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Living in Toronto: Key points you should know

Toronto is more than just Canada's biggest city. It's also been called the most multi-cultural – half of all Torontonians were born outside Canada.

The city's diversity makes it an exciting place to live, not just for the medley of cultures that make their homes here, but for the unique neighbourhoods and districts within Toronto's boundaries and across the GTA (Greater Toronto Area).

The Vitals about TO

Population: 2.79 million (Toronto proper); 6.05 million (entire GTA)

Primary language: English

Second most spoken language: Italian, then Chinese

"GTA": includes Toronto and the regional municipalities Durham, Halton, Peel and York, which are made up of cities such as

  • Mississauga
  • Brampton
  • Oakville
  • Caledon
  • Oshawa
  • and many more
Transit: TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) operates
  • 4 subway lines
  • 11 streetcar routes
  • 140+ bus routes

Airport: Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), located in Mississauga

  • Winter – average temperatures around 0 Celsius (freezing point), but can dip to -10 C or below. It snows every winter.
  • Summer – average temperatures are high-20s C, but can get into the 30s with lots of sun.
  • Because of the nearby Great Lakes, Toronto is comparatively humid throughout the year, making the winters feel colder and the summers feel hotter.
  • Maple Leafs (hockey)
  • Raptors (basketball)
  • Blue Jays (baseball)
  • Argonauts (Canadian football)
  • Toronto FC (soccer)
  • the Rock (lacrosse)
  • Ryerson
  • University of Toronto
  • York
  • OCAD
  • University of Toronto Institute of Technology
Prime places to meet singles:
  • Williams Landing (Liberty Village)
  • Earls (Financial District)
  • The Ballroom (Entertainment District)
  • Echo Beach
  • The Drake (Queen St. West)
  • The Phoenix (Cabbagetown)
  • Barchef (Financial District)
  • Dakota Tavern (Dufferin Grove)
  • Parts and Labour (Parkdale)
  • The Rhino (Queen St. West)
  • Muskoka Lake/Valley – 3 hours
  • Niagara Falls – 2.5 hours
  • Ottawa – 5 hours
  • Blue Mountain Ski Resort – 2 hours
  • Hockey Valley Ski Resort – 1 hour
  • Algonquin National Park – 4 hours
  • The 1000 Islands – 4 hours
Relocating within the GTA

Give advice about considerations when relocating. Schools, university, shopping, transit, work, location, parks, friends, etc. Neighbourhood types, eg. suburban, urban, quiet, dense, apartments, houses, vibe, neighbours, redevelopment, etc.

If you're thinking of changing neighbourhoods from within Toronto or the GTA, there's plenty to choose from. Most people choose to relocate for one of these reasons:

It's close to work.

Maybe you want to walk to work. In Toronto, that's a reality for tons of people who live in high-rise apartments downtown. Or maybe you've found a job outside of downtown. There are plenty of neighbourhoods with commercial districts, meaning you can find a house or apartment just a few blocks away.

It's close to schools.

For families with kids, or couples planning to have kids, living close to good schools is absolutely key. Before choosing your neighbourhood, you'll have to decide which school(s) suits your family's needs and where the catchment area for that school reaches. Look into bus routes as well.

According to the Fraser Institute, the top 10 best schools in the GTA are:

  • Hillmount
  • Arbor Glen
  • Seneca Hill
  • St. Michael's Choir (Catholic)
  • Cottingham
  • Sathya Sai (Private)
  • Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Catholic)
  • Kennedy
  • Denlow
  • Rosedale
It's close to your university.

There are five public universities in Toronto:

  • Ryerson
  • University of Toronto
  • York
  • OCAD
  • University of Toronto Institute of Technology

Most are easily accessed by public transit, but why not cut down on your commute by living close by? Often, post-secondary students will find great housing targeted to their needs in the neighbourhoods closest to the university.

It's close to transit or an easy commute.

Toronto has a great transit system, although the subways are a bit limited, depending where you live. Still, there are more than 140 bus routes and streetcars downtown that make commuting easy and affordable. It's likely that your neighbourhood is connected to transit, but it's always worth researching beforehand.

You seek a certain lifestyle, such as urban or suburban.

Some value the quiet streets, big yards, big-box retailers, playgrounds and larger homes that are synonymous with the suburban lifestyle. Others are dazzled by high-rises with views over the city lights, boutique shopping, chic restaurants and a fierce nightlife. Luckily, in Toronto, there's something for everyone.

You're looking for a return on real estate investment.

The real estate landscape in Toronto is always changing. Neighbourhoods are gripped by gentrification, then slowly descend into some state of decay before being once again redeveloped. For those hoping to cash in on the steadily rising prices on housing in the city, it's important to seek out places that are at a low point in their value, but are expected to be on the upswing. It's a risky game to play, but can certainly have its rewards.

Relocating from outside Toronto

You're moving to Toronto from outside the GTA? There's a lot to learn about living in Canada's biggest city.

Each of Toronto's neighbourhoods and districts is vastly different from the next, and in each, the housing types and the people who live there vary greatly. Choosing the right neighbourhood for you can be daunting if you're planning to come sight unseen. Our Neighbourhood Guides can help make the process a whole lot easier with information on:

  • average rental prices
  • typical housing types
  • who lives there
  • who might not feel at home there
  • the style or vibe
  • shopping nearby
  • transit access
  • recreation, parks, restaurants and nightlife
Moving to Toronto from overseas

The GTA is one of the world's biggest landing pads for immigrants coming from abroad. It's a scenario that lets new immigrants more easily adjust to the Canadian lifestyle, while residents of the city enjoy a rich multicultural atmosphere, with food, music and customs from around the world on full display.

Non-residents and non-citizens of Canada are allowed to rent and buy homes. It's important to be informed about what to expect when you rent an apartment in Canada, and what your landlord will expect from you.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has some good information about renting for newcomers to Canada. You'll want to ensure the rent you're paying is fair for the area where the unit is located, and be aware that generally, in our country, utilities like electricity, water, parking, internet and phone are not included in the rent. Tenants are expected to pay a damage deposit, which should be refunded when you move out unless the unit has been damaged.

The government of Ontario offers tons of services to help newcomers settle in Toronto.