Toronto is a culturally rich city with a bustling downtown core. From art galleries and music venues to low crime rates and accessibility to ports of travel, there are many reasons to move to Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). 

 

As the fourth largest city in North America, downtown Toronto and the surrounding area offer a wealth of opportunity for those involved in tech, media, arts, and culture. Skyscrapers, green spaces, museums, lakefront living, bicycle access, and nearby trails are all incentives to relocate to “The Six.” Over the past year Toronto has developed increasing global notoriety with giants like Netflix, Google, Uber, Shopify, and Vice setting up shop. The city also offers a special world of possibility for entrepreneurs and freelance workers. 

 

But is moving to Toronto worth it? Whether you’re considering relocating with kids, alone, or for a job opportunity, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of moving to Toronto.

The benefits of moving to Toronto

1. It’s a fun, culturally-rich environment for everyone

More than 250 ethnicities and 170 languages are spoken in Toronto. More than half of the population was born outside of Canada, making it one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. Torontonians enjoy the benefits of this multiculturalism through food, art, culture, and public spaces. Toronto is home to film festivals like the Toronto International Film Festival and Hot Docs, with globally recognized art events like Nuit Blanche, Luminato and the Fringe Festival taking place throughout the year. Try experiencing authentic global cuisine, art, and fashion in some of Toronto’s designated areas for cultural appreciation; Chinatown, Koreatown, Little India, Little Portugal, and Eglington’s Little Jamaica.

2. There are possibilities for entrepreneurs

With an abundance of public working spaces, top-tier talent, diverse community, and strong support from the Ontario government, Toronto is a centre for innovation. It’s even home to the world’s largest innovation hub. Reputable academic institutions like Ryerson University, The University of Toronto, and York University bring in new waves of innovators and entrepreneurs, adding to a rich talent pool. Many startups relocate to Toronto from the United States because of social policies and services that allow entrepreneurs to take a leap with less risk; like universal healthcare and tax incentives for research and development.

3. It has a milder climate than other Canadian cities

Toronto winters do get cold, but they’re a far cry from the brutal frigidity of a winter in Edmonton, Montreal, or Ottawa. Toronto even has an underground network of sidewalks and stores that make up the PATH, a downtown pedestrian walkway that lets condo dwellers head underground without a jacket to go to a coffee shop, access a shopping mall, or even walk to take the train from Union Station.

4. It has low crime rates and is family-friendly

Like any big city, Toronto sees its share of crime, but it’s remarkably peaceful for a city of its size. A 2019 report crowned Toronto the safest city in North America in a study that looked at 60 cities across five continents. This makes it a great place to raise a family. You can feel safer having the kids take the subway home from school here than in any North American city.

5. It has easy access to airports and international travel

Toronto is a hub for global travel, with direct flights to many international cities. Toronto’s Pearson Airport is newly accessible with the addition of the UP Express, a high-speed train that’s directly connected to Toronto’s transit network with easy access to most parts of the downtown core and surrounding areas. Porter Airlines also has an airport on Toronto Island, with a path that’s easy to get to from downtown without needing to drive. If you’re looking to travel to other Canadian cities like Montreal and Ottawa, you can also enjoy quality train travel with the VIA Rail system leaving with multiple trips from Toronto’s iconic Union Station.

6. It has accessible green spaces and parks

Toronto has more than 1,600 parks and green spaces, with trails weaving throughout the outskirts of the city for hiking, cycling, and running. High Park on the west end has a petting zoo, the waterfront trails take you all the way to Ontario Place for concerts, and Toronto Island offers beautiful beaches that are just a short ferry trip away. Picnicking, boating, swimming, and forest exploring are all accessible without a car within downtown Toronto. If you’re looking for a deeper dive into nature, head out of the city and you’re just a few hours from world-renowned natural spaces like Algonquin Park or Tobermory’s aquamarine swimming caves.

7. It has a progressive, friendly culture

Because Toronto is a diverse city, it’s also a place with views that are generally accepting and inclusive. Torontonians are divided when it comes to political leanings, but in general they’re more progressive when it comes to views on 2SLGBTQ+ rights or inclusivity. The cultural landscape also allows everyone to find a place that feels like home; with drag nights, a globally-recognized Pride Month and Pride Parade, and groups that welcome new immigrants or offer free English classes.

8. It has rapidly growing and developing tech, environmental innovation, and IT sectors

Some people are calling Toronto and the GTA the next Silicon Valley for its rapidly evolving tech and innovation sectors. Toronto is now one of the world’s fastest-growing cities for jobs in tech. Immigration policy in Canada is welcoming of high-level technology talent, bringing in international specialists from a long list of global locations. Toronto has a reputation for being friendly to innovation and provides access to research funding that isn’t available in other parts of Canada.

9. It’s easy to navigate

Toronto is a big city, but it’s built on a grid and is generally an easy city to navigate. The Toronto Transit System (TTC)  is easily understood and streetcars still run along main arteries like Queen Street and Dundas Street, making for a fun commute where you can watch the world go by. There’s room for growth but an increasing number of bicycle lanes also contribute to a growing cycle culture in Toronto, providing another appealing way to get to work without ever needing a car.

10. It’s possible to find renters

The Toronto rental market was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic but remains steady and dependable as the city grows and evolves consistently. In recent years the demand for rentals in the GTA grew considerably as more people moved from the downtown core for more affordable living. In short, Toronto has a reliable rental market with consistent demand.

What are the downsides of moving to Toronto?

The benefits of Toronto are abundant, but there are some downsides, so here are a few more facts to explore before you make the leap:

 

  • Housing in Toronto is expensive. Foreign investment in Toronto property is part of the sky-high price of buying in the current market. Housing prices tripled from 2000 to 2017 in Toronto and continue to rise exponentially. It’s next to impossible to purchase in Toronto’s downtown core without a giant nest egg or a six-figure income. That being said, Toronto’s greater areas and outskirts are increasingly accessible and appealing, with a strong demand from renters, more green space, lake access, and easier commutes to downtown as the transit system grows to accommodate a rise in urban sprawl.
  • Toronto traffic gets heavy. The downtown core includes a number of one-way streets, and the charming streetcars sometimes cause traffic jams or delays if you’re trying to jet across the city from East to West along Dundas or Queen. But hop on a bicycle or moped or buy property close to the subway stations and you won’t need a car at all. Do a test run from your potential home to your place of work and try out your commute before you commit to a neighbourhood.
  • Toronto has a more intense climate than many other international cities. The winters in New York or Vancouver are typically several degrees warmer than Toronto, and the long months of snow, ice, and slush can be an adjustment if you’re moving from a warmer climate. Think about this when you’re buying a property; you’ll be shoveling the walk, chipping at ice on the stairs, and salting the sidewalk outside your home on a daily basis.
  • A great city means a bigger price tag. The price of a cappuccino, a gym membership, a dinner out, a manicure, or a good preschool will be higher in Toronto than for those living in neighbouring towns and cities like Hamilton, Guelph, Dundas, London, or Oakville. It’s important to weigh the benefits of a big city you’re looking to experience with the cost of living. When you’re ready to buy, pop into nearby businesses to get a sense of how much your current lifestyle might cost in a big-city context. If you love the city enough, you’ll make choices that make it work for you. But if the everyday costs affect your quality of life, it might be worth exploring properties outside of the city.

Find the right home in Toronto with OJO

OJO provides personalized guidance for your real estate journey. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, our dedicated team of experts offer support from initial planning through to moving day. Look at Toronto apartments, houses, condos, and properties to find the right spot for you. Work with top-rated, local real estate agents and gain access to financial insights and advice from RBC Home Advisors.