Finding a Place in Canada as a New Immigrant (COVID-19 Edition: For Quarantine and After)

Planning a move to Canada can be overwhelming —even without a pandemic.

Getting ready for a move during COVID-19 has probably been one of the most challenging things you’ve done. You’ve likely spent so much time keeping up-to-date with all the COVID-19 regulations and after much research, there’s finally light at the end of the tunnel.

You’ve found you’re finally allowed to come to Canada and it’s time to get excited. The biggest hurdle is now out the way.

We know you must be exhausted from research, so we’ve decided to help with your next step— planning where you’ll live during and after your mandatory fourteen days of quarantine/isolation.

After reading this guide, you’ll have a better idea of how to find a place to stay as a new immigrant, both for quarantine and after quarantine, and what type of budget you’ll need.

Let’s get started.

COVID-19 quarantine (self-isolation) requirements for new immigrants in Canada

Canada has taken a lot of measures regarding COVID-19, with parts of Canada currently experiencing a second wave.

As it stands in November 2020, any international newcomer has to quarantine, or self-isolate, for fourteen days unless you meet one of the few exemptions.

| Note: As of November 3, Alberta is experimenting with a reduced quarantine period so if you’re entering Canada through Calgary International Airport or Coutts border crossing, this may not apply to you. |

First, let’s look at the definition of the terms isolation and quarantine per the CDC website and why fourteen days specifically:

Isolation: separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.

Quarantine: separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.

Fourteen days is the designated period because researchers have found that 99% of those infected with COVID-19 will have shown symptoms by the fourteenth day, though most show symptoms within 5-10 days.

Now that you know the importance of quarantine, let’s look at your options.

You have a few major options and we’ll go more in-depth with three popular ones: moving in directly to a longer rental, Airbnb, or staying at a hotel.

| Note: If you’re a student, it’s best advised to consult your university/college directly since most schools have their own plans to help out. |

We’ll explore the three popular options more in-depth in a second.

Locations

Before we talk about specifics between Airbnb, hotels, or rentals, the obvious most important factor is location.

You probably have a good idea about where you want to live by now.

This guide will be more specific in reference to three major cities: Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, but the tips given are generally applicable to all cities and provinces.

Rental, Airbnb, or hotel for quarantine?

You’re likely excited to start enjoying this beautiful country and it’s normal to dread the fourteen days. However, look at the silver lining— this is the perfect time to get your mind right for the big move and to get over jet lag.

Make sure to read through the next parts thoroughly, since you may be forced to stay at a quarantine hotel provided by the government if the place you choose isn't acceptable.

Staying with friends or roommates

It may be cheaper to stay with family, friends, or a place with housemates, but be aware that you can not stay with someone who is considered vulnerable, such as the elderly over 65, or those with compromised immune systems or underlying medical conditions. You also can not share common spaces like kitchens at the same time as your housemates. This means that choosing this route for quarantine may limit your freedom.

If you are thinking of taking this route, make sure to read through the most up-to-date guidelines thoroughly.

Rentals

If you want to live alone, going straight to a rental is harder to secure from abroad because most long-term rentals require a credit check. If you choose to instead only rent a room, this may be easier and more affordable, but there are some risks associated with moving straight into a rental.

It’s often recommended that you check out the place first to see how you get along with the roommate(s) and if you like the location. Plus, if you’re still looking for a job, it might limit where you can look for work if you jump the gun and secure a rental first.

We’ll cover rentals more thoroughly in the post-quarantine section of this guide.

Airbnb

Short-term rentals like Airbnb have been the more popular choice compared to hotels during these times. It’s speculated that this is because Airbnbs often give you the ability to enjoy things like a pool, an outside yard, and an entire kitchen.

Some tips when looking through Airbnb include looking for the Enhanced Clean label on the listing. This means the host went the extra mile to ensure you feel safe that they are committed to Airbnb's 5-step enhanced cleaning process.

Something to keep in mind when it comes to Airbnbs is that you have to be more wary of scams, especially if a place seems too good to be true. Do your due diligence.

Here is an idea of what to expect budget-wise:

Vancouver: ~C$2700 average for 14 nights , as low as ~C$1000 total

Toronto: ~C$2500 average for 14 nights, as low as ~C$850 total

Montreal: ~C$2000 average for 14 nights, as low as ~C$750 total

Hotel

Although hotels are not the most popular options at the moment, it still has its perks. Generally, prices for a decent hotel appear to be more affordable in the major cities compared to Airbnb.

Some tips for choosing a hotel include choosing one with a balcony as you will be stuck in the room for 14 days. Quarantine rules make it so that you can’t use the hotel’s exercise facilities, eat at your hotel’s restaurants, nor walk around common areas.

Depending on the type of person you are, it’s been said it's easy to start feeling claustrophobic in a hotel, especially if there’s no balcony.

Some common sites to book a hotel in Canada are Hotels.com and Expedia.com.

Here is an idea of what to expect budget-wise to have plentiful options:

Vancouver: Roughly ~C$1100 for 14 nights , as low as ~C$1000 total

Toronto: Roughly ~C$1000 average for 14 nights, as low as ~C$900 total

Montreal: Roughly ~C$950 average for 14 nights, as low as ~C$850 total

Post Quarantine - Rentals

Quarantine gives you the perfect time to continue planning where you’ll want to live more permanently. Now it’s time to start talking about where you will live after your quarantine period is over.

Some popular places to look for more permanent housing are Kijiji, Craigslist, Facebook marketplace or local Facebook groups. Keep in mind that Kijiji is popular in Montreal while Craigslist and Facebook tend to be popular in both Toronto and Vancouver, but it’s best to try your luck on all channels.

Some popular options when looking for rentals during quarantine include:

  • asking your friends
  • checking online classified ads
  • visiting rental agency sites.

Some popular post-quarantine ways to go about looking for rentals include:

  • searching classified ads in newspapers
  • checking out community centres
  • checking store bulletin boards
  • the good old-fashioned way of just walking around neighborhoods of interest and looking for “for rent” signs. Walking around neighborhoods for “for rent” signs is especially popular in Vancouver.

Here is an idea of what to expect budget-wise to have plentiful options:

Vancouver: Roughly ~C$1500-$2000 per month , ~$700-$1000 in a shared house

Toronto: Roughly ~C$1400-C$1900 per month, ~C$400-C$800 in a shared house

Montreal: Roughly ~C$850-C$1400 per month, ~C$400-C$600 in a shared house

Wrapping it up

Now that you’ve read through this brief guide, you now have a better idea about what to expect as far living as a new immigrant in Canada, it’s just a matter of weighing your options. Canada’s waiting!

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