view of a big Toronto sign near a river

Canadian Immigration and Real Estate

Living Quarters:  Canadian Options


As with most countries, Canada offers a wide variety of options when it comes to choosing a place to call “home.”  The choice you make will depend on several factors, including your budget, your space needs, and your desired location.


Below are some of the options you may want to consider:


– Room for rent – Some individuals who own a house or an apartment may rent out separate rooms in those dwellings.  All of the tenants share the bathroom(s) and the kitchen.


– Studio apartment – These apartments are small and were primarily designed for just one person.  Most consist of a single large room – that contains the kitchen and bedroom – and a separate bathroom.


– Apartments – Larger apartments are also available.  These can range in size from one to three bedrooms. They also have separate living rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms.


– Duplex – A duplex is a single home that has been divided into two separate living areas.  Each area is completely separate from the other, but residents may share a yard or driveway.


– Townhouses – Townhouses are small houses which are built in rows, so that they form a chain.  Most of the homes in the chain are similar in appearance.


– Houses – Homes of all shapes and sizes are available throughout Canada.  You can also choose to have a home built specifically to your specifications on an available lot.


– Condominiums – Condos are essentially apartments or townhouses that are owned, not rented.  Owners are responsible for all of the internal upkeep on the property and must pay property taxes.  They also pay a condo association fee which covers the costs of outdoor maintenance, such as lawn mowing.


Besides these options, there are also two other important choices you need to make:  furnished or unfurnished and rent or buy.


Furnished or Unfurnished


In Canada, you can find homes and apartments that are furnished.  This means that all of the necessary furnishings are included in the living area, such as beds and chairs.   Furnished apartments and homes may be a good option when you are first moving to Canada, especially if you are immigrating from a distance.  The cost of transporting your own couches and beds could be quite expensive.


Most people, however, choose to live in an unfurnished dwelling so that they can decorate in a manner they see fit.  Some unfurnished homes and apartments will still come with kitchen appliances, such as refrigerators and stoves.


Rent or Buy


This is an important decision because it will also influence which types of property from the list above you focus on during your search for a place to live.  Most new permanent residents choose to rent an apartment or home initially, so they can get a feel for the area, find a steady job, and do some leisurely research on the real estate available in their price range.  However, there are also many newcomers to Canada who jump right in and purchase a home.


If you do choose to buy a home, townhouse, duplex, or condominium, then be aware that you will need to have money for a down payment.  Most banks and mortgage providers will require a down payment of at least 10% of the total cost of the house. That means if you want to buy a $100,000 home, you’ll need a $10,000 down payment.


If you opt to rent an apartment, a room, a home, or a duplex, then you will also need to be prepared to pay some money upfront.  Most landlords in Canada expect you to pay first and last month’s rent after you sign the lease. Many landlords will also require you to provide a reference’s contact information.  The reference MUST be someone living in Canada. Your employer, for example, may be a good reference.


Regardless of whether your rent or buy, you can expect to pay between $350 and $2000 a month depending on the living quarters you select.  As a general rule, you shouldn’t spend more than 50% of your income on housing costs, including your utility bills and mortgage/rent payments.  That means you’ll want to establish a budget before you start house/apartment hunting in Canada.


Also, keep in mind that housing costs vary considerably, even within the same province.  You can save money on your housing if you do some research and focus on areas outside of major cities.

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