The Pros and Cons of Living in Toronto
Spectacles of lively streets and towering buildings attract thousands of tourists and residents alike to the city of Toronto every year.
What makes Toronto such a popular destination for homebuyers is the richly diverse and colorful tapestry of cultures woven together coupled with a thriving technology sector. In recent years, an enormous well of tech jobs has sprung up, inviting new faces from across the nation and the world to enjoy the fruits of the city’s success. Living in Toronto isn’t all shimmering lights and endless opportunities, however – making the move to the sleepless city involves weighing a few pros and cons and considering the impact the pandemic has had on the municipality.
Although ripe with circumstance, Toronto has always posed challenges to homebuyers, and it’s undoubtedly less inviting for those who arrive unprepared now. That’s why homebuyers should read this list of pros and cons before making the move.
Access to transportation
With a variety of options available to suit your transportation needs, the wide accessibility to travel is one of Toronto’s most attractive features.
Modern transportation is becoming almost too expensive to be sustainable – things like gas, insurance, and maintenance can be incredibly pricey. Toronto’s many alternative ways of getting around act as a lure for potential homebuyers.
Within the city, there’s the usual taxicab, Uber and Lyft options you’d find in any large urban setting. But Toronto residents may also enjoy the convenience of the TTC, a comprehensive network of subway lines that run across the city. There are also buses and streetcars for those who prefer terrestrial travel. The GO Train services east, west, and north parts of Toronto, as well as the suburbs.
A great place to raise a family
Home to the University of Toronto — Canada’s top ranking post-secondary institution in 2019 — the city boasts four colleges and four universities, making it an appealing settlement for families with older kids. And the Beaches, one of Toronto’s most popular family neighbourhoods, is home to some of the best schools in the city.
An added bonus: Toronto has over forty hospitals, most of which also function as research facilities and conduct work in affiliation with the University of Toronto. That means Toronto is one of the best places to receive healthcare in the province!
High wages & career development
For the past decade, Toronto has dominated the nation in terms of job production. There’s no city better for career development and growth opportunities in tech, research and development, law, engineering, accounts and finance.
One aspect of the job market that potential homebuyers will find especially appealing is the high average wage. Compared to national salaries, which average at about $52.6K per year, and provincial salaries which average at about $53.5K per year, Toronto’s annual wage is, on average, much higher at $64K.
This could be owed to the city’s booming tech industry, as well as the monopoly on the accounting and finance sector.
The most popular and lucrative employers include big banking firms such as RBC Canada, TD Bank and BMO Financial Group. The most common occupations belong to software developers, project managers and software engineers, all of whom earn an average annual salary between $40K and $112K.
A diverse city
Toronto has always been home to an eclectic and sundry collection of settlers from all around the globe. There’s no better evidence of this than the renowned Kensington Market. Located adjacent to Chinatown, between College and Dundas streets, it’s a collection of flavours, sights and sounds from every corner of the world.
The city is home to several cultural burrows, each of which reside in their own pocket of Toronto, maintaining unique traditions and hosting festivals throughout the year.
Chinatown This is where you’ll find the best authentic Chinese fare in the city – and Toronto has two of such areas, one on the west side along Dundas Street and Spadina Avenue, and one on the east side along Broadview and Gerrard Avenues.
The India Bazaar is an area located along Coxwell and Pape Avenues and is also sometimes known as Little India. It’s home to the South Asian community of Toronto.
Koreatown is located along Bloor Street, between Bathurst and Christie streets. It’s the central marketplace for Toronto’s Korean community.
Cabbagetown is an area located at Parliament and Carlton streets, which was originally named for the Irish immigrants who settled in the area. In September the streets light up for the Cabbagetown Festival.
Little Italy is the area located along College Street West between Euclid and Shaw streets.
Despite its name, it’s mostly inhabited by Portuguese residents. It was originally named for the Italian immigrants who populated the area in the 1920s. In June, the annual Taste of Little Italy festival is hosted here.
Corso Italia is a neighbourhood along St. Clair Avenue West between Dufferin Street and Lansdowne Avenue. It boasts a stronger Italian presence. In July, the annual Corso Italia Toronto Fiesta brings the community to life.
Portugal Village is where the city’s Portuguese community is most strongly represented. Along Dundas Street, between Ossington Avenue and Bathurst Street, the gardens and cheese shops offer an authentic taste of Portuguese culture.
Greektown is where the majority of Greek immigrants settled, between Chester and Jones Avenues, which would eventually become one of the largest Greek communities in North America. One of the city’s largest festivals, “Taste of the Danforth”, is hosted here each August.
Bloor West Village has a strong Eastern European presence, with Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, German, Polish and Bulgarian heritage. This neighbourhood is bordered by Bloor Street, the Humber River and High Park. August brings the Ukrainian Festival complete with a parade, music, dancers and native cuisine.
“The Village” as it’s known to locals is predominantly home to Toronto’s gay community. Nestled downtown at the intersection of Church & Wellesley, this neighborhood is where you’ll find tons of cafés, bars and nightclubs, and the annual Gay Pride Parade in June.
The Toronto Caribbean Carnival or Caribana is an annual celebration of Caribbean heritage and culture. Every July through August, Lakeshore Blvd at Exhibition Place comes alive with island music, dancing and brightly colored costumes as participants march in the Grande Parade.
Lots of entertainment
Toronto is a city known for both business and pleasure. With a wide array of activities suitable for all ages, it’s got something fun to offer for everyone in the family.
With a wildly popular nightlife scene, Ontario’s capital is a young professional’s dream. The city is home to countless bars, clubs, lounges and music venues. This is a city that never sleeps, so for someone seeking a little fun and adventure, you’re guaranteed not to look too hard.
If you’re in the mood for entertainment of a different variety, the city offers plenty of alternative family-friendly options.
In fact, Toronto is nestled adjacent to one of Ontario’s most popular tourist attractions — North America’s largest waterfall. About 750,000 gallons of water per second rush over Niagara Falls, where residents and travellers alike flock to get their photos taken.
During the warmer months, Trinity Bellwoods Park offers one of the liveliest spots for dog owners and millennials to catch some sun.
Other attractions with particular pull include the renowned Roy Thompson Hall, a celebrated concert hall where some of Canada’s best musicians come to play; the Rogers Centre, home to the Toronto Blue Jays; and the St. Lawrence Market, the city’s bustling hub for fresh produce and artisanal handmade goods.
You can visit the Beaches to catch Toronto’s annual Jazz Festival, a 10-day event held in late June through early July along Queen Street East.
And don’t miss the annual Toronto International Film Festival. It’s the film capital of Canada, where you can witness the absolute best of Canadian cinema.
High housing prices
Toronto’s housing market hasn’t been left unscathed by the pandemic. Even pre-COVID, Toronto offered many benefits but carried one huge, glaring disadvantage — price.
Pandemic restrictions have severely impacted social and cultural life, and remote work has given homeowners the ability to work from virtually anywhere. As a result, downtown city living seems to be losing its luster, pushing homebuyers to more rural destinations, and driving housing prices up.
Toronto’s housing market reached an all-time high in October 2020. The average closing price on a home was just over $968K, which was a 14 per cent increase from October 2019.
Larger homes have taken the biggest hit, with detached homes seeing the greatest increase in price at 15 per cent and 33 per cent increase in sales compared to the previous year. Semi-detached homes and townhouses have also increased by double digits in price. The condo market has declined in value, but only in downtown Toronto.
Toronto is what’s called a “seller’s market”, meaning there is less product for sale on the market than there are buyers available. That means prices will be inevitably steep. Case in point: last year, the average home in Toronto closed at one per cent higher than the original asking price.
High cost of living
There are many factors that affect and drive up the cost of living. Prices for utilities like natural gas and water will fluctuate depending on generation and transmission costs. These can be contingent on government regulations, local taxes, personal consumption rates, and even local weather conditions.
The cost of living in Toronto is 100 per cent of the national average. The high cost of living is not restricted to the expense of utilities, but includes daily expenses ranging from groceries, dining out, transportation, to taxes and insurance — all of which are impacted by the area you live in.
If this were not enough, the pandemic has increased the cost of goods everywhere in Canada – especially food. Researchers from Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph indicated that the price of groceries, especially imported items, was on an incline since the onset of COVID-19.
A constantly changing job market
The pandemic struck hard against Canada’s workforce, putting many employees temporarily out of a job. With the economy still largely stalled and many people still unemployed, some economists predict more competition within the greater job market — and of course, an evolving landscape.
Although more remote jobs may be available in the near future, folks may find themselves vying harder among their equally qualified peers for the same positions. COVID-19 setbacks will cause certain industries to slow down or even stop hiring completely, which is undesirable for anyone potentially planning a move to Toronto.
With its sky-high towers resembling the stuff of cinema screens, overflowing with uniquely Canadian flare and colour, Toronto would make a superb home for a young working professional, a family of five, or a retiring couple looking for a taste of the condo life.
To help you make your decision, and carefully weigh the necessary pros and cons, all you need is an experienced, trustworthy REALTOR®. Fortunately, you’re already in the right place.