8 Tips When Searching For McMaster Off-Campus Rental Housing

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There are many off-campus student rental properties near McMaster University. However, it can be difficult to find the perfect one for you. Here are some tips for finding off-campus student rental property near McMaster University.

1. Begin looking for off-campus student accommodation as soon as possible.

It is advised that you begin searching for a home a few months before your desired move-in date. The majority of off-campus accommodation in Hamilton have leases that begin on September 1st or May 1st and are available for 8 or 12 months, depending on the lease agreement. There may be a limited number of off-campus homes available from mid-August through late August, so it’s always a good idea to start your house search early so you have the best selection and aren’t stressing out when demand for off-campus houses is much higher than available properties in the area.

2. Know what you’re looking for in your off-campus student rental

Knowing what you want is very important before beginning your off-campus rentals search. Come up with a list of what you want and don’t want in an off-campus home near McMaster University. You can use a range of criteria to create this list, such as location, number of bedrooms, amenities on property and more.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • How much money are you willing to spend each month?
  • Do you want utilities included in your rent? (most houses don’t include utilities, which is common practice)
  • Do you wish to live in an apartment complex or a shared house?
  • Is your student house close to a grocery store and other amenities that you’re looking for?
  • If you don’t have a vehicle, how far away from campus or a bus stop on a direct path to McMaster campus are you prepared to live?
  • Is there laundry on-site? (ie. a washer and dryer). If so, are they free to use or coin operated?
  • If you have a pet, will your student rental allow pets?

3. Make a list of required amenities

You may not need all of these amenities, but as you tour different properties and visit with different landlords, it’s helpful to have a list so you can compare rental homes. Amenities such as:

  • Washer and dryer included
  • Dishwasher included
  • Parking for more than one vehicle
  • Furnished rooms or rooms with built in furniture (e.g., a loft bed)
  • Air conditioning in bedrooms, living room, and/or kitchen
  • Large common rooms
  • Wood floors (carpet floors get dirty and are harder to clean)
  • A deck with BBQ

4. Establish rent budget range

How much are you willing to pay per month? Be realistic about the price versus the benefits. If there is plenty of space for housemates to live comfortably, then a larger home with more bedrooms might be worth the price. If a house is at a good location and has large rooms, but no parking or other amenities, you may decide not to pay as much for the property.

5. Search off-campus rental sites

There are off-campus housing websites that list off campus rental properties near McMaster University, you just have to know where to look! Some of the most popular off-campus housing listing websites include:

  • Mac Off Campus Housing – a website run by McMaster University that has a directory of available houses in the area. Landlords pay to have their properties listed on this website.
  • McMaster Off-Campus Housing Postboard – The unofficial Facebook group for landlords and students to post their student rental homes near campus. You can also post in this group if you’re an individual student looking for student groups to join when renting a large off-campus home if you don’t already have a group put together.
  • University Property Management Services – We continually update our website with available properties that we manage. Check availabilities here.
  • PadMapper – A free online tool that helps aggregate rental apartments in the Hamilton area.
  • Kijiji – A free online marketplace where landlords post available student rentals. However, beware of listings on Kijiji because you need to vet the seller before you meet them. Not vetting the seller can lead to you being scammed, so always take precaution and do your due diligence.

6. Determine who will live with you in your off-campus rental home during the Fall and Winter terms

If you are sharing your off-campus home with others, it’s essential that everyone in the group knows each other. It is recommended to hold a group meeting to discuss budgets and expectations of off-campus living. Having strong communication is key in order to make off-campus living a successful endeavour.

7. Determine where you are willing to make concessions in your house search.

What compromises are you willing to make based on the search criteria you establish? It’s not always feasible to locate everything you’re searching for in a single area. As you tour different areas and meet with various landlords, you’ll have a deeper understanding of the aspects that are genuinely important to you. For example, you might find the perfect student house with six bedrooms, but the location is not ideal and you will need to walk 5 minutes to a bus stop.

6. Set up a group e-mail account

If you will be living with other students in an off campus house, set up a group email address. This way all important emails can be shared among each member of the student rental home and it is very easy to correspond back and forth about planning schedules for things like cleaning, paying rent or how to settle differences if any arise.

8. Assess the condition of the off-campus house before committing to it

It’s crucial that you inspect your prospective student rental home. Do not base your decision solely on photos and the listing description. If possible, tour the house in-person. If one of your group can’t make the in-person tour, stream a live video call tour with your phone as you walk through the house.

  • Does the temperature of each room feel comfortable to you?
  • Is there enough storage space in the bedrooms?
  • Are there enough electrical outlets for everyone?
  • Is there ample furniture (or space for furniture you bring) so everyone has somewhere to sit in common areas?
  • Is there at least one bathroom per 3 people living in the house or apartment?
  • Does it feel clean or dirty?
  • Try flushing the toilet, and turning on the shower. Is there enough water pressure?

Why Rent With University Property Management Services?

Available Rental Properties

Tips For Off-Campus Living