By Glenn Carter
Glenn is an Ottawa-based marketing specialist and writer focusing on the gig economy and real estate investing, and is founder of The Casual Capitalist.
Whether you’re moving to Ottawa or already live there, finding an apartment can be stressful. The good news is, you already live – or plan to live in – what MoneySense called the best place to live in Canada for two years in a row.
We all have enough stress to worry about with last week’s Game of Thrones episode – the dragons are loose! So, if you want to be set up with your couch and flat screen before next week’s episode, here are some tips for you to follow.
Tip #1: Figure out where you want to live
Figure out what your priorities are and what types of amenities appeal to you most. Do you want downtown living in places like Centretown or LeBreton Flats? Or, are you interested in trading proximity for space in the suburbs like Orléans, Kanata, or Barrhaven? Do you love downtown living, but also want some green space to be able to bike ride and jog? In this case, consider some great up-and-coming areas near the Rideau River like New Edinburgh, Hog’s Back, or Old Ottawa East.
Tip #2: Virtual reconnaissance
If you aren’t overly familiar with a particular area of you Ottawa you want to live, then do a virtual reconnaissance first. This isn’t nearly as awesome as it sounds, nor does it involve Bradley Cooper in combats… Settle down people!
I mean use digital tools like Google Street View to take a virtual stroll of the neighbourhood and streets you’re thinking of moving to. Does anything stand out? Is it a nice neighbourhood? Is there a giant Toronto Maple Leafs flag in the house on the corner? You get the idea… This will help you situate yourself for the real thing.
Tip #3: Do a real reconnaissance
If you live out of town, plan a trip to Ottawa with friends or family and make a few days of it. Check out some of the sites, grab a beaver tail, and thank the leader of our country personally for taking it easy on Twitter.
Drive the major areas of the city systematically on the first day to get a sense of the greater Ottawa area. Go west to Stittsville, Kanata, Nepean, and Barrhaven, and then move central to look at up-and-coming areas like Lebreton Flats, Little Italy, Mechanicsville, Westboro, Byward Market, and Gloucester.
Once you’ve done this, you can pick your favorite neighbourhoods and spend the next day driving around it more closely and checking out the restaurants, cafés, amenities, and potentially livable areas.
Tip #4: Good ol’ fashioned Kijiji
Once you’ve narrowed your neighbourhood down to two or three options, it’s time to start looking at some apartments. You can use Kijiji to figure out what the market rent is for your area and the type of apartment you’d like. Search your area and review the listings, their locations, and prices. This will give you a solid foundation before you view apartments.
Tip #5: New apartment hunting tools
Kijiji is great for getting an idea of the types of rent you can expect to pay and what is available for rent in your chosen Ottawa area. But there’s more. There are some fun options for new apartment hunters in Ottawa.
Consider Rentals.ca, which will give apartment hunters a 3D tour of their potential new home. Also, platforms like Rentals.ca provide great search functionality because they are built for apartment hunters and give you a much more detailed description of living spaces.
Tip #6: Social media
Another great way to scope out potential apartment deals is to hit a few Facebook groups from the Ottawa area. These can include Ottawa/Gatineau House & Apartment For Rent or Apartment Rentals OTTAWA.
Tip #7: Use a Realtor
Many people don’t know this, but Realtor.ca also features rental listings. If you can’t find something that suits your needs, you can always contact a local Ottawa Realtor. They can help you find an apartment in the area of the city you desire.
Tip #8: Talk to developers
Ottawa condo developments are on the rise, and this means that there are going to be more new buildings for rent. If there’s a particular development you love, then go into the sales centre and speak with them. All buildings have investors who purchase units, and the sales centre will know who you can contact to try and get a brand new condo for rent.
Tip #9: Talk to Frank
…or whatever your friend’s name is. Whether you live in the city or not, we all know someone who knows the city inside and out, and where all the trendy areas are. Take Frank out for a beer or coffee!
If you don’t know anyone in Ottawa, then leave a comment in this article, or refer to tip #6.
Tip #10: Prepare your checklist
Do you have a pet? Do you require 40 psi from your shower head (totally made that up!)? Get measurements ready to see if your new off-white accent leather couch will fit in your new apartment. Ask about the average utility bills, extra fees, the neighbours, previous noise complaints and so on. Get yourself ready to view the apartments you’ve found, and be prepared to ask the right questions.
Landlords take notice of this type of preparedness, and standing out as a stellar renter can help you land the more sought-after units.
Don’t make the fateful error Ariel made! As a landlord myself, I know the importance of renters reading what they’re signing, as this is the cause of the vast majority of controversy, arguments, and hard feelings between landlords and tenants.
The good news is you have a lot of options when it comes to finding an apartment in the Ottawa area, and prices are reasonable compared to other Canadian cities (I won’t point any fingers!). So get to it! Start planning out your next move in Ottawa. You’ve got at least a few days before the next Game of Thrones episode.