C/O Ainsley Thurgood
McMaster students struggle to find safe and quality housing for the upcoming semester
Off-campus housing at McMaster University is known among students for being notoriously difficult to find while at times being subpar in quality. Students often spend many hours searching for accommodations suited to their needs, and even then, they may have to make compromises to find an available room. Many students dread the hunt for housing and this year is no exception.
With the news that McMaster will be returning to in-person classes for the winter 2022 semester, upper-year students who moved back home due to the COVID-19 pandemic are now looking to find housing, while first-year students begin to sign year-long contracts for the 2022-2023 school year.
Fourth-year student Mario Panza has been attempting to find housing for winter 2022 to no avail. Despite using multiple sources, including Facebook Housing groups, Kijiji, Mac Off-Campus Housing and free rental listing websites, Panza has only been able to locate one listing in his three hours of searching and it had already been rented out by the time he inquired about the room.
“If you’re not there within the first thirty minutes of the listing, you basically have no chance. That’s what it feels like right now at least,” said Panza.
Panza also mentioned that the fight for housing wasn’t necessarily due to a high volume of students hunting for houses, but mainly due to a lack of available listings.
“[Before the pandemic] you would at least see listings that would get swarmed. Right now you’re just seeing people asking for houses basically,” said Panza.
For male students, there is an added obstacle with female-only listings, which Panza said applied to about one third of the posts he had seen so far.
While upper-year students without rooms search for sublets, first-year students are beginning to look for accommodations to sign a contract to prepare for their move out of residence.
Three first-year students looking into housing for the upcoming year, Zara Khan, Leanne Chen and Kirsten Espe, spoke about the difficulties they were having during their ongoing search. They have been looking for condominiums in downtown Hamilton where Espe said the average bachelor she found went for $800, but the group is struggling to find a house that checks all their boxes.
“It’s really hard to find a good place that has all of the things you need like internet and utilities and a price between $500 to $600 but also looks nice,” said Khan.
They have also been looking at houses further away from campus to try to find one that meets all their needs. While searching for rentals as a group, their priorities have been cheap rent, included utilities and security. In this search, they’re being led further away from campus.
Evidently, the search for housing in the winter 2022 semester is still as difficult as pre-pandemic house hunting, if not more difficult due to a lack of listings and an increasing number of students searching for rooms.