I want to share my own experience and my tips for finding an apartment in Toronto as a newcomer or with no credit score. First of all, I want to say that this is only my personal experience, but I think it can help people in the same situation that just arrived and need accommodation.
When we first arrived in Toronto late summer of 2021, we stayed in an Airbnb for one month. I was confident that this was ample time for finding the perfect apartment, but it was tight! So, my first recommendation is to rent a temporary place for at least one month to have enough time to search and don’t rush.
We started looking for a regular apartment with one bedroom on some of the websites people recommended, like for example Viewit. We had a budget of $1,500 and I think it is fair enough and you can find some good places within this budget if you have patience.
The first day I started visiting condos I was super disappointed to find out that they would not rent us the apartment because we didn’t have a good credit score or a job. Essentially, they said it was almost impossible to get a place to live without a payroll, a good credit score, or a Canadian guarantor. The only option they gave us was to pay 6 months in advance or more, this could be easily 10,000$.
What type of apartment should I get?
After this first approach, we started lowing our expectations and checking in all the platforms, we spread the search (on platforms like Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace) and looked for different types of properties. We were looking for condos, little apartments, studios, and basements.
After one week of visiting places almost every day, we conclude: condos in high buildings were way stricter and we had no possibilities at all. But basements were easier as we deal directly with the owner and we had some acceptances.
The third option was to go for low-rise buildings. That was our best option! Are you wondering why? They are not as strict as the condos in big skyscrapers but are a better option than basements and almost the same price.
What do you need to rent an apartment in Toronto?
The first piece of advice I can give you is to gather as many documents as you can to prove that you are the right person and are going to pay the rent. They don’t know anything about you so make it easy. First of all, they will want to see your savings. Provide as many savings as you can from your bank account in your country. Second, show your status and legal papers. As I was a student and just arrived in Canada, I showed my student visa and part-time work permit and my husband’s work permit. This way they will confirm that you are still settling down and why you don’t have a job yet. Also, it will be appreciated if you can provide references from a Canadian. We talked to our Airbnb hosts and were super lucky as they provide a reference letter. That is why is a good option to start in an Airbnb for a long period. And last but not least, you will need to pay two months (first and last) in advance before entering.
Things you should know about rent in Toronto
- Almost every rent period starts the first day of the month so have this in mind when you start looking for apartments, that you might not move before the first day of next month.
- Some contracts here are a little different and, in our experience, it is more informal, we didn’t receive the contract since we were already settled.
- Some condos or low-rise buildings offer one (or even two) months free. You can do the numbers because it could be very convenient.
What other tips do you have for renting an apartment as a newcomer?