We have put together a list of the best websites for renting apartments in Canada, and we explain with detail how to use them.
They say moving is one of the most stressful things in life. It is an exciting time that brings a new beginning, but there is so much work to do. You have to get rid of some belongings, exert yourself physically, and say goodbye to your old home. Whether moving is your choice or not, this grief is similar to the loss we experience when we lose a loved one or go through a divorce. Moving house means a big change is happening in your life; especially so when you move to a new country! There will be so much to take in, including a new culture, new landscape, new foods, new people, new architecture and so much more. These new experiences will enhance our lives, but first, we have to get there. The more we can do to make this easier, the better.
Most people, when moving to a new country, haven’t yet visited that place. It is hard to get a proper sense of what that place is like without visiting it physically. Too often we have heard stories of tenants who find an apartment online and sign a lease, and then they get to their new home to find it is nothing like the photos online. This brings nothing but disappointment and stress.
Luckily we have all kinds of technology and resources that we can use in order to experience as much of other places as possible. We will share with you the best resources for finding an apartment in Canada. We have lived in several places across Canada and have used these websites to help find the right new home for us. Today we pass on these tools to you. We list the top five rental websites in Canada, looking at factors such as:
- best photos
- best descriptions
- best reputation
- user friendly
When you go to this website, first you will notice a bar when you can enter the specific city or province you’re looking for. You can also search separately for student housing if you are coming to Canada for school, as many do. We have several universities here that are internationally recognised and sought after. There is also a rental map so you can search for an apartment geographically.
Scroll down and you will see a list of recently posted vacancies across the country. These vacancies are listed clearly in a table showing rental type (ex: apartment, house, townhouse) with number of bedrooms, monthly rental price, date available, and location. This can be fun to browse if you’re not sure where you’d like to move.
For example, we have looked at Banff, Alberta. When you search for a city, you are led to a new page that allows you to completely refine your search by rental amount from minimum to maximum, distance in kilometres from the centre of Banff and number of bedrooms and bathrooms. You can also select pet-friendly if you are bringing your companion animal or plan to get one. The website even allows you to search by filters such as “main floor of house” or “office space” or “condominium” so that you can find exactly what you’re looking for.
This website allows you to sign up for email updates when new rental listings are posted for your desired city.
Right on the home page is a list of “Canada’s favourite locations,” which lists about 50 cities across the country. These cities are popular destinations with features like beautiful landscapes or growing populations. There is also a list of all provinces and territories. These lists are handy in case you don’t have a specific city in mind. You can click on a location and peruse the available rentals and get some ideas for where you would like to live. Especially handy if you have a specific province in mind, but don’t know which city, or want to compare price points in different locations.
When you click on a province, for example, Nova Scotia, you are taken to a new page which lists all the available rentals on the right. you are able to sort the listings by either price or size (number of bedrooms). Number of bedrooms is the most common way to search for an apartment, as your family size will determine what you are looking for.
To the left of the listings you will find a few paragraphs explaining the key highlights and examples of living in that place. When you look at Nova Scotia, it explains that people want to live in Nova Scotia because it is a maritime province, meaning it is located on the East Coast (the other two maritime provinces are Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick). These provinces are dominated by the sea.
The website explains that Nova Scotia has low crime rates and low pollution, due to its coast being on the Atlantic Ocean. Pollution and crime rates are a key factor when deciding where to move your family. Many big cities have problems with high crime rates and pollution since they are typically landlocked and don’t have many trees to clean the air. 4rent.ca also describes the scenery, noting that Nova Scotia is full of mountains and water, allowing you to go hiking and fishing wherever and whenever you please. It suggests some activities you can do in the area, and telling you about the sense of community that comes with living in a smaller province. The rental website highlights these features in bullet points.
Rentals are shown both in photos and on a map so you can get a full sense of what you’re looking at. Another great feature is “Tenant tips” giving links to articles on how to get acquainted with a new neighbourhood or decorate your home.
This website is part of the Rent Hello Rental Network, a group of over 100 rental website portals that works with postsecondary schools, landlords and property managers across the country, so they have a huge database of listings in Canadian cities. The page header lists popular big cities. When you scroll to the bottom of the homepage you’ll find a list of street intersections; handy if you’re looking for a very specific area.
For example, when we search for Montreal, we are led to a webpage with a map (renthello.ca). This site opens in a new window so you can easily return to the main ApartmentsCanada page. This website has a modern, clean design. You are taken to a map (of Montreal, in this case) has a circle that encompasses your desired distance from the city centre, and allows you to zoom in to available rentals.
Topographical means the map shows elevation levels. Montreal is hilly so you can get a sense of where the higher points are versus the lower points. This is very handy as you get a sense of the exact location of each rental, so you can see what amenities and nature is nearby.
To the left of the map is a list of rentals with photo previews, monthly rent cost, address, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and says whether the apartments are pet-friendly, wheelchair accessible and non-smoking. The map is succinct, illustrated by icons. At the top right of the screen you can click on “Legend” to see a list of the icons and an explanation of what they mean. For example, a red circle with “a” indicates an apartment, while a green circle with a “t” indicates a townhouse, etc.
You can save viewed rentals to a personal “favourites” section, so you can revisit the ads again. You don’t have to make an account to search for rentals, but you do if you wish to post rentals.
This is “Canada’s most comprehensive database of rental properties.” This website offers easy navigation and searching for renters. Its main page has a search bar right across the screen, into which you can enter the desired location. Here we have chosen apartments in Greater Vancouver, at a price range of up to $6500 for two bedrooms. This expansive price range should give us a good listing of many options.
We find it helpful to list the results from least expensive to most expensive, so that we can simply stop searching when the price gets out of our affordable range. Vancouver is known for being one of the most expensive cities in Canada, as it is close to mountains and ocean, and highly desired. The price is listed in the top corner in green, which is helpful and visible. Each rental page is succinctly laid out and easy to read, and has a link to call the landlord immediately. The first thing you see in the listing is photos so you can see if you like the place or not, before reading all the details.
As you scroll down the listing, you’ll see a list of details specific to the property, and then a list of details specific to the entire property. For example, in this apartment building we have laundry facilities, a pool and covered parking. Renovation information is provided, as well as notes on the neighbourhood and what is nearby in the community such as parks, schools and shopping.
This is the final website on our list. The home page has a search section that allows you to search by city or by rental company. As an example we are looking for apartments in Toronto, Ontario’s capital city. First we selected Ontario and were led to a set of links. We selected Toronto – GTA. The city is divided into neighbourhoods and you can search this way.
You will see a description of the city, which is handy especially when you haven’t been there before. There are 240 neighbourhoods in Toronto, each diverse communities that you can live in. it explains that Toronto’s public transit system is second largest in North America and that this city’s main housing style is unique bay-and-gable (semi-detached homes with bay windows, and two and a half storeys).
After you have entered your criteria, you can search either by list or map. We searched by map so we could find something in our chosen neighbourhood. The map comes up with listings on the left. As you zoom into the map, the listings update automatically. We chose something near Church Street.
When you click on a listing you are shown building information with a list of amenities like air conditioning, parking, laundry, balcony. In Toronto it can be difficult to find apartments with these amenities. The listings include landlord information as well as building information.