How to Find Housing while Outside Canada

apartment balconies photographed from the ground / find housing

You got your acceptance letter; you got your student permit. Then you realise, you don’t know where you’re going to live yet. When moving countries, it’s important that you find an adequate place to stay during your time there. But you don’t need to wait to arrive before you look for housing.

Types of Housing in Canada

It’s important to know what kind of place you want to live in. There are plenty of options for you to choose from, such as:

  • Apartments ($2,000 – $3,800 per month)
    • Ranges from 1 – 3 bedrooms
  • Condominiums – ($1,700 – $2,500 per month)
  • Houses
    • Basement Suite ($1,200 – $1,900 per month)
    • Single Room ($600 – $1,100 per month)

*The price ranges stated above are the average prices in Vancouver. Prices will differ in different cities across Canada.

Check out these videos as Christy gives you a tour of the kinds of places you can live in Vancouver:

Housing in Vancouver Part 1

Housing in Vancouver Part 2

Many houses in Canada are built in the same style. Even if the video only shows living abodes that are present in Vancouver, you can count on similar ones showing up across the country.

Ways to Find Housing

Using Homestay Websites

The most common and safest choice is to take part in homestay programs. Students have the opportunity to live with a Canadian family who will take care of them. Homestay hosts come from different backgrounds. Some will let you rent a room, others will give you their basement. Some families will cook your meals regularly and others let you have the freedom to cook what you want. 

Some homestay websites establish themselves in multiple countries while others operate within just one country. A few websites you can use are:

House Hunting

If you want to cut right to the chase and you can probably save some bucks if you are sharing a place with friends/colleagues. You can use certain websites that will show you available homes for rent:

Contact the Landlords

After you have found a place that looks rather decent, you are free to contact the landlord. You can ask any questions you might have as well as get to know them a little bit before you commit.

Partnering with Agencies

Many agencies in Canada have a full understanding of Canada and can accommodate your needs the best instead of you having to guess. They’ll be able to walk you through any questions or concerns you may have regarding housing. Of course, services don’t come free and this option is a little more expensive than doing the work yourself.

Booking an Airbnb

Sometimes you don’t want to commit before you even step foot in the country. One option you do is booking an Airbnb while you are looking for something more permanent. You can also book a hotel room, but the cost will be much higher.

That being said, you might already want to have a list of places you want to check out before you take off on that plane. You don’t want to settle for too long in an Airbnb, so the less amount of time you spend, the better. 

Getting a Friend to Help

This solution is only plausible if you already have connections at your destination. Your friend understands the area best and will know if something is too expensive or just right. They’ll also be able to understand you and can pick out someplace that will fit your needs.

As a student, there are so many things you want to consider before you commit to living in a place or with a family. Do your research and see if the accommodation you’re interested in is actually what you need.

Consider:

  • Distance to school and other essentials – The shorter your trip is to school or to the grocery, the better. Also, check on the frequency of transit to your potential new home. Some neighbourhoods are hardly visited by the bus so getting back home can be hard to do from those late study sessions. 
  • Province or City – While this has to do with distance, you might want to research what each city is like and how convenient they are (or aren’t). Also cities have different reputations and communities. Make sure the one that you’ve chosen is safe. You also might want to consider the cost of living especially if you are on a budget.
  • Tenant Rules – Different homestay families will set different rules for their homes. You want to be able to live these boundaries. While some of these rules are reasonable, make sure to double check if they’re allowed to set those rules. 

Above all, make sure you really like the place before you buy or start renting. Listen to your intuition. It’s usually right if something feels fishy about a landlord or a house for rent. 

Covid Protocols

Covid has changed the way countries and people approach adding new people to their homes. Some families may be particular about who they let in, so make sure that you’ve respected their requests and that you follow isolation rules when you arrive in Canada. 

Finding your new home is a difficult process so it’s important to start as early as you can. It may take you some time before you find the right neighbourhood or even a homestay host that you really click with. However, it’s all part of the process of moving to a new country. Rest assured, you will find a home that suits you.

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