Tips to handle a long-distance apartment search
Book short-term accommodation for the first few days or weeks
The most important thing is to have a place to stay when you arrive, but it’s perfectly fine if it’s a temporary solution. Hotels, Airbnb apartments, hostels (backpacker top pick!) or Couchsurfing hosts will fill the gap between home and your new far-away-from-home digs. Booking a place online is easy, just make sure to read reviews and comments (but do take them with a grain of salt!).
With a booking for the first few days, you’ll be able to get some rest and start your apartment search stress-free knowing that no matter how long it takes, you have a roof over your head.
If you’re new to Airbnb, you can use this link (or any referral link) to get a discount on your first booking .
Beware of rental scams
If you really want to commit to a lease before coming to Canada, keep this in mind.
First, landlords typically would rather deal with a tenant they can meet in person or submit to the usual screening process—they are wary of scams too! You won’t be able to visit the place either, which is a big risk. Let’s face it, anything can look great in pictures…
Second, rental scams are a big issue, especially on free classified websites like Kijiji or Craigslist. Never, ever send a “deposit” or “fees” through Western Union or bank transfer. Most of the time, the place doesn’t exist and you’ll never see your money again.
Remember it’s best to meet your future roommates in person
Sharing a house with complete strangers is never easy, but it’s a rather big gamble if you don’t even get to meet them and visit the place. And it goes both ways, few tenants will agree to add someone they haven’t seen in person!
You can start contacting potential roommates a few days or weeks before your trip to book a visit or arrange a meeting after you arrive, but don’t rush into committing to anything.
Follow these steps if you *really* want to sign a lease before coming to Canada
The process is pretty much the same no matter where you settle in Canada. Browse classifieds online (e.g. on Kijiji or Craigslist), contact the landlord or the property management company, apply as a potential tenant, and reach an agreement!
Again, make sure the ad isn’t a scam—poor grammar, a sense of urgency, rent well below market price, plenty of upfront fees that must be paid immediately through Western Union or bank transfer are just a few of the red flags you should look out for.
If the ad sounds legit, try to send a friend visit the place for you. It’s a huge risk to commit based on pictures only!