Cool People Houses is an Instagram account that might just hook you up with your perfect match, but for housing.
Here’s how it works. If you’re offering a place for rent, sublease, or lease transfer, send a square photo collage with images of the unit and text with important details, like availability or price.
On the hunt for a home instead? You might have to improvise the photo you use, but be sure to include text that outlines things like your budget and preferred location.
Confused? Don’t worry. Pinned to the Cool People Houses (CPH) profile are a carousel of posts of frequently asked questions and instructions on how to correctly submit to CPH.
If you do it right, CPH will post your submission with you tagged. They’ll amplify your post and connect you to people who might be exactly what you’re looking for or have what you need.
“When I started [the account] about a year ago, there were about 300 people following me. Now there’s over 2,500 people. I get seven to 20 new followers a day,” says 26-year-old Sophia Smith, who grew up in Parkdale.
Smith got the idea for the CPH account from her own experience trying to sublet her place while traveling from Toronto between Los Angeles and New York. She posted about her search on her own personal Instagram account story, hoping to get some leads there.
People reposted her story to help speed up her search. Smith would return the favour by resharing posts about roommate requests or sublet offers for other people.
“It got to a point where it [consumed] my entire personal Instagram. People were joking that I was a ‘volunteer real estate agent,'” says Smith. She decided to create another account just for housing, Cool People Houses, which she runs by herself. It’s over a year old now, and Smith receives between two to eight posts daily.
“It’s like a part-time job,” says Smith. “I’ll get people messaging me, essentially to enlist me to help them find a home. It’s very upsetting sometimes to see these messages because a lot of people messaging me are in dire situations.”
Unless you’re hiding under a rock or have a fat salary, you know that Toronto’s rental market is not okay. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the average price for a one bedroom apartment in October 2023 was $1,691, but you can easily find a one bedroom listed for $2,000 or more.
In 1999, before some of us were born, the average price for a one bedroom apartment was $770. Nowadays, you can rent a bunk bed for that price. Plus, don’t forget about weird landlords and legal rabbit holes in renting with roommates.
“It feels so unattainable to be able to live in the city,” says Smith. “Being able to find something is so tricky right now.”
That’s part of the reason why she started Cool People Houses. While it’s been great – people are often in Smith’s DMs with messages of gratitude.
It’s not as easy as you might think, running a page to help people hunting for housing. It can be overwhelming. There were times when Smith wanted to get off Instagram and take a break. But she feels like she can’t. There are hundreds of people who rely on her to navigate housing.
“I just don’t really know what happens when I decide that I have to stop. This is not the solution. It’s a finite resource.”