Renter's Guide

How to find a rental unit as a family

If you are looking for a rental property for you and your family, consider these five factors that will make or break your decision to sign a lease
  • Save

If you think that renting as a single person or a couple can be complicated, wait until you have an entire family in tow. More people means a need for more space, as well as more wishes to be met. It’s understandable that you would like to please everyone, but it’s also important to follow a rational approach.

For instance, there’s no point in making sure that everyone will have their own room if the new rental home is nowhere near schools and work locations frequented by family members.

To help you keep track we’ve identified five factors to take into account when looking for a new rental for you and your family.

1.  School district 

  • Save

Quality education is crucial for the future of your children, and as such, must be a primary focus in your search for rental properties. It’s important to consider the existing educational needs of family members and to try to anticipate their future needs, as well. This is particularly true if you are considering renting a home for a longer period of time.

Investigate the quality of elementary schools, the course offerings of local high schools and what local technical schools and colleges offer. You want to be sure that everyone in your family will have a good selection of classes and options from which to launch and pursue their chosen career path.

Renter's Guide - Additional Reading

2. Location, location, location 

  • Save

Location is a major consideration for singles or couples moving into a new city or area, but different priorities come into play as you consider the best options for an entire family. Instead of looking for restaurants, pubs and other lively places to visit (as you probably did as a younger, single person), the focus now shifts to quieter streets, spacious playgrounds and parks where your kids can play, libraries where they can study, hospitals and convenient options for commuting.

As you narrow down your search to the areas that show the most promise, be sure to look at the proximity of amenities like these that you expect your family will need.

3. Safety 

  • Save

Choosing a place where you and your loved ones will feel safe and secure is paramount, so a little advance research is in order for any rental you’re considering. Start with some basics: check out the local crime rate statistics, confirm the integrity of the windows, doors and locks on the property itself and identify any nearby surveillance systems and alarms.

Another important safety consideration, particularly with infants or toddlers in the family, is the extent to which the property has been child-proofed.

Look for potential hazards such as poorly protected balconies, steep staircases and breaches in fencing around the yard. On the street, check for traffic-calming measures like speed bumps and signage alerting drivers to watch for children crossing or playing.

4. Property space and room size 

  • Save

Naturally, the larger the family, the more rooms you will need. Ideally, you’ll want a master bedroom, a large living room where everyone can gather, and enough bedrooms (or large enough bedrooms) so that boys and girls can enjoy sufficient privacy, space and bathroom access.

Remember also that your family’s storage space needs will grow along with your children. As they get older, they will own more bikes, skates, and sporting equipment — all of which will need to be stored somewhere. Be sure to thoroughly assess your storage needs so you won’t end up living in chaos and confusion due to a lack of planning.

5. Check out the neighbours 

  • Save

Every member of your family deserves to feel welcome and at home in their new neighbourhood. In particular, being close to families who have children similar in age to your own is always a bonus and will make relocating easier on everyone. A neighbourhood that’s already populated with lots of young families is also likely a safer one for children and adults alike.

It’s a good idea to search the internet for any past incidents and/or disputes that may have taken place among local residents, particularly any that could be a potential source of conflict or stress for you or family members. The peace of mind you’ll gain by being as fully informed as possible will likely help you sleep better at night once you’ve settled in.

What are the benefits of renting as a family?

  • Save

After assessing each rental unit based on the above five factors, it’s good to know that there are some significant benefits when renting as a family.

  1. Landlords can prefer to rent to a family as they believe that adults in a family unit tend to be more responsible and conscientious.
  2. It’s often easier to meet and make friends with people in your new neighbourhood. That’s because kids will often draw you out of your home and prompt others to introduce themselves (and welcome you to the community).
  3. Since moving, as a family, can be difficult, some property managers and landlords like renting to families because it reduces the property turnover rate.

What are the downsides of renting as a family?

  • Save

Unfortunately, there are some downsides to renting as a family (compared to renting as a single person or as a couple):

  1. Some landlords don’t like renting to families as they find tenants with children to be noisier and, potentially, be a large burden on shared utilities. While it’s illegal to discriminate against, it’s not always possible to prove.
  2. Some apartment complexes or communities are clearly marked as adult-only.
  3. Quite often, renting as a family means you require a larger rental unit, which increases costs.

In the end, it’s best to take the time to examine each rental property based on your family’s needs and wants. Make a list that includes all factors that are absolutely necessary and, whenever possible, don’t both setting up a viewing for a rental property unless the unit meets all or most of those needs.

While trying to find a rental place can be difficult, and stressful, once you find and settle in, it’s worth it.

Renter's Guide - Additional Reading

Angela Manevska
Angela Manevska

Angela is a law student who writes and specializes in article and blog writing, particularly about real estate content.