The following list outlines traditional and online sources that will help you in your search.
A note about online postings:
Although online listings are becoming more popular, they do not list all available accommodations in the area. Housing websites are often for-profit ventures, and as such, many sites targeted to the rental market may not list inexpensive units. However, many community papers now publish their classified ads online free of charge.
Looking from afar?
If you don't live in the area where you are planning to rent, contact any friends or relatives you may have nearby. If they are currently living in the area, they may also be able to collect information on your behalf. If you are moving to begin a new job, your employer may also be able to help. If you plan to study in a new city, most colleges and universities offer housing assistance. Some campuses have better housing information than others, so it's best to check with various campus housing offices in the area.
Comprehensive Internet searches can bring up Canada-wide listings as well as information about the general rental climate in a given area. You can find online apartment listings grouped by province, region, or major city on specialized websites or in the classifieds section of newspaper websites. Specialized rental sites may include detailed floor plans, descriptions and photographs and some sites even offer virtual tours. Simple searches using Canada-specific search engines are also a good place to start.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada maintains a listing of organizations which assist newcomers to the country. These centres can serve as a starting point, as can local settlement services. Where available, settlement services can provide consulting and assistance during the immigration process, and help you identify suitable locations for housing and employment. It is best to research a few different groups offering these services, as the type and cost of the services will vary. The Newcomer's Guide to Canadian Housing is an excellent CMHC publication offered free of charge to new immigrants to help ensure their smooth transition to Canada.
Get there first!
In a tight rental market (one where relatively few apartments are available), you'll need to review new rental postings quickly and arrive early when visiting properties to ensure that you do not miss any prime opportunities.