About Toronto and Life in the 6ix
Toronto is one of the cities where it does not matter who you are or where you’re from, you will find a nook that feels like home. About half of Toronto’s residents were born outside of Canada making the community a beautiful mosaic open to new unique pieces. Torontonians speak over 140 languages so if you don’t speak the language, non ti preoccupare. In other words, don’t worry about it! Toronto is known as one of the most diverse and multi-cultural cities in Canada making it rich in its culture and its food. While you’ll have to deal with the messy winters in Toronto, it will all be worth it. When the weather warms up in the city, Toronto is tons of fun.
Toronto is home to some of the world’s best restaurants, bars, nightlife and a range of festivals. There’s never a dull moment in Toronto. Within the city’s core, all of your amenities are within walking distance which is extremely convenient. But when you’re ready to take a break from all of the action, Toronto has diverse neighbourhoods with their own character that we’re sure you’ll be able to call home. Toronto is for everyone that loves the city life and diversity. Here’s an apartment guide for all of you interested in becoming a piece of Toronto’s mosaic.
Where to live in Toronto - The city of many faces
Finding apartments for rent in Toronto shouldn’t be too hard. The city has over 300 different neighbourhoods to choose your next apartment. The Toronto area covers 630.2 km 2 of land and is filled with a range of apartments. From high-rise, detached, semi-detached, condos, townhomes and basement apartments there is a shape and size of apartment perfect for you.
As a guide to renting, consider your lifestyle when choosing a neighbourhood. Each neighbourhood has a distinct character. Here are three distinct neighbourhood options:
The Entertainment District puts you right in the middle of the action and is coveted by young professionals. Some of Toronto’s best restaurants and bars are located in the area. This area is essentially right Downtown and easily accessible by public transportation. The majority of apartments for rent in the Entertainment District will be condos in larger high rise buildings.
If you’re looking for the same upscale feel closer to downtown, check out Yorkville. It’s a trendy, beautiful yet pricey area to find apartment rentals . There are tons of upscale shops and restaurants in the area to check out—you may even see a celebrity dining next to you in Yorkville! It’s also right next to a subway station making it pretty and practical.
West Queen West
Young artistic singles love the Queen St. West area for its proximity to hipster cafes, cool restaurants and nightlife. Similarly, King West is another hot spot for young people as it’s close to entertainment. Depending how far west of the city you are, you could expect a 10-15 minute commute to Downtown Toronto from Queen West. Apartments in Queen West are expensive, but less expensive than those that you’d find in the city centre.
How do I Get Around in Toronto?
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…the TTC! If you don’t have wings or a car to drive, there are tons of options for transportation in the city. The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is Toronto’s subway system that is linked with buses and street cars to get you where you need to go. A one-way ride will cost you around $3.25 for an adult. The subway system runs north, south, east and west while the busses and streetcars fill in the blanks. Compared to similarly developed cities, Toronto’s subway is system is a cinch to learn. It’s really hard to get lost in Toronto’s subway system but if you do, don’t sweat it. Torontonians are super helpful—just remember to say please and thank you when they point you in the right direction.
Union Station, Toronto’s most southern subway stop also connects you to VIA Rail, the railway system, and UP Express which brings you to Toronto’s international airport, Pearson. Similarly, there is a complimentary bus service to and from Billy Bishop Airport, Toronto’s Domestic airport.
For those who already own a vehicle, parking spots cost a pretty penny in Toronto. They can range from $25,000 to $50,000 to buy or around $150 to $300 per month to rent. Street parking permits that allow for overnight parking on residential streets, start at around $240 per year. Temporary permits are also available on a nightly/weekly basis.
Walking & Biking
Eco-friendly folks, you’re in luck. Toronto is very walkable and bike lanes are available on many of the streets in Toronto. In most neighbourhoods, the majority of your amenities like grocery stores, coffee shops, restaurants and bars will be within walking distance. For those interested in taking advantage of Toronto vast network of bike lanes, paths and routes – you will not be disappointed with the cycling options this city provides. There are over 500km of bike lanes and off-road trails which makes exploring the city or commuting to work a breeze.
Not into public transportation, walking, biking or driving? Jump in an Uber or a cab. Alternatively, there are several car sharing and bike sharing companies in Toronto which will let you jump in a car or on a bike and go on your merry way.
What’s the Cost of Living in Toronto?
The cost of living in Toronto is among the highest of any city in Canada. Housing costs are especially high. To create a monthly budget you’ll need to consider things like rent & utilities, transportation, food, entertainment, health and fitness. Let’s break it down for you.
Rent & Utilities
Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is around $2,000/month. Generally, your monthly rental costs should not exceed 28% of your pre-tax income. So, if you make $80,000, in a perfect world you should be spending around $2,100 on rent. Also note that you’re going to have to budget for utilities. If utilities are not included in your rent, you could expect to pay around $150/month for hydro and heating. On top of all those costs, you will also need to add your phone and Internet which will run about $140/month.
Transportation costs will vary depending on which method you use. We’re going to assume that most renters will go with the more cost-effective option, the TTC. Based on that assumption, the average cost to take the TTC is about $150/month.
Next, you’re going to want to fill your tummy. On average, a single person who eats at home spends about $100/week on groceries if you’re eating nutritiously. It’s also going to be difficult to eat in all the time when living in Toronto. The city is packed with some of the best food spots. Trust us, you’re going to want to try them. Eating out at a mid-range restaurant including a 3-course meal and a couple drinks will cost you about $50-$75. We bet eating out will happen at least twice a month. Cha-ching—there goes about $150/month.
Up next is entertainment and Toronto has a ton of options! Between all the museums, concerts, sporting events and festivals, Toronto also offers world-class nightlife. In most bars, drink prices will range from $5 to $18 and cover at clubs will range from $10 to $20 just to get into the place. Other less expensive forms of entertainment like the movies will cost you about $15. Give or take, you’ll want to budget around $150/month on entertainment.
Health & Fitness
An important category for helping you maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. With multiple running and walking trails, the good news is that there are plenty of ways to stay fit in the city of Toronto for free. If you prefer to join a gym, you can expect to pay around $50/month.
Overall, your monthly costs to live in the city of Toronto will be around $3,000. You’ll need to earn about $36,000/year just to cover your basic living expenses. Keep in mind that your monthly living expenses could increase in a hurry if you are spending on other things like shopping or traveling! Maybe consider a roommate?
Crime in Toronto
With an overall crime rate that is approximately 23% less than the average Canadian city (Statistics Canada), Toronto is a very safe place to live. Having said that, Toronto truly is a mega-city and with that distinction does come pockets of high crime in some neighbourhoods. As expected, a vast majority of the petty crimes as well as the majority of the violent crimes do occur in the Downtown Toronto area. Searching for apartments east, west or north of the city centre will typically result in a lower crime rate.
Lucky for you, AreaVibes does provide a detailed Toronto crime report. This will help you find safe places to live so you can enjoy your next apartment in peace.
5 Steps on how to find the Perfect Toronto Apartment
Already in love with Toronto? Let’s get you prepared for your hunt. Here’s your first to do list:
Determine your needs and wants:
Put some thought into what you need in an apartment. Is that the number of bedrooms you need or proximity to work—you decide! These needs will help guide your initial search. Also consider your nice-to-haves. These items will help you evaluate between apartments after you’ve narrowed it down to a few potential places.
Create a budget:
Consider your income streams and expenses. Be conservative with your numbers. Also try to work in some savings because you want to be sure you have money for those rainy days. Check out our rental calculator to help estimate your monthly budget—it’s super useful.
Do your research:
Dive deeper into information about your needs and wants for your apartment and your lifestyle in Toronto. Research school systems, community involvement and proximity to recreation or work. This will also help give you some perspective on general perks and prices of apartments in each neighbourhood. To ensure you don’t miss anything, we have neighbourhood guides as well as city guides that provide you with a wealth of information about schools, local amenities, demographics and crime statistics.
Tour apartments and neighbourhoods:
Once you’re found some places you like on AreaVibes, we recommend that you visit them in person. The way the camera adds 10 pounds to pictures, is the same way it may add 100 square feet to apartments. Treat your tour as an interview if you have the opportunity to meet the landlord. Ask questions, make a good impression and conduct a thorough inspection.
Prepare your documentation:
When searching for an apartment, be sure to have a credit check, reference letters, letter of employment and deposit ready. Thankfully, AreaVibes allows renters to send a more detailed renter application with credit checks. This will allow you to pounce on the apartment of your dreams and hopefully snag it! Remember, it’s a hot market out there, so act fast!
And that’s a wrap! We hope that our Toronto rental guide helps you find your new home. When you do, you’ll be able to call yourself a Torontonian and explore everything the city has to offer!