Moving to Toronto
Are you moving to Toronto? Although it’s not Canada’s capital, Toronto is the country’s largest city and the fourth largest city in North America. It’s a leading centre for business, finance and culture, and its diverse population makes it one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. Expats are likely to find work in finance, film, aerospace, media, biotechnology, communications or IT, as it’s a hub for all these sectors. Furthermore, this is a major city of culture, with an abundance of theatres, orchestras, opera and dance companies, plus an important annual film festival. However, nature lovers will appreciate its location between two of the Great Lakes, Lake Ontario and Lake Huron, and the opportunities this offers for swimming, sailing and hiking.
Our free, in-depth Moving to Toronto report includes info on:
• The best areas to live
• The good schools
• The average monthly rental prices
• The excellent public transport system in the city
Putting Toronto on the Map
Lying on the northwest shore of Lake Ontario, the city occupies a broad sloping plain through which a number of rivers run down to the lake. It was a Native American settlement for thousands of years, before being bought by the British as capital of Upper Canada. The surrounding region is densely populated, adding up to over a quarter of Canada’s population in what’s known as the Golden Horseshoe around the western end of the lake.
Toronto itself covers 240 square miles, with a 29-mile shoreline along its southern edge. Three rivers cut through the mainly flat city—the Humber, the Don and the Rouge. Their valleys and ravines are in general urban parkland, the deeper parts of which are spanned by bridges. During the city’s history, landfill has extended the shore outward, while the harbour has been dredged and developed to make it suitable for larger ships.
The city is, naturally, one of Canada’s main transport hubs.
- The main form of public transport in the city is the Toronto rapid transit system, with four subway lines and an elevated metro line.
- There is a streetcar network with 11 routes, covering the city centre, Etobicoke, Cabbagetown, High Park and Deer Park.
- The bus system has 140 routes, and there’s also a night bus network.
- The GO Transit rail and bus system covering the Greater Toronto Area carries 250,000 passengers each day.
- The Toronto Pearson International Airport is Canada’s biggest.
- The city has two further airports—the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and Toronto/Downsview Airport.
- Highway 401 bisects the city from east to west and is North America’s busiest highway.
- Traffic congestion is a major problem in the city, and parking in the city centre is expensive.
- As cycling becomes more popular, additional cycle lanes are being designated.
Although the most recognisable part of the city is the soaring skyline of the CBD, this is not actually typical of most of Toronto. There are large suburban tracts of elegant Victorian and Edwardian houses, and plenty of small neighbourhoods with distinctive village characters. The city itself is a conglomeration of six historic municipalities: York, East York, North York, Old Toronto, Etobicoke and Scarborough.
Old Toronto encompasses the historic core of the city and is the most densely populated area. Along with the financial centre, it includes several smart neighbourhoods such as St James Town, Garden District, Corktown, Church and Wellesley, and St Lawrence. As well as expensive residential enclaves, downtown also boasts two Chinatowns, a Greektown area, and ‘little’ Italy, India and Portugal, as well as more bohemian neighbourhoods favoured by artists and media professionals.
King West Village
This downtown area has been recently gentrified by an influx of young professionals. It’s convenient for the CBD and offers excellent nightlife.
Blending a mixture of gritty Victorian industrial conversions and smart new apartments, Liberty Village has been developed into a new and modern community with a good mix of commercial and residential property.
As Toronto’s immigrant melting pot, Kensington has plenty of character, with vintage and craft markets, ethnic food and eclectic shopping.
If your dream is a lakefront apartment in an area crammed with galleries, antique shops and smart restaurants, Harbourfront should be your destination. Fabulous architecture and a surfeit of culture make it popular—and pricy!
An industrial railway junction has been transformed into a desirable residential quarter. Good transport links, proximity to High Park and smart townhouses and loft conversions are the reason for its appeal.
This is a smart old world village with lots of family-friendly features—parks and open space, the Humble River, and shopping at Bloor West.
The Kingsway is a wealthy part of town which commands high rents for its large, tudor-style family homes, modern condos and historic apartment blocks.
This midtown neighbourhood is the place to look for a mansion! It’s a leafy suburb with excellent schools—a great place for families if your budget will stretch.
Smart shops, gourmet dining and swanky hotels bring the tourists here—but there are also lovely family homes once you venture away from the main street. However, property turnover is low and rents high, so don’t pin your hopes on finding something here.
Adjacent to the university, this area is popular with academics and young professionals for its arty vibe and student-style eateries.
On the eastern side of the city, this former artists’ colony is now popular with families for its lake-front living and safe suburban feel. It’s quiet and friendly, with just a half-hour commute to the centre.
The name says it all—and this is one of the city’s most popular lakeside communities with smart water-front villas that are always in demand. However, it can become overcrowded with tourists.
Good schools, pleasant parks, an easy commute, excellent shopping—Leaside really does tick all the boxes, which makes it popular with professional families.
This area has a reputation for excellent schools, good local libraries and great parks, making it the suburb of choice for young families.
New condo developments, a range of schools and good shopping and entertainment make North Toronto an increasingly popular choice.
This former industrial area has become one of Toronto’s most desirable neighbourhoods, with smart condos and conversions, plus easy commuting.
Luxurious apartment blocks and superb cultural facilities, including a school with a reputation for the performing arts, keep Willowdale rents high.
This North York enclave is a melting pot with large Italian and Jewish communities, and immigrants from all over the world. The rents are more reasonable here and the public school has won awards.
Who lives here and why?
Toronto city’s population is more than 2.5 million, while the whole metropolitan area is home to 8.7 million, more than a quarter of Canada’s population. It’s also an incredibly diverse city, with nearly 50 percent of Torontonians having been born abroad. People from 200 different countries speak more than 160 languages, with no one ethnic group dominating the population. There are, however, large populations with English, Chinese, Irish, Scottish, East Indian, Italian, Filipino, German and French ethnic origins, making it the second most diverse city in the world. Various neighbourhoods across the city reflect different nationalities, with Chinatown, Corso Italia, Greektown, Koreatown, and Little India, Italy, Jamaica and Portugal.
Toronto is a major world city and an international centre for finance and commerce.
- The Bay Street Financial District is Canada’s banking hub and the Toronto Stock Exchange is the seventh largest in the world by market capitalization.
- Other important sectors include media, telecommunications, publishing, IT, biotechnology, tourism and film production.
- A large number of Canada’s biggest corporations maintain their headquarters in the city.
- Industry in the surrounding area includes iron, steel, machinery, autos, paper and chemicals.
- With its proximity to New York, Toronto represents the main gateway for trade between the USA and Canada.
- Both the Economist Intelligence Unit and the Mercer Quality of Living Survey rate the city highly as a desirable place to live, with one of the lowest crime rates of all North American cities.
The Best Bits
- Toronto is certainly the cultural capital of Canada, with numerous museums, galleries, festivals, public events and historic sites.
- There are fifty or so ballet/dance companies, two orchestras and numerous theatres.
- The CN Tower was for many years the tallest free-standing structure in the world, and continues to be the tallest free-standing structure in the western hemisphere.
- The city boasts more than 800 buildings that are over 30 metres in height.
- The Distillery District by the harbour is one of Canada’s premier industrial heritage sites, with Victorian alcohol processing plants and grain stores dating back to when the area was a major centre for the production of alcohol.
- Cutting edge architecture in the city includes Libeskind’s Royal Ontario Museum annex, Gehry’s Art Gallery of Ontario and Alsop’s Ontario College of Art and Design.
- Toronto has a good selection of parks and open spaces, from the river ravines that cut through it to waterfront nature reserves.
- The city has team representation in six major league sports and there are good facilities for participating in sport all over the city.
- The city hosts one of the world’s largest LGBT Pride celebrations every year.
Bringing the Kids
Rating highly in surveys on quality of living, Toronto is great place to bring up your family. Crime levels are low, amenities for families and children are good, and the standard of education is high.
- The University of Toronto is Canada’s largest.
- There are three additional universities in the city, and four other post-secondary colleges.
- Other educational institutions include the Royal Conservatory of Music, the Canadian Film Centre and Canada’s largest seminary.
- There are more than 550 public schools under the auspices of the Toronto District School Board, 100 or so of which are secondary schools.
- The main teaching languages in the city are English and French, but the public school system offers help to students whose first language isn’t either of these.
- Anyone with a work permit can enrol their children in the public school system free of charge.
- Entry preference for public schools is given to children living within the school’s catchment area. Scarborough and Don Valley are held to have the city’s best public schools.
- Private and international schools are expensive, with fees of up to $25,000 per annum.
- Many of the city’s private schools are faith-based, predominantly Catholic.
- There are French, German and English international schools, teaching the curriculum of those countries.
Relocating to Toronto
With its lakeside location and eclectic mix of modern and traditional architecture, Toronto is one of Canada’s most attractive cities. It’s also a vibrant commercial centre and a focal point for trade between Canada and the USA—in other words, a good place to build a career. Finance, film, media, biotechnology and tourism are important market sectors and, as a highly diverse city, Toronto is particularly welcoming to expats. It’s the ideal place to bring your family—culture and education rate highly and there are plenty of family-friendly suburbs to settle in. But singles and couples are also well-catered for and central Toronto offers plenty of swish apartments or funky industrial conversions for an urban lifestyle.
At Saunders 1865, our teams of experts combine local knowledge with first-hand experience to pinpoint the right area and the right property that will tick all your boxes. Do you have children that need to be enrolled in school? Are the transport links convenient for your needs? Does this location fit with your expectations of expat life and is the space configured in a way that suits your requirements? We can bring expertise to all these factors and help to arrange smooth, efficient and stress-free relocations – to Toronto, London and destinations across the world. Our services include home finding assistance, school finding, lease negotiations, temporary accommodation, move management and immigration assistance. Don’t hesitate to contact us to find out how we can help you.
Average Monthly Rent - Toronto
|Apartment (1 bedroom) in city centre||C$1,839|
|Apartment (1 bedroom) outside of centre||C$1,434|
|Apartment (3 bedrooms) in city centre||C$3,189|
|Apartment (3 bedrooms) outside of centre||C$2,250|