Whether it's being called Scarberia or Scarlem or some other derivative of it's name, Scarborough has its ups and downs. At times in its history, gangs have taken over the streets of this city east of Toronto, while in recent years, concentrated efforts to rid Scarborough of crime and extreme poverty seem to be making a dent in the situation. Scarborough is one of the GTA's main destinations for new immigrants and as such, has a rich multicultural population. Decent hip-hop and rap scenes exist in town, being that the city is the former home of Choclair and Kardinall Offishall. All that aside, Scarborough has its wealthy areas where picturesque homes line the roads and down-the-street commercial centres serve up incredible meals from around the globe, next to great schools and awesome parks.
Who Lives Here
Mostly immigrants: more than half of residents were born outside of Canada.
Working-class families and young people who love the street culture that sets Scarborough apart from other GTA communities. Renters with a budget will find tons of options in this city as well.
Upper-class families and empty-nesters who might be turned off by occasional crime and the general state of some areas in Scarborough, which are not as ritzy as, say, Oakville.
Life and Style
There are a variety of styles that collectively define Scarborough. During the day, most of the city is like any other, with commuters heading to work and grabbing lattes in trendy cafes near their offices in Scarborough City Centre. At night, Scarborough has some great little pubs and bars scattered throughout town, like the Olde Stone Cottage on Kensington, King George's Arms on Victoria Park and the Black Dog on Island Road, and the neighbourhoods over the Scarborough Bluffs are rather affluent. Scarborough doesn't have a main entertainment district; instead, the nightlife is distributed all around the city. On that note, there are areas that some recommend to avoid after the sun goes down, including McCowan between Sheppard and McNicoll, plus Birchmount, Eglinton and Warden, Sandhurst Circle and the Don Mills area.
With tons of rental stock available, Scarborough living is far more affordable than in Toronto. And renters seeking apartments, condos or even detached houses will find lots of nice options around. Despite some concerning areas in the city, Scarborough does have some excellent residential neighbourhoods that are well-maintained, safe and great for raising kids, like West Rouge.
Avg. rent by housing type and size
Avg. rent compared to other Toronto-area towns and regions
Scarborough is 18% lower than GTA average
Typical housing type
High-rise apartments and bungalows
In addition to being the one-time home of hip-hop legends Choclair and Kardinall Offishall, actor Jim Carrey also lived in Scarborough for a while, and the Barenaked Ladies got their start in this city. Other nicknames for Scarborough include Scarbz and Scar Town, and some locals semi-affectionately call it the ghetto of Toronto.
Scarborough's multicultural nature means it's a mecca of incredible ethnic food. Kensington Road, for example, as well as Eglinton East and Lawrence East, are lined with shops and restaurants selling Caribbean, Chinese, East African and Indian fare and goods. In addition, the city's high population of Tamils from Sri Lanka means they have a high representation of their excellent food, and many businesses are owned by ethnic Tamils who cater specifically to their kin. The city has lots of golf courses, too, of the public and private varieties; Tam O'Shanter being of the former type and Toronto Hunt, Scarboro and Cedarbrae being of the latter. Scarborough Town Centre is Canada's tenth biggest mall, and near to it are the civic centre, Consilium Place and Albert Campbell Square. Scarborough is now home to the Toronto Zoo and has a huge sports complex sponsored by Nike that includes a basketball court, soccer field and running track made out of recycled running shoes. The city has three subway stations and two GO Transit lines connecting it to Toronto, as well as tons of bus routes under the TTC.
Scarborough Town Centre
Woodside Cinemas – three theatres that screen East Indian, Indo-Pakistani and Chinese films rarely with English subtitles – are located in the Agincourt neighbourhood, centred along Sheppard Avenue between Kennedy and Markham Roads, in Scarborough's northwest. It is one of the largest Asian communities in Toronto, although the Chinese population here has been dwindling and is being replaced by large East Indian and Indo-Pakistani communities.
Well-planned streets have kept Bendale as a quiet neighbourhood with little traffic using its laneways to commute to and from work. It's located at the junction of Lawrence Avenue East and Brimley Road, and is often referred to as the Ben Jungle for the roads that start with Ben. It is served by TTC and GO Transit, and includes a slice of Scarborough City Centre, which is a downtown-like area.
The neighbourhood of Birch Cliff is in the southwest section of the old city, perched above the Scarborough Bluffs. It is a family-oriented neighbourhood with detached houses on medium-sized lots, and is accessed via Kingston Road, which is the community's shopping district.
With pretty natural surroundings and affordable homes, Clairlea neighbourhood is ideal for commuters as it is well-serviced by public transit and is close to the Don Valley Parkway. A significant proportion of the population here is Filipino, and in general residents are in the middle-income group.
Also located on the Scarborough Bluffs, south of Cliffcrest, is Cliffside, a neighbourhood boasting mix of older-style houses, well-treed streets, a vibrant shopping district and beautiful waterfront parks. Most homes were built in the 1960s and few are rented out, although renters might get lucky in their search for a home to rent.
Dorset Park is a middle-income family-oriented neighbourhood. Large employers including Kraft Foods and Laura Secord are stationed on the periphery of Dorset Park, off Birchmount Road, offering ample opportunities for work.
North of Cliffcrest, along the Scarborough Bluffs, is Guildwood a historic residential neighbourhood and one of Scarborough's most beautiful and exclusive estates with few rentals.
An annual festival for the residents to celebrate the history of their neighbourhood takes place in Highland Creek, and it involves parade features antique cars, marching bands, floats, children's rides, a merchant's fair and flea market.
Hillside is completely encompassed within Rouge Park, which is protected by the province and has lovely woodlands, valleys, meadows and farmland that provide shelter for red foxes or deer. Of the 86 homes here, zero are rentals.
Named after a French Huguenot loyalist, L'Amoreaux is the location Bridlewood Mall at Warden Avenue and the Ontario Hydro Fields south of McNicoll Avenue. It's a pretty neighbourhood with winding streets and lots of trees, several bungalows built in the '50s, but also quite a few multi-storey condos and apartments with relatively low rents.
The preservation of mature trees, ravine woodlots and parklands has made Malvern attractive to buyers and renters. Most of the houses here are affordable. A kaleidoscope of cultures are represented here, especially people of Afro-Canadian, British, Chinese and South Asian backgrounds.
Maryvale is a family-oriented neighbourhood, with a few single-storey brick homes, most of which have garages and good sized lots. Kids here attend Maryvale Public School and play at Maryvale Junior YMCA and Maryvale Park and Community Centre, which are adjacent to the school.
The last of Milliken's vacant land was developed in the 1980s, making it part of Scarborough's overall urbanization. On McCowan Road and Alton Towers Drive, renters will find apartments and townhouses available.
Encompassing a stretch of Danforth Avenue between Victoria Park and Warden, Oakridge has a great shopping district for the residents who live in an eclectic mix of older houses here. For recreation, people here head to Massey Creek, Oakridge Community Recreation Centre and Oakridge Park on the Danforth.
Although just a few houses are located in this neighbourhood, which is sometimes tied in with the Tam O'Shanter community, O'Sullivan's Corners is the inspiration for the comedy Wayne's World, with Mike Meyers having lived a few years in the posh Bridlewood subdivision here.
Port Union along the Lake Ontario shoreline has mature pine trees, park land and a pretty waterfront. There is the odd rental here, but the houses are mostly two-storeys with three bedrooms and tend to be pricey.
The Rouge River and its wetlands make up a bit chunk of Rouge Hill's landscape. The neighbourhood's streets north of Sheppard are three-quarters detached houses, with a distinctly suburban feel. The housing is affordable and homes are close to shopping malls, parks, schools and a community centre. This neighbourhood is well-served by public transit and is near to the commuter highways. The Toronto Zoo is located here.
The peripheral roads of Scarborough Junction are where some of Scarborough's most affordable condos and apartment units are located, most of which are owned by the local housing authority and saved for low-income families and new immigrants. Meanwhile, Elginton has some detached bungalows built between the 1940s and 1960s. The community is geared to families of lower incomes and includes good shopping along Eglinton and convenient access to TTC and GO Transit stations.
Homes around Elginton in Scarborough Village tend to be smaller and more affordable brick and cottage-style bungalows, while south of Kingston and nearer to the lakeshore are more expansive, executive estates. Shopping is concentrated on Elginton and Markham, the latter offers some great Indian restaurants. The community is also home to Cedarbrae and Marklington shopping centres, Scarborough Village Theatre and a golf course.
Morningside Park and Colonel Danforth Park give the West Hill neighbourhood some natural charm. It's an affordable area with mostly bungalows, built in the 1940s and '50s. Renters wanting a detached house with two bedrooms will likely find some good options in this neighbourhood.
Quiet, residential Woburn offers rental apartments along Lawrence East, and bungalows built in the 1940s pretty much everywhere else. On Woburn's south end is Masaryktown, a not-for-profit housing project Centennial College and the Scarborough Centennial Recreational Centre are located here.