Out on the Town, Student Life

How to navigate the student apartment hunt

Finding the perfect student apartment can be a patchwork of oxymorons, from homey-but-party-ready or quiet-in-downtown-Montreal. For first-year students beginning the hunt, as well as upper years hoping to move, apartment hunting can be stressful and time-consuming. But first on the agenda is to start the search: Here are some tips to ease the process. 

Finding roommates

Unless you’re hoping to live alone, the first step for second-year housing is to find roommates. But what constitutes a good roommate is not always synonymous with what constitutes a good friend. So, how can you identify someone who you’ll jive with before living together?

Michel Hijazin, U2 Science, shared the importance of agreeing on ground rules in an interview with The McGill Tribune.  

“There’s a lot of standard things to agree on [with potential roommates], like tidiness, cleanliness, and just being able to coexist in each other’s vicinity,” Hijazin said.

Want to test a potential roommate’s compatibility? Observe how they keep their room. By trying to pick a roommate who keeps their personal space similar enough to yours, you may be able to evaluate whether you would agree on how to manage the shared aspects of an apartment. 

If you don’t know of anyone in your social circles who you’d like to room with, McGill Off-campus Housing and International Roommates in Montreal are Facebook groups worth checking out. 

The hunt

Once you have secured potential roommates, then you can discuss preferences and necessities for your future apartment together. Arguably, the question of location dictates most other preferences, since budget, room preferences, windows, and the common area are all strongly tied to how far away from campus you are willing to live. 

Hijazin, a Plateau man, advocates for his neighbourhood.

“I like living further from campus because it allows me to disconnect my life from school. I think of [the 30-minute walk to McGill] as exercise, and walking with some music is good for me,” Hijazin said.

On the other hand, Kate Townson-Carolan, U1 Arts, stresses the geographic advantages of Milton-Parc. 

“While it can be more expensive, there is something nice about living close to your friends, especially when you are in the thick of school. Living in such close proximity means you can have some social interaction without going too far out of your way,” Townson-Carolan told the Tribune. 

As online leasing websites, like Facebook Marketplace, Zumper, and Padmapper, are the main platforms for the thousands of people searching for apartments, it quickly becomes a race to secure the most desirable listings. So, asking landlords about other places they have (that may not be posted online yet) is a good idea. 

Another alternative is to walk around the area you’d like to live in, looking for “for lease” (à louer) signs. Oftentimes these places are not listed online and are easy to check out—this is how I found my current apartment! But remember, 5 ½ doesn’t mean five bedrooms.

Touring apartments

Touring apartments is an unavoidable aspect of the apartment hunt that gives you an opportunity to see all the cracks and fissures that the landlord conveniently left out of the pictures online. 

Diti Jain, U3 Arts, advised that “keeping a physical checklist may be helpful so that you don’t forget to look for things when touring.”

Townson-Carolan added that touring offers not only an opportunity to ask the landlord questions, but the tenants as well. 

“If the [current tenants] are there during the tour, it can be fruitful to take them aside and ask them what their experience with that place was without the landlord present, so you can get a more honest opinion,” Townson-Carolan said.

But, before you sign a lease, make sure that you know your tenant rights to avoid being taken advantage of by your landlord.

The process

Searching for roommates and touring apartments can be a long process, so try to keep your spirits up! Use touring in the Plateau as an excuse to explore the creative murals, or touring Milton-Parc to take a study break at Milton B

Seasoned apartment hunter Sabrina Ahmed, U3 Arts, thinks students should dispel the mythical urgency of apartment hunting. 

“I see a lot of freshmen freaking out when they don’t find a house by the beginning of February, but you can find a place up until the last day of April. Usually, the better deals come later anyway.”

Share this:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.


Read the latest issue