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House Hunting: A Process

Chances are, if you’re in first year, you’re looking for a place to live next year. From the beginning of your time in university, it’s been gnawing away at your mind. “What am I going to do when I can’t live in residence anymore?” Finding housemates and looking for a suitable place can be an intimidating and confusing process, so here are the five steps to finding a house made simple:

1. Find Housemates

One of the scariest parts of thinking about a new place to live is finding who you’re going to live with. Sometimes it’s easy, and sometimes it’s not. Maybe your friends have already got a group they want to live with. Maybe you haven’t made too many close friends at all. It’s okay. The people you live with don’t have to be your best friends. The important thing is that you agree on certain principles, like cleanliness, parties, etc. There are tons of people out there just like you who are looking for a place to live; you just have to find them! Try advertising on Facebook, or asking your favourite acquaintances!

2. Start Looking

Around this time of year, there are tons of houses and apartments for rent just for students like you! You can look online at sites like Kijiji, or those of local real estate agents. These let you filter the houses by number of rooms, bathrooms, etc. There’s also something to be said for just taking a walk in the area you’d like to live in and looking for signs! After all, if you have a preferred distance from campus in mind, walking can give you a good sense of how far away a place really is.

3. Schedule a Tour

A fundamental rule of looking for a house: always schedule a tour for your group at a time when all or most of you can make it. Seeing a house in person is wildly different from seeing it in pictures, and you get a much better sense of how big a house really is from the inside. It’s also important that everyone in the group gets to see it; it’s not fair for most of you to fall in love with a house and make the last person trust you on it. Scheduling a tour is as easy as making a phone call or writing an email, and touring new places can be tons of fun!

4. Talk to the Landlord

Having a chat with the landlord of the house, as well as the current tenants, brings you one step closer to signing the lease. Be sure to schedule a time you can all meet or Skype with them, and ask any questions you might have. It may also be helpful to talk with the current tenants about their living situation and what the landlord is really like. Talking in person or over video with the landlord of a property can give you a much better sense of their character than just emailing back and forth. Be sure to bring up any issues or questions you think of, and don’t be shy! It’s important to cover all your bases and know what you’re getting into.

5. Review and Sign the Lease

The most important thing to consider when deciding on a place to live in is the terms of the lease. Be sure to read all the fine print and pay careful attention to any and all rules set down for you. Don’t forget, you have lots of student resources available to you! The JDUC offers a free lease review service, and has staff who can answer your questions about property standards, sublets, and essential Kingston services. You wouldn’t want to sign onto a place with any rules that might make you uncomfortable or question the landlord’s integrity. Once you’re sure and the whole group agrees, you get to sign! The place is yours! How grown up is that? ☺

Shaelyn Ryan is a first year student at Queen's University, and is a fiction writer, having completed and self published two novels. She would love to answer questions and comments about her articles, writing, or anything at all at sjryan1900@gmail.com!
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