By Katarina Zeni
With rent prices in downtown Toronto continuing to skyrocket and leases for the school year coming to an end, first-year Ryerson students are struggling to find places to live ahead of the fall 2022 semester.
Despite the vacancy rate continuing to climb, the costs of living in Toronto have also continued to increase making it harder for students to find affordable accommodations, Ryerson Off-Campus Housing said in an email to The Eyeopener.
“The average monthly rent is now more than $1,800 for a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto and more than $2,600 for a two-bedroom,” the email stated.
First-year criminology student Carly Oliva said she’s found Toronto rent costs to be tremendously expensive. “Finding an apartment can be a really stressful process and a lot of people are looking around the same time,” she said.
First-year students told The Eye that they have begun searching for places to live for the next academic year, but most options have been disappointing as their budgets range between $1,200 and $1,600 per month.
Sofia Stadler, a first-year professional communication student, and Claire Desormeaux, a first-year business management student, currently live together in the Avant Toronto student complex north of Kerr Hall. Stadler and Desormeaux said they are each paying $1,375 monthly for rent.
The rent covers the furnished 575 square-foot two-bedroom apartment, utilities, a courtyard, on-site laundry and amenity rooms such as a community kitchen, lounge, study and game rooms.
“Most of the other places are $200 to $300 higher without the utilities and they come unfurnished,” said Desormeaux.
Stadler and Desormeaux said that if they had the option, finances removed, they would both live on their own because they like having their own space. “I’m an independent person and I focus better alone, so living on my own and having those social pressures removed would be nice,” said Stadler.
Oliva, and her roommate Markéta Frýzková, each live in a 108-square-foot—or about two and a half king-sized beds—room in their four-bedroom apartment in the Daphne Cockwell Complex (DCC) residence building on Church Street. The apartment, which comes with two bathrooms, a lounge and a snack prep area, costs them $1,700 a month from September to April, plus an additional $4,000 to $6,000 for the mandatory meal plan.
Students in the DCC have the option between two weekly meal plans: a $4,384 plan that gives them access to the dining halls for five days a week, or a $5,949 plan that gives them access all week long.
Frýzková, a first-year journalism student who moved to Toronto from the Czech Republic, is hoping to stay in residence for her second year, but said it’s unlikely because of Ryerson’s policies. “Ryerson has a rule that first-year students come first into res, so it’s hard to get in as a second-year student,” said Frýzková. “It’s basically impossible.”
Though the school prioritizes first-years for residence, for upper-year students, Ryerson Off-Campus Housing offers a detailed step-by-step housing search guide through its website, which uses a free listing engine.
“Students can begin the process by determining their needs with a reasonable budget,” said Ryerson Off-Campus Housing.
The guide also includes tips for setting up a viewing of the potential living space, understanding tenant rights and assistance with rental applications, according to a presentation linked on Ryerson’s Off-Campus Housing website.
Stadler and Desormeaux said they haven’t reached out to anybody for help yet, but plan to speak to family and friends who live in Toronto and use online rental sites, in addition to Ryerson’s Off-Campus Housing suggestions.
Reuben Labovitz, a sales representative for Fox Marin real estate brokerage in Toronto, also said searching for rentals online is a good method. According to Labovitz, rent in Toronto has been steadily increasing over the past 10 years.
“Every year it adds up,” said Labovitz. “Whether it’s $50 or $100 one year, and then $50 or $100 the next year, over the course of two years that could potentially be a 10 or 20 per cent increase in the value of that rental property.”
Given the costs, demand and availability of living spaces in downtown Toronto, students said they have backup plans in place in case they don’t find an affordable living space before their second year begins.
Desormeaux said she plans on applying to rentals last-minute and hoping for the best. “It’s basically [saying], ‘I’ll move in now if you let me sign the lease now.’” Oliva’s plans include looking for roommates online. “It’s my last resort other than finding a place on my own, but with the cost I feel like that’s not even possible.”
Stadler’s backup plans include staying in her two-bedroom Avant Toronto student apartment, though she said she’s not entirely sure if her spot will be saved or what the timeline will be when it comes to signing another lease.
“I guess you could say my other plan is to live at home and commute, but it’s not ideal because I’d be spending two-and-a-half hours commuting there and back.”
Frýzková also intends to stay in an off-campus student residence building, but apart from that, she said she’s unsure what the future will hold.
“It’s something that’s staying in the back of my mind because I don’t know what’s going to be happening next year,” said Frýzková. “There’s definitely a kind of uncertainty.”