The decision to move is not an easy one. The process of getting your life up and running in a new city can be daunting, especially if that city is Toronto, a diverse metropolis and multicultural hub that’s home to over 2.7 million people. If you are new to the city or just looking for some insight into what it has to offer, this guide will help get you started! We have information on everything from Toronto real estate, its neighbourhood diversity, and top educational institutions to living costs and job opportunities. Welcome to Toronto!
Basic Facts About Toronto
Toronto is situated in the south portion of the Ontario province, on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario.
Toronto is Ontario’s capital, the most populous city in Canada and the fourth-largest city in North America. More than 2.7 million people live there. Toronto and its surrounding municipalities and towns create an even bigger metropolitan area in southern Ontario, The Greater Toronto Area (GTA), home to more than 6.5 million people.
Toronto has a stereotypical continental Canadian climate with four well-differentiated seasons. Winters go from December through March and tend to be snowy and freezy, with below-zero temperatures in the coldest month (January). Summers are hot and humid, with temperatures ranging between 68°F and 95°F. The hottest month in Toronto is July.
Toronto is cosmopolitan and progressive, a modern city that favours plurality and diversity, and it is also Canada’s business and commercial centre. Toronto has something for everyone with its vibrant arts scene, ample green spaces, delicious food, and unique neighbourhoods.
Homes For Sale In Toronto
Toronto Real Estate Market
Toronto has a hot and rapidly-changing housing market that has seen dwelling prices increase steadily for years now. A property in the city has an average sold price of $1.1 million. The reason for the rapidly-growing home prices lies in a high housing demand, fueled mainly by immigration, and a supply that cannot keep up with demand. Despite that scenario, home sales haven’t dwindled in Toronto and people are still relocating to Toronto. Properties sell fast in Toronto after being on the market for 14 days on average, indicating a strong seller’s real estate market.
If you recently arrived in the city and you are looking to purchase your first house or condo for sale in Toronto, don’t get discouraged just yet. There are several ways you can save money in your home-purchasing endeavours, including researching the most affordable neighbourhoods in the city for first-time homebuyers. You can also go for a cheaper housing type, like a condo or a townhome, choose existing dwellings instead of new construction properties, and use programs such as the recently expanded First-Time Homebuyer Incentive.
Buying property in Toronto can be an intricate and costly process, especially if you are a newcomer, but it’s also a profitable long-term investment! The real estate market in Toronto has been continuously appreciating for years, producing a far more stable growth than, for example, the stock market.
Average Property Prices In Toronto (2021)
- Single-Family Detached Home: $1.5M
- Semi-Detached Home: $1.1M
- Townhouse: $1M
- Condo: $720,000
Toronto has over 140 unique neighbourhoods located in 10 different areas: Downtown, Midtown, Uptown, Etobicoke, York, North York, West End, East York, Scarborough and the East End. Here is a brief list of some of the best neighbourhoods in Toronto for newcomers:
Moving to Toronto to advance your career? The Annex is close to the University of Toronto, which turns it into a hangout spot for students and creative young professionals. Filled with trendy pubs, cafes, and restaurants, the neighbourhood has a significant rental pool and a highly coveted residential zone.
Young families with small children can live their best lives at Bedford Park! Bedford Park real estate features great primary schools, good transit options, walk-distance amenities, and extensive parks. There’s no better place to put down roots just outside the city’s core.
Forest Hill is an elegant and stately neighbourhood, with heritage and new construction houses on winding, tree-canopied streets. The area is best for mature professionals, multigenerational families, and retirees looking to spend their golden years in a peaceful and safe environment with plenty of green spaces.
Yorkville is sophisticated and dynamic neighbourhood is a prestigious address to have in Toronto. Yorkville offers a paradise for domestic and foreign investors: an eclectic mix of condos, apartment buildings, and opulent mansions. Here, residents live just steps away from the financial centre and close-by world-class amenities and entertainment options.
This is where most people visualize themselves living in Toronto. If you are moving to town for work or if you are an urbanite, the maintenance-free condo lifestyle in the downtown area can be convenient for you. You will be close to everything, can walk everywhere, and enjoy it all from art venues, concerts, and events, to top dining options and nightlife spots.
One of the best places to settle in the West End, this family-centred and safe area is excellent for young families and artsy individuals. Bloordale Village is a prolific art district, a foodie’s playground, and a blooming entrepreneurial nest. There are great schools nearby and easy access to downtown.
If you are moving from another Canadian province:
If you are moving from the U.S.:
- Apply for Canadian residency.
- Apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) (if you are a permanent resident).
- Have all the necessary crossing the border documentation.
If you are moving from abroad:
- Apply for Canadian residency.
- Apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) (if you are a permanent resident).
Toronto Living Costs
Toronto is a city with a high living standard that mainly reflects on housing or renting prices. However, the cost for other goods and services used in daily life, such as shopping, food, transportation, or entertainment, is comparable or, in some cases, less than the cost in other major metropolises like New York or London.
Canada consistently figures among the countries with the best education rankings worldwide, even though it doesn’t have a federal education department. The provincial governments are in charge of public education. If you’re relocating to Toronto from the US, you should know that in Ontario, school attendance is mandatory for children up to 16 years of age, and the school year typically goes from August to June.
Toronto has a solid and well-renowned education system with a myriad of primary and secondary schooling alternatives for families to choose from. Four different publicly-funded boards operate the schools in the city, but there are also private religious school boards, independent secular institutions, and independent religious schools. As a result, children in Toronto can enroll in well-ranked public or private schools, receive instruction in English or French as their first language, or be educated in a secular, separate, or faith-based environment. Public education is free for every child in Toronto despite their immigration status or the status of their parents. On the other hand, private schools charge tuition and have their own admission processes.
Universities & Colleges
As far as post-secondary options go, Toronto is home to several world-class, highly-ranked vocational schools, colleges and universities, both public and private. Some of the most prestigious colleges in town are Centennial College, George Brown College, and French-language Collège des Grands-Lacs. The University of Toronto, Ryerson University, OCAD University, and Université de l’Ontario français are public reputable universities. At the same time, Tyndale University and Yorkville University are two of the top private universities.
Resuming a professional career is one of the biggest challenges in any relocating process, and doing so in a competitive job market like Toronto is especially intimidating. The good news is that Toronto is a major economic hub and the largest financial centre in Canada, with job openings booming in several areas. Environmental innovation, technology, financial and business services, film-making, life sciences, hospitality, education, and fashion and design are top industries in the city, offering professionals in different fields the chance to launch their dream careers. Scotiabank, Magna International, BMO, Rogers, Bell, TD Bank, the Toronto School Board District, Hudson’s Bay, and Deloitte are some of the largest employers in the city.
Toronto has a tax-funded healthcare system with free medical services provided by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) for those who qualify. There is also private insurance coverage. Hospitals in Toronto are among the best worldwide regarding innovation, tech-supported infrastructure, research, and patient wellbeing. Renowned hospitals in the city include The Hospital for Sick Kids, Toronto General Hospital, St. Michael’s Hospital, and Mount Sinai Hospital.
Toronto Leisure & Entertainment
Events & Culture
Toronto hosts all sorts of events throughout the year. If you love music, purchase tickets to see world-renowned artists and performers at Rogers Centre or see the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at its home, the prominent Roy Thomson Hall. Cinephiles can catch the latest big-screen hit at the prestigious Toronto Film Festival. At the same time, theatregoers enjoy musicals and plays at The Theatre District, the world’s third-largest district of its kind. The Princess of Wales Theatre, The Art Gallery of Ontario, the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, and the Royal Ontario Museum are top cultural hotspots in town.
Food & Drink
Toronto does justice to its fame of being a foodie paradise. As a multicultural enclave, the city’s culinary scene is thriving with a plethora of restaurants, eateries, pubs, bars, and cafés of distinct origins and cuisine styles to satisfy every craving and budget. From upscale gourmet restaurants run by top chefs to trendy food trucks and small local joints, Torontonians know the art of good eating.
With 1,500 parks covering over 8,000 hectares of land and over 10 million trees, Toronto boasts quality green public spaces to relax and unwind. Far from the buzzing, concrete jungle that the city centre is in, locals can have a picnic, go hiking, walk their dog, ride a bike, play various sports, or watch a sunset lakefront at any of Toronto’s best parks. The Toronto Islands, High Park, Scarborough Bluffs, and Trinity Bellwoods are a few options.
Sports fanatics can live their passion fully in Toronto. The city has several professional teams in major leagues, including The Blue Jays, The Raptors, The Maple Leafs, and Toronto FC. Toronto is also home of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Public Transit Options
Public transportation alternatives are plentiful and reliable in Toronto. Torontonians move around the city using buses, streetcars, and subways operated by the TTC (Toronto Transportation Commission), while GO Trains help them reach suburban areas within the GTA. Walking and biking are also suitable options for active or eco-conscious commuters, especially downtown, where bike lanes, bike parks, and bike-share stations are abundant. Toronto Pearson Airport, the largest airport in Canada, is a 20-minute drive from downtown.
Owning A Car
Depending on where you live, you might not need to drive a car in Toronto. Car sharing alternatives such as Car2go, Zip car, and Enterprise CarShare are popular mobility options in town. However, if you want to use your vehicle, consider that the city is densely populated, which means busy roads and sparse parking spaces. You can purchase or lease your own car once you arrive, but if you rather move your own car to Toronto, follow the steps to either register a vehicle from outside Ontario or register your vehicle from outside Canada.
Toronto Local Facts & Tips For Newcomers
No Toronto relocation guide would be complete without a top 10 list.
- Get a Presto card! It is a convenient and simple way to pay for public transit travels in Toronto.
- Being bilingual, or at least being open to learning another language, comes in handy in a city with more than 140 spoken languages, two of them officially (English and French).
- Toronto is the second safest city in the world, according to The Economist’s Safe Cities Index 2021.
- Toronto has a tradition of being a welcoming city, which results in a highly multicultural place that gives newcomers a sense of inclusion. More than 50% of people in Toronto are foreign-born.
- Cell phone plans in Toronto are known to be costly. You can lower them by choosing a BYOD plan (you’ll need a compatible, unlocked cell) instead of purchasing a new phone through your chosen provider.
- From Yorkville Village and Kensington Market to the PATH, Toronto is home to some of the world’s best shopping spots, centres, and malls.
- Tipping is expected in Toronto. 15% to 20% or more of the purchase amount is considered reasonable in most cases.
- You can drive in Toronto with your current driver’s license for up to 60 days. Then you’ll need to switch to an Ontario driving license. You can change right away if you are relocating from one of the places included in the province’s reciprocal licence agreement or if you are relocating from another Canadian province and have the required driving experience.
- Pet-friendly is a great word to describe Toronto! The city welcomes pets from anywhere in the world and is filled with amenities just for your furry pal, including several dog parks and off-leash dog areas and cafés and restaurants with open doors for cats and dogs.
- New to the city? Putting your finances in order start with opening a bank account in Toronto. Afterward, you can transfer money from your home country using a transfer service like CurrencyFair.