If you are new to Canada the first thing you need to do is find
a place to live. Once you know your budget, it is time to find a
neighbourhood that you like. Whether you choose somewhere close to
work, close to schools or simply somewhere convenient to transit,
once you know where you want to live, the next step is finding the
perfect apartment for you and your family. This checklist will help
you find a great home.
How to choose a neighbourhood
So many different things make a great neighbourhood. You may
want to be close to family or your ethnic community, shopping, or
if you have children, schools. Every newcomer has their own
specific needs, and to help you start your search, here are a few
things to consider:
transportation - What kind of public transportation
is there? How often does it run? Will it get you where you need to
go in a reasonable amount of time?
Are the schools within walking distance or at least an easy
commute? If English is your second language does the school have a
program that will help your children? Do they have English as a
Second Language programs for adults?
Grocery Shopping and
Restaurants - How close is the grocery store? Can you
walk or do you need to take public transit? Are there restaurants?
Can you find the types of food that your family likes to eat?
Recreation - Is there green space in the
neighbourhood, such as public parks, playgrounds and playing
fields? Are there community centres, and other recreational
facilities like swimming pools and ice rinks?
Care - Are you near a health centre, dentist,
hospital, and/or walk-in clinic? How far is the nearest
worship - Are you close to a place of worship for
How to choose an apartment
Once you have chosen a neighbourhood that feels right for you
and your family, it is time to find an apartment. There are many
places you can look, including:
• The "For Rent" section of your city's newspaper's
classifieds, as well as in the classifieds of ethnic newspapers and
• Websites for city, ethnic and community
• Bulletin boards in grocery stores, libraries,
laundromats, health clinics, community centres, or real estate
• University or college campus housing offices;
• Websites for companies that specialize in
• For Rent signs on buildings.
You can also take a more direct approach and try the
• Ask friends or family already living in the
• Put up your own notice asking to rent an
• If there is a building that you like, visit it and
find the building superintendent. He will be able to tell you if
there are any apartments available;
• Visit or call a local place of worship-they often
have programs to help newcomers find apartments;
• New immigrant aid agencies or cultural
associations may also have information on renting
Questions to ask when you look at an
If you are going to be looking at several apartments prepare a
checklist of questions and ask the same questions at each building.
You can later compare your notes on the different apartments and
make the best decision. Some of the questions you should ask
• Are the utilities included in the rent? If not,
how much do they cost each month?
• Are you allowed to paint your apartment? Put up
• Are pets and smoking allowed?
• Is there laundry in the building?
• Is parking available, and does it cost extra?
• What are the other tenants like? Is the building
appropriate for families?
• Is there any communal space for play, recreation,
• Who maintains the property? Is there a
superintendent living in the building?
• Does the building have storage lockers or separate
bicycle storage included in the rent?
• Is there a security system in place? How do you
get into the building?
While you are visiting apartments it is OK to check that the
appliances work properly. Look inside the fridge, turn on the oven,
turn on the taps in the bathroom and the kitchen, flush the toilet,
find out how the thermostat works, etc. Make note of the size of
the closets and other storage.
It may take a little while to find the right apartment but it is
worth the effort to find the place that is right for you and your
family. This is your new home; choose a great one!