Four students sitting in a living room on couches and chairs with a coffee table in the middle.
Sajni Written by Sajni (she/her), student

While most students prefer to live in residence in first year, you'll likely live off campus as you move into your upper years. You may also need to look for accommodations in a different city if you’re moving for a co-op job.

Students in the Architecture program in Cambridge and the Global Business and Digital Arts program in Stratford should begin their search for off-campus housing early in the year.

In the last four years, I have lived in a total of three places off-campus, including apartment style, co-operative housing, and a detached house. Through my own experiences and those of my friends, I’ve learned about the components of the off-campus housing search, and created my own guide to off-campus living.

Do your research

Looking for your next home is like looking for a partner. You don’t want to commit to the first one you see! All jokes aside, you definitely want to start your research early so you have time to look around and find the best options at the best prices. As well, many landlords will begin signing leases months in advance, so researching and finding a place early will ensure you keep plenty of doors open to you.

Stuffed animals and pillows on a bed.

When looking for a place, consider the distance to the university and other key locations – use Google Maps to see how long a walk or bus ride to campus is, or how long it'll take to get to the grocery store or a restaurant.

Aksaya (she/her), Science and Business student

Lease vs. sublet

A lease is a legally binding contract between a landlord and a renter. It specifies the terms and rules of living in the property and the monthly payments for the entire term of the lease. Typically, the minimum term for a lease is one year.

A sublet is when a renter decides to rent out the property they are already renting, with the permission of the landlord. The new renter will pay a specified amount of money to the original renter to live in the property for a certain period of time. There are pros and cons to either type of contract, so ensure you pick the one that’s right for you.

Joining student housing pages on Facebook allowed me to see other students' posts, where I got the chance to do a lease takeover!

Aksaya (she/her), Science and Business student

Check out the amenities

Amenities includes those available in the property itself and those available around the property. Does rent include electricity and utility fees? Does the property have an internet provider or will you need to organize your own? Is the property furnished? Is it on a bus route? What grocery stores or supermarkets are nearby? These are some of the many questions you should ask in order to make sure you know what the rent will and will not include, and how close your home will be to vital amenities.

Girl drinking coffee in bed.

Picking roommates

This is your chance to live with your best friends or perhaps with friends you made living in residence. Having roommates is definitely one of my favourite parts of living off campus, but you want to make sure you set yourself up for a good roommate experience. When deciding on who to live with, talk about your expectations with potential roommates before making the final decision so you don’t run into any surprises later on.

Living with a roommate has been a drastic change for me, especially since I'm an only child. This change, however, was one of the best things I've experienced at Waterloo; my roommate and I get along so well and I truly love him to death, we've become lifelong besties. I wouldn't trade living in residence with him for anyone or anything else!

Christopher, Health Sciences student

Check out our article for more tips on living with roommates.

Before you sign

Make sure you read every document carefully, including all the fine print, before signing a contract with a landlord. You also want to ensure you know your rights as a tenant before signing. If it’s your first time signing a lease, our Off-Campus Housing department will sit down with you and review your lease for free! They also provide support to students searching for a place to live off campus.


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