18 Things to Know About Toronto Before Moving Here

Get the facts and figures that will help with a move to Toronto

toronto-skyline
Image courtesy Tourism Toronto

Toronto is a great city for a lot of reasons and it can be an exciting place to live no matter your stage in life. But as with anything else, it can be helpful to find out as much as you can about a new place before making the decision to move there. If you’re considering a move to the city, here are 18 things to consider before you make the trek to Toronto.

Toronto is huge

If you’re coming to Toronto from a smaller town or city, be prepared for some hustle and bustle. Toronto has a population of close to three million people, so it can feel a but overwhelming at first if you’re used to a slower, quieter pace. To put it more into perspective, Toronto is also the largest city in Canada and the fourth largest in North America.

Toronto is diverse

One of the best things about living in Toronto is just how multicultural it is. In fact, half of Toronto's population was born outside of Canada and the city is home to almost all of the world's culture groups - so you’ll be meeting people from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures, which makes the city a very interesting place to be.

There’s great food here

Toronto’s culinary scene is thriving and whether you’re into high end dining or hole-in-the-wall dive bars with a great late night menu, food trucks or a meal that pushes the envelope creatively – you will find it in Toronto since there are over 8000 restaurants, bars and caterers here. The sheer variety of food in Toronto is also thanks to the multicultural population, so no matter what you’re craving – from Indian to Greek to Ethiopian – it can be easily found in the city. So basically, move here with your appetite.

Brunch is a big thing

Speaking of food, Toronto is a city pretty obsessed with brunch and there are many tasty places to get a great brunch in just about any neighbourhood you live in or are visiting. Just be prepared to wait 30+ minutes to get your brunch on if it’s a popular spot, of which there are many in Toronto. In general, people tend to eat out a lot in Toronto. According to the Zagat 2012 Restaurant Survey, Torontonians eat out on average 3.1 times per week.

Finding an affordable apartment can be tough

It’s no secret, the housing situation in Toronto is expensive and has been getting increasingly so, whether you’re renting or buying. Unless you’re opting for a basement apartment or a space outside of the downtown core and just beyond, you’re looking at some potentially expensive properties. So before committing to something, it’s a good idea to price out options before you get here to ensure that you can afford a place to live in an area that works for you.

Buying a house is expensive

If you want to a house in Toronto you’re also looking at some serious sticker shock. Average prices for a detached home right in the city are around the $1 million mark (and often more, depending on the property).

There are a lot of condos here

Condos are everywhere in Toronto with no shortage of more in various stages of construction. No matter where you look in the downtown core, you will most likely see a condo (or several) being built.

Not everyone speaks French

Despite French being an official language of Canada and being taught the language at school, not everyone speaks French in Toronto so you don’t need to know it to live here. In fact, over 140 languages and dialects are spoken in Toronto, and just over 30 per cent of the people who live in Toronto speak a language other than English or French at home.

Public transit can be frustrating – but it gets the job done

Public transit in Toronto gets a lot of flack and if you live here you will inevitably end up complaining about taking the TTC at some point (or several points). But despite some frustrations, hopping on the bus, subway or streetcar will get you from A to B. Sometimes slower than you might like, but in general transit in Toronto is reliable and often easier than driving downtown or trying to find parking.

It’s pretty safe here

Common sense is required no matter where you go in any city, but Toronto is generally a safe place to be. In fact, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Safe Cities Index, ranked Toronto at 8th out of 50 cities in 2015.

You’ll get a good dose of art and culture in Toronto

Toronto is not a city where you’ll ever be bored, especially if you enjoy art and culture. Toronto is home to more than 80 film festivals including well known fests like Toronto International Film Festival and Hot Docs, as well as smaller ones like the Human Rights Watch Film Festival and Water Docs. Toronto also has 200 professional performing arts organizations and over 200 city-owned pieces of public art and historical monuments to explore. The city is also home to events like the Fringe Festival, Luminato and the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair.

Toronto is a creative place

Not only does Toronto have a thriving arts and culture scene, the city is also home to 66 per cent more artists than any other city in Canada, something that becomes very evident by the wide array of art galleries dotted all around the city.

There’s a lot of green space

If you enjoy having some green space to balance out a city’s towering condos and bustling downtown core, Toronto has you covered. There are over 1,600 named parks here, as well as over 200 kilometers of trails, many of which are suitable for both hiking and biking. You can even camp right in the city in Rouge National Urban Park.

A lot of tourists visit Toronto

Toronto is a popular place to visit, especially in the summer. The city gets more than 25 million Canadian, American and international visitors every year.

Last call is 2 a.m.

Unlike some cities where last call is 4 a.m., in Toronto it’s a bit earlier. But that cutoff time for booze often gets extended during big events in the city such as Fashion Week and the Toronto International Film Festival.

If you don’t drive, it’s helpful to live close to a subway station

Getting around without wheels gets a lot more convenient when you live within walking distance to a subway station. It’s not always possible, but if you can, being near the subway is very helpful and cuts down on travel time, especially when you don’t need to get a bus or streetcar to get to the subway.

Toronto is made up of a lot of different neighbourhoods

Toronto is known as a “city of neighbourhoods” with good reason – there are 140 different neighbourhoods here and those are just the ones that are officially listed. There are even more “unofficial” enclaves dotted throughout the city.

It’s important to choose your neighbourhood wisely

Sometimes where you choose to live will come down to factors beyond your control, such as how much you can afford and where you’ll be working. But when it comes to figuring out where you’re going to live, your neighbourhood can have a big impact on your overall experience since it's where you'll be spending so much of your time.