Going into the process, I was extremely unprepared for the task that finding housing would be. To preface, no, I still haven’t been successful. As you might know, Waterloo is currently in a housing crisis. As a first year who’s new at searching for housing, my experience has been frustrating and overwhelming because of the crisis. Almost daily I search different platforms for new listings, but they rarely appear. It’s even rarer to find a listing that is in my budget and contains the number of bedrooms that my group needs. It seems that everyone I’ve spoken to is facing the same troubles and is equally discouraged, so I thought I’d conduct my own research to determine the roots of this situation.
More Information About the Housing Climate in Waterloo
Essentially, student homelessness has increased, prices have shot up, some landlords have been taking advantage of the situation and the rising population of Waterloo has not been aligned with the number of new builds (Martin, 2021). On top of that, Waterloo boasts three post-secondary schools in the same general area: the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College. To quantify the situation, there has been a 12% growth in the population of the region between July 2015 and 2020, making Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo the fastest-growing metropolitan area in Canada over this span of time (Martin, 2021). Furthermore, from 2016 to 2020, 63 712 individuals moved into Waterloo, but there were only 20 259 new builds, with less than 1 in 5 of those new properties being intended for rent (Martin, 2021). Another reason for the increased stress on the student rental market is the fact that many students took a gap year in the 2020-2021 school year, creating a greater pool of first year students for 2021-2022, and therefore, a greater pool of students searching for housing all at once (Williams, 2021).
As I mentioned before, I haven’t had the best of luck with my search. Originally, my friends and I found two units in a gorgeous house that just happened to be in the budget and had the perfect number of rooms. We made the grave mistake of getting our hopes up and picking bedrooms before hearing back about if we got it, which I’ve now learned is never a good idea. Unfortunately, they went with another group. So we split into two groups, leaving me in a group of four going forward. I was optimistic because I was under the assumption that finding a four-bedroom place would be simple. I was wrong. We found a place, but it was taken the same day as the viewings. We found another house that seemed to be even more perfect than all the others, but we contracted COVID-19 a few days before our viewing and we lost it. It appears that the market is so strained that any reasonably priced place in a good area is swept up within days of being available. Every landlord I’ve talked to has corroborated this by expressing just how many viewings and/or responses to their listing they’ve had on any given day.
At this point, I am holding out hope for something great to hit the market soon, and I can imagine many other groups are doing so as well. I’m crossing my fingers for everyone still searching for their perfect home!
Martin, M. (2021, October 7). New report paints dire picture of Waterloo Region’s affordable housing crisis. CTV News. Retrieved from https://kitchener.ctvnews.ca/new-report-paints-dire-picture-of-waterloo-region-s-affordable-housing-crisis-1.5615362
Williams, R. (2021, August 5). Waterloo Region Rental Market ‘almost unreal’. WaterlooChronicle.ca. Retrieved from https://www.waterloochronicle.ca/news-story/10450355-waterloo-region-rental-market-almost-unreal-/