Rental Advice from a SENIOR Student

As a 4A student with an older sibling who has also finished a co-op degree I guess you could say when it comes to housing, I’ve pretty much seen it all. Over the last five years, I’ve lived in five different cities and one camp on the side of the highway, coming to a total of two university residences, six houses, one cabin, and one apartment. I know the do’s and don’ts of renting and I am here to share my hard-earned wisdom with you.
Looking for housing for your first co-op or first term out of res can be really intimidating, especially if you don’t know where to look. Off-campus housing is a University of Waterloo-certified website where people can post houses or rental units in Waterloo and in other cities. Not every city is on there and not every term has as many posts, but it’s a pretty good resource. Kijiji and Craig’s List might seem like a sketchy way to find housing, but it’s not as bad as it sounds! If you’re going to a city with a university, there are always housing Facebook groups. Lastly, use your personal resources. Talk to your parents or friends about people they know in the city you’re headed to, and straight-up post on your Facebook page that you’re looking for a place to rent in a certain city, I didn’t think it would work and then I found a sublet from someone I haven’t spoken to since grade eight!
Tip 1. Never sign a lease. Unless you plan to live in Waterloo all year or you know people who will be sharing the lease with you when you’re on co-op, leases are an absolute shackle tying you to a rent that you might have to pay if you can’t find a subletter. Always sublet.
Tip 2. Internet scammers are real. You may be desperate to get someone to sublet from you over the summer, but never be desperate enough to fall for a scam. If the person you are communicating with starts talking to you about ANYTHING other than the property you are trying to rent to them, just ghost them immediately.
Tip 3. There are a lot of things to consider when you are looking for a place to live. You need to sort out your priorities first and foremost. Do you need parking, do you care if it’s a house or an apartment, what’s your budget, do you care about living in a basement, do you care if it’s pay laundry? (tip 3.1 never choose a place that makes you pay for laundry, it’s just a scam with a different face. No one has enough quarters for a wash and a dry!!) And you need to make sure that you and whoever you are trying to live with understands each others’ priorities. You also need to know where you are willing to compromise because I cannot stress enough that you will never find a place that checks every box. If five of you want to live in a house with no strangers and none of you want to live in the basement room, you probably aren’t going to find the perfect place. Sorry.
Tip 3.2 you should not be paying more than $700/month to rent in Waterloo. I don’t care how many people commute from this city to Toronto for work every day, this is not the GTA. Rental prices are skyrocketing because landlords think students will pay anything, but we won’t, we are poor, and we don’t need to be bankrupted by both the university and housing.
Now, there are exceptions to the $700/month rule, but it goes with the priorities. If your only priority is living beside campus and you don’t care that the building you’re in was built shoddily, and you don’t care about price, then go for that Icon suite. Convenience is worth a lot to people, it’s all about priorities.

Leave a Reply