Without a doubt, finding a place to live for the duration of your studies, either abroad or in Canada, is the most important thing on your checklist. It's impossible to get a quality education while you're sleeping on a park bench or shuffling from hostel to hostel or worrying about how much your extended stay in a hotel room is costing you. The good news is that you don't need a real estate license to find yourself a decent place. All you need is a good head on your shoulders, a clear budget drawn up, and the advice in this article.
There's one very easy way to find a quality place and that's to live in one of your school's residences. Residences are specifically designed to contain everything a student needs to live and study comfortably during their time at school and are great places to meet new friends. Most schools have a variety of options for residences from traditional dorms to apartments, with or without meal plans. Bigger schools will often buy and convert houses into living spaces for more independent students who want to cook their own meals. The University of Toronto, for example, owns a significant amount of Toronto Annex real estate for this purpose.
However, some students find residence either too expensive or too rowdy. If you want your privacy or your school has no residences, you'll need to look for an apartment on your own. In bigger cities, this can be a daunting task. Toronto Real Estate Maps alone has thousands of options, plus there are outlying areas you can consider that are within commuter train distance. The first thing you should do to pare down the options is to clearly define a budget for your stay. It should include not only how much you have put aside for rent but also for transport, as the farther away from the city you live the cheaper the rents are, but the transportation costs rise correspondingly.
Once you have your budget it's time to turn to the internet. There are a multitude of custom designed real estate websites tailored to apartment hunters for every city in the world. Search not just one but as many as you can find, using your budget numbers as parameters. Google map the ones that are within your budget to see the location in context, and use Wikipedia and internet message boards or relocation info from your school to see which neighborhoods to avoid.
SEO Canada search engine optimization makes it easier for less useful or untrustworthy sites to crop up in your search, so make sure you can get a good look at the place before you agree to sign a lease. If you're in the city yourself you can make visits, but if you're trying to line up a place ahead of time have someone you know in the city visit the apartment. If that's not possible, photos and references will do. Companies are generally more easily checked out than individuals. Make sure to talk with new roommates to make sure you'll get along. If everything checks out, sign the lease and you're done.