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When is the Best Time to Start Looking for an Apartment?

Sandra MacGregor

Nov 07, 2022 6 min read

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When to start looking for an apartment

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Looking for a new apartment can be an incredibly overwhelming experience. One of the most important considerations is when to actually start your apartment search. There is no one-size-fits-all rule about the perfect apartment hunting timeline. That’s because the ideal time for apartment hunting will depend a lot on what city you’re living in. That being said, research shows that, in general, the prime time to start your search is 60 days before your desired move in date.

It’s also worth noting that the time of year you do your search is also significant. You’ll likely get the best prices but the lowest selection for apartments during the slow winter months of December to March. The busiest time for apartment hunting is between May to September. At that time, the market is filled with people searching for housing, so deals on rent are unlikely but, because there’s so much turnover, you’ll have a wider range of apartment options. 

Before You Begin Your Apartment Search

To get the most out of your apartment search, it’s wise to plot out some of your key considerations when looking for the perfect place to call your own. That way you won’t waste time checking out apartment rentals that just aren’t the right fit. Considerations may include: 

  • Apartment amenities: It’s a smart move to make a list of your apartment "must-haves'' versus what are merely "nice-to-haves." Consider what you want to put at the top of the list. Is an in-apartment washer and dryer your number one priority, or are updated appliances your crucial must-have? Consider how vital things like outdoor space, hardwood floors, a bathtub and parking are to you.  

  • Desirable floor plan: Do you like lower floor apartment units or is a corner unit more desirable? How important is it that the apartment be open concept?

  • Whether or not the apartment is pet friendly. 

  • The type of rental you want. For example, would you prefer a new or older building. 

  • What neighbourhood is your ideal location.

Start apartment hunting

When Should I Start Looking for an Apartment?

Ideally you should start looking for a rental apartment 60 days before your move in date. That should give you enough time to see a lot of different potential rentals and find the right fit for your needs.

Looking for an Apartment

Apartment hunting can be a complex process but it can go a lot easier if you break the process down into smaller steps, do comprehensive research, and plan ahead as much as possible. 

Considerations to Make Before Looking for an Apartment:

Before you hit the pavement to find your ideal abode, it’s advisable to take some time to consider other important factors like your budget, your ideal neighbourhood and your apartment hunting timeline. 

Calculate Your Budget

When calculating what your apartment budget will be, a good place to start is the 50/30/20 rule. The 50-30-20 rule advises that you spend your after-tax income as follows: 50% on necessities, 30% on wants, and that you put the remaining 20% towards savings and paying off debt.

Decide on Your Move-In Date

Decide on a good move in date by taking into account considerations like how busy the rental market is (you’ll have the most selection in the summer months), whether it would be more convenient to move in the summer or in the winter and what your lease agreement says about notice.

Choose Your Desired Neighbourhood

Deciding on the right neighbourhood is a big part of looking for an apartment. Spend some time thinking about your ideal location.

Commute Time

Consider how long you’re willing to commute to and from work. If you don’t have a vehicle, look into whether you’d have easy access to public transportation.

Neighbourhood Amenities

Decide on what neighbourhood amenities you want. Do you want to be close to parks and walking trails, or are restaurants and an active bar scene more important to you?

Start browsing listings

Check out a few websites during your apartment search as not all rentals will be listed on the same sites. Popular sites include Kijiji, Viewit and Word of mouth can also be useful, so be sure to ask friends and family if they know of any good apartment rentals coming up.

Download Your Credit Report

Some landlords and property managers won’t rent an apartment to someone until they do a credit check. It’s always good to be prepared so go to an apartment viewing with your credit report in hand. You can download your score and credit file for free quickly and easily from Borrowell.

Make a List of Your Requirement and Priorities

Does your desired apartment have to have laundry facilities, parking and storage space? To simplify your search, pare down your list of wants to things that are really essential to you. 

Make a List of Questions You Would Like to Ask

It’s crucial to ensure that you and a potential landlord are on the same page. Make a list of questions you’ll want to ask before signing on a lease. Questions can include:

  • Whether you have to pay for utilities

  • If there’s a security deposit

  • If pets are allowed

  • If parking is included

  • Are rent increases to be expected?

Prepare All Your Documents

Landlords may have different requirements when it comes to what documents they want to see but you’ll likely need official ID, references, proof of employment and possibly a credit report, as well as a chequebook to make a rental deposit.

Ideal apartment

How to Find an Apartment in Toronto?

To find an apartment in Toronto you can either hire a real estate agent or do a search for rentals on your own by looking through apartment listings. While getting a real estate agent will save you time and leg work, rents can be more expensive to cover the agent’s commission fee. 

Make a List of Your Top Choices

After looking through the rental listings, make a list of your top choices and make arrangements to tour those apartments first. That way you can be sure to prioritize checking out the apartments you’re most interested in and get the jump on other house hunters. 

Discuss Lease Terms

Important things to ask your prospective landlord include things like whether the lease is month-to-month or annual, the amount of notice required to move out and if you’re required to get rental insurance.

Beware of Rental Scams

Unfortunately, rental scams are on the rise. Do your research and find out if there are any rental scams that are popular in your area. Here’s a list of tips about avoiding rental scams from the University of Toronto. 

When is the Best Time to Rent in Toronto?

As Canada’s most populous city center, the rental market in Toronto is hot any time of year, but it’s generally a good approach to start your apartment hunt 60 days before you want to move in. Landlords tend to require two months’ notice before moving out so that means that rentals are usually listed two months before they’ll be vacant.

Real estate market

The Bottom Line

The best time to search for an apartment is generally 60 days before you want to move in. No matter when you start your search, the better prepared you can be ahead of time, the smoother your house hunting will go and the better chance you’ll have of finding your ideal accommodation. 

Sandra MacGregor
Sandra MacGregor
Personal Finance Writer
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Sandra MacGregor is a professional writer who specializes in topics such as finance, travel, health, and lifestyle. Her work has been featured in the Toronto Star, the Montreal Gazette, and the New York Times. She is a regular contributor to the Borrowell blog.

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