Newcomer guide

The ultimate guide to finding a rental in Canada. 

A smiling couple in a park with the female on piggyback

Everything you need to know as a renting newcomer

For newcomers to Canada, leaving behind family and friends to move to a new country can be a courageous and overwhelming experience. As you embark on the next chapter in a new city far from home, you might be wondering where to begin when it comes to finding a place to live.

In this guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about renting in Canada. Whether you're looking for temporary accommodations or a more permanent, long-term option, our goal is to provide you with valuable tips, resources, and advice to help you make an informed decision. 


1. Finding the right location to live in Canada
    1.1 Choosing your new city
    1.2 Choosing your new neighbourhood

2. Types of rental accommodation in Canada
    2.1 Short-term accommodation
    2.2 Long-term accommodation
    2.3 Finding a rental that fits your lifestyle

3. Determining your ideal living arrangement
    3.1 Living with a roommate
    3.2 How to search for a roommate
    3.3 Finding a compatible roommate

4. Budgeting for a rental in Canada
    4.1 What to consider when establishing a budget
    4.2 Financial aid resources
    4.3 Other available resources

5. Finding a rental in Canada
    5.1 Self-search versus realtor-assisted
    5.2 How to avoid rental scams
    5.3 How to report a rental scam
    5.4 How to protect yourself from rental scams

6. The rental search and application process
    6.1 Inquiring about a rental listing
    6.2 Preparing essential documents
    6.3 Submitting an application
    6.4 The move-in process

a man with a shoes and backpack is standing on asphalt next to flag of Canada and border

Finding the right location to live in Canada

Choosing your new city

Choosing a new city to call home as a newcomer to Canada is a big decision. Make an informed choice by researching cities that align with your personal and professional goals. Consider factors such as:

- Job opportunities: Access to employment is crucial for financial stability. Look for cities that align with your career aspirations.
- Cost of living: Cities like Vancouver or Toronto have a higher cost of living than smaller towns, so keep that in mind.
- Climate: Canada's climate varies, from the mild west coast to the frigid north. Consider your preferences and how they might impact your lifestyle and well-being.
- Cultural diversity: Research cities that have a diverse population and offer a welcoming atmosphere for newcomers. You may find it easier to adapt to a multicultural location.
- Language: Canada is bilingual with English and French as its official languages. Depending on your language skills, you might prefer cities where your primary language is widely spoken. For example, if you speak French, you may consider cities in Quebec.

Choosing your new neighbourhood

Look at the various neighbourhoods within your city of choice and make sure the one you choose matches the lifestyle you're looking for. Consider the following:

- Proximity to work, family, and friends
- Public transportation
- Schools
- Amenities
- Interests
- Community vibe
- Diversity 
- Cultural and religious centres
- Safety
- Social services and support

Types of rental accommodation in Canada

Short-term accommodation

Short-term rentals are a great option to consider if you're looking for temporary housing upon arrival to Canada. Leases span a shorter duration and units often come furnished. This option is convenient if you'd like to test an area before making a commitment.

Long-term accommodation

Long-term rentals are leases that last for a year or more. If you're looking to settle into your new country, this option is for you. A longer lease is often more cost-effective and offers more stability. And with a long-term rental, you'll have many options to choose from.

Ask yourself the following questions to determine what type of rental is right for you:

- Do you want to live in an apartment or townhouse?
- If an apartment, how many bedrooms?
- What type of unit, building amenities, and services are you looking for? (e.g. A/C, in-suite laundry, balcony, parking, fitness facility, etc.)
- Do you have any pets? If so, make sure the rentals you're looking at are pet-friendly.

We know that many people consider their pets as family. That's why all Minto Apartments are pet-friendly!

Family of four enjoying in a park

Finding a rental that fits your lifestyle

When finding a rental as a newcomer to Canada, it's essential to consider your lifestyle needs and preferences. Here are key factors to consider:

1. Proximity to school or work: Consider where you're planning to work or study.
2. Amenities and services: Identify your desired amenities and services.
3. Safety: Look into local crime rates and speak to residents to get a sense of the community.
4. Budget considerations: Calculate the total cost of living including rent, utilities, transportation, etc. Make sure it aligns with your budget.
5. Roommate compatibility: If you plan to have roommates, discuss their lifestyle preferences to make sure they align with yours.
6. Future plans: Consider your long-term plans. Are you seeking a temporary rental or are you looking for a place to settle in Canada?
7. Cultural and social aspects: Think about the cultural diversity and social scene. Some neighbourhoods may offer a more multicultural experience.

Determining your ideal living arrangement

Living with a roommate

If you're moving to Canada solo, finding a roommate is a great option for many reasons.

First off, it will reduce the financial burden of renting in a new country, allowing you to split the cost of rent and utilities. Beyond cost-sharing, roommates provide valuable companionship and emotional support during the initial stages of your journey, helping combat any loneliness or homesickness. Roommates can also offer insights into local culture, share tips for navigating the city, and introduce you to new friends and social circles. 

How to search for a roommate

There are several ways to go about finding a roommate in Canada. One of the simplest ways is by Google search. Simply type in "find a roommate in [insert city]" and browse through relevant websites and listings.

Other online resources to assist you in your search include:
- Rentals for Newcomers
- Palz Home Zone on Facebook
- Roomie Match
- Roomster

Two females laughing and walking around the city

Finding a compatible roommate

When choosing a roommate, consider shared values, lifestyles, and expectations to ensure a harmonious living arrangement. Vet your prospects by asking questions like:

- Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your background?
- Do you have any pets?
- How would you describe your daily routine and lifestyle?
- How do you feel about sharing household chores and responsibilities?

You may consider posting a profile on roommate finder websites to attract your ideal roommate. Be prepared to share information about yourself and what you're looking for, such as:

- A friendly introduction
- What you do for work
- Your hobbies and interests
- Your ideal rental location
- When you're looking to move in
- Your monthly budget
- Your cultural background and traditions
- What you're looking for in a roommate

Remember to define expectations for your roommate. If you're new to Canada, you might be seeking friendship and social connections. Or maybe you're looking for someone to share the bills with while living separate, independent lives. Whatever it is, be upfront and put your own safety and well-being first. Don't be shy to ask for references, a background check, and a signed roommate agreement that outlines expectations, rules, and responsibilities. 

Budgeting for a rental in Canada

What to consider when establishing a budget 

Rent in Canada can vary based on various factors such as the city and neighbourhood you're living in, the size of the unit, amenities, utilities, and so on. 

Start by calculating your expected monthly income. Then, consider your fixed and variable expenses. As a general rule, you should aim to spend 50% of your income on needs, 30% on wants, and allocate the remaining 20% to savings. This is also known as the 50/30/20 rule.

50/30/20 budgeting rule infographic

Source: The Balance

Here is a simple way to determine how much you should budget for your rental in Canada:

1. Add up your total monthly income.
2. Add up your total monthly expenses. (See chart below for estimated costs.)
3. Subtract your expenses from your income and see what is left for "wants" and savings.

Make sure to plan for *annual and unexpected increases and regularly review and adjust your budget.

*Annual Rent Increases vary by province, so make sure to check your provincial regulations.

Expense*Cost Per Month
Rent: Determine what you can allocate to rent based on your financial situation.
Aim to spend no more than 30% of your monthly income on rent.
Utilities: Factor in the cost of electricity, water, gas, internet, and any other utilities
that may not be included in your rent.
Insurance: It is highly recommended (and in some cases required) to obtain renters
insurance to protect your belongings in case of theft, fire, or other damage.
Parking: If you have a vehicle, include potential parking or EV charging fees$50-80
Storage: Most properties have onsite storage ranging from $50-100 per month.$50-200
Transit: Include estimated transportation costs if you rely on public transit or rideshares.$100-125
*Costs are approximations and may vary by region, property, and provider.

Financial aid resources

There are several financial aid resources available for lower-income Canadians. Here are a few to consider if you require support:

The Canada Housing Benefit
A one-time top-up that helps low-income renters keep up with the cost of living. To be eligible, applicants must have an adjusted net income of $35,000 or less for families and $20,000 or less for individuals. 
The Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit
A rent benefit for low-income individuals and families. Applicants must live in Ontario and be on, or eligible to be on, the Centralized Waiting list for social housing.
Resettlement Assistance Program
A government-funded program designed to provide support to refugees who have been approved for resettlement in Canada. 
Other available resources
Additionally, check out these resources to help you with your housing journey:

- Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC): Offers valuable guides, tools, programs, and online resources to help you understand the Canadian housing market, rental rights, and the home buying process. 
- Social housing providers: Also known as subsidized or affordable housing. Each province and territory in Canada has social housing programs. Eligibility criteria and application processes may vary. 
- Non-profit organizations: Numerous non-profits across Canada can provide information, support, and resources to help you find rental housing that suits your needs and budget. Examples include Local Immigration Partnerships and organizations like COSTI Immigrant Services in Ontario.
- Settlement services: Settlement organizations offer a wide range of services to help newcomers understand housing options, navigate the rental market, and provide guidance on finding affordable and suitable accommodation. 
Female using a laptop

Finding a rental in Canada

Self-search versus realtor-assisted

Once you've decided where to live, what type of rental you want, and your budget, there are a few ways you can go about finding accommodation as a newcomer to Canada. Here are two common approaches:

Self-search: Various online channels and rental listing platforms like PadMapper, Zumper,, and RentSeeker, offer a convenient way to look for rental properties in Canada. You can filter by location, price, number of bedrooms, and view apartment locations on a map. 

Hire a realtor: Many realtors can help you find a place to rent. Start by looking up listings on Listings will typically have the realtor's contact information, so you can reach out directly.

Other options
- Your local immigrant settlement agency: Many agencies offer services related to housing.
- Government-funded websites: Websites like Compass can be used to find settlement services across Canada.

You can also check out local property management websites to find available rental listings. Be sure to narrow your search to specific regions, such as Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, or Vancouver.

Female sitting on work desk and facepalming

How to avoid rental scams

It's important to be vigilant in your rental search, especially as a newcomer who may not be familiar with how renting in Canada works. Here are common rental scams to look out for:

- Too good-to-be-true listings: If a rental is priced very low in comparison to similar units or homes in the area, it's likely a scam. 
- Wire transfer requests: Be cautious of landlords or agents who insist on wire transfers or money orders as the only form of payment. 
- Unavailable landlords: Scammers may pose as landlords who are "out of the country" or "unavailable" to show the unit. They may request a deposit or rent payment upfront without allowing you to view the property first.
- Fake or incomplete listings: Look out for listings where there are no photos, photos are pixelated, or there is only one photo showing the exterior.
- Pressure to act quickly: Scammers often create a sense of urgency, pressuring you to make a quick decision. Be wary if this happens and know that legitimate landlords won't rush you.

How to report a rental scam

If you come across a scammer in your search, report it to prevent further victims and recover any losses. Here's how:

- Contact your local police department: If you believe you've been a victim of a rental scam, contact the police immediately. Provide details, including any communication you had with the scammer, documents you received, and any payments made.
- Report to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC): The CAFC collects information on fraud and scams. Report your rental scam incident to the CAFC online or by phone at 1-888-495-8501 and they'll provide guidance and investigate the matter further.
- Contact your bank or financial institution: If you've made any payments to the scammer, do this immediately. 
- Report the scam to online platforms: Most reputable online platforms have ways to report fraudulent listings. This helps them act against scammers and prevent similar scams in the future.

How to protect yourself from rental scams

Rental scams can happen anywhere and to anyone. Being cautious and informed can help you avoid falling victim to them. Here's how to protect yourself:

1. Do your research: Search for rental properties on reputable websites or through trusted realtors.
2. Look out for phishing scams: Scammers may send emails or messages that appear to be from legitimate landlords or property management companies. 
3. View the property in person: Whenever possible, visit the rental property in person before making any commitments or payments
4. Get everything in writing: Ensure all rental agreements, terms, and conditions are in writing. 
A couple signing a document

The rental search and application process

Inquiring about a rental listing

Once you've found a few rental properties that are a good fit, reach out to the landlord or property management company for more information and to set up an in-person or virtual tour.

Come prepared with a list of questions, such as:

- Is the rental unit currently available?
- What is the monthly rent and what does it include (i.e. utilities, parking, internet)?
- When is rent due and how do I make rent payments?
- How long is the lease and what are the terms (i.e. month-to-month, one-year lease)?
- What is the application process and what documents are required?
- How are maintenance and repair requests handled?
- What is your pet policy?
- What amenities are on-site or nearby?
- What security measures are in place?

Looking for an apartment to rent in Canada? Whether you're a student or a newcomer starting out on your own, Minto Apartments has something for you.

Preparing essential documents

When applying for a rental as a newcomer to Canada, you'll need several documents to show your eligibility and financial stability. This may include:

- Proof of identity: Passport or other government-issued photo ID.
- Proof of legal status: For newcomers, this could be a work permit, permanent resident card, study permit, or citizenship documents.
- Proof of income: A pay stub or employment letter to verify your income. If you're a student, you may provide proof of scholarship or financial support.
- References: Landlords may want to contact references to assess your suitability as a tenant. Be sure to compile a list of personal and professional references who can vouch for your character and reliability. 
- Credit report: In some cases, landlords may ask to run a credit check. Be prepared by understanding your credit history and having a copy of your credit report.
- Bank statements: Recent bank statements can help prove your financial stability. They may be particularly important if you have limited credit history in Canada.
- Employment verification: If you have a job lined up in Canada, a letter from your employer confirming your job position, income, and length of employment can be valuable.
Person holding an iPad with a digital agreement on it

Submitting an application

The application process for a newcomer to Canada is like any other prospective tenant. Once you've chosen the place you wish to rent, you'll need to submit an application form to the landlord.

If your application is accepted, you'll receive a lease agreement to sign. Carefully review the agreement as it will outline the terms and conditions of the rental. Pay attention to the rent amount, lease duration, rules, responsibilities, and any other special provisions.

Familiarize yourself with your rights as a tenant. Knowing these will ensure you're protected and treated fairly. And remember: a landlord cannot refuse to rent to you because you are a newcomer to Canada

A man sitting ont he couch and smiling at the laptop

The move-in process

Once your application is approved and you've signed your lease, it's time to start preparing for your big move!

Here are tips to help you stay organized and ensure a smooth transition into your new rental home:

1. Set a date: Contact your landlord to set a move-in date and time. Find out when and where to pick up your keys and confirm your loading dock and elevator booking (if applicable) ahead of time.
2. Book movers: Save time and energy by hiring professional movers to help you pack, transport, and unpack your belongings.
3. Set up utilities and services: Get in touch with utility providers to set up electricity, water, gas, and internet services, and don't forget the renter's insurance! Most landlords or property management companies require it.

Moving to a new country is a significant life change, but with proper planning, care, and patience, you'll be settled into our new rental property in Canada in no time!

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