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Montreal is known as one of the top 10 cities to live in for students, according to QS Rankings. It's no wonder when you consider the relatively cheap rents to live in a major urban center. For many incoming students, residence will often be the top choice because of the proximity to other new students and the proximity to campus. However, McGill housing is expensive and not necessarily worth the price. This is why after first year, most students find other places to live in Montréal rather than stay in McGill housing. Not only is it liberating to find your own apartment, it offers you the opportunity to explore more of Montréal, outside the McGill bubble. Nevertheless, it can be quite daunting to find a new place to live, as this may very well be your first time looking for housing on your own. From newbies to housing veterans, we want to offer some tips and advice on how to find good housing in Montréal. Check out the housing section of the Resources & Services page as well!

Choosing Where To Live

  • Proximity to Campus

    • The closer you live to campus (which is in Downtown Montréal/Ville-Marie), the more pricey the rent. That's why areas such as the McGill Ghetto are particularly expensive. The McGill Ghetto/Milton-Parc is where many students relocate to after residence. You will definitely feel a sense of community with your fellow students when you walk to class with everyone else on Rue Milton in the morning. However, you also get stuck in the McGill bubble.

    • The farther you live, the cheaper the rent. This may be a more affordable option for those with tighter budgets or those with roommates. If you find a place near a metro station (more expensive), commuting will likely be quick and easy. Warning: STM buses are notorious for being delayed during the winters, so plan accordingly. The Plateau is another neighborhood with many students but has cheaper rents. However, your only options for commuting from the Plateau are walking or taking the bus.

  • Neighborhoods

    • Check out page 4 of "The Good Neighbour Guide"​ by McGill SHHS for a map of the neighbourhoods.

    • Do research on what neighbourhood seems like a good fit for you!

Finding an Apartment

  • Walkup or Apartment?

    • In very general terms, walkups mean cheaper rents but more responsibility compared to apartments. Utilities, laundry rooms, janitors/building managers, mailrooms may not be included with walkups. Of course, this division may get blurred looking at individual buildings. Use this dichotomy to help you find out what is important to you.

  • What Floor?

    • While this may seem trivial, it is quite important for your safety to know what floor your apartment is on. The McGill Ghetto has been known to have a few robberies. This is not to say that the Ghetto is unsafe; crime can happen anywhere. However, basement or 1st floor apartments are more vulnerable. If you do choose an apartment in the basement or 1st floor, keep your windows locked and curtains drawn, especially at night.​

  • What Size?

    • The room system can be strange for a non-Montréaler. A 1-1/2 to 3-1/2 is for one person (one bedroom). Any additional integer means an extra bedroom. Thus, 5-1/2 means 3 bedrooms.

  • Building Owner

    • Make sure you research who you are renting from. Both big companies and individual landlords are in the business of making money, not helping you find a place to live. They know students aren't as knowledgeable and will try to take advantage of you (frivolous deposits and fees). Separate the quality landlords from the scammers. If an ad is too good to be true, it probably is. Read reviews, visit the location, and know your rights. Also, ask plenty of questions! They won't tell you about problems unless you ask.

  • Utilities

    • Make sure you consider what is and is not included in your rent. ​Depending on your circumstances, you may also have to pay for hydro (which is electricity and often includes heating), gas, hot water, wi-fi.

    • Factor in "pseudo-utilities" like transportation, groceries, renter's insurance, and furniture.

Other Things to Consider

  • Garbage room or garbage pickup outside?​

  • Is there someone you can contact for emergencies/repairs?

  • Regulations regarding hours noise is permitted? Don't be the person who gets the cops called on them.

  • Take pictures BEFORE you move in (ASAP). I can't stress this enough. If they try to charge you for wear and tear or more, you are going to want solid proof against it. Even better, a video slowly going through all the rooms and drawers and corners. Get as much detail as possible.

  • Get a copy of your lease and any receipts for fees you have paid. Keep them or save an image of them online.

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