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Many new Canadians originally shy away from the idea of renting a basement apartment to live in. Many imagine a dark and damp basement with bad living conditions. This is very far from the truth. It may not sound too appealing but in Canada, basements are usually quite nice and no different than any other part of the house. Also, it’s common for many people to start out in basement apartments. This is especially true if you want to live close to the downtown area of a city because basement apartments are usually less expensive than other types of rental units.

A typical basement apartment in Canada will have a private entrance, a kitchen, and all the amenities you need. Let’s look at the pros and cons of renting a basement apartment in Canada, and if it’s right for you.

Pro: Basement Apartments are Cheaper to Rent

If you are new to Canada, you probably want to find a cheaper place to live while you search for a job. In that case, basements will be your best bet. Landlords usually rent out the basement to tenants and live in the home above the basement. As a result, they don’t charge tenants too much rent because they are only renting a part of the house. This also means that you can live in better neighbourhoods while paying less expensive rent than other types of housing.

Con: Some Basement Apartments in Canada are Small

Since you only get part of the house, your living space will become considerably smaller. Basement apartments in Canada generally consist of:

  • One or two bedrooms
  • One full bathroom
  • Kitchen/ dining space
  • Living room
  • Entrance/ lobby.

If you have a smaller family or are living by yourself, basement apartments have more than enough living space. If you have a larger family, however, you might want to look for a large living space, such as a full home.

If you’re searching for a basement apartment in Canada, carefully assess how much space you need. Research the layout and quality of the basement apartment and find out what amenities are included to ensure that it meets your needs.

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Walk-Up vs Walk-Out Basement Apartments in Canada

A crucial factor when it comes to choosing a basement apartment is the type of apartment. The two main types of basements are walk-up basements and walk-out basements.

Walk-Up Basement Apartment

A walk-up basement is one where you have to climb stairs to enter and exit. This type of basement is mostly located below ground and usually offers limited natural light.

A walk-up basement apartment is mostly located below ground and offers less natural light. A sofa is located in the living room and you can see the entrance to the bathroom and laundry rooms.
A walk-up basement apartment is located mostly below ground.

Walk-Out Basement Apartment

A walk-out basement has its entrance/exit on ground level so you do not need to climb stairs to exit. These types of basements generally have their entrance at the back of the house where the backyard is. As a result, walk-out basements have a lot more natural light. Living in a walk-out basement can feel a lot like living on the ground floor.

A walk-out basement apartment has an entrance on the main level and offers more natural daylight. Photo of the interior of an apartment with modern furnishings.
A walk-out basement can offer more natural light.

Which Basement Apartment is Better for Me?

Walk-out basements are obviously better to live in than walk-up basements. Walk-out basements have more natural light, better backyard access and just feel more open. And because of this, you don’t feel like you are living in a basement. However, finding a walk-out basement is hard. Since the house needs to be located on a slope, walk-out basements are a rare find. Even if you do find a walk-out basement, they are generally more expensive than walk-up basements. However, it is possible to come across a well-priced walk-out basement once in a while, so make sure you start your search early.

Walk-up basements are a lot more common and are not a bad option if you cannot find walk-out basements. They have ground-level windows in most rooms so you will get a decent amount of natural light. At the end of the day, the basement you choose depends on your needs and which features you are willing to sacrifice.

Tenant insurance is also good to have no matter what type of housing you rent. However, it’s really smart to have if you rent a basement apartment. The risk of water damage caused by the rental unit above you is higher (water flows downward). So, consider buying renter's insurance to protect your contents and valuables and mitigate the risk that you may have to move out while repairs are done.

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I’m Ready to Buy a Home Straight Away, Why Should I Rent?

Buying a home in Canada is a long-term commitment and can be very expensive compared to renting a home. So, it’s a good idea to rent for a couple of months before buying a house in any city. No amount of online research will give you as much insight into a neighbourhood as actually living in it.

Renting in an area is a shorter-term commitment. And, as the whole country is new to you, you may want to wait a little while until you know for sure that this is the area that you want to live in.  If you rent in your city of choice before buying a home, you will be able to visit different parts of the city and see them for yourself.

If you buy a home straight away, you might not like the neighbourhood or even the city once you actually move in. You may even find that you want to move to another city or province if there are greater job opportunities in your field. And relocating to another apartment, city, or province can be pretty expensive

Basement apartments are a great choice if you are looking for a temporary place to stay. They allow you to get an idea of the city you are living in before you buy a house. Basements are generally cheaper to rent than other rental units so renting one will also decrease your cost of living.

I Don’t Have any Credit History in Canada, Will this be a Problem?

This is a problem that many newcomers in Canada face. And while this can be a stumbling block, it is possible to rent a home in Canada without a credit history. Get tips here to rent a home in Canada without a credit score here.

For more information, tools, and free webinars about living in Canada visit our Settling in Canada resource page. We’ll help you to settle in Canada successfully!