Basement apartments are an affordable and comfortable option for people looking to settle in the city of Toronto.

Toronto has long been an attraction for people wanting to set down roots. Vast job opportunities and the exciting sports and entertainment attractions make it an ideal setting for those who want to enjoy everything a big city offers.

A basement apartment in Toronto is a second suite or self contained rental unit in a single detached or semi detached home. When you are searching for a unit in Toronto you may also come across phrases like granny flat, accessory suite or in-law suites. These are also considered basement apartments.

Many Toronto home owners make the decision to build a basement apartment or granny flat in their residence so there is a lot to choose from. Due to the multi-cultural nature of the city, this means that you can have an apartment in an Italian, Greek, Indian, Chinese, Portuguese, Russian or Canadian neighborhood, just to name a few. There are in fact, over 50 languages spoken in the city of Toronto. 

If you want easy access to the downtown core, but don’t want to live right in the city of Toronto. The former municipalities of York, East York, North York, Etobicoke and Scarborough, which are now considered part of the Greater City of Toronto, also have many basement apartments for rent. These communities are all a short 20 or 25 minute commute to the downtown area.

Basement Apartment Guidelines

All basement apartments in Toronto have to adhere to strict rules to protect both the homeowner and the renter. The suites must comply with the Ontario Building Code and require a permit. They must also comply with the fire code, zoning and property standards.

The City of Toronto can provide you with an overview of the rules. Some apartment hunters turn to home inspectors for a check list of what to look for in a basement unit. One example would be a working smoke alarm.

How to Find a Basement Apartment in Toronto

If you are unfamiliar with the city of Toronto, real estate specialists suggest you start by deciding what kind of neighborhood you want to live in. Once you have determined where you want to live, you can start your search by simply checking the classified section of the newspaper in the specific neighborhood you desire.

Another option if you are searching for a basement unit or granny flat would be through a realtor office close to the desired community. While realtors focus on selling houses, they also know the community well and are familiar with areas where there are a lot of basement suites.

Toronto’s popular arts and culture magazine called NOW lists apartment rentals, including basement units that are available all across the city. www.Toronto.rentershotline.com is a popular online source that lists available units with detailed descriptions of amenities and special features.  www.gottarent.com is another source that apartment hunters use to search for the perfect place.

Many apartment hunters may not think of this, but political officials are also a good source of information when it comes to finding a new home.  Political representatives in all parts of the city know their neighborhoods very well so getting in contact with a public official could lead you in the direction of a great place. Both Kijiji and Craigslist also advertise basement apartments for rent in Toronto so you can consider logging onto a computer each day to check for new listings.

Size and Price

If you are a student looking for a room, a young couple or a small family, basement apartments can usually house two to four people comfortably. Some units are hundreds of square feet while others span the entire space of the floor above.

Laundry rooms are often located in the basement and could be for your use only or shared with the owner of the house. In some cases you will have access to the floor above, the garage, and the backyard.

The cost to rent a basement apartment in Toronto largely depends on the size of the unit and the location. The accessory suites can include one, two or three bedrooms and some also have a walkout to a deck or even access to a pool.

A basic, one bedroom can start at around $500 per month and go up from that point.  Two and three bedroom apartments generally start around $900 per month. Remember, if you venture 20 to 30 minutes outside the city you will pay less.

What to Consider

There is a lot to consider when searching for a basement unit. The location and price are probably the first concern, yet there are so many other aspects to think about. You have to ask yourself, what can I live with and what can I live without? What can I sacrifice if I really have to? What kind of apartment will suit my personality?

Once you have the answers to these questions you can put together a list of questions to take with you when you do your physical search.  Here is a basic list to get you started:

* Is there a separate entrance?
* How many electrical outlets exist and where are they?
* Is there enough closet space?
* How is the water pressure?
* Will my furniture fit?
* If there are appliances, how old are they?

With so many basement apartments in Toronto to choose from and so many accessible neighborhoods, finding a place that fits your budget, style and personality should be a relatively stress free task in the city of Toronto.