Best apartment search engines for Toronto?
December 3, 2008 6:26 PM   Subscribe

Where can I find a decent one-bedroom apartment in Toronto that is NOT in a basement?

I've been looking for an apartment in Toronto for about a month or so. It seems like there are tons of apartments but so many of them are in basements, which is an absolute no-go for me.

Neither Craigslist or Kijiji have an option (that I know of) that can exclude basement apartments from search results. Do you know of any apartment search sites for Toronto that will let me exclude basements? Failing that, got a decent one-bedroom near the subway for $1000 a month or under?

(And yes: I know that has an option to exclude basements, but so far, I haven't found anything good there.)
posted by kate blank to Home & Garden (17 answers total)
Limit your search to avoid letters after a apartment number?
posted by acro at 7:11 PM on December 3, 2008

I found my current place by posting a wanted ad on CL. Have you tried that? I found a woman that was moving out, finished up the end of her lease, and then signed a new one when that was up. I don't know the market in Toronto but there's always a compromise. I ultimately had to give up my desire of having a one bedroom and living alone to have the location I wanted.

So definitely post a wanted ad, listing your must-haves clearly, and then your nice-to-haves. It doesn't hurt and it appeals to the lazy side in me: make them do the work. Just be prepared for some inevitable compromises between size/roommates, price, location, and niceness.
posted by 6550 at 7:12 PM on December 3, 2008

There seem to be a fair number of vacancies in the older mid-sized apartment buildings around us in the Vaughn Rd. and St. Clair W. area. There are a couple of Kenwood and Wychwood buildings that always seem to have a few small units available. They're all a close walk to the subway.

Are you doing a long distance search? It might pay off to tour the area you're interested in with a bike and a cell phone.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:40 PM on December 3, 2008

For CL, can't you search with the minus sign? For instance, -basement
posted by Manhasset at 7:53 PM on December 3, 2008

Response by poster: acro, I don't really know what you mean.

Manhasset, when I try that I get zero results.
posted by kate blank at 8:30 PM on December 3, 2008

You may have to go on foot. Desirable buildings don't bother advertising their vacancies. We got a 1-bedroom at St Clair & Avenue by buzzing the super. We asked if there were apartments available and *poof* there was one being advertised the next week but it was vacant now. Especially old-school management companies won't even bother with the hassle of CL.
posted by GuyZero at 9:03 PM on December 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 1. Use Craigslist, but limit your search to listings with photos. Then look at where the windows are in the rooms. If there are no visible windows, or the windows are near the ceiling, it's a basement.

2. Also, any 1 or 2 bedroom apartment in central Toronto will cost at least $800, probably more like $1000. If it's under $800 and it's downtown (Annex, Little Italy, Queen West, Parkdale, etc) it's almost certainly a basement. So you could try raising your minimum price to $850- that will weed out all but the best basements.

3. You could also do a search including the word basement, then quickly click through all the basement apartments that search yeilds. Then when you do another search, the basement apartment listings will all be highlighted (because you've already clicked them). Then you can look at only the non-highlighted listings- they are ones that didn't have the word "basement" in them, indicating that they're probably not basements.

I totally feel your frustration here. I think it's high time Craigslist started a checkbox for basement apartments though, so this filtering is easier! I also refuse to live underground and it took me a while to find a good one-bedroom place. In the end, though, I found a cute upstairs place in a nice part of downtown Toronto, using the methods I just described. Good luck!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:30 PM on December 3, 2008

Looking around on foot in the neighbourhood you are interested in is really one of the best ways to find a place.

There are a lot of basement apartments in Toronto, but you can find the others with some persistence
posted by geekigirl at 9:32 PM on December 3, 2008

I forgot to mention that we also buzzed about 30 other supers and got nothing. You have to work for it.
posted by GuyZero at 9:35 PM on December 3, 2008

Keep looking. I have friends that are landlords. They have rented out huge and awesome places in nice areas for 800-1000 (utils incl). And now with the market tanking, it should get easier. Avoid the big rental towers that are managed by corporations.

My friends' places were in Cabbagetown and Leslieville and were both 1 bedrooms, with kitchens, free internet, laundry, cable, hydro, separate entrances etc...
posted by jmmpangaea at 9:38 PM on December 3, 2008

Not sure how far you're willing to travel, but there were some nice ones near Old Mill (directly across from the subway) when I was looking. I ended up in a basement after a month+ of searching kijiji, CL and I just couldn't justify spending $1000+ on a place I don't spend THAT much time in, considering I work a lot and want to spend time being out and enjoying the city.

My apartment is $875/mo, including laundry, internet, and dishwasher. Tough to beat, considering I looked at a place for $1400 in the Annex that, if you were making spaghetti sauce on the stove, it might splatter and land on your pillowcase.

I'm echoing others in the suggestion for St. Clair W area, and that with the market, you're bound to find a gem. Then you'll be laughing at the suckers who settled for the basement :)
posted by Juniper Toast at 10:10 PM on December 3, 2008

You might want to try PMrentals; it's exclusively for apartment buildings. Might have a bit of a hard time finding a 1br for less than $1000, but it's worth a shot! Also, if I recall correctly, there are some low-rise buildings on St. George Street north of Bloor that had some apartments that might fit your bill. Might be worth checking them out on foot.
posted by greatgefilte at 5:00 AM on December 4, 2008

People I know have had good luck with
posted by sid at 8:43 AM on December 4, 2008

Also try MLS.CA.
Pick rental, and set your price range.
Not as many places to choose from as on some boards, but instant descriptions and usually pictures. Mostly either in houses or above stores.
posted by Chuckles McLaughy du Haha, the depressed clown at 11:52 AM on December 4, 2008

The last two times I've moved I've used and it's been really good. Most places have pictures posted so you can weed out the basements easily.

Also, it depends on the area you're looking in. I was looking west - between Bathurst and Dufferin, Bloor to St. Clair. There are lots of houses in that area that have been cut up into two or three apartments (including a basement, that you can just ignore exists).
posted by machine at 11:07 AM on December 5, 2008

Seconding the advice to "hit the bricks" in the neighborhood of your choice. That's how I found my most recent apartment, and it's a gem.
posted by anthill at 3:36 PM on December 5, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for all the feedback and suggestions, I've gotten some good leads.
posted by kate blank at 11:33 AM on December 7, 2008

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