Who do you want to live with?
First and foremost, you need to decide if you want to live on your own, with friends, or with strangers.
Living alone sounds appealing, but it can get really expensive. If you can’t afford to rent a place by yourself, or if you want to save money, then finding roommates is probably your best option.
You may be more comfortable living with friends, but going from hanging out with them every once in a while to seeing them everyday may take a toll on your friendship. Make sure you and your friends have a good understanding before you move in together.
Lots of people live happily with roommates, but it’s important to establish ground rules with them - even if they’re your best friends - before you move in together. You can do this by creating a roommate agreement. You can find lots of free templates online, but make sure you include everything that’s important to you in it. For instance:
How will you split the bills?
Who will do what chores?
When are quiet hours?
What are the rules around bringing guests over?
How much notice do you have to give before moving out?
Make a budget
Before you can start looking for a place, you need to figure out what you can afford. Not only will you be paying rent, but you’ll have other expenses like food and moving costs to account for. Some things you want to include in your budget are:
Bills: hydro, gas, internet, phone
Food: groceries, restaurants, alcohol
Transportation: public transportation, cabs, gas, car insurance
Entertainment: movies, date nights, parties
Shopping: clothes, toiletries, electronics, games
Personal care: hair dresser, nails, massages
Memberships: gym, online movie or music services, magazines
Try to have at least three months of expenses saved up before you decide to make the big move.
Find a place
To start apartment hunting, make a list of non-negotiable features you want in your new home. How far are you willing to travel to work or school? Do you need to have an on-suite laundry? How many bedrooms do you (and your roommates) need to live comfortably?
But don’t be too picky! When you move out for the first time, you may have to sacrifice a lot of your ideals because of financial constraints.
Once you’ve figured out what kind of a place you’re looking for, start aggressively looking online. There are many websites that exclusively list apartment rentals, and there are also websites like Kijiji and Craigslist where landlords can post personal advertisements for a room or apartment they want to rent out.
If your budget is a little higher and you can afford to rent a condo, then you can work with a realtor for free.
Make sure that you go visit any place you’re interested in before deciding to move in. Sometimes pictures can be deceiving. Inspect the place carefully, ask lots of questions, and take your own pictures - especially if something’s damaged.
Sign a lease
When you finally decide where your new home will be, you’ll need to sign a rental agreement with your landlord. As of April 2018, the Ontario government is introducing a standard lease that all landlords and tenants must sign.
The standard lease includes names and addresses of each signing party, the rent that’s owed every month, and the rules and responsibilities of both tenants and landlords.
Make sure you read everything over carefully before you sign!
Moving takes a lot of planning and organization. If you need to book trucks or movers, make sure you secure them a month or two before you move-in date because they get booked up fast. You may also need to book elevators to take your stuff in and out of buildings.
Start packing at least a week or two in advance. Get a few friends to help, and stay organized.
Finally, after you move you’ll have to change your address on all your bank accounts, credit cards, insurance, subscriptions and government IDs.
Good luck with your move!