Nov 08 2011

How to find housing before you arrive?

How can I find housing before I arrive?

Finding housing is a difficult task at the best of times. Finding a place to live before you’ve even arrived in Canada will not be easy, but it is not impossible. It is important to keep in mind that what you might consider adequate accommodation in your country of origin might be very different here.

There are a number of ways to start looking for housing before you arrive. Since places can be quite different from how they look in pictures, it is recommended to see the place in person before you make the final decision to rent or buy it.

Send a family member ahead of time
If possible, a family member could arrive 1 – 2 weeks before the rest of your family. This person could stay in a hotel or hostel for that short period and find appropriate accommodation for the rest of your family. Once here, they could access the services listed below, especially settlement agencies.

Housing help centres
Housing help centres help people find affordable housing. Usually it is free to use this service.

Settlement agencies
Settlement agencies provide services to newcomers, including help with finding housing, employment, and access to any other service or information you need to get settled.

Classified Advertisements
Local newspapers usually have advertisements for house renting and buying. Landlords usually place their ads 1 – 2 months before they want someone to move into their property. It’s not a good idea to rent a place without seeing it first in person. However, visiting these ads will give you an idea about the price and availability.

Real Estate Rental Services
Also known as Property Rental Management or Rental Locators. Although they usually work with landlords, some of these companies help tenants find housing. There is usually a fee for this service.

The phonebook (or the “Yellow Pages”) lists real estate rental services.

Many community agencies can help you find information about renting or buying a home. To find help in your area, go to Services Near Me.

Here are a few contacts that can actually help with a temporary accommodation in Ontario, GTA area. Please tell them you are a new immigrant and referred by COSTI.

Inns & Hotels for Newly Arrived Immigrants

1.Downtown, North York and Scarborough
Address: 31 Grange Ave., Toronto M5T 1C6
588 Dundas St. W., Toronto M5T 1H5
112 New Forest Sq., Toronto M1V 2Z8
389 Murray Ross Pky
Tel: 416-898-4221, 416-591-1500, 416-703-9988

Address: Finch & Don Mills
Tel: 416-773-1024, 416-880-9506
Contact: Peter Guo

3.Caihong Yuan
Address:47 Treverton Dr, Toronto M1K 3S5 CA
Tel: 416-994-5678
Contact: Mrs. Lei

Address:79 Seneca Hill Dr., Toronto M2J 2W3 CA
Tel: 416-490-0739
Contact: Mr. Wu & Mrs. Wu

Address:1857 Danforth Ave.
Tel: 416-720-9298, 416-694-1238
Contact: Mr.Li

Address: Finch & Mccowan
Tel: 647-296-6172

Address: Finch & Mccowan
Tel: 416-561-5852, 416-335-4430
Contact: Amy

8.Seven Stars
Address: 1163 Brimley Rd.
Tel: 647-896-3282
Contact: Jack

There are other ways to look for rental housing after you arrive here.

Bulletin Boards
Look in community centres, laundromats, grocery stores and other local businesses. If you are a student, check the boards at college and university housing services.

The advertisement section of major daily newspapers and weekly community newspapers have list rentals. You can read the newspaper for free at public libraries. Many newspapers let you search their classifieds ads online for free. Find your local community newspaper’s website.

Family and Friends
Many people find places to rent through personal contacts. Ask your friends, family, co-workers and others if they know of any places that are available.

Rental Guides
These guides are free. Look for them in boxes on street corners or in store entrances.

Rental Listing Websites
There are many websites that list rentals. Here are some examples and you can use a search engine to find others.

·        Craigslist


·        GSC Rentals


·        Kijiji

·        Real Estate and Rental Listings from the MLS

·        Rent Compass



Rental Agents/Locators
These are private companies that search for housing for you. There is usually a fee for this service

Walk around neighbourhoods that interest you and look for signs that say “For Rent” or “Vacancy” in front of apartment buildings or in house windows. Even if there is no sign, you can ask if any apartments are available or will become available soon. Ask if you can be put on a waiting list.

Good luck for your upcoming move!

Indira Prabhakaran.

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    • Srinivasa K on November 19, 2011 at 9:20 am
    • Reply

    Hi Indira, through one of my relative I checked about an apartment complex. But this apartment company is asking for a guarantor as we do not have a job yet and a lot of documents for this guarantee, which is very difficult to get when you dont know anybody in Canada. Is this the norm every where?

    Srini K

    1. Yes it is 🙁 and it is the case in most of the places here. While it is still possible to get an apartment without arriving yet, it’s VERY difficult. I suggest you come here with a temp accommodation and then try and get an apartment of your choice.


      Indira Prabhakaran.

    • susmitha on February 29, 2012 at 10:16 pm
    • Reply

    hi indira

    recently i got my visa stamped. i am planning to come by may. i have 2 kids accompaniying me. how can i find an accommodation.

    1. Congrats for the visa :). I suggest you take up some temp accommodation in a hotel or motel and then come here and look for a place to live!

      Indira Prabhakaran.

    • Vinod on June 22, 2012 at 6:36 pm
    • Reply

    Hi Indira, Good to see you back. Hope all well going with you and Prabs.
    I landed here about 3 weeks back. If there is a facebook or contact details appreciate if you can send to my mail id.
    Also, can you pl share your thoughts on place to stay location/basement/apt and rates.. etc for new comers. I am sure me and many will find this useful.

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