Housing and Accomodation

Expats moving to Canada will want to buy or rent their own house or apartment. This guide will show you on how this can be done when moving to the country.

Firstly, if you are unsure on what accommodation is like in Canada, it is recommended to get in contact with a real estate agent. They will be able to give you the correct information and advice about what properties are available and in what areas.

There are different types of properties available for expats depending on the city they are moving to.

  • Apartments: These are the most popular property options and have 1-2 bedrooms with no outdoor space.
  • Condominiums: A building which has a number of individual apartments and are separately owned.
  • Town Houses: A terraced house with possibly more than two storeys. Outdoor space is limited
  • Detached/ Semi-detached houses

Finding Property

When moving to Canada, expats should look for property before they arrive. This will give an idea of what city they want to move to, what cities are offering property for the best prices and also keeping budget in mind. Start off by looking online and also contacting real estate agents through the websites, this will allow you to see what is available.

Other ways of looking for property when you have arrived in Canada include driving around and looking for ‘Rent’ signs. This way you can contact the estate agent who is responsible and you can ask for a viewing. Newspapers and online publications is another good place for searching property.

Real estate’s are highly popular when individuals are searching for property, as most Canadians prefer to go through this when selling a property or when looking for tenants. Expats will be required to pay a fee to the real estate agent which will roughly be between 10% of the monthly rent.

Remember: When going for a property viewing, to dress smart and be on time as the final decision will be decided by the landlord for each application.

Expats moving to Canada may prefer to rent a property when they first arrive. The quality of accommodation in Canada is very high therefore the rental price will vary from the different regions and major cities depending on the popularity of the area.

Renting an apartment in the city centre could cost between $850-1800 but if you are living in the outskirts of town it will be cheaper costing between $750-1000. Same with a three bedroom apartment, in the city centre it could cost around $1700-2500 whereas if in the outskirts of town it could range from $1200 to $1800.

When expats have found a property to rent, it is strongly advised that the contract is read carefully as the lease agreement is very important. The agreement could cover, the duration of the lease, financial responsibilities, what is included in the rental charge, deposit and forfeiture conditions.

Landlords will usually want a deposit at the start of the contract which is normally one month’s rent.

Expats should note that in Canada there is a difference between a lease agreement and a rental agreement.

  • Lease agreement: This usually offers more stability and security. When signing a lease agreement, you will be agreeing to stay in the property for a fixed period of time. During this time, the contact can’t be changed so the rent will stay the same and tenants must stay in the property until the lease has ended.
  • Rental agreement: A rental agreement will offer more freedom to the landlord and the tenant for a month to month arrangement. Both the tenant and the landlord are allowed to end the contract at the end of any month. This will usually be renewed automatically at the end of the month unless given a due notice.

When you rent a property be sure to ask if utilities such as electricity and water are included in the payment.

Buying property

Expats wanting to buy property will find the process straightforward and easy as Canada has an open door policy for foreign property ownership. Non-residents will have the same rights as permanent residents and Canadian citizens. You will be considered a non-resident if you have been in Canada for six months or less each year, so the government will allow you to buy a property.

Where to look for property

Have a look online to see what properties are available after deciding on what location and what type of house you want

  • Check in newspapers – Local community papers will have a section
  • advertising properties
  • Drive around the local area
  • Real estate agent websites

House buying process

The process of buying your own house will be the same in all Canadian provinces and the process could take 90 days or less.

Contact a real estate agent- They will have a database of all the properties in Canada. By taking your requirements, location details and what your budget is, they will be able to provide you with properties of your preferences. They will also be able to help in liaising with the seller, take you for viewings and will assist in completing the transaction.

Get in contact with a bank to prequalify for a mortgage and see how much you are able to afford

Locate a appropriate house by viewing properties with a real estate agent
When you have decided on what property you want to purchase, the realtor will write a contract of sale and agreement. Once signed, this will be given to the seller’s realtor.The contact should have information about the property
The real estate agent will contact the real estate lawyer for information on mortgage, transfer of money and registration on the property.

Financial Information

Financial help is available for non-residents at 65% of the purchase price and 35% being putting down as a payment. To apply for a loan and to qualify for mortgage requirements expats will be required to get in contact with a bank.
Expats may need to be interviewed to get important information from them including tax returns, credit information and liabilities.

Mortgages will need to be raised by a Canadian broker or bank. The lawyer or notary public will then prepare the mortgage documents and registration.