Dear Di

Dear Di
Image: Hailey Otten/Fulcrum
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Communication is key, as is organization

Dear Di,

The University of Ottawa is severely lacking a 1000-level course on the Sandy Hill housing market. It’s January and I thought I was being conscientious by starting to look for a place sooner rather than later. Turns out, the early bird gets the worm, and some birds start as early as November. This is absolutely absurd to me. How was I meant to decide who I’m spending second year with when I’d barely started first?

So, Di, I have to ask: how late is too late to find a place, and how many people is too many to comfortably share a bathroom with? Will I ever find a bedroom that can actually fit the desk I’ll be glued to all year as a begrudging Zoom University student? 


Stranded in Sandy Hill

Dear SSH,

It’s true, the early bird does get the worm. But fear not, you still have time! An intro to Sandy Hill Housing is definitely lacking from the U of O course repertoire, but as an experienced renter in the area, I’ve got you covered.

As I see it, you’ve got two options. First, you can act quickly and wrangle up your closest friends and find something on a trusted rental website such as the University’s off-campus student housing billboard. Make sure to check frequently, because places go quickly! One time, my friends and I showed up for a scheduled viewing of a unit, only for it to be sold before we crossed the threshold. My personal conspiracy theory is that this was a scare tactic, but I can neither confirm nor deny that claim.

When deciding which place is worth a visit, it’s important to ensure all the future roomies are on the same page. Discuss budgets, location, and what you’re willing to compromise on versus what absolutely must be included. As far as first apartments go, it’s okay to compromise. For example, one of my roommates doesn’t have a closet, but we pay for his internet bill. Communication is key!

Organization, too, is very important. If you’re trying to get a place late in the game in a competitive market, you may need to be prepared to fill out a rental application the same night you tour a place you like. For most first-time renters, that means preparing a variety of information. Most rental agencies have rental applications linked to their website, so if you’re serious about a place, make sure to take a peek to see what you need before your visit.

Don’t already have a group in mind? That’s okay! That’s the case for many people. Keep your eyes on University of Ottawa forums, Instagram pages, and Facebook groups to see if anyone is looking for another roommate to jump in. This is a great option for someone who is looking to make new friends. These likely entail an application process, so be prepared to consider a few options!

My final tip to you is that with whom you live is more important than where you live. I’ve lucked out with best friends as roommates, but not all people are that fortunate. In fact, some of the best friendships turn sour over dirty dishes and broken promises. There’s value in living with strangers so as not to risk a friendship, as there is value in living with friends so as not to risk awkwardness and unexpected quirks. Either way, keep in mind that you will be in close quarters with these people for at least the length of a lease. Consider tidiness, loudness, and hobbies just as much as the number of bathrooms, in-unit laundry, and the price of utilities.

With this in mind and determination, I think you may be able to make the most of your living situation in the year to come.