Julia Timewell, a nursing student, can walk to school from her off-campus rented house. Photo credit: Jantina Huizenga

Exams and final assignments are not the only reason students tend to stress out around this time in the second semester. Finding a new place to live is also high on their priority list. Many leases end in April or May and students in residence have to be out soon after their last exam.

For students who want to move out of residence after their first year, they have to find housing typically on their own or with their parents’ help. Finding a place to live that is affordable, safe and practical is only getting harder as the housing market is at an all-time high.

“The housing search was hard when I don’t have a car and still want to be near the college, especially when a lot of renters don’t want students as tenants,” said Gwyneth Jones, an architectural technician student at Algonquin College.

Jones stayed in residence this past year but has since decided to search for off-campus housing. The COVID-19 restrictions that have stayed in place in residence despite the provincial guidelines changing have impacted her decision to leave residence, she wants to make sure she can have her family and friends come to visit her.

Magann Baptiste, a performing arts student at Algonquin College, had help from her mom when looking for a house last year and found a roommate listing on Kijiji. Baptiste chose to not apply for residence this past year because she was able to find a house that would save her money in the long run and she was able to live there during the summer.

Julia Timewell, a nursing student at Algonquin College, lives with Baptiste and three other women in a bungalow that is only a 15-minute walk to the Woodroffe campus. Their lease started on May 1 and is twelve months long. They have both found different off-campus housing for the upcoming year.

While most students aren’t looking to buy houses, that doesn’t mean that the housing market isn’t affecting the rental prices. According to Zumper, a rental website, the average monthly rent in 2022 for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,529 which is a 5 per cent increase from 2021.

According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Ottawa’s renting vacancy rate is the highest its been in 25 years but only 15 per cent of rental units are affordable for lower-income individuals. Residence is available for students, although for first-year students a meal plan has to be included, which significantly raises the price of living on residence.

There are resources on the Algonquin College website available to students who are looking for off-campus housing. Kijiji, Zumper, Rentals.ca and housing4students are all websites that have helped students find available rental units.