Finding accommodation in Canada is one of the first things any newcomer will want to tick off their to-do list. Depending on your circumstances, you may wish to find temporary accommodation in Canada first, while you search for apartments or houses for rent in Canada. From your first night, to your first lease and beyond, this article has advice for you.
Temporary accommodation in Canada
Before you arrive in Canada, it’s crucial to at least have somewhere lined up for your first few nights. Hostels and hotels are plentiful in urban areas, though you may wish to book well in advance to ensure you have the widest choice of temporary accommodation in Canada available to you. If your budget is limited while you stay in temporary accommodation, Hostelworld has an extensive collection of short-term accommodation to suit any budget.
Booking self-catering accommodation — perhaps for a few weeks, or even a month or two — is also a practical way to line up temporary accommodation in Canada for your arrival. The major player in this market is Airbnb, but there are also city-specific temporary apartment rental companies that you should be able to identify through a quick web search.
Finding houses and apartments for rent in Canada
There are several types of rental accommodation in Canada, including houses, condominiums, and apartments.
Some houses will be available to rent in their entirety, while some will be divided into several units. A house divided into two units is called a ‘duplex’. Split in three, it’s known as a ‘triplex’. In other houses for rent in Canada, rental rooms are available, with shared living and bathroom facilities.
Apartments for rent in Canada range from ‘bachelor’ units, where a single room serves as both the bedroom and living area, to those with multiple bedrooms and separate living areas.
The cost of utilities, such as electricity and water, may or may not be included in your rent. Visit our internet service providers in Canada and utilities in Canada articles for information on service providers in your area. You can find houses and apartments for rent in Canada in the classifieds section of local newspapers, libraries, and on websites such as Kijiji and Craigslist. Facebook groups for newcomers to Canada are also useful. In many cities, you can simply walk around your preferred neighbourhood, as landlords will post signs outside their property advertising available vacancies.
Getting a lease in Canada
When getting longer-term accommodation in Canada, landlords will usually request information about your ability to pay rent before offering you a lease. Documents that may be requested include:
- A letter from your current, or most recent, employer that indicates your annual income.
- Bank statement(s) that show you have enough savings to cover rent for a few months.
- References from previous landlords.
Many landlords will prefer Canadian documentation, which can be cumbersome or impossible for new arrivals. However, there are landlords out there who are willing to rent their houses and apartments for rent in Canada to newcomers, so if you don’t succeed at first, keep trying!
Important things to keep in mind when looking for accommodation in Canada:
- Rentals in Canada tend to start on the 1st of every month, with a smaller number becoming available on the 15th of every month. Plan your trip with this in mind as you want to ensure you have a good range of options. Arriving around two weeks before month’s end is advisable, as you get ample time to learn about your surroundings and find suitable houses or apartments for rent in Canada.
- Most houses and apartments for rent in Canada require at least half a month’s rent as a security deposit.
- Rental accommodation in Canada often comes furnished, so always ask before a viewing. Furnishing a place can take time and money, so try Craigslist for cheap or free stuff. The best time to get really good deals on furniture is towards the end of the month as people are moving and will often sell their possessions at knock-down prices.
- Know your rights as a tenant. Become familiar with tenancy law in the province you plan on moving to.
- Unfortunately, there are online scams that attempt to dupe people into paying deposits on properties that don’t exist. Beware of bogus ads when searching for accommodation in Canada.
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How much is rent in Canada?
In a country as large and diverse as Canada, it can be difficult to answer this question. However, we are nothing if not resourceful and with that in mind, we will seek to provide you with the answer to how much rent in Canada is.
As of May, 2020, Rentseeker.ca shows that the cost of renting in Canada’s most popular destination cities can vary significantly. For example, a good 1-bedroom apartment in the city of Edmonton would probably cost less than $1,000 a month, but in Vancouver you’re looking at more than $2,000 for a 1-bedroom apartment in the city. Between these ranges you may find that Calgary, Montreal, and Hamilton are close to the lower end, while Ottawa and Toronto are closer to the more expensive end, with Toronto’s rental market in particular having become more expensive over recent years.
The National Rent Report by Rentals.ca reveals that the top 12 most expensive cities to rent in are all in Ontario and B.C. Perhaps not surprisingly, Toronto and Vancouver top this list.
According to cost of living comparison site Numbeo — which we highly recommend you refer to before and after arriving in Canada — one-bedroom downtown apartments in both Toronto and Vancouver are now topping $2,000 per month. Therefore you may need to compromise in some area; maybe there’s a more affordable neighbourhood outside the city centre with good public transit links, or maybe you might consider sharing on address with others, at least for starters. Or, you could consider moving to another city altogether.
What is the most affordable place to live in Canada?
Of the larger Canadian cities, Montreal remains the most affordable big city in Canada to rent. The average price of a month’s rent in Canada’s second-largest city is still under $1,000, and much less if you are sharing accommodation. This compares favourably with other large Canadian cities. Other cities in Quebec, such as Quebec City and Gatineau, are even more affordable when it comes to rent.
Their data also makes clear that while Ontario is home to Canada’s most expensive cities for renting, it’s also home to some of the most affordable. Newcomers seeking more affordable rentals should look towards smaller cities in Ontario and Quebec.
MoneySense also has a useful study on rent prices in Canada, and their data makes clear that while Ontario is home to Canada’s most expensive cities for renting, as outlined above, it’s also home to some of the cheapest. Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins, and Cornwall have good accommodation for rent at a fraction of the cost you’d find in Toronto.
Newcomers to Canada seeking more affordable rentals may look towards smaller cities in Ontario and Quebec.
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Accommodation in Canada: leases and payment
Unless otherwise agreed, you will likely have signed a lease for a fixed-term, often one year. Once the fixed-term elapses, the term may renew for a further year, or switch to a ‘month-to-month’ arrangement. Discuss with your landlord before signing a lease.
Rules on rent increases vary from province to province.
In Ontario, rent increases must occur at least 12 months apart, and tenants need to receive at least 90 days of notice. The provincial government sets the maximum allowable rent increase – for 2022, the guideline on rent increases in Ontario is 1.2%.
Similar rules apply in British Columbia, where the maximum allowable rent increase for 2022 in BC is 1.5%.
Rents in Alberta may also only be increased if it has been more than one year since the previous increase. However, there is no cap on the amount of increase like in Ontario and British Columbia.
City-specific guides to accommodation in Canada
The search for houses and apartments for rent in Canada begins with choosing the right neighbourhood. Visit these resources to help you learn more about your new surroundings.
- Where to Live in Vancouver Neighbourhoods Guide
- Where to Live in Toronto Neighbourhoods Guide
- Where to Live in Calgary Neighbourhoods Guide
- Where to Live in Edmonton Neighbourhoods Guide
- Where to Live in Montreal Neighbourhoods Guide
- Where to Live in Ottawa Neighbourhoods Guide
- Where to Live in Hamilton Neighbourhoods Guide
Video: Your first week in Canada
In addition to finding accommodation, here are some of the essential things you’ll need to do during your first week in Canada.