The Best Places to Live in Toronto

Toronto is a huge, sprawling city which offers any number of neighbourhood characteristics and different lifestyles.


Our Top Ten Toronto Picks

Click a red marker to learn more
about any of the areas we’ve picked

Our criteria for selecting good places to live may seem pedestrian to our more avant-garde readers, but they are focused around the fact that the majority of people prefer living in areas with:

›› low crime rates
›› good schools
›› good access to downtown Toronto

We’ll specify what we think are some of the best places to live in Greater Toronto.

If we don’t mention somewhere, that doesn’t mean you should strike it off your list. Many Greater Toronto neighbourhoods meet our criteria – these are just our personal favourites, listed alphabetically.

Some places we suggest have large populations. For example, Markham: we think Markham is a great place to live, but it’s a big place. Within it, you’ll naturally find some neighbourhoods that suit you better than others. Take our suggestions as starting points in your search.

Farther from the city there’s more space for new homes to be built, so you’ll find most of the area’s rapid population growth has been accommodated in places outside the city of Toronto but within commuting distance of downtown Toronto.

Modern Homes – The Cookie Cutter Approach
Many new-build homes have appeared in Richmond Hill, Markham, and Vaughan, for example. These are often referred to as cookie-cutters on the basis that the houses have as much individuality as cookies cut using the same cutter.

These detached family homes tend to offer smaller gardens and less individuality in housing styles than older developments. Nevertheless, the rooms in these houses can be generously sized and the developments offer many families all the facilities they want, with access to great lifestyle possibilities.

The Best Places to Live in Toronto

House Prices
House prices correct late 2016.

The Beaches

Toronto Streetcar
Toronto Streetcar

The Beaches lies on the shore of Lake Ontario, just a few kilometres east of Toronto’s financial/commercial district. Streetcars from the Beaches take half-an-hour or so to reach the commercial district. The area offers its residents (and large numbers of visitors) a thriving, family friendly, cafe culture, with plenty of restaurants and bars. The area can become too busy at times for some residents.

Most of the Beaches’ 20,000 residents have British Isles ancestry. Britons and other Europeans continue to make up the majority of newcomers. About one-tenth of the Beaches population is made up of visible minorities – the main groups are Chinese and South East Asian.

You will need to budget in the region of $1.5 million to buy an average detached home in The Beaches and more for the most sought after parts. $850,000+ will buy you a typical semi-detached house. Crime levels in the sometimes very busy Beaches, while never high, are not as low as in our other choices.


Bloor Village West/ Roncesvalles/ High Park

High Park Houses for Redevelopment
High Park Houses for Redevelopment

Bloor Village West, Roncesvalles and High Park are three different neighbourhoods which lie adjacent to one another. Their proximity to downtown Toronto means they are popular with many types of property buyer, including developers who demolish or update older houses.

Housing in all of these areas is expensive – expect to pay over $1,000,000 for an average, detached home. Most of the population in each of the neighbourhoods has British Isles ancestry.

Bloor Village West is known for its quiet, leafy streets. It has plenty of restaurants and bars and lies about 30 minutes from Toronto’s commercial district by subway. About one-sixth of Bloor Village West’s population are visible minorities – the main groups are South East Asian and Chinese.

Roncesvalles was once known as Toronto’s Polish neighbourhood. Again, it is a leafy area with large, traditional homes in quiet streets. Homes are cheaper here than in the adjoining High Park. Expect to pay over $900,000 for an average, detached home. About one-third of Roncesvalles’ population are visible minorities – the main groups are South East Asian and Chinese.

High Park’s centrepiece is the 400 acre park from which the neighbourhood takes its name. Families who can afford million dollar plus homes and who want the convenience of a location close to the commercial heart of the city but with plenty of trees and parkland gravitate to High Park. About one-sixth of High Park’s population are visible minorities – the main groups are South East Asian and Chinese.

One bedroom condominiums in the High Park / Swansea area are priced from $250,000.

These neighbourhoods have good transport connections and are about 20-30 minutes from Toronto’s business district in rush hour.

Burlington

Burlington at Christmas
Burlington Ribfest

The city of Burlington lies on the shore of Lake Ontario about 50 km (30 miles) south-west of Toronto. From Burlington the GO train takes 45 to 50 minutes to reach Union Station in the heart of Toronto.

Most of Burlington’s population of 170,000 have British Isles ancestry. Less than ten percent of the population are visible minorities.

The city’s residents enjoy the use of almost 3,000 acres of park land, eight golf courses, four indoor and two outdoor pools, three splash pads, seven ice pads, and six community centres.

A typical townhouse in Burlington will cost $500,000+. A one bedroom apartment will cost from $230,000.

Leaside

Houses in Leaside
Houses in Leaside

Leaside is regarded as one of Toronto’s top areas.

It is a wealthy, leafy area known for its quality of life, good schools and convenient access to Toronto’s commercial heart by road (The Bayview extension).

Leaside homes are expensive – you will need to budget over $2 million for an average, detached home in sought after streets here. You should budget $700,000+ for an average townhouse.

Most of the current population has British Isles ancestry and it remains a popular choice with wealthier British immigrants.

About one-tenth of Leaside’s population are visible minorities – the main groups are South East Asian and Chinese.

Markham

The town of Markham lies about 17 km (10 miles) or half-an-hour by GO train north of Toronto’s commercial centre. 30 years ago, Markham was a small, semi-rural town but since then it has grown remarkably quickly.

New Homes in Markham
New Homes in Markham

At the time of the 2011 census, Markham’s population was 300,000 and it has been growing since by an average of about 10,000 people each year. The town claims for itself the title of Canada’s high technology capital – with some justification, given the presence of Apple, IBM, Lucent, Motorola, Toshiba and Sun Microsystems amongst others.

Buyers should budget over $750,000 for a typical, townhouse in Markham or about $350,000 for a two bedroom apartment.

About two-third’s of Markhams’ population are visible minorities. More than half of Markham’s population is Chinese or South Asian by ancestry and the town is a popular choice with Chinese/Hong Kong immigrants.

Oakville

The town of Oakville lies on Lake Ontario’s shore, about 35 km (22 miles) or 35 minutes by GO train, south-west of Toronto’s commercial centre.

Oakville’s prosperous population is predominantly of British Isles ancestry and the town remains popular with newcomers from the UK. Visible minorities make up slightly less than one-fifth of the population – the main groups are South East Asian and Chinese.

The town has 2,500 acres of parkland, good schools, large numbers of play areas for children and two boating marinas.

Older homes tend to lie at the southern end of the town, closer to the lake. A large number of new houses have been built in the northern part of Oakville and these cost less than those in the southern part of town. Buyers should budget about $1,500,000+ for a typical, four bedroom detached house in Oakville – although homes tend to be more expensive in the older part of town, nearer the waterfront.

Two bedroon apartments cost from around $430,000.

Richmond Hill

Suburban Scene
Suburban Scene

The town of Richmond Hill lies about 25 km (15 miles) or half-an-hour by GO train, north of Toronto’s commercial centre. At the time of the 2011 census, the town’s population was 185,000 and growing rapidly.

Richmond Hill’s prosperous population have diverse backgrounds, with visible minorities making up half of the population. The main minority groups are Chinese and South East Asian.

Richmond Hill has over 166 parks offering facilities such as nature trails, playgrounds, sports and athletic fields, picnic areas, tennis courts. The town also has 1360 acres of natural, environmental area for recreation.

About $1.5 million – $2.5 million buys a typical, detached house in Richmond Hill. Typical semi-detached houses cost $700,000 – $1 million. A one bedroon apartment will cost from $330,000.

Vaughan

The city of Vaughan lies about 21 km (13 miles) north of Toronto’s commercial centre.

At the time of the 2011 census, the town’s population was 288,000 and growing rapidly. Vaughan’s population was just 30,000 in 1981. It is expected to exceed 300,000 by 2021.

The city’s largest employers are the Wonderland amusement park, which employs more than 3,000 people, and UPS (United Parcel Services) employing 2,000 people.

More people in Vaughan identify themselves as Italian or Jewish by origin than by any other ethnicity. Visible minorities make up just over a quarter of the population. The main minority groups are Chinese and South East Asian.

Buyers should budget around $1 million to $1.5 million to buy a typical detached house in Vaughan or about $600,000 for a townhouse. Detached houses account for almost 80 percent of all residential property in Vaughan.