Living in Toronto, Ontario

Life in Toronto.



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Toronto’s Location

Environment :: Transport :: Where to Live :: Business :: Jobs :: Pros and Cons

Location and Climate

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and is North America’s fifth most populous municipality – with a population of 2.7 million people.

The Greater Toronto Area, usually called the GTA is home to 6 million people.

Canada’s government expects the GTA’s population will reach 7.7 million by 2025.

Toronto sits in Southern Ontario’s ‘Golden Horseshoe’: 8 million people – over one-quarter of Canada’s total population – live in this densely populated region.

The city lies on largely flat land, with little in the way of hills.

Toronto’s latitude – 43 degrees north – is similar to Bordeaux, France and – in the southern hemisphere – Christchurch, New Zealand.

Although Toronto’s climate is partially moderated by its Great Lakes location, it is more extreme than Bordeaux’s and Christchurch’s, with somewhat hotter summers and considerably colder winters.

Character

Toronto’s motto is “Diversity Our Strength”.

Known as one of the world’s most multi-cultural cities, Toronto prides itself on its wide range of cultures, languages, food and arts. Almost half of its population are immigrants.

Business and Jobs

Forbes Magazine tracked the “World’s Most Economically Powerful Cities” and included Toronto in its top ten list.

Toronto - Canada's Financial Capital
Toronto – Canada’s Financial Capital

According to Forbes, powerful cities such as Toronto attract investment due to the size of their economy, their projected future prosperity, cost of living and quality of life. Forbes describes Toronto as lying at the economic heart of one of the world’s wealthiest countries, projected to keep humming through 2020.

The other top ten most economically powerful cities identified by Forbes were London, Hong Kong, New York, Tokyo, Chicago, Seoul, Paris, Los Angeles, and Shanghai.

Toronto is Canada’s banking/financial capital and the home of its principle stock exchange, the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Toronto has North America’s third largest concentration of private IT companies, bettered only by San Francisco and New York.

In addition to IT and high finance Ontario’s plentiful natural resources, such as hydroelectricity and raw materials, have helped Toronto and its surrounding municipalities to become major industrial centres, producing more than 50 percent of Canada’s manufactured products.

From the perspective of today’s more troubled economic times, Canada’s banks never extended themselves as unwisely as some of their American and European counterparts and have relatively strong balance sheets.

Toronto currently has a construction boom dominated by condo developments and office buildings. Both the Conference Board of Canada and Oxford Economics predict that Toronto’s economy will grow healthily in 2016 and 2017, by about 3% annually.

Figures published by Statistics Canada show that over 12,000 net full-time jobs were created in the Toronto region in the 12 months to August 2015. As a result of these new jobs, the unemployment rate in the Toronto region is 7.2% at the end of August 2016.


Where to Live in Toronto

Snow in Suburban Toronto
Snow in Suburban Toronto

Suburbs such as North York, Markham and Richmond Hill (north, east) and the Halton region (Oakville and Milton for example) are favoured by families and are among the best places to live in Toronto.

Single men and women tend to prefer the downtown core, where the condominium market has exploded over the last decade.

Government housing is prominent in some parts of west Toronto and higher crime rates are recorded in these areas, such as Jane & Finch, Lawrence Heights, and parts of Etobicoke such as Rexdale. In downtown Toronto, Parkdale, St. James, Regent Park and Moss Park have high crime rates. To the east of the city, parts of Scarborough such as Malvern also have higher crime rates.

Overall, the city of Toronto’s crime rates are low compared with many North American cities, including Canadian cities such as Vancouver, Montreal, Edmonton, Halifax and Winnipeg. Toronto’s crime rates are similar to Calgary’s and Ottawa’s.

The crime rate in parts of the Greater Toronto Area is lower than the city’s — areas such as Markham, Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Oakville and Burlington enjoy crime rates less than half that of the city.

Education

Toronto University Building
Toronto University Building

The University of Toronto is one of the world’s most prestigious post-secondary institutions, ranking 24th in the Academic Ranking of World Universities. There are three different campuses, located in the Downtown area as well as the west (Mississauga) and east (Scarborough).

Toronto is also home to two other universities, Ryerson and York University as well as several community colleges.

Ontario’s school teachers are amonst the highest paid teachers in Canada. Unfortunately, the supply of teachers in Ontario exceeds the demand, and finding work is not easy. Indeed, it’s common for Canadian trained teachers to move overseas to gain experience.

Environment and Getting Around

Union Station Skywalk
Union Station Skywalk

Toronto is one of the very few North American cities in which people can choose not to own a car without suffering major inconveniences. This is largely due to The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) – North America’s third largest public transit system.

The TTC’s far-reaching and reliable network of buses and streetcars are interconnected by an extensive underground subway system. The buses are newly manufactured hybrid-electrics, introduced to reduce air pollution.

The transportation corridor image on the left shows a choice of transportation methods leading to and from downtown Toronto – road, bike-path, railway, and the Don River.

Toronto also has Zipcar, a membership car-sharing service that is billable by the hour. This service is most frequently used in the downtown.

Ontario operates a rail and bus system called GO Transit, connecting the TTC and the Greater Toronto Area. The surrounding regions (York, Peel and Durham) also have transit systems that connect with the TTC, making travel with the public transit system nearly seamless.

The 400 series highways all merge in Toronto’s core. The 401, which is North America’s busiest highway, is the spine of Ontario and Toronto’s infrastructure.

Chinese Lantern Festival, Toronto
Chinese Lantern Festival, Toronto

The rapid growth in the Golden Horseshoe’s population has in turn led to an explosion of the number of vehicles on the road which creates significant gridlock at rush hour periods on most if not all major highways.

Toronto’s air quality is not as good as Canada’s other large metropolitan cities; it has been compromised by the large number of vehicles in the city. Despite this, Toronto still achieved 21st position in the Top 50 cleanest cities reported by Forbes Magazine.

Toronto’s city-wide Green Bin program has been acclaimed for its approach to waste management.

What to do in Toronto

Wonderland
Wonderland

Toronto is well-known for its healthy arts scene, numerous sporting events, a vibrant nightlife, and restaurants, bistros and eateries featuring cuisine from just about any nationality one could think of.

The Art Gallery of Ontario and Royal Ontario Museum are popular with both tourists and residents.

Toronto is a major performing arts centre, with more than fifty ballet & dance companies, six opera companies and two symphony orchestras, performing in many notable venues including Roy Thompson Hall, The Hummingbird Centre and The Centre for the Performing Arts.

The city is also known for its many amusement parks; the best-known of which is Canada’s Wonderland.

Toronto has 6 major sports teams in Hockey, Basketball, Baseball, Football, Soccer and Lacrosse.

The major venues for sporting events are the Air Canada Centre, Rogers Centre (see image) and BMO Field.

Summing Up

Toronto is one of the world’s most multicultural cities, famous for a diverse choice of food, arts, festivals and weather patterns! Smaller suburbs surround the large city offering options for people who prefer to step back from big city life.

For those who love the big city feel like of places like New York and Los Angeles – but with less crime – Toronto is a great fit.

Toronto’s Negatives

Oversized and ever growing population.
Somewhat cold winter.
Constant influx of traffic and vehicles on the road.
Pollution – not the cleanest city.
Expensive housing compared with most Canadian locations.

Toronto’s Positives

Prestigious schools, from elementary to tertiary.
The art scene and leisure options.
Surrounding suburbs to get away from the big city.
Transit system that spans a large area.
Opportunities for the educated.
Canada’s financial, IT and manufacturing hub.
Long, hot summers – too humid for some people.


Comments

  1. Well… have you tried public transportation in Toronto yourself?
    The buses (TTC) don’t actually look that high-tech and the maintenance of the asphalt in the streets is horrible! you can definitely get severe backache from using TTC buses!
    How about healthcare? Isn’t that important? in Toronto healthcare is not well organized and although the insurance is governmental, it’s not very strong.
    I am amazed at how many good reviews about Toronto can be found and how no one is disappointed with some things!
    On the other hand, it’s in no ways a tourist friendly city! the maps showing different venues and transportation routs are not helpful at all! It will take you about two weeks to truly get the hang of how the buses and trains work. And “tokens”?? I mean seriously?! What year is it in Toronto?

    • As having lived in Vancouver and Toronto I can assure you that Toronto trumps Vancouver in transit and overall infrastructure. There would be no way I would have been able to transit from a city that was an hour away from Vancouver (the sky train only hits the immediate suburban cities) like one could here.

      I find it amusing how much people in Toronto complain about stuff and have just chalked it up to them not experiencing the lack of in other cities.

      • I definitely think Van is better for transit and bike lanes. The only think that makes Toronto transit better is that it is 24 hours (major bus routes, not subways).

      • I’m planning to move to Vancouver but I’m really torn between the two cities Vancouver and Toronto. Since you say you have experienced them both could you please provide me some insights. I really cant adjust to the snow.

  2. I’ve lived in TO for over 40 years. The pro/con points are valid. Gridlock, over crowded subways at rush hour, at least one person is shot every weekend and there is a gauntlet of beggars in the downtown. $140 for a good seat at the National Ballet, otherwise it is OK.

  3. I am just on my way to toronto..970km away and i am actually worried now… if my plan to relocate was a good idea :$

  4. Toronto is far better city than Morontreal! People are friendly in Toronto and helpful. If you are lost they help you out but the only thing Toronto really needs is a subway system like Montreal and you got it all!

  5. I was born and raised in Mississauga just outside of Toronto. I would say the the only thing that Toronto has going for it is the education (its got some pretty good collages and university’s) and the Lakeshore Go Train line. Oh and its also got a pretty decent concert scene. Other than that the city is not that great. The housing market is disgusting, $700,000 at least for a rundown house in a bad part of town that real estate will tell you just needs some TLC and is in a up and coming area. Rent is no better, some condos charge $1600+ for studio apartments and $2500+ for 1 or 2 bedrooms in the downtown core. You can get cheeper but you risk shady areas and really bad transit. Transit, oh lord. Its terrible. Theres only 2 subway lines for the whole city, its always packed full and rush hour and disgustingly dirty. The subway always, always, always has delays and signal issues. Buses are late or out of service. You can walk faster than most streetcars because of the traffic. Bike lanes are sparse, and non existing outside of the core. The downtown core is mostly business oriented, so theres a ton of rude people in suits always late, and literally running you down on the sidewalk. Because its alot of financial business alot is closed on the weekends. The construction is constant and never seems to finish. Union station has been under construction for the last 5 years at least and is no where near complete. Hydro is astronomical, charging 50 bucks a month just to deliver the service to your house. The homeless has become a more noticeable problem in the last 3-5 years. The shelters are over run, and the winters are cold, the government doesn’t seem to be doing much about it. Drugs have become a problem as well, nowhere near what Vancouver deals with but geting more and more noticeable. Toronto is just a rude, dirty city. It has some small shining lights like, the St Lawrence market and Distillery District and the Village on Church st is a fun spot most nights. High Park, and Sunnyside are probably the nicest parks not over run with the homless or beggars. Nightlife is popular, lots of bars and clubs. More and more shootings and stabbings happening though, almost 1 a night throughout the city. Not much great to say about Toronto in my opinion.

  6. It depends what you are looking for. Toronto is a relatively free and safe city that generally has good economic opportunities and all the things one would expect of a major city. The downside, from my perspective and as someone who lived 10 years in Western Europe:

    1. Climate is average at best
    2. Infrastructure is run down. Uber and Left have been lifesavers, as the cabs are very expensive
    3. Food scene is good, but not as good as Torontonians think it is. Wine is average and overpriced. Good food / trendy food is generally expensive. But lots of options and different types of food
    4. The city looks run down and its not a place for the dolce vida, lets just say. Very few pedestrian areas for a casual stroll. Not many cafes. People are agenda driven and usually in a rush thinking about the next thing they have to do as opposed to enjoying the moment. Which leaves me to the last point
    5. Torontonians are generally friendly, but not warm or charming. They lack abit of class. Too much time planning, not enough time exploring. Its starts to wear on you after a while – the lack of appreciation for the little things like pleasant conversation (as opposed to people telling you how busy they are all the time), nice cafes with a terrace to drink on. Narrow, crowded sidewalks that make walking stressful, aggressive, frustrated drivers, poorly maintained public areas and constant construction are a buzz kill. On the other hand, the beaches and ravines are great and quite a few decent parks.

    Overall, for the typical person, Toronto will do just fine for a big city. But if you want to live your life with habit more passion and celebration, Toronto is definitely not the place unless you are Drake

  7. I am 42 years old. Born and raised in Chicago, IL and I love every bit of Chicago. As I sit here and read these reviews of Toronto I’m trying to figure out what there really is to complain about. These problems that are being described here feel like a walk in the park to me. Now, it certainly sounds like the housing situation is a pretty difficult one. Sounds more expensive than I’m accustomed to in Chicago. But the crime stuff? I guess it’s all relative. I live in Jacksonville, FL now and if one person per week were getting shot we’d be over the moon here in the states. When I was in high school (89-93) we had between 850-950 murders in Chicago each of those years. Another couple thousand people were shot but didn’t die. These numbers trump anything you’re hearing about in Chicago today. Like any other place, Chicago has parts I wouldn’t advise people to go to (As I’m sure Toronto does as well). But by and large you’ll be just fine in Chicago as long as you stay out of certain places. I’m assuming Toronto is the same way. Long story short, based on some of what I’m reading here, my wife and I should really consider moving to Toronto if we decide to leave the States at some point.

  8. How is the crime rate in Toronto compared to America?

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