Drafting a new roommate
June 23, 2007 7:51 PM   Subscribe

How hard is it to find a roommate in Toronto?

I'd like to get an idea of difficult or easy it will be to find a roommate for August in downtown Toronto. I'll be moving to the core at the beginning of August. I could afford a single junior or small one bedroom in the $1100-$1300 range, but I'd prefer to save some money and live somewhere a bit larger. That's why I've decided to rent a two bedroom condo in the $1800 range and sublease the second bedroom. However, its almost July and I've exhausted my supply of potential roommates, meaning I'll have to live with a stranger. I'm wondering, will I have difficulty finding someone anyone to sign a lease or will there be so many applicants that I'll have my pick of the most compatible? How can I increase my chances of finding someone? I'd hate to get stuck paying the full rent, even for a month. The longer I go with an empty bedroom, the better it will have been for me to have gone for the 1 bedroom in the beginning. Is it too much to expect to find someone in the next month who'll be willing to sign a 1 year sublease?
posted by pantheON to Work & Money (16 answers total)
Three of the country's largest universities are in Toronto (among other post-secondary institutions). Even if you rule out all undergrads, the housing office at the schools can probably round up some interested parties for you.
posted by winston at 8:00 PM on June 23, 2007

Post on CL or other sites and wait - you'll get a lot of responses as there are a lot of students coming back to town. I've had nothing but good luck with roommates since I moved to TO a little over a year ago, in terms of finding good (stranger) roommates relatively easy. The hardest part is actually getting a consistent roommate - people come and go, and if they aren't on the lease, they may just hop to a "better deal" or a "nicer space" or suddenly decide to cohabit with their SO. It may be easy to find someone now, but make sure you check that they want it long term. And you know, have a job and stuff. It's a bitch to find a new roommate for Jan 1st when your roommie gives notice in December.

Screen carefully, make sure you discuss all the important questions - lay all your cards on the table. If you want someone who's quiet and never home, say that...you may just find them. A month is a really short time frame, but it's pretty common that people are out there looking all the time. Just try to feel out whether they need a place NOW because they are completely sketchy or not. Don't live with someone sketchy just to have a roommate. So very not worth it.

If worse comes to worse, you may have to take the place now and have someone come in 1/2 way through the month for a prorated amount. I think it's easier to find a roommate when you have a place than when you're still looking for an apt. Good luck!
posted by SassHat at 8:25 PM on June 23, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses so far. Follow-up to SassHat: Doesn't making them sign the sublease solve the problem of the transient roommate?

Interested in hearing from others.
posted by pantheON at 8:31 PM on June 23, 2007

I considered going to Uni in TO for a while. Posting on Craigslist and maybe the Facebook Toronto/U of T Marketplace listings are essential, but be warned - 900 for one bedroom is more than what most people are willing to pay. I wasn't contacting anyone above 600$/month, regardless of room size or location.

But like SassHat says, wait it out.
posted by Phire at 8:44 PM on June 23, 2007

My fiance moved to Toronto for art school (AI Toronto) and lived with a complete stranger/complete asshole. There was no problem from our end in securing the housing. (Though, the owner was a bastard...) As I recall, he just found the listing on roommates.ca, and there were tons of places listed. Many of the places he contacted had already been taken.

I did notice that his friends from school constantly changed housing, so it might be hard to get someone pinned down to a full year lease that you don't know. And while it wouldd suck to have a small place, it'd be your own, and you wouldn't have to fear crap roommates or damage or theft from one of them, etc.

If you're hellbent on a rommate, could you post at local universities with your requirements? (Fiance never signed a proper lease and paid in cash to his dubious owner, so I'm not sure if someone who doesn't know you would actually sign a legally binding document.)
posted by santojulieta at 9:20 PM on June 23, 2007

Oh, and just because they sign the lease doesn't mean they won't skip out on you (and thus, rent.)
posted by santojulieta at 9:20 PM on June 23, 2007

I second CL. However, I'm amazed that you can afford 1000 and are choosing to live with someone. You can find a nice place in the 850 - 1100 range. I just found a 1000sf loft for $1k inclusive. Living with people is icky.

And, I could be wrong but I think you'd have a hell of a time enforcing your sublease. It'll be more trouble than it's worth, I would think.
posted by dobbs at 9:57 PM on June 23, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the response Dobbs. Where about is your place in Toronto? Where did you find it? I haven't seen anything like that in the areas I'm looking: Between Front and Dunas near the subway corridor and up around Yonge/Church and College/Maitland. Also, part of the reason I'm looking for a roommate is so I can afford the extra conveniences... washer/dryer and dishwasher. What's your place like?
posted by pantheON at 10:23 PM on June 23, 2007

Seconding dobbs. If I could afford to pay 900 dollars a month, I wouldn't choose to live with roomates; if others are like me then you won't get much response to your ad unless your place is something really special.
posted by louigi at 7:39 AM on June 24, 2007

Yep. I live in a very nice 1 bedroom at bathurst and st clair and pay $975 all in. Good neighborhood. The vacancy rate in Toronto is about 4%. There is heaps out there.

The areas you're looking in are all condos. You pay a big premium for the privilege of paying off someone else's condo. If you look a bit further out, you'll find more to your liking.

I've done the Craigslist thing living with randoms a couple of times in the last few years. In both cases it's worked out very well. I still hang out with some of them. Generally, once you're beyond the $600-700 range, you're past the undergrad stage, and you get roomates who are grad students or young professionals. Probably even more recommended if you're new to the city, as you'll meat lots of people this way.
posted by thenormshow at 8:59 AM on June 24, 2007

louigi: "Seconding dobbs. If I could afford to pay 900 dollars a month, I wouldn't choose to live with roomates; if others are like me then you won't get much response to your ad unless your place is something really special."

Yup. I concur. I have lots of friends with roommates and have never heard of people paying more than $600.

The area you're looking in is really limited -- is there a reason for that? If you're willing to look at other neighbourhoods you'll have far more options.
posted by loiseau at 5:13 PM on June 24, 2007

Response by poster: Loiseau: I want to be as close to work as possible (York and Adelaide). I know most students wouldn't pay $600+, but I assumed there would be a bunch of grad students or young professionals that would be looking for something a bit more comfortable. Am I wrong?
posted by pantheON at 5:30 PM on June 24, 2007

I wouldn't say it's impossible. I'm only in tune with my own peers -- roughly, students and workers in their 20s and early 30s who are very engaged in various creative pursuits -- and I can say that I'd be surprised if any of them would even be able to pay $1000 in rent, never mind willing to pay that to share a place. But, my slack-ass friends wouldn't really be looking for a place in that part of town anyway. Maybe there is a desire for that among younger Bay Street professionals, or maybe affluent international students. Maybe someone else can speak to that.

Also, the University subway line runs right past your work -- don't rule out neighbourhoods along that corridor. If you were in the Annex, for example, you'd definitely have more of a market for roomies.
posted by loiseau at 3:16 AM on June 25, 2007

I know most students wouldn't pay $600+, but I assumed there would be a bunch of grad students or young professionals that would be looking for something a bit more comfortable. Am I wrong?

The U of T guaranteed funding for grad students is between $13000 and $15000 +tuition, depending on your division. That works out to around $1200/mo on average. So, $900/mo comes out to about 75% of the average grad student's non-tuition income. There are some grad students with much better funding who might be interested, and possibly some young professionals. However, given the nice and cheaper neighbourhoods that exist on the subway line (where they--and you--could live alone), I wouldn't count on attracting them.
posted by carmen at 7:40 AM on June 25, 2007

it's easy to find a roommate in toronto, toronto craigslist is the way to go, it's awesome and i've had great success (found 3 great matches & 1 dud in 10 years- and i knew the dud was crazy before i accepted her, don't ask). but i agree with others who've pointed out that most torontonians who can afford $900 will spend it on a bachelor pad, not to live with a stranger.

the thing is that most $900 toronto bachelor pads are way off the TTC line, or are pretty small, or are in basements, so if your place is kickass, make sure the craigslist peeps know it- post really good, bright, nicely-shot photos and write a detailed ad that shows your personality.

if you rent the bedroom for $600+ utilities, you can definitely find someone who will take it. but then you pay more.... make them pay the utilities.

your ideal neighbourhoods are sort of bordering on the gay villiage- most ppl i know who live around yonge are gay, esp. near maitland or on church- so dropping the phrase "queer positive" in your CL ad (i'm assuming that you are, of course, we're all smart and cool here, right?) may help you attract a better roomie.
posted by twistofrhyme at 5:16 PM on June 28, 2007

pantheon, shit sorry, I forgot about the thread.

My place is on Sorauren, walking distance from Dundas West Subway station and 3 different streetcars go past within a block or two.

Were I trying to get to York and Adelaide, for instance, I could hop on the Roncy/King car which stops one block from me and goes continuosly to King and York and then walk 2 short blocks. I think it would be about a 25 minute commute.

Or I could hop on the Dundas car to the subway and head south to St. Andrew Station. Probably about 18 minutes.

I think you're really limiting your search because of your work location. You don't need to be as close as you think you do, just be somewhere that the TTC makes it easy to get there.

I lived at Bathurst and St. Clair for 12 years and for a time worked at Dundas and Yonge. People new to the city may think that's a crazy commute (car-less) by looking at a map but it was 17 minutes during rush hour, reliably, door to door via the subway with zero transfers because both places were right on the line.

I found my current place thru friends but in the past I've used craigslist and viewit.ca.

Also, I don't have a dishwasher (I live alone, and it seems like a waste) and laundry is in my building but not in my unit. I actually prefer it this way because then I can do 3 loads of laundry in the same time it takes me to do 1 (using 3 machines). In past places I had my own machine and hours would be wasted not being able to leave the house. Now I'm done all my laundry in less than 1 hour.

Also, twistofrhyme is correct that the area you're mentioning is the gay village. If that's your thing, you're right on target, but if it's not, you might not dig it. I have a gay-friendly straight friend who lived on Maitland and he tired of getting hit on by guys when he'd go to the local pub.
posted by dobbs at 9:48 AM on July 3, 2007

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