In October, Canada reported an inflation rate of 6.9 per cent — a huge jump from the 1.8 per cent inflation rate observed in October 2019. Students are certainly seeing the effects of these rising costs as they are being forced to navigate a brutal rental market and purchase commodities at much higher prices.
The issue of the brutal rental market is becoming all the more pressing for students, who are already facing decreased budgets due to food prices hitting 40-year highs, as well as increasing costs of living.
Finding a cheaper home
On October 27, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board released data detailing the current state of the rental market. It reported an increase in the competition for condo rentals, citing that rent for the average one-bedroom condo apartment increased by 20.4 per cent from the previous year. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment observed a 14.5 per cent increase.
To aid students in finding affordable housing, U of T created the Off-Campus Housing Finder website, a platform for directly connecting students with landlords willing to rent to the student demographic. The website also helps students find roommates through its Roommate Search Tool, where students can create profiles detailing their interests, housing preferences, lifestyles, and habits.
Private rental housing isn’t the only option for students, with co-operative housing often providing more affordable prices and removing the headaches of dealing with landlords or tenants. Co-op housing is member-owned, meaning that each resident has a say in the operation and governance of the housing unit. Rather than negotiating a set rent with landlords, monthly rent is determined collectively by members.
Moreover, co-op housing fosters a sense of community, considering that all members are working together to run the unit — electing directors, setting policies, and approving budgets.
Taking advantage of student discounts
Toronto offers several student discounts on a range of commodities including groceries, entertainment, retail, restaurants, and more.
At Bulk Barn, students can enjoy a 15 per cent discount on regular-priced goods on Wednesdays. This is a great way to purchase bulk foods at a lower price. At the Metro on Bloor Street West, students can get a 15 per cent discount on Wednesdays and Thursdays with their TCards. Students should also save their shopping at Shoppers Drug Mart for Thursdays, as they get 15 per cent off their purchases when they present their TCards at the Shoppers at 236 Bloor Street West.
Entertainment in a big city like Toronto does not have to make a dent in your wallet either! The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) offers students discounted tickets when they show their student ID. University students can also visit the ROM for free on Tuesdays. The Art Gallery of Ontario is free for anyone under the age of 25. Students who visit the Ripley’s Aquarium can also get a discounted ticket, at around $30.
Finally, Spotify users receive a special student rate for Spotify Premium, so when you are viewing your Spotify Wrapped at the end of the year, you can bask in the fact that you paid less for it.
True Blue savers
Students have also found their own hacks to lower their costs of living. Alexandra Schneider is a fourth-year student studying environmental studies, philosophy, and political science. “To mitigate the cost of living I have stopped eating out as much and started making more meals from home,” wrote Schneider in an email to The Varsity. Schneider also wrote that she brings her own food to campus instead of using the school dining halls and cafes.
Elissa Chrapko is a second-year economics and public policy student. Chrapko echoes Schneider’s sentiment about the importance of maintaining a food budget. She finds that sharing meal prepping responsibilities with her roommates has helped her maintain this budget and manage her time.
“Staying organized and on top of my meal prep is super essential to me,” wrote Chrapko in an email to The Varsity. She does this to avoid losing money on food waste and eating out if she runs out of groceries or has too much schoolwork to do.
“In general, I have just become more mindful of my spending and have tried to cut out any unnecessary costs,” wrote Schneider.