When it comes to ranking the best countries to live in, Canada is usually top of the list. Living in one of the greatest countries in the world does have a price, and the average Canadian spends more of their monthly income on housing than nearly anyone in the world.
In 2014, the average Canadian spent 43 per cent of their monthly income on housing, a score that ranked 3rd highest globally! Whether we have a particular fondness for our homes or the cost of living is higher than most places (two factors that can be attributed to our frigid winters and time spent indoors for half the year) Canadians invest a lot in their abodes.
If you rent, you know how important it is to stretch your monthly budget in order to get a place you love. The line between 'wants and needs' must be clearly drawn, and once you have your budget, it's time to make the most of it. RentSeeker, one of Canada's leading apartment finders and real estate website is here to help you stretch that budget with 10 tips to save you money so you can maximize your housing budget and find an apartment you'll be excited to call home.
1) Renting With Roommates/Friends
You can split a larger place and bring down the total cost per individual. Besides the money saved on monthly rent, one of the biggest reasons to share a place with others is that you can split joint costs such as your Internet or Hydro bill (especially in Ontario where prices are climbing). Just be careful whom you choose to live with!
2) Renting A Basement Apartment Over A Condo
By choosing a basement apartment over a condo you can get the same size space, but at a lower rate or in a more popular area. The lack of light is usually compensated with extra space, a trade many people are willing to take. While basement units can help you save a substantial amount of money over a two-year period, be wary of signing a long-term lease if you have never lived in one before, as some people find that the negatives outweigh the positives.
3) Sacrificing Amenities
Apartment buildings with amenities like a pool can add more to your rent as it costs the unit owner more; expenses that get passed on to you. The average cost of renting a condo in Toronto is $2.37 per square feet, and you can expect that to be higher in buildings with more amenities. Unless the extra money can offset the cost of your gym membership, save some cash by looking for a place without extravagant amenities.
4) Changing Locations
As the expression goes, real estate is all about 'location, location, location' and you pay for what you get. Some may think that means avoiding the 'trendy' parts of your city or avoiding downtown. However, in areas where there are lots of condos there are lots of rental options, meaning in demand places to live may not necessarily be the most expensive.
5) Work Harder And Smarter When Searching
Check out 15 places before making a decision. It can be difficult to find time, but it's an important decision and worth spending the extra effort on. The more places you see the easier it will be to make a decision as there are more options to compare your choice against. This is especially important for first time renters or those who are renting in an area they have never spent a lot of time in.
Use online tools to help you eliminate the good from the bad. Customizable search parameters eliminate hours of work ciphering between all the available options from the ones that meet your requirements. From cost to location, to walk score and neighborhood ratings, real estate websites like RentSeeker.ca allow you to filter search parameters to effectively find rental apartments that meet your needs.
Also, real estate blogs offer great tips for renters including design hacks, decorating on a budget and INFOGRAPHICs showing the cost of apartments and housing, which are great tools and resources available. Northview Apartment REIT, one of Canada's largest multi-family REITs recently shared a great article featuring a budgeting guideline to see how much rent you can afford.
6) Commercial Space
If you are looking for a place in an urban area, don't overlook rental apartments attached to commercial spaces or buildings. They can be amazing deals, though often noisy. Be sure to see what businesses operate in the area before making a choice.
7) Lower Food Expenses
For many people, food expenses make up a huge percentage of your monthly budget. The same chicken dinner you ordered at a restaurant for $16 plus tax and tip probably could have been made for $10 (or less) at home. While time also costs money, for the most part the convenience and experience of eating at restaurants can cost a substantial amount more than eating at home.
8) Spend Less At The Bar
This is easier said than done, especially with summer around the corner! There are many ways to have a good time without spending it all at the bar. Your body and wallet will thank you in the morning after a night of not drinking!
9) Find Ways To Make More Money
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) suggests spending between 30 per cent - 40 per cent of your gross income on housing. Simply put, increasing your gross income allows for a greater housing budget. There are lots of options for part time jobs (you don't have to rely on Uber) and ways to earn a few extra bucks, just don't be afraid to try new things!
10) Buy A Bike
For many Canadians, a bicycle can be a big help when trying to save money. While you do have to deal with an initial investment (though there are tons of options online like BOW), the cost of ownership declines with every bus fare or taxi ride that you avoid. Plus you get to spend time outside and get some exercise!
Beyond these suggestions for cutting down your costs, it's important to always keep in mind that unexpected expenses will arise. At the end of the day, it's always easier to upgrade than downgrade when finding a place to live.
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