The 8th week
Find Permanent Housing
Should I settle in my ethnic community?
Some time later, you will have your own apartment or house like many other immigrants but for now you have to rent an apartment. The majority of immigrants who come to Canada settle in Toronto, so we'll assume that you perhaps have chosen this city. The first thing to do is choose the street or area.
Do you want to live in your ethnic region, with stores, pharmacies, doctors, movies, clubs, newspapers, magazines, restaurants and other establishments, where you can communicate in your native language?
The following questions will help you make a set of criteria.
The criteria used when looking for housing
Do you want to live in a quiet location of the city or do you prefer the centre where housing is, of course, more expensive? What price is affordable to you? In Toronto, according to the site, www.settlement.org/sys/faqs_detail.asp?faq_id=4001280, in 2011, the average cost of renting an apartment is the following per month: Bachelor - $ 819, One Bedroom - $ 977, Two Bedrooms - $ 1149, Three Bedrooms - $ 1349.
Currently, prices are about 10% higher.
In Canada, consider that the price of an apartment should not be more then one-third of your earnings. However, that percentage is respected only in apartments subsidized by the government. Homeowners do not connect the price of an apartment with your income.
Would you like to stay close to relatives and friends? Do you want to settle near the school where your children will study? Close to the bus stop? Are near shops, or parks? Close to your job? Are you looking for a certain floor or for a view from the windows?
What kind of housing you want to choose: a house with its own backyard, an apartment in a high-rise building (condo) or an apartment with several levels (townhouse)? Cheap rooms can be taken in shared housing; it is something like a dorm with a shared kitchen and bathroom.
Once you have selected the area or street, you can find an apartment which suits you. It is best if you do this with the help of your relatives or friends but in Toronto, there are many opportunities for self-selection of housing.
How to look for accommodation
While walking in the area where you want to live, you will see "For Rent" ads at the entrances of many homes and buildings. In the "Classifieds” section of newspapers, you can see information about apartments for rent. For example: a bachelor is one room with a separate space for the kitchen and bathroom. A one bedroom is an apartment with a living room, one bedroom, a kitchen and a bathroom; a two bedroom means the same with two bedrooms; a three bedroom apartment has three bedrooms.
Look at ads for rent in the local newspapers. Go to the library and read the newspapers, "Toronto Star", "Toronto Sun", "Globe and Mail". Advertisements for rental apartments are located in the section under the headings "Classified Rentals” and "Apartments for Rent”. In the ads, you will find available apartments for rent with furniture or without. In many ads, there are prices.
You can get the free handbook for rental of apartments, "Renters News”, in the iron boxes at the crossroads. This handbook is well structured, contains a map of Toronto and with it you can immediately find apartments in your chosen area.
Centres which help immigrants find housing
Contact the centre which helps immigrants to find housing. In Toronto, it can be found under the heading, "Housing”, on the site: www.211toronto.ca. The address for the centre to help immigrants find housing in North York is: COSTI, Sheridan Mall, 1700 Wilson Ave, Suite 114, phone 416-244-0480. In such centres, you also can get help to apply for subsidized housing which is cheaper than market price.
Finally, you can go directly to the Real Estate Rental Service and their agents can help you find a home or apartment. The addresses of these organizations are in the phone book.
How to negotiate the rental of housing
Usually, you have to do negotiations about renting an apartment with the superintendent who will show you a vacant apartment and will be happy to answer questions related to living in this house. Here are some questions you can ask:
•Does the house have a parking lot, laundry and other utilities?
•How much is the cost of rent, parking, heating, water and electricity?
•What is the window view; is there a balcony?
•Can you keep cats or dogs in the house?
•Verify if the water supply system is working with hot and cold water; look over the drains, toilet, shower, lights, refrigerator, electric stove, electric and telephone sockets, fire detectors, and if you rent an apartment in the cold season, be sure to verify heating.
Take your time; look at several options for apartments before making a final choice.