Are you considering moving to Toronto but not sure what to expect?
Moving to a new city can be challenging, and therefore, it requires careful planning.
You might be wondering…
What is the cost of living in Toronto? Which neighborhood should I choose, or how easy is it to find a job?
In 2019, I moved to Canada and found myself pondering the same questions.
In this article, I share everything I’ve discovered about living and moving to Toronto.
Basic Info about Life in Toronto
Toronto is the capital of Ontario province and Canada’s largest city by population, with about 3 million residents (2022) and about 6 million including Greater Toronto Area.
It is located in the south of Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario.
Toronto is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city with people from all over the world.
It is a city of contrasts.
Modern skyscrapers stand alongside Victorian homes and busy streets alongside tranquil green parks.
The Cost of Living in Toronto, Canada
The average cost of living in Toronto is high compared to other major cities in Canada.
According to Numbeo, Toronto is Canada’s second most expensive city, right after Vancouver.
Rent is one of the highest expenses in Toronto, with the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment exceeding $2500 per month (2023).
Other major expenses include phone plans, groceries, transportation, and utilities.
Here’s the average estimated cost of living in Toronto per month, depending on whether you’re single, married, or have a family with kids:
- cost of living in Toronto for a single person – CA$1,500 / month (without rent)
- cost of living in Toronto for a family of four – CA$ 5,000 / month (without rent
Although the cost of living in Toronto is high, finding affordable apartments and groceries is still possible if you know where to look.
You can find ways to save money and make the most of your income.
If you manage your budget and find a well-paid job or supplement your income with side hustles, you’ll be able to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle and all Toronto has to offer.
You might also like:
Finding a Place to Live in Toronto
The best way to find rental accommodation is to search online through websites such as:
- FB marketplace
Specific rental websites:
- Toronto Apartments/Rooms/Houses for Rent/Sale
- Apartments & Rooms for Rent Toronto
- Toronto Apartments for rent, Housing, Rooms for rent, Roommates, Roomster
- Toronto – Rooms for rent | Apartments Houses Rooms
- Roommates/apartments for rent in Toronto
Toronto’s neighborhoods and suburbs
Toronto is a city with diverse cultures and neighborhoods, each with its distinct character.
Believe it or not, there are more than 100 neighborhoods in Toronto.
For those who like to be close to the action, downtown Toronto is the place to be.
Here you’ll find the best of Toronto city life – towering skyscrapers, buzzing streets, and a never-ending array of things to do.
However, living in the downtown area can be quite expensive and crowded. Plus, it can be difficult to find parking.
You’ll love living in the Beaches neighborhood in Toronto if you prefer a laid-back vibe. This charming area is home to Victorian houses, cute cafes, and beautiful city lake beaches.
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, living on Toronto Island is a dream come true.
This car-free community is only a short ferry ride away from downtown, but it feels like a world apart.
The only problem is houses are scarce on the island, so the rental options are limited. In addition, the island community seems to prefer renting their homes to people they already know.
If you want to enjoy all that Toronto has to offer without breaking the bank, the suburbs are a great option.
There are several suburban neighborhoods that offer an excellent quality of life.
In addition to being more affordable than downtown, these neighborhoods often have more green space and better public schools.
That’s why they are becoming increasingly popular with families and young professionals.
- Eglinton West
Of course, living in a suburb or neighborhood also comes with its own set of challenges, such as longer commute times.
Weather in Toronto
Toronto is known for its cold, snowy winters and hot summers.
Summers are hot and humid, with temperatures above 25° sometimes reaching 40°.
During the winter, temperatures usually drop below 0°C. It can get as cold as -20°C or even -30° because of the wind chill.
Canadian winters can be rough by most standards. The key to embracing them is to dress up in layers.
Make sure to get a proper coat, beanie, scarf, and a good pair of gloves because it can get pretty painful when your hands freeze.
Waterproof winter boots will also come in handy.
That said, Toronto has a PATH system of 30 kilometers of underground walkways, perfect for getting around on a cold winter day.
If you dress up warmly, you have nothing to worry about when it comes to cold winters in Toronto.
You’ll get used to the cold temperatures.
Getting Around Toronto
Toronto is a vibrant, big city, and getting around can challenge newcomers. However, the city’s public transit system is pretty efficient.
The subway is the fastest way to get around the downtown core.
There are also streetcars and buses that can take you out of the city.
TTC pass (Toronto Transit Commission) will give you unlimited access to public transportation.
Ridesharing can be a convenient and affordable form of commuting or renting a car before you purchase your own.
If you need to go to neighboring cities, then GO Train is a great option, but the tickets are slightly more expensive than buses.
Driving in Toronto
Life in Toronto can be hectic and busy, leading to heavy traffic jams.
Toronto has been ranked as the second-worst city in all of Canada when it comes to traffic.
I remember when an Uber driver was joking with me and saying there are only two seasons in Canada – winter and ‘construction season.’
It seems like construction is always done somewhere in spring and summer, which slows down traffic even more.
So get ready to be trapped during rush hours due to reduced lanes.
Buying Your Car in Toronto
Secondhand cars are easy to come by in Toronto.
There are many ways to find a used car that suits your specific needs and budget. I always start my search on Kijiji or FB Marketplace.
There are also a lot of dealerships that sell both new and used cars.
When buying a used car, it’s essential to do your research and get a pre-purchase inspection done.
You can request a report from Carfax to find out about vehicle history. All you need is the car’s VIN number.
A Carfax report contains information about the car, such as accidents, liens, maintenance records, and a number of owners.
This report can help you determine whether or not to buy a particular car.
In order to register your vehicle in Ontario, you’ll also need a safety standards certificate.
Converting Foreign Driver’s License in Ontario
If you’re moving to Toronto from another country, you can use your foreign license in Ontario for 60 days.
After that, you’ll need to convert your driver’s license to a Canadian one.
If you’re planning to stay in Toronto for more than 2 months, you should get an international driver’s permit (IDP).
You can use IDP for one year, which will give you enough time to convert your license into a Canadian one.
1. Gather together the required documents
- current driver’s license
- proof of identity
- proof of address in Ontario
- driver’s abstract
Driver’s abstract contains your previous driving history. It indicates when your first license was issued.
With this document, your previous driving experience may be acknowledged, which helps fast-track the process of getting your full Ontario driver’s license.
You’ll also be required to provide a certified translation of documents that aren’t in English or French.
2. Find out if you’re eligible for a direct license exchange
Depending on your home country and years of driving experience, you might be able to convert your license directly without taking a written exam on Ontario traffic laws and a road test.
For example, if you’re moving to Toronto from the UK and you have a document that proves that you have 2+ years of driving experience, you can exchange your driver’s license directly.
The countries eligible for direct license exchange are:
- South Korea
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
If you come from any other country, you’ll need to retake your written test and road test.
3. Apply at Service Ontario or DriveTest Centre
You’ll need to bring all the required documents, fill out the form, take a vision test and pay the necessary fees.
Those not eligible for direct license exchange must also pass the written test.
Next, you can schedule an appointment for a road test to receive your Ontario driver’s license.
If you have 2+ years of driving experience, you can go straight for the G2 road test.
If you have less than two years of driving experience, you can only take the G1 road test.
Once you accumulate 2 years of driving experience on your G1 license, you can take another G2 road test.
Here is more information about converting your license.
Getting Insurance for Your Car
Car insurance is a legal requirement in Canada if you want to own and drive a car in Toronto.
In Ontario, car insurance is provided by private companies and is regulated by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO).
You can either get third-party or comprehensive insurance coverage.
Third-party insurance covers damage to other people or property in an accident, while comprehensive insurance also covers damage to your car.
Car insurance premiums are based on several factors, including the car you drive and your driving history.
If you’re planning to move to Toronto from another country, keep in mind that not all insurance companies will acknowledge your foreign driving record.
You might need to shop around a bit to find the company that provides you with the best premium.
FSCO’s website provides a lot of useful information about auto insurance in Ontario.
Biking in Toronto
Toronto is a biking-friendly city. There are over 600km of on-road bicycle lanes and over 300km of off-road cycling trails.
You can buy a secondhand bike from FB marketplace or Kijiji.
Alternatively, you can rent one from BikeShare Toronto.
They have around 600 stations across the city where you can pick up and drop off a bike.
To rent a Bikeshare bike, you need to sign up for an annual membership or simply use short-term passes.
BikeShare also offers a day pass or 72-hour pass, which gives you unlimited 30-minute rides.
Once you have a pass, you can rent a bike from any station across the city.
For e-bike rentals in Toronto, you can check RideZygg.
Job Market in Toronto
Toronto is a major economic hub in Canada, so there is no shortage of work opportunities.
As a result, many people move to Toronto in search of better job opportunities, making the job market very competitive.
That said, some occupations are always in high demand in Toronto.
These include jobs in healthcare, technology, finance, and customer service.
There are many ways to find work in Toronto.
You can search online, network on LinkedIn or visit employment agencies.
Job search boards: Indeed, Workopolis, Monster
Many companies also post career opportunities on their websites.
Make sure your resume is up-to-date and tailored to the type of work you’re interested.
Moving to Toronto as Expats
Ontario’s Human Capital Priorities Stream has a large quota for expats who would like to call Toronto their new home and seem to favor especially skilled workers, in the tech sector. It can be a great option to obtain permanent residency.
That said, high living expenses paired with a competitive job market can make a transition into life in Toronto for new immigrants a bit challenging.
On the other hand, Toronto is the most multicultural city with a built-in support system for newcomers.
You will have access to local expat communities, resources and services to make your move to Toronto easier.
As Toronto is such a diverse city, it’s easy to blend in and find your ‘tribe.’
Moving to Toronto as a Student
If you’re planning to move to Toronto to study, know that you will join a community of over 100,000 international students.
Toronto has some of the most prestigious universities in Canada, such as the University of Toronto and Ryerson University and York.
The city also offers a lot of entertainment and job opportunities for students.
Many students find part-time jobs in the hospitality and retail industry to offset high tuition fees.
Read more about the education system in Canada.
Transferring Money to Canada from Overseas
If you’re planning on moving to Toronto from overseas, you’ll need to figure out how to transfer money to Canada.
One option is to use a regular bank. However, regular brick-and-mortar banks offer poor conversion rates or high foreign transaction fees.
When I was moving to Canada with my partner, we opted for Wise to transfer our money.
Wise is a foreign exchange company that offers a much cheaper and faster way to send money abroad.
With Wise, you can send money from your home country directly into your Canadian bank account or even hold the funds in a borderless account until you’re ready to convert them into CAD.
The process is quick and easy, transaction fees are transparent and you’ll always get the real market exchange rate – the same one you see on Google.
Healthcare System in Ontario
Canadians have a publicly funded healthcare system that provides good quality medical care.
There are many top-quality public medical facilities as well as specialized clinics and hospitals that provide care for specific conditions.
The Ontario government invests heavily in health care. As a result, life expectancy in the province is one of the highest in the world – 82 years.
Of course, with any large system, there are some challenges. Overall, Ontarians enjoy good access to high-quality health care.
Toronto Quality of Life
Toronto is a very cosmopolitan and diverse city with many things to do and places to see.
You’ll find here people from all around the world. This diversity can also be seen in the city’s food culture.
There is always something to do in Toronto, making it a fun place to live.
Other benefits that add to a high quality of life are free health care and low crime.
Things to do in Toronto
If you’re a fan of the arts, you’ll be spoiled for choice with the city’s many world-class art galleries and museums.
- Museum of Illusions – fun Instagram-worthy spot with a hall of mirrors, shrinking hallways and many more cool attractions.
- Royal Ontario Museum – more than 13 mil. artworks
- Bata Shoe Museum – shoe box-shaped museum with some of the quirkiest collection of shoes
- Art Gallery of Ontario
- Ontario Science Center
There are also many parks and green spaces to enjoy for nature lovers.
Some of the city’s most popular parks are
- High Park
- Trinity Bellwoods Park
If you’re into sports, the Hockey Hall of Fame is definitely worth the visit.
You can also catch a game of the Toronto Maple Leafs (hockey), Raptors (basketball) or the Blue Jays (baseball).
Things you shouldn’t miss in Toronto are:
- CN Tower
- Niagara Falls
- Casa Loma
- Kensington Market
Nightlife in Toronto
Toronto is known for its nightlife.
The best place to party in Toronto is probably the Entertainment District. This area is packed with bars, clubs, and restaurants, and it’s always buzzing.
Toronto’s legal drinking age is 19 and bars tend to close at around 2 am.
For a more laid-back atmosphere, visit red brick style Toronto’s Distillery District. It is a perfect place to grab a local craft beer.
Food Scene in Toronto
The food scene in Toronto is incredible. There are countless places to eat, no matter what you’re in the mood for.
From high-end restaurants to food trucks, you’ll be able to find something to satisfy your craving.
Toronto is also home to many different cultures, so you can find cuisines from all over the world.
For an iconic food experience, visit the St. Lawrence food market with over 100 stalls. I also love Kensington Market, with many food specialty stores, cafes and bakeries.
Whether you want a quick bite, brunch or a night out, there is good food in Toronto at every corner.
Popular Food Festivals
Some of the most popular food festivals in Toronto are:
- The Taste of the Danforth – Greek food festival that takes over the Danforth area for a weekend in August
- Toronto Food Truck Festival – happening every summer, this is an excellent opportunity to try out some of the most delicious street food in the city
Toronto Taste – one of the biggest food festivals in the city, happening every June with over 60 restaurants and 200 wines featured at this event
Taste of Little Italy – explore the Italian flavors and culture in Toronto as College Street, which transforms into an Italian square – happening every summer.
Summerlicious/Winterlicious – these are two week-long festivals where you can get delicious multi-course meals at selected restaurants in the city at discounted rates.
Outdoor Activities in Toronto and Popular City Getaways
There are great outdoors just outside Toronto.
The city has an extensive network of parks and green spaces.
Toronto Botanical Garden is perfect for a leisurely stroll.
If you’re a fan of biking, there are many cycling trails to explore.
- Toronto Islands: Morning or Twilight 3.5-Hour Bike Tour
- Best Bike Tours in Toronto
- Downtown Toronto Bike Tour
The Scarborough Bluffs has excellent hiking trails.
There are also several beaches along Lake Ontario. One of the most popular is Woodbine Beach.
If you like kayaking, you’ll love Big Creek on Lake Erie.
The Muskoka region is a popular spot for weekend getaways from Toronto.
You can head up to Collingwood or Wasaga Beach for a day trip. These areas are popular mainly in the summertime for their beaches.
Festivals in Toronto
Caribana – Caribbean Carnival is an annual festival celebrating Caribbean culture and heritage.
It takes place in July and August and features a parade, food, music, and dancing.
Toronto International Film Festival – one of the biggest film festivals in the world, happening every September
NXNE Music and Arts Festival – North by Northeast is a music festival that takes place in June. It features over 400 bands from all over the world.
Veld Music Festival – an electronic dance music festival that happens every August
Nuit Blanche – an all-night art festival that happens every October, featuring over 100 different projects by local and international artists
Budweiser Stage Concerts – popular concert venue that hosts many big-name artists throughout the summer months
Beaches Jazz Fest – a ten-day jazz festival in July featuring over 100 artists.
Luminato Festival – an arts and culture festival that happens every June, featuring theatre, dance, music, and more
These are some of the many festivals in Toronto throughout the year.
As you can see, there’s never a dull moment in this city!
Whether you’re a foodie, a nature lover, or a culture enthusiast, Toronto has something for everyone.
Pros and Cons of Moving to Toronto
Pros of Moving to Toronto
– a vibrant and diverse city with something to do for everyone
– home to many world-renowned museums and galleries
– a foodie paradise with endless options for every taste and budget
– one of the safest big cities in the world (low crime rate)
– public transit is efficient and easy to use
-lots of job opportunities in a variety of industries
Cons of Moving to Toronto
– the cost of living in Toronto is high, especially rent
– Toronto’s winters are long and cold
-highly competitive job market
– traffic can be a nightmare during rush hours
-high housing costs
– fast pace of life
-high tips (15-20%)
Read a more detailed breakdown of the pros and cons of life in Toronto.