I Spend Less Than $500 On Rent Monthly In Montreal — Here's How I Do It
I asked an apartment hunting expert for additional advice to find cheap apartments on our island.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
When I tell people that I pay $470 per month for rent in Montreal, they either express skepticism or beg to move in with me. I've never met anyone who's paying lesser rent, but it's certainly possible to beat the odds and spend below $800 for rent monthly on the island. Of course, you'll have to make a few sacrifices.
Based on my own experience, and a talk I had with Luis Torres, Growth Director at rentals.ca, here are seven tips to save on rent and find cheap apartments in Montreal.
Know Your Deal-Breakers
As you're hoping to pay as little as possible for rent, it's important to have clarity over your expectations and absolute red flags.
Rentals.ca recommends that you figure out all the things you are not willing to forego despite a low monthly rent. Your happiness comes first!
According to rental expert Luis Torres, deal breakers can include having a bad landlord, living far from your workplace, building amenities and many others.
Proper Tools & Right Timing
Our tiny living room. Right: my bedroom.
I personally found my place via Facebook Marketplace in June 2022, but you could also look at other popular rental search tools in Montreal.
The most important things is that you commit to your research because the competition is tough, especially during the two months leading up to Moving Day on July 1.
"You might have better luck finding a cheap rental by searching for an apartment in the off-season as landlords tend to lower prices during this time. We would recommend the months between November and February," Torres told MTL Blog.
“Luck is when opportunity meets preparation,” he said and added, "If you are looking for a deal, you will have to create as many opportunities to find the deal, and that simply means you will have to commit to the hunt and look through as many rental ads as you can. Commit to talking to a minimum of 10 landlords."
Beware Of Scams
A little caution and research will save you from experiencing unpleasant surprises.
Torres summarized it well: "If it’s too good to be true, it probably is."
The expert confirms that you should always visit the property in-person and be cautious about upfront fees.
He also recommends you be careful while giving out personal information, and never be afraid to simply say no.
Choose The Area Wisely
My neighbourhood (Villeray) in winter. Right: Villeray in summer.
For $470 per month, you can imagine that I don't live in a condo in the Old Port with views overlooking the St. Lawrence river.
I stay in Villeray, one of the neighbourhoods which currently has the cheapest rents in Montreal, according to the January 2023 Rent Report by liv.rent.
Though you'll spend more time on the metro, Montreal still has several neighbourhoods where the rent remains affordable, such as Hochelaga–Maisonneuve or Ahuntsic–Cartierville.
Find Good Roommies
Living with roommates will certainly involve compromising on a daily basis, but you'll definitely save money.
"If not a deal breaker, consider selecting an apartment with an extra bedroom to rent out to a roommate. It might seem counterintuitive to find a bigger place if you’re on a budget, but this is the best way to potentially cut your expenses in half," Torres added.
I currently live with three roommates and we get along well. We each have our own bedroom, but two of them are tiny.
The place often feels way too small for all of us, but we make it work. You can too, in case it's your cup of tea!
Check Out Old School Apartments
The kitchen and bathroom I share with my three roommates.
Perhaps you should forget newly-renovated apartment and prioritize old flats if you want to save heavy on rent.
To be honest, I took that advice a bit too seriously. My place looks like it needs some love (and lots of renovation), and that's probably why it's cheaper than other rentals.
But despite the weak shower jet, the tiny bathroom, the damaged kitchen counter and the nonexistent soundproofing, it feels like a home now and I'm not moving out anytime soon.
If you think you've found the perfect place but the rent is a little too high, you have nothing to lose in pleading your case.
"If you have the right attitude, do the research, make a good first impression, and give the landlord enough reasons to believe you are the best potential candidate. Then that puts you in the best position to simply ask for a lower rent," Torres told MTL Blog.
In the worse case scenario, they will say no and you move on with your apartment hunt.