an essential part of your stay, after all, you will be living with them under the same roof. The best would be to look for people with similar interests as you, Zoommate and Facebook Groups allow you to find other students looking for housing.
If you scheduled a visit to a place that is already occupied, make sure to talk to the tenants, ask questions that matter to you, for example: how often do you make parties at home? Or, do you share time together as housemates?
4. Have a Must-Haves List
You will visit many different places, a list of must-haves can help you filter your ideal home. Do you want a supermarket and a bus stop nearby, or a window in your room? Having a small checklist will make your renting process faster.
5. Before signing
Before signing any lease, read the contract carefully. They would probably ask for a deposit to cover any possible damages made while you are living there. So make sure that the apartment is in good conditions and that any existing damages are properly listed in the contract. If you are renting through an agency, ask for your property manager contact information, as well as for emergency contacts.
Hope this can help in your renting process! And welcome to Ottawa!
If you have more tips, share in the comments 🙂