Maybe you’re a massive Drake fan looking for a view of The Six, a curious Economist reader convinced it’s the most liveable city in the world, a Brit or American on a quest for the last liberal outpost or just one of the 40,000 regular folks who move to Toronto every year. Whatever your reason, Apartmate has everything you need to know about moving to Toronto.
1. Toronto is the biggest city in Canada and fourth largest city in North America
In the 1990s, Toronto’s six boroughs were amalgamated into one so-called ‘mega city’. Toronto’s population is 2.8 million (or 6 million including the four municipalities that make up the Greater Toronto Area). This makes Toronto the fourth largest North American city behind Mexico City, New York, and Los Angeles. Toronto has 140 neighbourhoods, each with its own personality. Before you move to Toronto, find your perfect neighbourhood using Toronto Life’s neighbourhood guide.
2. Toronto is the most multicultural city in the world
More than 51% of Toronto residents were born outside of Canada and 230 different nationalities call it home, making Toronto the most culturally diverse city in the world. While this can be a surprise to those who are new to town, Toronto’s crown as most diverse city in the world is often taken for granted by those who live here. Kids in Toronto’s school system are taught that whereas the United States is a ‘melting pot’ where all immigrants become Americans, Canada is a ‘salad bowl’ where many different cultures make a whole. However, Toronto is by no means a utopia. This article has some interesting coverage of recent race-related challenges the city and country are facing.
3. Toronto is not that boring
Actor Peter Ustinov once called Toronto ‘New York run by the Swiss.’ By this he meant it’s a big city that’s also clean and orderly. It has a reputation for being really ‘nice’ but not really interesting. There is something to this, but there is more. We’d say Toronto is quickly growing out of its awkward adolescence to become a cool teenager finally coming into its own. Once fully adult, it’ll be the kind of place you visit with your parents. Or the sane, stable city you finally settle down with.
- BlogTOis a must-read daily weblog covering Toronto music, film, arts, people, places and other happenings. If you are thinking about moving to Toronto but not sure if its for you, subscribe to their Facebook feed and check their calendar to see what’s on any day of the week.
- NOW Magazineis a weekly news and entertainment tabloid that highlights events sometimes left out of mainstream media. Also check Eventbriteand Timeout Toronto.
- Toronto Lifeis a monthly publication that is at its best with annual special issues on Real Estate, Food, Fashion and Neighbourhoods.
- Soundscapesand Rotate This are two of Toronto’s best independent record stores which also curate concert lists & sell tickets to live music gigs in the city.
- The Torontoistis an independent online newspaper focused on political, civic and cultural issues. If you’re moving to Toronto and want to know what the more difficult issues facing the city are – the ones other publications might gloss over – check here first.
- The Globe and Mail and National Post are daily newspapers with national and international news, while The Toronto Star is a daily newspaper with local, national and international news.
4. Transportation is a huge hassle in Toronto
Public transportation is run by the Toronto Transit Commission. The TTC is the most expensive transit system in North America and one of the most outdated in the world. Complaining about it is practically a civic hobby, but on the upside it’s always a convenient excuse for being late. The RocketMan app is essential for getting around by bus or streetcar. If you drive, be prepared for heavy traffic, winter snowbanks that reduce major roads to one lane and summer construction that does the same. As in New York, taxis and are everywhere and Uber is ubiquitous. Walking and biking are your best options in every season.
Given the many hassles of getting around this town, your commute should be one of the most important factors when choosing what neighbourhood you want to live in when you move here. Consider living in a more expensive apartment if it will allow you to live closer to work and save money on transit or gas money. This will have a huge impact on your happiness.
5. Toronto is one of the safest cities in the world
Toronto is consistently rated one of the safest cities in the world, and is often called the safest major city in North America. This is good news for anyone looking for apartments to rent, as most neighbourhoods are safe enough to make good homes. In most parts of the city, transportation rather than safety will be your main concern when moving to Toronto.
6. Torontonians love to exercise
- Goodlifehas a monopoly on gyms in the city, having bought out all their rivals. The YMCAis a popular (and cheaper) alternative. Check out the Toronto Athletic Club if you’re in search of something more upscale.
- Gyms offering small group personal training are a great way to push your limits and meet new people. Fuel Training Club, Strive Liveand Academy of Lionsare our favourites.
- Sign up for any team sport you can dream of with the Toronto Sport and Social Club.
- Toronto has nearly as many yoga studios as coffee shops. Downward Dog, Ashtanga Yoga Centre, Octopus Gardenand Breatheare a few independent studios with devoted followings.
- There are three big sailing clubs in the city and most offer ‘city side’ sports facilities and social events: the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, Queens City Yacht Club, and National Yacht Club.
- Martial arts are everywhere. Check this listfor some of the best.
- Most parks have public tennis courtsthat are free to use – the custom is to keep your game to half an hour and hang your racket on the board to reserve your place in line.
- Squash courts are a little harder to find and you’ll need a membership.
7. Toronto is a great place to be gay
Toronto’s culture of tolerance and inclusivity extends to sexual orientation and gender expression. In 2005, Canada became the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide by passing the Civil Marriage Act, which gave marriage a gender-neutral definition. By the time the law was passed, same-sex marriage was already legal nine out of twelve provinces and territories, and most legal benefits commonly associated with marriage had been enjoyed by cohabiting same-sex couples since 1999. There was little resistance to the Act and gay marriage is not a political issue.
As with other issues facing the city (see above), there is room for improvement. Transgender rights seem to be the next frontier for social change, with many media outlets beginning to discuss challenges faced by this community and changes needed for to move toward widespread understanding and acceptance.
- Toronto Prideis a month-long celebration that reaches a climax with the Pride Parade on the first weekend of July.
- The epicentre of The Village is the area around Church & Wellesley, but there lots of other neighbourhoods with high concentrations of LGBT-friendly folks.
8. Doctors are free; dentists & drugs are not
In Canada, each province handles its own healthcare. The Ontario Health Insurance Plan(OHIP) covers all medically necessary healthcare for Ontario residents, including dental surgery done in hospital, prescription drugs delivered in hospital, and eye examinations for some people. However, you must pay for regular dental services, medical prescriptions and eye exams. Be sure to sign up for private health insurance if offered by your workplace.
- OpenCareis a website that will show you all the doctors accepting patients in your neighbourhood
- The Ontario Dental Associationwill also help you find a dentist
9. Summer is super hot and winter is extremely cold
Average weather in June, July and August hovers around 25°C and sunny. However, the thermometer often climbs above 30°C and can get as hot as 40°C in a not-uncommon heat wave. Living beside the lake means that the heat usually comes with humidity. You’ll need summer clothes and sunscreen.
Winter lasts from December to March and is the polar opposite. Daytime temperatures rarely rise above freezing and the past few winters have seen long stretches of -20°C and even -30°C. You’ll need a good parka and warm winter boots.
10. Torontonians love going to ‘The Cottage’ and ‘Down South’
On Friday evenings every summer, Toronto offices empty early and the highways fill with cars as Torontonians escape to ‘The Cottage’ for the weekend. The Cottage is not one magnificent, singular, secret destination, but rather lakeside summer homes that have often been in each family for generations. The best way to experience this ritual is to score an invitation (offer to take charge of a meal, bring lots of beer/wine, and always help out with the Sunday night clean-up to get invited back). You can also visit ‘cottage country’ by staying at one of the many hotels & resorts.
In the frigid winter months, Toronto’s airport is packed with travellers going ‘down south’ for a week or two of sun. They are likely on their way to one of the many Caribbean or Mexican resorts offering package deals on food, accommodation and flights. If you decide to jump on this bandwagon, be mindful of the mid-march school holiday called March Break. Prices surge during this period and drop dramatically afterwards.
11. You don’t need to speak French to live and work in Toronto
English & French are Canada’s official languages. But unlike Montreal, French is rarely spoken and you do not need to be bilingual to work in Toronto. However, you plan to start a business selling packaged goods anywhere in Canada, they need to be labelled in both languages.