Toronto is lively, busy, full of opportunities but is nowhere near the price of living in a similar city like New York. So, if you are looking to move to one of the best cities in the world, which neighbourhood should you choose? In this guide we are going to talk about the best areas to live in Toronto.
Many expats moving to Ontario choose Toronto as their home city.
Toronto is well-known for having very distinct neighbourhoods. As the city grew, it swallowed up surrounding towns and villages, turning them into a range of well-defined districts. Each has its own characteristics, and living just a few blocks apart can give you a very different experience of living in the city.
Toronto actually has 158 districts. When you add in the surrounding towns and cities, each of which has excellent connections to downtown Toronto, you are spoilt for choice.
The greater Toronto area offers something for everyone, and these are the best of the best neighbourhoods in one of the world’s most popular cities.
The best areas in Toronto for students
If you want to be somewhere with good connections to downtown Toronto, the area known as Kensington Market is also exclusively for students.
Unlike Kensington in London, the UK, which is known as being very expensive, Kensington Market, Toronto, is reasonably priced and has a vibrant, eclectic feel. It’s young and exciting and perfect for students who want to get around the city quickly without a car.
The restaurants in this area are particularly impressive, and you can even do food tours of the market. Or just head straight to Seven Lives which is truly heavenly and super affordable, making it a haven for hungry students.
New Toronto is found on the shores of the lake just to the west of downtown Toronto. It’s close to Humber College, so there are plenty of students in the area. It’s got good public transport connections and has plenty of parks and outdoor space.
Lake Shore Boulevard is packed with independent shops, restaurants, and coffee shops.
Just don’t mistake it for the area next to the other Humber College campus of the University of Guelph-Humber next to Smithfield. Smithfield does have a large student population but is generally considered more unsafe at night than other areas.
If your school is to the east of the central city or you want to live just outside the hustle and bustle of the centre, head to Scarborough. This entire area is full of students, and young families, so it has an enjoyable, exciting atmosphere.
It’s slightly quieter than Toronto but still has decent nightlife and plenty of shops and bars and restaurants. In particular, the area of Morningside is excellent if you want lots of parks and outdoor space.
Public transport here can be a pain, but the payoff is that it’s super quiet and feels like a rural town; it’s cheap too!
The best areas to live in Toronto for professionals
Moving on from your student life into a new professional stage of life? If you’re going to stay in a very young, cool area, you’ll want to move to King West.
It’s got craft beer, artisanal coffee, clubs, bars, pop-ups, and performances. It’s young, hip, and packed full of condos to rent and buy.
However, the housing market is super competitive. People who live here are locally called “westies” and have a reputation for throwing the best roof-top parties in the city.
Liberty Village is slightly more upmarket. It’s a tight community of young professionals living in loft spaces and townhouses.
You’ll be able to find a decent apartment at a reasonable price and can commute to work downtown very efficiently.
It’s a beautiful place to live and has lots of opportunities. Living here is like living in a village with an industrial feel, and it’s right next to downtown Toronto.
Liberty village feels very urban and modern and offers an ideal lifestyle for people who want to enjoy the benefits of living in a city without going bankrupt.
Strangely, it also has a reputation of having great furniture and antique stores so if you move here, there’s no need to bring your old student furniture with you.
The Younge and Eglinton area is so popular with young professionals it’s been nicknamed “young and eligible.”
There are loads to do here, so it is perfect for people who want to stay very social and enjoy being close to bars, comedy clubs, theatres, and restaurants. There is everything you need, great nightlife, lots of other young people and it’s a safe area.
It really is perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy the fun, fresh vibe of the city but no longer wants to live like a student. There are many new developments in the area, both residential and commercial, so there is always something new happening.
Houses here can get pretty pricey, so if you’re on a budget, you’ll be looking at apartment life. Public transport is excellent so you won’t need a car, but a bike would be helpful.
The best neighbourhoods in Toronto for families
If money is not a problem when it comes to raising your children, you’ll want to head to Lawrence Park South or Leaside. These communities have everything. There are good schools, sports grounds, outdoor clubs, restaurants, shops, parks, swimming pools and more.
These neighbourhoods are the kind of place a standard cup of coffee will set you back CA$10, and a reasonably average detached home will be at least CA$2 million. But you really can’t find better places to raise kids in the city. They have long, leafy drives and gated communities which feel like living in the country but with all the elite services of city life.
If, however, you aren’t looking to spend several million on a home but still want a good place to raise your kids, you can start your search in the Rockcliffe-Smythe area.
This neighbourhood is amazingly well connected and was recognised in 2017 as one of Airbnb’s hottest districts in the world.
It’s got peaceful streets, safe after dark, and has a good blend of coffee shops, shopping boulevards, and quiet residential streets where kids can play on the road without scaring you to death.
It’s super diverse and has a great blend of local Canadians and immigrants. You can find some great renovation projects here too.
If you want to be slightly further out of the city centre, The Beeches is an excellent neighbourhood. Located on the shores of the lake, it has wide streets, large parks, outdoor space, a great local school, and beautiful houses.
The Beeches has a really varied architecture which gives it an exciting feel and means there are properties of every shape, size, and style. Life here is very outdoorsy and would suit an active family who loves being out on the water, walking, biking, swimming, and playing tennis.
Living here isn’t cheap, and you’ll certainly need a car, but it isn’t outrageously expensive. Of course, the beaches are fantastic.
On the other side of the city, you’ll find Oakville in the Greater Toronto Area is also a great place to raise a family. It has good connections to the city but feels like a separate town.
There are several districts within Oakville, and they are all super safe with low crime rates. It’s a good mix of high-end and standard shops, galleries, bars, gyms, and restaurants, so you can go on a fancy date night and take the kids out for a bite to eat before the cinema with plenty of options.
The golf course is pretty excellent as well.
There is a range of properties, so no matter your budget, Oakville will have something for your family. The train line runs straight through Oakville so if you don’t want to hear trains, make sure you visit your potential property when trains are passing.
The best places to live outside of Toronto for retirees
If you’re looking for an excellent place to retire in Canada and spend the rest and the best of your years, the greater Toronto area has plenty of options.
The Guildwood neighbourhood in Scarborough has loads of bungalows for one-storey living, good healthcare facilities, outdoor parks, and a friendly village feel. It’s quiet without being too quiet.
Nuffield Drive is a particularly beautiful wide, green drive with some stunning properties.
When driving becomes too much, public transport connections are good to get into downtown Toronto and Scarborough. This area does have a community of elderly citizens, so you’ll be in good company.
North of Toronto, you’ll find the Cricket Club area. Of course, there is a great cricket club area as well as tennis, parks, skating, swimming, curling, and more.
It’s perfect for active seniors who want to make the most of their retirements. It’s packed full of things to do and has an impressive range of restaurants with cuisines from around the world.
There are also lots of families here, so the area still feels fresh and attracts developers. The houses here are usually detached, always stunning, and the condos are very affordable for such a nice area. There are certainly worse places to retire!
If you want to be slightly further out from the city, Bayview Woods-Steeles offers a great community of more senior people. In fact, around 30% of people living in this district are over 65.
You’ll find lots of activities, shops, bars, restaurants and recreational centres aimed at the older population. However, there are still enough young people and families to give the neighbourhood a real buzz.
Public transport is less common out here, so a car is ideal.
There are some huge developments on the way, including a large residential building in Finch Avenue which will offer a really excellent quality of life. If you want a separate property, there are several large estates with detached houses perfect for people who need a little more support.
The best places to live in Toronto – summary
Toronto has a reputation as being one of North America’s best cities. It regularly tops lists as one of the safest cities in the world and has been voted one of the best major cities when it comes to living costs.
The Economist named the city the best city in the world in 2015, and since then, it has remained a strong contender in the top ten.
Thanks to the very distinct districts, Toronto really does have something for everyone. The difference between the clearly defined areas is pronounced, and it’s no wonder so many people love living in Toronto and the greater Toronto area.
Whatever you are looking for in your dream home, Toronto has it; you just have to find it.