Module 4: Choosing and Moving into Housing — Evaluating your housing options


Evaluating your housing options

Evaluating a housing option

Once you’ve decided to move, you’ll start looking at different housing options. It’s a good idea to look at a few different options, if you can, to understand what kinds of housing are available. Physically visiting the space is often helpful to get a better idea of the space, too.


Below is a series of questions designed to help you evaluate your options and avoid any surprises after you make your decision. Like the last module, they’re divided into financial, physical, and HIV-specific considerations.


Financial considerations

Here are some questions about the financial aspects of housing to consider:

  • How will the rent be paid?
    • Will the landlord receive rent money directly from the ministry? Have you confirmed with them that this is acceptable?
    • Will you need to have a bank account and provide post-dated cheques to the landlord?
  • Is a security deposit required?
    • How much is it?
    • Under what conditions might you not get it back when you move out?
  • What is included in the rent? What will be an extra cost? Consider:
    • utilities (e.g., water, heat, electricity, gas)
    • telecommunication services (e.g., phone, cable, internet)
    • appliances (e.g., fridge, stove, oven, microwave)
    • parking space (e.g., covered and locked parking lot, street parking, driveway parking space)
    • storage space (e.g., storage closet within an apartment, designated space in an apartment building, shed, garage)
    • laundry facilities (e.g., machines in the home or building; may be free to use, coin-operated, or require the purchase of a special card)
  • If you need to set up new accounts for utilities or other services, will you need to pay a fee or provide a deposit?
  • Is a pet deposit required if you have a pet?
    • How much is it?
    • Under what conditions might you not get it back when you move out?
  • How much could the rent increase in the future if the landlord were to raise it the legally allowed percentage? Will you be able to afford it?
  • If you need to take public transit to access services, how much will it cost?
  • If you have a car and need to use it, how much will it cost when you account for fuel, vehicle maintenance, insurance, and parking fees? Would it be worth paying a higher rent in order to be closer to services, instead of keeping a vehicle?
  • Will you need to pay for packing supplies and movers in order to move?
  • Will you need to buy any furniture, linens, and so on?


Physical aspects

Some questions about the physical aspects of housing to consider:

  • What do you need to be physically comfortable?
  • Are there any rules about the number of bedrooms for your family that affect whether you can access this housing option?
  • Is the housing pet-friendly? What kind of space does your pet need?
  • Is the housing physically accessible and free of barriers?
  • Are there stairs or other challenges that prevent you from entering/exiting or moving within the building comfortably?
  • Does the building have an elevator?
  • What are the rules for garbage and recycling? Where do the garbage and recycling go?
  • Does the apartment include extra storage space outside of the unit?
  • Are there laundry facilities in the unit or building? If not, where is the nearest laundromat?
  • Are there shared walls? Could noise become an issue for you or your neighbours?
  • How much natural light is available in the apartment?
  • Do the windows open? Do they close and lock?
  • Does each bedroom have a window, as required by law for emergencies?
  • Is there a yard or other outdoor space nearby?
  • Who is responsible for seasonal maintenance? (e.g., sidewalk shovelling, lawn mowing)
  • Does the apartment come with parking space(s)?
  • How much noise is there during the day? How much noise is there during the night?
  • What is the environment around the building like?
  • Can the housing unit and building be safely accessed at night?
  • Is there enough lighting outside?
  • Are there hazards such as slippery sidewalks or a long driveway?
  • If you have children in your care, where will they play and go to school?
  • If you move to a different neighbourhood, will you still be able to receive the same services? Are any services you receive based on the area you live in (e.g., mobile outreach, clinic)?
  • How far are the services you need to access regularly? (e.g., grocery store, pharmacy, doctor, school, library, bank, government offices, food bank, gym, harm reduction distributor)
    • Can you walk to them?
    • If not, will you be able to take public transit to get there? What does the route look like?
    • If you have a car, will you be able to drive to get there?


HIV-specific housing considerations

  • How important is privacy to you when it comes to your HIV status?
    • Are you “out” as a person living with HIV?
    • Do you prefer to keep your HIV status private?
  • Who will you need to disclose your HIV status to in order to apply for and live in the housing?
  • Will living in HIV-specific housing encourage you to take care of your health? Will it negatively remind you of your health status?
  • In an HIV-specific building, will seeing others in the HIV community on a regular basis be comfortable for you?
  • Will you have a way to cope if others pass judgment on your behaviour or visitors because of your HIV status?
  • Does the housing come with care or services that you need to support your health? (e.g., meals, cleaning, medication reminders, harm reduction, access to harm reduction supplies)