At the end of every month Toronto changes into a different city for a couple of days. You’re walking around outside and the world around you has become one big garage sale; curbs piled high with battered sofas, worn rugs and dodgy looking pieces of furniture. Occasionally though, amongst all that ”trash” you might just find yourself a steal: take for instance the Encyclopaedia Of Cats (fuck yes) I grabbed whilst walking home after Thanksgiving- it’s over 1000 pages, could you really ask for a better coffee table book? (the answer according to my girlfriend is no, btw). Anyway, we all know how much of a hassle moving to a new place can be. It’s exciting when you first decide its time and start to casually browse apartment listings while dreaming of that perfect place. But as the search goes on and you realize that you’ve actually gotta pack up everything you own and take it across the city, stealing a shopping cart and just pushing your belongings around for a year starts to seem like a more reasonable life option. So in light of the aggro we’ve all faced and will face again in the future I decided to list a couple of things that I’ve learned during my recent house-hunt. (ps- this list is redundant if your other half is anything like mine and is a super organized/on it person- just don’t do anything to fuck up their hard work.
1. If you already haven’t, pick a location right now and stick to it. Maybe you aren’t quite sure of your ideal neighbourhood yet, or maybe you don’t even really care where you live. It’ll make things a lot easier to have an area on the map in mind annnd the great thing about this city is the fact that you guys have the Grid System. So every neighbourhood is like it’s own little box all broken up with nice straight lines so you can literally draw a square on the map. (nothing at all like England where everything is all over the place and straight lines don’t seem to exist)
2. When you’ve utilized Microsoft Paint and drawn a box on a Google maps page, open your browser and get on to either one of or ideally all of simultaneously; Viewit, Padmapper, Craigslist and Kijiji, then make sure you check them for new apartments every single day. Each one will have qualities that the others don’t, so your best chance of landing a viewing at that dream place are increased the more you exhaust yourself trawling through the internet. So get a bottle of wine or smoke a joint (woo Trudeau) and brace yourself for the long haul of examining badly taken photos and an alarming amount of things you didn’t think could ever pass for an apartment.
3. When I was in college my tutor always used to bang on about the ’7 P’s’: Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. It’s a turn of phrase that seems very British as I read it back but one that actually makes a whole lot of sense. When you’re applying to live somewhere you should walk into that house viewing with everything you need to apply ready so you can, then and there on the spot. Make sure your references and employment letters (and if you’re like me your visa) are all up to date. Even consider having a cheque with the first months rent drawn up so you can hand it right over and leave the place in the knowledge that you did everything you could to get it. Finally making sure that you grab any boxes you see on the street that have been put out for recycling, as they’ll come in handy later on.
4. You’ve got your location down and have a few viewings lined up. If it’s an open house you’ve got to make sure that you are the first person through the door as they open it. In some cases the landlord might be going on a first-come-first-serve basis, which means that even if you arrive early and are second in line, you won’t get the place if the person before you all checks out. When you’re viewing a property try not to be shy and make sure that you check for all the things that could become nasty surprises later on if you do move in: water pressure, natural light, if the landlord has kids, thin walls etc. Ultimately you want to present a good impression of yourself but at the same time you need to remember that the place should impress you. While Toronto’s tough housing market puts pressure on us as renters/buyers to make decisions quick, it shouldn’t mean that you have to compromise on quality.
5. You’re all ready to move in but you either don’t have a car or your friends can’t help you out. El Cheapo Movers are the best shout for low cost movers and they will help you carry everything out of your old place and into the new one. Though if you’ve got a drivers license you could consider renting a U-Haul and doing it yourself. It’s always going to cost less and you can be flexible with your time when you’re the one doing the driving. If you do decide to get movers and you have access to the apartment, a good way to limit the cost and time on moving day is by taking over as much as you can carry in a couple of trips to lessen the load going into the van.
6. (Six is a weird number to end a list on isn’t it?) When you move into your new dream location; Craigslist, Kijiji and the like should be your new go to websites for furniture purchases. While chain stores like Ikea and Structube provide you with a recognizable name and someone to complain to if the product doesn’t match up, you know that the quality isn’t always going to be brilliant (I know first hand from Structube- seriously don’t buy there). If you’re savvy enough you can find some bargains online and out in the real world in vintage/thrift stores and The Salvation Army, spending time looking can help save in the long run.
Moving can be hard at the best of times but in a city like this with so much to factor in, it can become an overwhelming experience that dominates everything you do for months before and after. Even though we’re all broke as fuck, we’re still trying to live as normally as we possibly can and as consumers we’re the savviest of any generation simply because we have less money and more choice than any other. Like Lil Dicky I’m all about saving dat money and if you have any tips you’d like to share then chuck them down in the comments section at the bottom. Otherwise; happy house hunting and if you’re planning on moving in the upcoming winter- (why!?!) good luck.