How To Get The Best Deal on Renting Apartments, Houses, and Rooms in Waterloo Ontario – Tips for Students

With this article we explain how to rent month to month, how to use Kijiji to rent a house, and give general tips for students looking to rent in Waterloo. We will give the average costs of rentals in the city and give you the tools you need to find what you want, and avoid landlords taking advantage. Many of the tips given are our own opinions that come from experience of renting in Waterloo for 10 years now. Due to this fact and that property values continue to rise, much of the information could change with time, but some of the tips stay the same.

Firstly, your rent should be no more than 25% of your monthly income. For students this may be impossible, but landlords will ask for income when you apply for an apartment. The idea is to have money left over for other expenses like groceries or vet bills.

Waterloo is in high demand, as the city is growing and has many new amenities (like a new train that will be ready in 2019). The price of rent is steadily rising, as property values have greatly increased and continue to do so. We recommend finding a good place you’re happy with and staying there for the entirety of your studies if possible. Leases are typically one-year long, and after that, landlords can change the rent depending on property taxes, but this is protected under law to only go up by certain percentage each time. However landlords can change the rent to whatever they want on a new lease. The price tends to rise each year, so if you leave a place after one year, the rent costs will be more expensive when you go to look again.

The average rent in Waterloo in 2017 is as follows:

  • one bedroom $800. This is a lot of money for one person to pay each month, but if you have the funds, and you like your space, go for it.
  • two bedroom apartments $900-1000. This is the most common setup and is very fair. $400-500 month is what most people in Waterloo are paying per month. This should include your utilities – beware utilities may add an extra $100 to your monthly costs.
  • three bedroom apartments $1100 and up. sometimes you can find a good deal on three bedroom units, as these are the hardest to lease. It is easy to get two people together, or four people together, but three is an odd number and you may get lucky with a landlord desperate to rent out their three bedroom unit.

Properties owned by a property management corporation may be a little more expensive as they have employees to pay for. Sometimes these companies are known for ripping off students or not taking care of the properties. You can usually find the best deals by looking online in the wanted section. Humble homeowners will advertise here, looking for a renter, and chances are in your favour that a homeowner would take great care of their own property.

With this knowledge, you can go to a reputable rental website. We recommend the following:

The internet is a great resource for finding a house or apartment. Many of the ads –especially on Kijiji – are placed by individuals looking for a subletter or roommate in a place they already have. This tends to keep rental costs down.

You can select your search criteria to find the right apartment or house for yourself, and organise the results from lowest to highest price so you know when and where to stop looking.


Subletting is when you take over someone’s apartment for a period of time during their lease. For example, a student has an apartment in Waterloo but goes to France for an exchange program. They need a subletter for their Waterloo apartment, who will occupy and pay the rent in the apartment while they are gone. Subletting is a good way to rent for a short period of time to get a feel for a place. If you like it, you may be able to sign a longer lease.

Renting apartments

There is never a shortage of apartments in Waterloo. Renting apartments is probably the easiest way to find a place in Waterloo. Apartments are easy because you only have to find one or two roommates. Most apartments in Waterloo have balconies, and since 2012 the city has grown exponentially. Around the intersection of King and Columbia, many new high rises have gone up to accommodate the growing population of students. Some of these apartments have balconies and some do not. It depends on what you’re looking for. If you wish to have access to a yard, or you don’t like heights, you may want to look into renting a house.

Some things to look for when renting an apartment:

  • are utilities included? When youre a student you will need to use a computer regularly, plsu wind down with some TV. Maybe you like to play video games. These electronics will raise the hydro bill in no time, so try to look for something that is all inclusive. Most places these days make you pay extra for utilities. Other utilities include heat (which is usually gas powered). Almost always you will have to get your own internet set up. all of these bills add up quickly and students are on a budget.
  • Is laundry onsite? We get some significant storms in the wintertime in Waterloo. Snow piles 3 feet or higher, and the sidewalks aren’t always salted on time. It is very inconvenient to have to transport all of your clothes through any weather condition, but even worse in bad weather. It is time consuming to go to a different location for laundry, plus you will have to wait there while your clothes wash and dry. Tip: get a drying rack to avoid paying for the dryer each time. This will save you money for other fun things like getting drinks with friends or visiting your favourite board game café.

Renting houses

Renting houses offer the advantage of having access to a yard. This is good especially if you enjoy sitting outside with a drink or reading a book. They are great for entertaining. In apartments you cant really go anywhere, but when you live in a house you can use your bedroom, the living room, the basement, kitchen, or go outside easily. You can get a group of people from your program together and rent a house together. This makes for convenient study group sessions and project work.

There are many older houses in the university area with lots of character and close to restaurants and Uptown Waterloo shopping. Many of the houses in the university area are owned by property managers and are reserved for students.

Renting rooms

There are different ways to rent rooms in Waterloo. The most common way is to find a house looking for a roommate, and you will have to share the whole house with them including bathroom and kitchen. Often these will be other students, but occasionally you can find a homeowner who is just looking for a single tenant. The Huether Hotel, for example has rooms for rent. The best place to find a room for rent is Kijiji. Refine search criteria to “wanted.”


It is technically illegal to deny a tenant a pet. However, if some landlords specify they don’t want pets, and you have one, don’t mention the pet to the landlord. If they mention a problem with the pet, you can reference the Landlord and Tenant Board. Many international students like to get a pet for company if they are new to Waterloo. Be careful, though. If your pet causes any damage to the unit (like cats scratching furniture that belongs to the landlord) you may be responsible for paying to replace it.

Walk Around

In addition to searching the internet, the best way to find a place to live is by foot. There are many side streets and little houses tucked away in this city, with lots of character and nice yards. Sometimes we don’t see these streets on the bus, and some homeowners don’t advertise online. They will just put a sign out front with a phone number. We recommend bringing a pen and paper and making a note of each apartment building and address you find with a “for rent” sign. When you see the place in person you will immediately know if you like it or not. And if you’re lucky, you can call as soon as you see the sign, and maybe the homeowner or landlord will be able to show you the available room or apartment right then and there.

Exploring by foot allows you to take your time. In a car we pass too quickly and our experience is subject to stress, due to not being able to slow down in front of a house, and distractions from other road traffic. You will see parts of the city you haven’t before.

Word of Mouth

The best apartments and deals tend to come from word of mouth so the more people you know, the better your chance of finding a good place. You may run into someone looking for a subletter or roommate or to take over their apartment. Go into local businesses Uptown Waterloo and ask for the landlord’s name and number, and ask if they have anything available. Most of the businesses have apartments above them, like in all cities.


Landlords want tenants who are responsible, mature and reliable. Their first impressions of you will often determine whether your application is approved or denied. When meeting a landlord, dress nicely. You won’t have to wear formal clothing, but be presentable. They will want to know you’re clean and take care of things. Use your manners and take initiative.

Landlords will be inclined to rent to friendly and reliable people, so once you’ve applied, be sure to call the landlord and check in on the status of your application. Let them know you’re interested.

Be sure to get everything in writing and to read the lease properly so you know what’s expected of you. You can always contact the Landlord and Tenant Board if you have major problems.

Ask questions and check it over

When looking at apartments, keep an open mind as photos online don’t always do justice. When you get to the apartment or house, check the showerhead to make sure it runs properly. Look in cupboards for mould and insects. Test the outlets to make sure they all work. In some older properties there may be a dud outlet or two. Test the windows to make sure they open and close properly, and that the screens have no holes.

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