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Finding and furnishing your first apartment

Happy roommates moving home resting and talking

You’re moving out, hooray! No matter the circumstances this is an exciting time. You’ll need a great place to live and furniture to match. Here are our best tips for finding your first apartment and how to furnish it with the most functional and cost-effective decor.

First steps


So, you’re ready to commit to finding your first apartment — congratulations! You’ll need to make a few preliminary decisions. The first step is to determine if you will be living with someone or on your own. This move might be for just you, you and your partner or you and a roommate or multiple roommates. What makes the most sense for you? 

Determine your budget 

Your ideal budget for a rental can determine if you’ll need a roommate. If it’s too low to afford an apartment on your own, you’ll need a partner or roommate to split the bills. Do some research online to see what the average 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom, 3 bedroom and studio prices are in your desired area. You’ll need to be able to afford the average cost for a 1 bedroom or studio to live alone. Don’t forget to factor in additional costs you’ll need to budget for like internet, utilities (if not included in your rent), transportation costs, phone bills etc.

Find a roommate (if you need one)

If you’re a student, you’ll probably need at least one roommate to help you pay your rent. If you don’t have one lined up, never fear, there are many online tools that can help you match with a roommate. Roomies.ca, for example, is a great free resource to use when in search of a roommate. If you have a room to list as available you can list it here, or if you need to find an available room with your name on it you can search for it here. 

If you don’t like the idea of living with a stranger, look for a roommate in your social network by posting about your hunt for a roommate and/or an apartment on your social media channels. Be as detailed as possible (budget, timeline, lifestyle, where you’re looking etc). Encourage friends and acquaintances to reach out to you if they are interested or have a room to rent to you potentially. 

Find an apartment

The internet is a great place to find an apartment if you know your budget, general apartment needs and desired location. You can find a room for rent, a room to sublet, or a whole apartment to rent with relative ease. Stick to well-known rental websites like Roomies.ca, Rentseeker.ca, Rentals.ca, Rentboard.ca, Viewit.ca and Padmapper.com.

If you’ve matched with a roommate, try to do this search together and be sure to take a tour of the apartment and property before you sign a lease. Rental fraud is real so you want to feel confident that the person renting the apartment has the authority to do so. Make sure you know what is and isn’t included in your rent, if there are any rules you must adhere to and if you’re moving into an apartment complex, be sure to do an online search for customer reviews of it to ensure there aren’t bed bugs, bad management or other nasty surprises waiting for you.

Find furniture

You may or may not need much furniture for your first apartment. You might be subletting a furnished room or moving into a furnished apartment and only need a bed and nightstand. Furniture is without a doubt an investment. You don’t want to buy anything too cheap or too expensive when it’s your first apartment. It should be practical, durable (you want it to last for years!) affordable and easy on the eyes — you have to live with it after all!

If you have a roommate, talk to them before making any furniture purchase decisions for the apartment as you may want to buy pieces on your own, split the costs together, or they may have furniture of their own to contribute. Buying furniture together gives you a heartier budget to work with but leaves you in the lurch when you eventually terminate your living arrangement — ie. who gets to keep the couch when one of you moves out? 

What you’ll need

Here’s what you’ll probably need to buy for your first apartment if you’re not just renting or subletting a room in someone else’s place: a bed and bedding, a couch and/or chair, a dining table, a coffee table, a nightstand, floor lamps, and essentials for cooking and dining (pots and pans, cutlery, plates, glasses). 

Where to shop

Ikea is a great place to shop for your first apartment. The furniture is new, chic looking and very affordable — but it can be a little challenging to assemble! If Ikea is not your style, or out of your price range, consider shopping for second-hand furniture. Stores like ReStore, Value Village, The Salvation Army and Goodwill carry used furniture and kitchenware and the prices can be very affordable. You can also find great deals online on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and Kijiji.

If you’re up for a bit of a bidding war, Maxsold holds auctions daily for things like estate sales and you can find some real gems for low prices. If you live in a residential area, keep an eye out for garage sales and items your neighbours put out on the curb. For affordable but quality kitchen supplies, Kitchen Stuff Plus is a great place to shop. For affordable but attractive odds and ends like throw pills, blankets and bedding, Walmart, HomeSense and Winners are great places to check. 

We hope you’re ready for this new adventure and that these tips for finding and furnishing your first apartment help you embark on it with confidence. 

Looking for a high-quality apartment in Ontario or Nova Scotia? Panoramic Properties would love to welcome you home. Please visit our website to browse our available apartments.