If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me to help them find a one bedroom downtown condo for rent with a maximum budget of $1600, I’d be a rich man. While $1600 is no small sum, it doesn’t get you anything downtown anymore. The average bachelor condo in the entire City of Toronto is currently sitting at $1822/month, and that goes even higher if you want it to be in the core. One bedrooms are currently averaging $2186, Two Bedroooms at $2964 and Three Bedrooms at a whopping $3997. Alas, Toronto isn’t a cheap place to call home anymore is what you might believe looking at these numbers, BUT there are options. Here are some steps you can use to find your dream place in “The 6ix” without breaking the bank.
Rule Out The Core
The core will always be expensive like it or not, and if you want to live in the core like everyone else does, expect to pay top dollar. Cheap rent in the core doesn’t exist no matter how many times I have tried. Even if you are willing to live in a dedicated rental building with a history of bed bugs, you are likely going to be paying a minimum of $1600 for ANYTHING. You may be able to find a room in a place, but you are not going to get anything in a condo and even most basement apartments are getting to be more than this.
Let’s just say that one landlord who has consistently kept their rents the same for the last 10 years decides to relist, don’t expect it to last long. Have your documents ready (job letter, credit check, rental application, references, etc.) and move quick. Speed is everything. Last summer it got so bad that people were putting in rental applications blind without even seeing places. Timing is EVERYTHING.
Look When Nobody Else Is Looking
Speaking of timing, look when other’s aren’t. Everybody wants to move in the summer, which drives up rent prices during these times. If you look at the history of average rents, the summer month’s always go higher than the winter which follows. In the summer not only are you competing with other renters, there are also students looking for accommodations for the following year. If you want to move in the summer, expect to pay a premium for doing so.
Don’t Just Look On The MLS
As a realtor, I only get paid for rentals when I refer someone through the MLS system, but there are other places to look for rentals. Most Toronto condos are only listed on the MLS system, because these fall more into the luxury category and smart landlords know that a realtor will likely get them more money for their rental with fewer headaches than if they were to try to post it themselves on Kijiji. But, if working with a budget is most important and you are looking for affordable options in the city, you will have better luck looking on other sites where landlords typically post the listings themselves and don’t want to pay a Realtor to list their property. There are really only 2 sites I typically advise people to look at when they have budgets that I am unable to help with:
– Padmapper.com – Padmapper is an aggregator which means it pulls in rentals from many different places. Their own rental platform is called Zumper which allows anyone to post a rental for free. The problem with this platform is it has lately become overrun with Realtor spam. These are listings (often not real) where some shady real estate agents post to try to pick up clients. If you can smell these out quickly, you may be able to find some deals among the not so great stuff. Also, many listings on here haven’t been updated for some time so there are a lot of listings which are no longer available.
– Viewit.ca – Viewit charges to list on their site and is a favourite among small time landlords and property managers. Most older apartment buildings in the city will have listings here. I like Viewit for cheaper options because you typically are getting what is advertised and there is not so many “garbage listings” that you need to filter through.
I typically don’t advise sites like Craigslist or Kijiji as there are too many scammers, but I am curious to see if Facebook Marketplace might pick up some steam.
Get On Your Community Groups
Every neighbourhood in Toronto has a community group on Facebook these days, so look them up. For example, I run the South Etobicoke Community Group for my area. Every once in a while people post that they are looking for a place and everyone rallies on the group to send them any leads on places they might have. There is also several “Bunz” groups on Facebook where people post what they are looking for, or what they have, but I have found they can be a bit mentally draining to stay on too long with the non-stop complaining that goes on in them. Get in and get out.
Hit The Pavement
One of the best ways to find a cheap rental in the city is to walk around the neighbourhood you want to live in and look for “FOR RENT” signs. There are still plenty of old fashioned landlords who think the Internet is still some fad that only put a sign in the window. These are also the landlords that don’t realize that rents have gone up by 50% in the last 10 years and there may be an incredible deal behind those signs. Sure, it takes a lot of work, but remember every hundred dollars you save per month equals $1200 per year.
I really hope these tips can help you find a cheap rental in Toronto. If you are successful or have any other tips that I might have missed, let me know in the comments below. If you want to rent a condo downtown and are willing to pay what they are going for though, I can help you with that also, so send me a message today.