Finding a new place to live can be pretty stressful. With so many factors to consider, you want to make sure that you’re asking the right questions before you sign a lease. From comparing cost to distance from work, here are some other important questions to consider before saying yes.
It’s important to get familiar with the neighbourhood so that you feel comfortable and that you know where all of the essentials are.
1. Transit Stops
Make sure to find out if you have a transit stop near you. I makes no sense to walk for 45 minutes before you can hop on a bus or whatever if is that your city offers. Wasting time isn’t worth it if you can move much closer to a stop and just pay a little bit more.
2. Neighbourhood Safety
Find out what the demographic of the neighbourhood is like. Is it mostly students going to school – you might hear lots of late night partying, young professionals – probably lots of joggers and dog walkers, or families – lots of kids running around the neighbourhood screaming. Get a feel for what you’re going to be dealing with and make sure that you’re a fit for the neighbourhood as well. The last thing you want is for that grumpy old man living next door to you telling you to turn off your TV at 8PM because he’s settling down for his beauty rest.
3. Grocery Stores
Lugging home 20 pounds of food every week is going to be a pain in the butt – literally. Leg day anyone? Make sure that you live close enough to a grocery store to be within walking to transit distance. It makes no sense having to travel for over an hour when you’re packing 4 bags in each hand. Ain’t nobody got time for double trips.
And now for some unit specific questions. Make sure to ask these before committing to your unit in order to save your back in case anything ever happens.
1. Proximity of Landlords
It does neither you or your landlord any good if they’re living in a completely different city. They should be able to pop over and fix your stove if one of the elements happen to burn out, or if your shower head suddenly starts spraying left right and centre. Make sure that your landlords live close enough to you and are willing to come by ASAP in order to fix things when they’re broken.
2. Age of Unit
It’s important to know how old your unit is. Make sure that it’s structurally sound, clean, and that there’s no mild or mildew growing in between the walls. Water damage over time can also cause a big problem with the building structure.
That being said, new buildings aren’t always the way to go either. Sometimes contractors cut corners to complete jobs on time, especially in this day and age when condo units are popping up every day. So make sure you check out the age and determine the quality and condition of the unit is before signing the lease.
Have there been floods, fire damage or infestations in the past? Make sure you know the history of the unit to gauge the quality of it.
Are all of the utilities included in the rent? Sometimes landlords like to bundle all of the utilities together to make the offer more enticing. But before you tell yourself that you’ve found a fantastic deal, compare it to other units that are being rented. Is the price of the unit/month alone roughly the same price? And make sure that you know the average cost of utilities is for that area (this includes: hydro, gas and water). Clarify with your landlord what you need to pay for on your own and what you’re going to need to set up as well.
5. Internet/Phone Provider
Is the unit already pre-wired for a specific service provider? And if so, does that provider give you the adequate coverage throughout the entire place? No one wants to be stuck on the toilet with their cellphone only to find out that the WiFi or 3G doesn’t quite make it to the ceramic bowl.
If you need to switch providers, make sure to find out if they can use the pre-existing wiring, or if you’ll be charged for it to be redone.
Are your landlords cool with bringing friends and randoms home? Sometimes you’ll have some peeps over for a party and they’ll want to crash for the night if things get too wild. Make sure that your landlords are comfortable with guests staying over before you start signing the lease.
We’ve learnt from experience that if you’re in a long-distance relationship, your S/O will probably be visiting often and it doesn’t make sense to shack them up in a hotel for $100/night when they can just cuddle up with you in your bed.
When visitors visit, they need somewhere to park. Make sure that there’s either adequate street parking nearby, or that there’s visitor parking on site. If your unit comes with your own parking spot, fantastic! But some don’t, so it’s on you to help out your guests and make sure that they have a good stay.
If you don’t intend on having any visitors and don’t own a car for yourself, find out if your parking space can be rented out to other tenants that need more spots. You’ll be able to save yourself $100-$150/month on rent by making back the cash on your un-used parking spot!
The last thing that you want to happen is to fall in love with that adorable puppy at the shelter, bring him home and the find out that he’s gotta be evicted the next day. You or him? Realistically we know that you’re going to pick yourself. But we do love pets, so make sure that if they’re a possibility down the road that you check it out with your landlord and make sure that they’re down with some fur around the place too.
9. W/D Unit
Is there going to be an onsite washer or dryer? No one wants to walk down the street for 15 minutes in the winter just to go to a laundromat – albeit I’m down to walk that far just to get froyo. Make sure that there’s the units are in your building or even in your suite so that you can wash your clothes whenever you need to.
Don’t forget to ask when is the cheapest time for hydro and water! After you’re done paying rent, the last thing you want is to waste $50/month on your utilities when you could have washed them on a Sunday morning instead of a Wednesday afternoon.
10. Kitchen Appliances
If you don’t own a vehicle, it’s going to such lugging a microwave onto a bus. Make sure that the unit you rent out will have the basic kitchen appliances: microwave, fridge, stove, oven and dishwasher (optional). It’ll be cool if you have a double sink as well. It’ll make it easier for you to cook and do dishes!
11. Garbage Day/Disposal
Are you going to be able to just chuck down your garbage into a chute and have workers dispose of it for you? Or do you have to figure out what day the collectors will come by to get your garbage? Will there be recycling? Do you have to sort your recycling? Is there compost? So many questions to ask!
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