Advice for post-secondary school students still searching for housing in northern Ontario

Students will be making their way back to colleges and universities across northern Ontario over the next few weeks. This is an especially busy time for rental property owners, as some students have left their housing needs to the last minute.

Property managers in Sudbury, Thunder Bay offer advice when searching for last minute space

When interested in an apartment ad on rental sites like Kijiji, property managers recommend going to physically see the space before committing to monthly rent. (CBC)

Classes start at most post secondary schools in northern Ontario on September 4. Which means students will soon be making their way back to colleges and universities over the next few weeks.

Many of them will be living in off-campus housing.

Those who have planned ahead already have their living space lined up, while others are still scrambling.

"From what I have experienced over the years, if you want the best, the cream of the crop, you should be looking in February, March," says Joe McGibbon, residence life manager at Laurentian University in Sudbury.

Schools like Laurentian, Cambrian College and Thunder Bay's Lakehead University offer support for those students hunting for housing. 

But more often than not students are left to do their own searching.

Rental ads only go so far

Students should never rent a place without seeing it first says Nicole Shelke, a leasing agent at Red River Holdings in Thunder Bay.

"Kijiji and [other online rental ads], you can only go so far."

"You can only see on the map where it's located, and if you're not familiar with the city you don't know the bad and good areas."

Most times the advertisement only has a few select pictures to show the space.

And as for the current situation in Thunder Bay, Shelke says if you're a student looking for housing, you may not be happy with what's left.

"The housing isn't here," she says.

"Everybody is looking for September 1, but we only have so many apartment buildings in the area that they're looking for."

Leaving housing needs this late before school starts, Shelke says some students will have to accept apartments that are further away from campus.

Sherry Jordan in the vice-president of the Greater Sudbury Landlord Association. (Robin De Angelis/CBC)

Post secondary school students in Sudbury looking for housing will likely have similar issues.

Sherry Jordan is a licensed property manager with Coldwell Banker. She knows students will face challenges, but is optimistic they'll find a space.

"People try to get their units ready for around the first of August, because they know the students will be coming in," she says.

"So not only do you have the students, but you also have your existing tenants. So, there's a lot of movement over the next couple of months."

Jordan also advises students to go and physically look at the unit before committing to monthly rent.

"Don't just go by the ad or what someone is telling you on the phone or pictures on the internet," she says.

"Go to the unit, take a look at it, see what it is that you're renting, be sure it's the space that's going to work for you."

She also suggests asking the property management company if they have other rentals available besides the one ad you're asking about.

With files from Matthew Pierce


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?