Thinking About Buying a Musical Instrument? Tips on Getting Your Money’s Worth

Whether you’re a parent buying your child’s first musical instrument, a beginner inspired to pick up a new skill, or a seasoned pro looking to add to your collection, there’s one thing you all have in common: you want a musical instrument that’s not only in amazing shape and going to perform well for you, but is going to retain value if or when you decide you want to sell it.

Picking the right Guitar or Instrument

While there are a ton of amazing instruments out there, the more common musical instruments that the general population of buyers is looking for are guitars, pianos or keyboards, violins, and drums. Buyers often think that new is the way to go, but the thing with musical instruments is that if they have been taken care of properly and have had regular maintenance, you’re going to get a lot more value out of buying used.

Used or brand new, here are a few things you should be asking a seller, and looking for in a new or used instrument before you decide to make the purchase.

Consider its Uniqueness

Instruments that are mass-produced, like certain brands of guitars or keyboards are going to lose their value quite quickly. This shouldn’t be too surprising- the more there is of a certain product the less it’s going to sell for later since there’s just so many of them out there. Instruments that you can find in a local department store aren’t going to be able to retain as much value as an instrument you find in specialty stores or from individual collectors and sellers. Similarly, a new instrument is not going to retain the value that you pay. A well maintained used or vintage instrument may keep or even gain value over time if properly cared for.

Comb Over Every Inch

Don’t hesitate to look over every inch of the instrument you’re looking at. You should be checking to see how well this instrument has been kept up. Is there any tarnishing? Are there any dents? (Even small ones?) Is there excessive wear down on keys or valves from natural finger oils? (These will look like fingertip-sized markings where the finger is usually placed on the instrument.) Any of these may be signs that the instrument has been to worn down or might have been used to a degree that it’s not going to hold as much value for you if you try to sell it again in the future.

Ask the Right Questions

Questions you should be asking a seller include where the instrument was made, the quality of materials that were used in making the instrument, how often it’s been sent in for regular maintenance, how long it has been played, and any previous repairs or damages that the instrument incurred. Don’t be shy to ask these questions: they’re incredibly important to help you figure out if this instrument has been taken care of and if it will continue to be a good investment for you.

Ask for Help

If you know of any musicians or musical instrument buffs and experts, ask them for a favour and bring them with you to check out the musical instrument you’re interested in. Chances are, they’re going to be able to ask questions you may not have thought of, or see little signs of the instrument’s value (or maybe even lack of value).

Do Your Research

As with most purchases we make in the 21st century, the internet should be your best friend. Be meticulous in your search for the instrument you’re thinking of purchasing. Look up the top brands, see what you should be looking for, and even scour forums to see reviews and going prices for your particular instrument.

Test It Out

Always, always, always test out the instrument before you make that final purchase. Bang on those drums, strum those strings, and pound on those piano keys! You should be listening for inconsistencies in sound and feeling for any weaknesses in certain parts of the instrument. Don’t be afraid to really play it- you want to be able to push your instrument to its full capacity to make sure it’s truly durable!

University and College Living: On Campus of Off?

To live on campus or to live off campus? It’s a classic debate many students across the world face as they enter various stages of their college careers. Check out our interactive infographic on which choice makes the most financial sense.

It’s a huge decision, and it’s not often an easy one. Choosing a living situation can greatly affect not just life as a student but quality of life overall. There are many reasons why living in a private residence off campus would be attractive, but what if it could be more conducive to your success?
Students studying outside together

As students mature during their college tenure, things that they might have found endearing may not be so great the following years. It might be worthwhile to align yourself with like-minded people who share the same values for accomplishing their degree of study.

Making the choice to live alone or to be responsible can seem daunting, especially if this is your first time out from under your parents’ roof.

Pros and Cons of the Choices

Living On Campus Pros & Cons

Living Off Campus Pros & Cons

Comfort vs. Convenience

What’s that old real-estate adage? Location, location, location. That’s one of the most common arguments for on-campus housing.

However, while planting yourself on campus seems like the obvious choice due to the convenience of being around everything, there are some things to consider that might make keeping campus at a distance seem a little more appealing.

Living on campus means living in the dormitories, or “the dorms,” as they’re called. Dorm rooms come in all shapes and sizes. Some are luxurious and can be even more comfortable than off-campus apartments. Some rival closets.

Depending on the school, you may be unable to choose which dorms you’re offered. Some schools give their best rooms to upperclassmen, meaning freshmen are relegated to the low-end rooms.

Due to the limited nature of on-campus housing, the same thing could happen. They may run out of space altogether, leaving you without an on-campus option.

When living off campus, you’ll be able to choose your own apartment rather than worry about what you might get assigned, allowing you to find a space that fits your lifestyle rather than having to work around a space that doesn’t.

Enjoying on Campus Lifestyle

If you like peace and quiet, the dorms may really shock you. Dorm walls are not famous for thickness, and if you get stuck with rowdy neighbors, you’ll be at their mercy.

Due to the size of dorms, you’ll usually be in close contact with whomever you room with, so you’ll have to make sure you love your roommate – if you even get to choose at all. During your stay in college, you will make a lot of friends and run across a lot of personalities. Be warned: Great friends don’t always make great roommates. If you choose wrong, you can watch a good relationship turn sour quickly.

Noisy Room mates Wreak Havoc on Sleep

Another disadvantage to dorms is sometimes you won’t even have your own bedroom, so make sure to buy some earplugs if your roommate snores. Even if you do have your own bedroom, you will be sharing a common area, and you will probably end up sharing your bathroom with someone else, a sure recipe for brewing a war between roommates.

That’s not even the biggest downside of dorm living. Universities even have additional rules for dormitories that are enforced, meaning less freedom over your own living space. Mt. Royal University, for example, has policies that prevent students from displaying messages in chalk on their windows or playing drinking games.

A customizable experience

Off-campus living is a solution to these problems. In addition to having more freedom to do as you please, you’ll be able to choose your roommates – something not always guaranteed with dorm living – and you’ll be able to choose how many you’ll have.

Once you’ve found a roommate or two you like and can live with, you can put your heads together to find the level of privacy you’ll be comfortable with. You’ll have the opportunity to make sure everyone has their own room and bathroom – or not, if that’s what you prefer.

One advantage of living in dorms might be the on-campus meal plans schools offer. If you are attracted to the idea of living on campus because you think you’ll be able to save money on food with your meal plan, keep in mind not all schools limit meal plans to students living on campus. Plus, preparing your own meals in your kitchen could very much lower your food expenses overall.

Also, even the location advantage of living in on-campus dorms is mitigated if you can find off-campus housing within walking distance of your classes.

The big upshot of off-campus housing is the experience is totally up to you. By shopping around online first, you can find a good living situation with relative ease.

And if you don’t like what you see, don’t sign the lease.

What about the cost?

Alright, so living off-campus might sound great and all, but isn’t it generally more expensive?

The short answer is yes.

However, there is no hard and fast rule for which option is going to save you more money because the answer depends entirely on a whole range of factors.

How many rooms and roommates will you have? What kind of area will you live in? What amenities will your place offer? Is it an apartment or a house?

These are just a few of the kinds of questions that determine the price of off-campus accommodations.

We calculated the average price for on-campus housing versus off-campus housing for 84 Canadian campuses, and we found that 70 percent of on-campus housing options were cheaper than the average price of off-campus housing in those areas.

While the dorms may be cheaper on average, in almost every city there will be off-campus housing available for cheaper than the dorm rooms. It just takes a little work to browse around for the best deals.

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Making the best choice for your lifestyle

While it may ultimately be less expensive to live on campus on average, the flexibility of off-campus housing allows you to find a bargain that fits the lifestyle you want, puts you with the people you want, and provides you with the amount of space you want.

Even if you do end up paying a little more to get the setup you desire, there are always 118 other ways to save money other than by shacking up in the dorms.
Graduating with your Roommates
Want to find resources for students or other ways to save money? Check out these articles:

Local Heroes Inside Story: Amanda & Jackson’s Story – Saving Each Other

Every so often, we find a truly incredible story about how Kijiji has played a role in turning someone’s life around. While all Local Heroes are special in their own right, stories like Amanda and Jackson’s – and their incredible bond –remind us of the power of community, and its ability to positively affect us.

Over the past five years, Amanda from Ontario has undergone a number of challenges in her life, leaving her feeling alone and sad. However, she found solace in her roommate’s dog. From this, Amanda decided she would adopt a pet through Kijiji to see if it could help brighten her spirits

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After searching high and low for a Bernese Mountain Dog – a favourite breed of hers; Amanda located a male puppy just over two hours away. As Amanda described her experience, it was love at first sight, but she was hesitant in case their first meeting didn’t go as well as she hoped. “I knew I had to meet him. I set up a time to meet [Jackson] pushing aside all of my hope because I had a feeling things may not go as planned. But when he came out of the back room I knew he was perfect.”

A little skittish at first, Jackson quickly bonded with Amanda; instantly cementing their relationship.

However, over the two years since they met, Amanda’s medical conditions worsened and became more complicated – to the point where she could not leave her own home. But thankfully, Jackson was there to pick up on Amanda’s feelings and help give her a new lease on life. “Jackson is the most emotionally intelligent dog I have ever encountered. He picks up on my feelings and responds very quickly. I feel less alone, more confident, and the happiest I’ve been in years.”

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So much so that a few months ago, Amanda began to train Jackson as her service canine, a role she credits as allowing her to finally get out of the house again and start living life to the fullest. While Jackson is still in training as of today, he has learned to pick up her emotional cues quickly, and is improving each and every day. So much so, that he looks forward to being “on duty.”

To Amanda, Jackson is her Local Hero. As she tells us, “Jackson means the world to me. To express it into words is extremely difficult. To me he represents independence, confidence, love and friendship; and has made me feel all of these things after years of feeling the opposite. I am so grateful to have him in my life, and couldn’t ask for a better dog – or best friend.”

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Amanda’s story has touched us in so many ways. The compassion we feel for animals, is easily returned by inviting them into our homes. We salute Jackson for the astounding Local Hero he is, but we also honour Amanda, for sharing such a deep story with all of us. On behalf of the thousands of pets and their owners who have met through Kijiji, we thank you!

Know a Local Hero in your community? Submit their Local Hero story today!

The Benefits of a Piano (and how to get a beautiful piano for free)

Pianos are one of the musical instruments most often given away for free on Kijiji (there are currently over 600 pianos across Canada offered for free), likely due to the cost and effort of moving one. There are some amazing deals to be found on an instrument that not only provides many benefits, but also creates an instant focal point in whatever room they are placed in. Whether for yourself, or for a child or even as a very generous gift, it might surprise you to learn that playing the piano isn’t just for wowing guests when they come over to your home.


Here are 5 surprising ways that playing the piano can make your life better:

Improves Cognitive Thinking

Piano has been proven to stimulate the brain by connecting neurological pathways while you play. Think of it like a muscle- the more your brain is trained to operate this way, the more naturally it’s going to be able to do it whether you’re playing the piano or not. In turn, high-level cognitive thinking transfers over to academics as well as work.

Helps You Learn New Languages

There is research that shows that people who play instruments such as the piano are able to learn language much easier and quicker than people who have no musical background. It may seem like an odd connection, but what happens is playing piano helps train your brain to pick up sound patterns in the midst of noise, which is similar to how we pick up a new language. When a language is new to us, we focus more so on sound than on meaning before it begins to register and make sense.

Teaches Important Life Skills

Learning to play the piano requires an extraordinary amount of positive character traits that can carry over to all other aspects of your life. At any age, people who learn to play the piano are infused with a sense of determination, structure, and discipline. From learning the keys to the intervals, from building dexterity in your fingers to building strength, and from practicing scales to full length sonatas- the time and patience it takes to really learn how to play the piano is immense.

Reduces Stress

Playing the piano as a leisurely activity once you’ve learned the skill is actually known to reduce stress and lower the chance of burnout. Much like running, biking, painting, or other common hobbies, playing piano allows your to zone out from the outside world and just focus on what you’re creating with your music.

Develops or Enhances Coordination

This benefit not only helps younger children but adults as well. For kids, playing the piano builds on the coordination and motor skills that they’ll need throughout their lives. They need to learn how to control the force in which they press the keys and they have to be able to play different notes with two hands while going up and down the piano keys. For adults, playing the piano keeps your fingers from getting stiff, which is a natural part of aging. Think of it as exercise for your fingers- with regular playing as an adult, you keep your fingers loose and dexterous which your hands will thank you for later on in life.

Extra Tips:

  • if purchasing a second-hand piano, always get a professional to come check the piano out with you
  • ask the seller how often the piano is tuned or maintained
  • check carefully inside the piano as well as outside the piano for dents, scratches, parts that may be loose, etc.
  • if you choose a free piano, don’t forget to consider the cost of piano movers and any maintenance that has to be done to it
  • negotiate: if the seller isn’t willing to tune the piano or have the regularly scheduled maintenance done to the piano before you purchase, see if you can get the price down a little lower to make up for what you’ll be spending on the tuning and fixing-up
  • Guide to Finding a Pet Friendly Apartment

    Apartment hunting is tough – and can be even tougher if you are embarking on your search with a cat or dog as a roommate. While it is not legal in many parts of Canada for landlords to forbid pets, the fact is, landlords can choose to rent to someone else who is less forthcoming about being a pet owner. Lying about pet ownership is a bad idea, and will start you off on the wrong foot when seeking a new home. What can you do to maximize your chances of landing a great apartment along with your pets?

    Finding a Pet Friendly Apartment

    Don’t leave it until the last minute. Finding an apartment that is appropriate for both you and your pet will be much easier if you have time on your side. In addition to finding an apartment that accepts your pet, make sure you find somewhere with the appropriate amenities – for instance, a park within walking distance if you own a dog. We recommend giving yourself minimum 2 months to find an apartment with a pet when possible.

    Be honest. Mentioning your pet doesn’t have to be the first thing out of your mouth (or in your Kijiji reply), but if you view an apartment, tell the landlord or property manager about your pet. Be sure to mention their good points (quiet, house trained, etc.).

    Understand their reservations. Did they have a terrible prior tenant that trashed the place and had dogs? Are they concerned about people who don’t stop and scoop? Is noise the main sticking point? Talk to the owner about what it is that makes them hesitate. Don’t dismiss their concerns – from the perspective of a landlord, these are all legitimate issues that can be a huge pain for them to deal with. Let them know details about your pets and lifestyle that will help to alleviate their concerns. Do you work from home? Do you have a dog walker? Is your cat content to stick with their scratching post? All of these points can help dispel concerns and reassure them that you take getting along with management and neighbours, as well as being a responsible pet owner, seriously.

    Talk up yourself, and your pet. If you can provide proof that you are a responsible pet owner, they may be willing to make an exception for you. Documents that prove your pet has been fixed (and thus calmer and less likely to spray or otherwise annoy neighbours), that you take your pets to the vet regularly (your vet likely has a form letter on file for this purpose), proof that you have taken your dog to a training class, reference letters from your current landlord that you are a responsible tenant and pet owner, and any other documents you might have can help paint a picture of you and your pet being a contributing community member. Make it clear that you will be responsible for your pet at all times – list behavhiours that you as a pet owner find unacceptable from other pet owners, and let them know you understand that not everyone wants to deal with another person’s animals. If possible, introduce them to your pet. Your prospective landlord might have a no dogs policy because they have a life long fear of German shepherds or dobermans. If you have a cuddly, unassuming Pomeranian, their reluctance might wane. Invite them to your current home to meet your pet and showcase how clean you keep your current unit. Take your dog for a professional groom and vacuum up any stray pet hair before hand. A well cared for and well behaved pet in a well cared for home will speak volumes.

    Be prepared to get creative. If you are having trouble finding options using the pet friendly filter on Kijiji, consider asking your local humane society if they have a list of apartment buildings which are pet friendly, or reaching out to local real estate agents or property managers for suggestions on where to find an apartment in your budget.

    While finding rentals that allow pets can be tough, the hard work pays off in the form of a happy home for ALL family members. Happy hunting!