Apartment Hunting Tips for Newcomers to Canada

March 4, 2024

Apartment Hunting Tips for Newcomers to Canada

As a newcomer to Canada, we’d like to welcome you to the Forest City! London, Ontario is one of the province’s fastest-growing cities, and with great neighbourhoods, a respected university and college, and excellent healthcare facilities, it’s easy to see why. If you’re hunting for your first apartment in Canada, you may not be familiar with the process. Thankfully, we’ve rounded up our top apartment hunting tips for newcomers to Canada.

Use All Available Resources to Find an Apartment

When searching for apartments to rent, the easiest option is to conduct research online. It’s important to be diligent in the search, consider factors like location, budget, and amenities, and schedule visits to potential apartments to make informed decisions before committing to a lease. However, local newspapers like the London Free Press, ads, and driving around the city can also help you identify apartments for rent. Working with local real estate agents or a property management company like Summit Properties can offer personalized assistance and access to exclusive listings.

Choose a Great Neighbourhood

Pineridge Place, located in one of London’s top neighbourhoods

The key to finding a fantastic home isn’t just the unit you choose; it’s also the neighbourhood around where you live. To help find a neighbourhood that’s right for you, check out our Neighbourhood Comparison blog. Depending on your situation and what’s important for you, certain neighbourhoods may be a better fit.

At Summit Properties, our residential properties are located in some of London’s top neighbourhoods. Our units at Pineridge Place in Oakridge are the perfect home for students and young professionals, because of their access to local amenities and public transit. Meanwhile, our units at 535 Proudfoot Place are the ideal place to raise a family, with quick access to schools and the local Optimist Park, which hosts a variety of kid-friendly amenities, including a playground, splash pad, and tennis courts.

Access Local Translation Services

Navigating the intricacies of apartment hunting and local rental procedures can pose as a challenge for newcomers. Lease agreements can be especially tricky as they often include legal language that’s difficult to understand. Fortunately, local translation services such as LUSO, CCLC, and the YMCA provide invaluable support in overcoming language barriers. These community support services will translate local apartment listings, rental documents, lease agreements, application forms, and more into your native language. Considering that clear communication with landlords is essential, local translation services can also help newcomers avoid misunderstandings and rental issues in the future. This allows you to make informed decisions during the apartment hunting process.

Be Sure to Have What You Need to Rent

As a newcomer to Canada, there are several things you’ll need in order to rent an apartment. Preparing ahead of time will help the leasing process go smoothly. For example, at Summit, you’ll need to have a Canadian bank account, or a co-signer or guarantor who has a Canadian bank account. You’ll also typically need to pay a deposit, along with any additional fees such as parking. Be sure to check with your rental company to learn how to pay these fees. At Summit, we accept money orders and wire transfers. We cannot accept credit cards.

You’ll also likely need to provide either proof of income or proof of study if you’re a student. A letter from your bank stating that you have money to cover expenses for at least a few months is also an advantage.

Compare Different Amenities & Benefits

A couple signing a lease for an apartment in London, Ontario

When considering signing a lease, it’s essential to thoroughly compare the various amenities and benefits offered. Some landlords offer incentives that can impact you significantly. For instance, Summit Properties’ rental packages include heat, water, and electricity in the rent, facilitating easy budgeting and eliminating potential surprises in utility bills.

Additionally, Summit Properties proudly offers modern appliances, beautifully landscaped grounds, on-site laundry and exercise facilities as part of your lease. Buildings like Pineridge Place offer access to an indoor pool; a sought-after amenity that is not often available. The inclusion of these amenities can provide peace of mind when you settle into your new apartment. However, it’s crucial to recognize that not all landlords provide such inclusive packages, making it imperative to weigh the pros and cons of each option carefully.

Ensure that your agreement includes you and your landlord’s names, the cost of rent, length of your tenancy (most leases are at least a year), amenities that are included (or not included) in your rent, and how either party—tenant or landlord—can end the lease if necessary. By carefully evaluating these amenities and benefits, tenants can make informed decisions that align with their needs and preferences.

Work With a Trusted Leasing Agent

Prospective tenants working with a reputable Summit Properties leasing agent

Unfortunately, the property management industry isn’t immune to scams. Sometimes fraudsters will pose as landlords or property managers, renting property that either doesn’t belong to them or doesn’t exist. Once they get your deposit, they disappear, taking your hard-earned dollars with them.

Working with a trusted leasing agent with a proven track record of success as a landlord or property manager ensures that you steer clear of illegal or unscrupulous rentals. At Summit, we’ve been one of London’s top property managers for decades, and we’re committed to providing beautiful apartments and five-star customer service to every tenant.

Ask the Right Questions

Finding a great apartment is challenging if you don’t know which questions to ask! To be sure that the place you’re viewing meets your needs, we recommend asking about your landlord’s general policies. For example, do they allow pets? Is laundry available onsite, and is it in-unit or as a communal laundry room? Do they offer accessibility options or accommodations for people with disabilities? Where do tenants park, and what parking fees can you expect to pay? Do you need renters’ insurance to lease with them?

For more information on Summit Properties’ rental policies, please visit our FAQ section!

Check Out What’s Nearby

Grocery stores and other local amenities in London, Ontario

When searching for your new apartment, think about what you need nearby. Do you like having easy access to public transit? How important is having amenities like grocery stores, pharmacies, schools and restaurants close by?

For example, as a student, you may want to think about how close your new residence is to your university or college, whether there are other students living nearby, and the restaurant and nightlife scene. In contrast, if you’re a person with a young family, consider a neighbourhood geared towards families, with easy access to schools, parks, and other family-friendly activities.

Take Advantage of International Student Housing Support Services

If you are an international student searching for an apartment, consider using your academic institution’s housing support services. These services are specifically designed to assist you in finding a comfortable place to live, navigating the local housing market, and addressing any challenges you may encounter.

Western University offers several online resources to help you understand housing terms and find an apartment that meets your needs. Additionally, Fanshawe College has off-campus housing support services to help you find a rental and simplify the apartment hunting process.

Contact Locals, Friends, and Family

Reaching out to friends and family who have already gone through the apartment hunting process can provide you with firsthand insights. These trusted individuals may also be aware of local neighborhoods, landlords, or property management companies that have a good reputation.

If you don’t know any local residents, consider contacting local agencies, joining a local Facebook group or checking out Reddit. There’s a whole host of information online that can be accessed for free that can provide insights to a property manager’s reputation and building pros and cons.

Find Your Next Home with Summit Properties

As a newcomer to Canada, we’re excited to welcome you to this great city and show you the best that London has to offer! Contact us today to get in touch with one of our experienced residential leasing team and find your perfect home with us.