Ask yourself about the following things to consider BEFORE you start your hunt so you do not get swayed by shiny granite, hotel like amenities and ideal location.
1 – Timing – When do you want to move and when can you move? Those two dates may not be the same. Too often I have had to be the one to tell residents they cannot move out as early as they think they can. Sometimes after they have already signed a lease somewhere else. This can be a costly mistake. Make sure you check your current lease for the process outlined in moving. There may be a date you cannot move before; there may also be an amount of notice that needs to be given to the landlord. Ensure you are aware of where you stand before you start looking for your new place.
2 – Ideal Home – What is your ideal home? Do you like the idea of being high up in the sky or do you prefer the ease of a ground floor suite? What about a walk up or a townhome? Your home is one of the spaces you will be spending most of your time. It is important that it fulfills the needs you have for living in it. How do you feel about elevators versus stairs? How do you feel about a multi residential apartment building versus a home that has been converted into individual apartments?
3 – Location – Where do you want to live? Is there a neighbourhood you are most comfortable in? Think about your commute to the places you spend most of your time; is there an area that would help make that faster or easier? Do you drive or take public transit? What is the proximity to public transit (even if you drive doesn’t hurt to know your options)? Where is the closest grocery store? What kind of vibe do you like in a community? Do you like the city or further out in the suburbs or further?
4 – Size – How big do you want your new home to be? What do you use your space for? Do you work from home? What do you spend most of your time at home doing? If you enjoy cooking, look for a place with a nice amount of counter space, regular size appliances and a larger Kitchen. If you are out most of the time and only use your home to sleep, think about a bachelor or smaller unit. Saving money on space, gives you more money to go out! If you like to be outside, think about a new home with a balcony, patio or back yard.
5 – Price – Notice I did not mention price first? Too often residents are motivated only by price. This is going to be your new home and while price matters you also need to know what you want and need. I think it is very important to know how much you can afford and I would never suggest going over what you are comfortable with in terms of price. However, if you only consider price sometimes you will end up in a location you are unhappy about, in a home that is too small for you. When you know what you are looking for it is easier to then determine what those things are worth to you. When comparing suites keep in mind what is included and what is extra, one suite may be cheaper but it may because you have more additional expenses. Also ask about parking if needed, don’t assume it is available and included. I have seen some locations where parking can be as much as 25% of the rent cost. Sometimes you can play with your budget by considering options like getting a roommate or selling your car if you move closer to work.
6 – Amenities – Always keep in mind, what you want versus what will you use? Laundry for example being accessible in the building is going to be a time saver. The gym may look shiny and new but if you never step foot in it after your first showing, is it worth having? If your new home has amenities you are paying for them and the cost to run them can be included in your rent or charged to you separately. Make sure you ask what the costs associated with any of the amenities are and if they are one time fees or ongoing.
7 – Goals/Length of Stay – What are you trying to achieve with your move? Is this your first place of your own? Are you trying to save money to buy a home? Knowing what your motivation is going into this move will make sure you pick a place that helps you achieve your goal. Also, how long do you plan to stay? Is this a temporary move for work or a more permanent home? Be picky about places you plan to stay in longer, this will be your home make sure you are happy with it!
8 – Pet Friendly – Does your new home allow pets? Are there additional waivers or charges if you have them? Don’t forget your fur family when considering your new home!
9 – Kid Friendly – Does your new home allow children? Some homes are created in an adult only community. You may not have children now but look back at your goals, if you hope to live in this home long term; do you plan on having children while living there? You do not want the stress of a move if you find out you are expecting and your home does not allow little ones.
10 – Reviews – It is always a good idea to run an internet search on the property management company, the address/name of the building, bugs associated to the address, neighbourhood (especially if you are moving from out of town). Keep in mind just a few negative reviews does not mean it is a bad place. Some reviews are not confirmed so it could be one person posting multiple times. It is also important to consider if the landlord responds to the reviews (this can show their willingness to respond when you need help as a resident). Look for trends, everyone complaining about the same thing, may be something you want to investigate further on a showing or appointment.
Side Note – When you do start your search, always try to see the unit you will be renting, don’t be wowed by a model that may look totally different than what you receive. If you cannot see the actual suite, be sure to ask why, if you deem the answer as acceptable, then get in writing your expectations for what will be the same in your home.
As stressful as finding a new home can be, by knowing what you are looking for BEFORE you start your search it can help alleviate that stress. Then you can focus on finding your new “Home Sweet Home!”