Should I Live On Residence? Part II

We forgot all about our follow-up post, but a comment left on the original got us back on track. The question is, what are the alternative options besides living on campus, and commuting?

We will confess, the choices are slim.

Apartments On/Near Campus

One option is to live in an apartment near campus. If you get lucky, you can avoid the drunken mess of “newly-released” undergraduate students. On the other hand, if your neighbours end up being a family with small children, you aren’t going to have it might quieter. You don’t get to control or choose your neighbours in an apartment, and they may not be into studying – or keeping the noise down – at all. You’d be surprised how noise, sounds, even cooking smells! can waft into your apartment and destroy your concentration.

There are other important points to consider:

The anonymity of apartments means that safety is an issue. If something went wrong, it could be days before anyone noticed you were missing. It’s really important, if you live in an apartment, to keep in touch with friends or family. After what happened to the poor York University student Liu Qian, we urge you not to take safety as a light issue.

Additionally, the cost of the apartment might be 12 months, which means you need to sublet your apartment for the summer months, or you end up incurring a hefty charge paying for rent in an apartment you aren’t using.

Speaking of extra charges – finding an apartment farther from your university means you pay a double whammy for public transit. “Only 15 minutes away” becomes really challenging to walk when there is a blizzard outside. You also have to lug all your books to campus, because coming back during the day isn’t really a viable option, unless you don’t mind paying a lot for transit.

Definitely, there are pros – better facilities than residences, more amenities, no students, etc. People who live in apartments don’t consider it an 8-month rental: its their home, and they want the space respected – an attitude you don’t often find on residence.

Sharing  House Near Campus
Alternatively, you could share a house near campus. Some students live in a basement apartment with a family (that comes with its own share of problems) or they share a house with friends.
  • Living in a basement apartment in a family home is much like living in an apartment building. You have more control over where/who you live with (as opposed to residence) but there are safety considerations you need to take into account. On one hand you have a better support network, but make sure you are living somewhere safe. Nice to have a home away from home, but living with another family can be very distracting, especially if they have young kids or pets. Also watch out when lease terms include “baby-sitting” or “light chores” –> those “good deals” can come back to haunt you during exam time.
  • Renting a house with friends has been a popular option for upper year students. While we caution you to choose roommates that suit your living habits, we have seen it turn into a very successful option for students who know each other well. Living with someone requires much more than just being friends – you need to be able to (a) see the person at school and still be able to live with them at home and (b) have a strong enough relationship to be open and honest with someone about how you feel about their living habits without it destroying your personal or professional relationship.

Other thoughts? If you don’t live on res or commute from home, what are some note-worthy options for living?


3 responses

  1. […] Post navigation ← Should I Live On Residence? Part II […]

  2. I know this seems kind of late, but it is still something worth mentioning. When friends decide to rent together, they would have an issue with regards to who benefits from the tax return. Do you have any suggestions to how to deal with this problem?

  3. Hi Husam,

    Interesting question. Prior to 2011, Ontario residents could claim a Property Tax Credit and get savings – “No matter how much you paid in rent, if you were an Ontario resident on December 31, 2009 over the age of 16, you’re entitled to a tax credit. If you shared housing accommodations, you and your roommate – or roommates – can each receive tax savings. Each can claim credit based on the portion of the rent paid.”

    “There have been some changes for the 2011 tax year. Instead of claiming rent directly on your tax return, these credits will be paid out on a monthly basis as part of the Ontario Trillium Benefit. This benefit is a combination of the Ontario Sales Tax Credit (OSTC), Energy and Property Tax Credit (OEPTC), and Northern Ontario Energy Credit (NOEC).
    What does that mean to eligible Ontarians?

    On the 2011 tax return, individuals will apply for the benefits, called the Trillium Benefit, which will be paid out starting in July 2012. (Don’t worry, TurboTax ask the appropriate questions and do the work for you.) If you’ve collected the rent or property credit in then you’ll notice that this year none of these credits appear on the return itself. That means you’ll likely notice a reduced refund or increased balance due as compared to previous years.

    How do you claim the new credit?

    The application for the benefits does require that the individual enter the amount of rent or property taxes that paid in 2011, as this is the basis of the calculation CRA will do in determining the amount of credit to which they are entitled.”

    For more information, please visit the Ontario Revenue Agency’s information page:

    Thats the extent of the information I can provide you with. I suggest you call the Ontario Revenue Agency to get your customized answers.

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