Moving can be difficult, but living with the right people is very important for your mental health. SHANNA HUNTER/THE VARSITY

Finding housing in Toronto is a challenge for many students attending university. Housing costs and competitiveness is at an all-time high within the city. Students looking for housing have a few viable options depending on price range, food, location, and personal preference.

The default housing choice for many students is residence. A meal plan is often mandatory, which might be better for busier students. Also, students will not need to travel as much and this could save some money. Usually, there are several amenities such as cleaning services, supplies, and 24-hour front desk.

Many colleges also organize events that are excellent for social students who are happier living with more people. Residence is guaranteed for all first-year students, but availability for other years can vary. Additionally, residences are often associated with colleges, which lessens the available options.

The major downside to residence is cost. Students in residence for eight months at UTSG pay anywhere from $9,577.50 with no meal plan at Innis College to $19,052.22 with a comprehensive meal plan at Chestnut Residence. It is also common for students to be asked to leave during the winter break, since the university closes.

Another housing option is renting off-campus. The U of T off-campus housing website might be useful in this situation. It can also help you connect with potential roommates if needed. Other services can pair roommates online, and there is no shortage of students looking for roommates.

Renting is a good option for students who would like the independence that comes from organizing your own living. Landlords will typically prefer older over younger students, and leases are often secured based on credit scores, references, and guarantors. That might not be realistic for many students who simply want to rent for a semester.

There is huge variety over possible rentals in terms of price, location, and services. On average, renting near UTSC and UTM is far more affordable than UTSG. When considering where to rent, the price of commuting should also be considered if a rental cannot be found in walking distance. For students taking classes downtown or at Scarborough, a student TTC metropass is $116.75, which is likely the best value for students traveling most days to the university.

Moreover, it is sometimes cheaper to be on the subway line and far away from school than to be close by. Another obstacle is the lease length of most rentals. It is usually 12 months long and not the eight months of the fall and winter semester. This could cost an extra four months rent every year, depending on your plans, unless you sublet.

Fraternities, sororities, and co-ops fill a need for housing as well. Many students know of such organizations, but the housing styles they offer greatly vary. It is important to find the one that suits you. Most organizations post descriptions or have been reviewed online, and they are generally close to the universities.

There are often requirements for applicants, such as a grade minimum, references, or a successful interview. Services differ depending on the house, but many offer groceries, a meal plan, or cleaning. A few of these organizations are not for profit, which saves students a significant amount of money. In this case, students may be expected to help with maintenance.

Renovations and other projects depend on the organization. The houses are often converted Victorian homes that board between six and 15 people. Communities form naturally out of the members and there is often an in-depth participation element to these organizations. Co-ops have the tenants govern the entire organization themselves. Since the organizations are technically charities, another benefit is potentially an opportunity to résumé build.

Prices can range drastically, but co-ops can allow the applicant to choose the price ­— as low as $500 per month.

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