Why establishing good credit matters
Many landlords will check your credit history to see if you’ve had financial troubles in the past. So, well before you put in a rental application, request a copy of your credit report from one of Canada’s credit reporting agencies, Equifax or TransUnion. That way, you can make sure the report doesn’t contain any errors and you’ll find out what your credit score is.
Even if you’ve never had financial issues, you might be surprised to learn you have a poor credit score due to a lack of credit history. If that’s the case, you can start establishing good credit by getting a credit card and always paying your bills on time.
Now, decide on your living situation
If you find you come up short after crunching the numbers, you may need a roommate (or two!) to help divvy up the costs. While sharing a place with roommates may not be the scenario you imagined for your adult self (especially if you want more privacy), at least you’ll be in good company.
Reflect on the type of roommate you might get along with and whether your lifestyles will jibe. Hopefully, you’ll find someone who is responsible, tidy and—most importantly—who pays their rent on time.
Search for your new home
Between the research and property viewings, it takes a lot of time to find a suitable home. Start by choosing a location. Do you want to be close to your family, or your workplace? Perhaps you prefer a neighbourhood that is either walking friendly, has public transportation, or access to highways if you are driving. You may also want nearby amenities and services such as a bank, doctor’s office, and gym. Properties in urban centres tend to be pricer than those in the suburbs.
So, if you’re willing to live farther away from the downtown area, it could save you hundreds of dollars per month on rent. (In that case, however, don’t forget to calculate any added expenses that come with a lengthier commute, if applicable.)
Then, based on your budget, you can narrow down your search to the type of property that you can afford, such as an apartment, condo or one floor of a house.
Read the fine print
Before you sign on the dotted line of your rental agreement, you need to read it carefully to understand what you can and cannot do as a tenant. Are you allowed to sublease? Can you paint the walls? Are there rules about having pets? These are things you’ll want to know in advance to make sure it’s the right fit for you (and your roomies).