Looking for a rental apartment that’s got it all? Start here

Space, style, and nearby amenities — for a price that won’t bankrupt you. I can’t guarantee anything, but here are some promising places to begin looking:

Even though the vacancy rate is low, this area has almost 15 percent of the city’s units. Downtown offices and the Transitway are within walking distance, and the range of good restaurants and basic retail — such as supermarkets and pharmacies — is slowly improving. The drawback? Rents aren’t cheap.
Total number of units: 8,805 / Vacancy rate: 1.7 percent / Average rent: $1,082

Illustration: Jackpine Digital Inc.

Apartments range from student-scarred bachelor pads to luxury flats. The average rent is among the highest in the city but so is the average vacancy rate (perhaps because of those high rents). In June, dozens of smallish apartments were available for under $900, but for that price, don’t expect a doorman, pool, or elevator.
Total number of units: 5,911 / Vacancy rate: 4.3 percent / Average rent: $1,121

Want to live near the core but not in it? New Edinburgh has a village feel, Manor Park is slightly more suburban, and Overbrook has river views. For one-bedroom apartments — the most sought-after type of rental flat in the city — the area offers a higher vacancy rate (2.7 percent) and lower average rent ($965) than downtown.
Total number of units: 3,199 / Vacancy rate: 2.4 percent / Average rent: $1,087

Move further east and prices drop. In June, $899 could get you a one-bedroom apartment in Blackburn Hamlet with a pool, while $950 would net a two-bedroom spot in Beacon Hill South. This ’hood is huge, stretching south almost as far as Manotick, so prices and amenities vary.
Total number of units: 2,679 / Vacancy rate: 1.2 percent / Average rent: $964

The average rent is higher in Gloucester’s western counterpart, Nepean. On the bright side, both the total number of units and the vacancy rate are higher, so it may be easier to find a place. If you need a big space, Nepean has the highest vacancy rate in the city for a three-bedroom apartment (7.1 percent).
Total number of units: 4,854 / Vacancy rate: 3.6 percent / Average rent: $1,037

Rent a Condo?
The average price of renting a condo apartment is $1,421, versus $1,021 for a unit in a purpose-built rental building. That’s partly because most condos are newer and partly because they often have such goodies as fitness centres, indoor pools, and party rooms. So be honest: how important are those granite countertops, and how often are you likely to work out?

Skyrocketing Rent?
Worried that the great rent you snagged could skyrocket next year? Your fears are likely misplaced. Unless your landlord’s costs rise substantially, the Ontario government has capped rent increases in 2016 at two percent.

On the Other Side of the River?
Think it’s hard to find an affordable rental apartment in Ottawa? Consider venturing across the river: Gatineau’s average vacancy rate is 6.5 percent, and its average price is $726, compared with Ottawa’s 2.6 percent and $1,021, respectively.

This article was originally published in the September 2015 print edition of OTTAWA magazine