As the end of this school year approaches, the demand for off-campus living options becomes very pressing. Living in residence in first year is an easy choice, as it is a great way to meet fellow students and form friendships that would be hard to make otherwise. Living in residence also comes with its downsides, such as expensive living costs and very public “facilities”. Most students at Western decide to move off-campus for their upper year studies, and are consequently faced with the task of finding housemates and a place to live.
Personally, I found house hunting to be very fun. I love the task of searching online and looking through various ads online, but I know many of my peers hated the task. Here are a few things I have learned through my house hunting experience:
- Pictures can be very deceiving
Online housing databases tend to provide very flattering images of the houses their offering to rent. Be sure to be skeptical of these photos, and visit the house in person. There are some companies who simply take photos of nice houses and post them with their listing, even if the photos are no match at all. Don’t be fooled!
- Read your ENTIRE lease agreement
Western provides many lease review services that help to ensure that students do not get taken advantage of. The lease agreements can have sneaky conditions in the fine print such as utility limits and additional fees. Be sure to read your lease thoroughly or ask for helping reviewing it!
- Be careful when selecting housemates
Keep in mind that these friends are the people you will be living with 24/7. They will be sharing common living spaces like bathrooms, the kitchen, living room, and laundry facilities, and you will have to get along for it to work well. You will need to ensure that the peers you choose have similar habits and behaviours, so there is a lower chance of conflict within your household.
- Set your budget
Although you may think of a rough budget that is ideal before searching for houses, it is very easy to stray from this budget once you view houses on the market. You may plan to stick to $500/month, and then see a house with the perfect space that convinces you to change. This is okay if your budget is truly flexible, but if you know that your budget is important you will have to confirm it before beginning your search.
Happy house hunting everyone!