As the centre of a metropolitan region of around 6 million people and as Canada’s largest city, Toronto ranks pretty high on most people’s list of potential destination cities in Canada. And for good reason: moving to Toronto is a unique and wonderful experience, brimming with opportunity and excitement.
While Toronto is by no means perfect, it gives its residents a lot to be thankful for – which is no doubt a big part of why it keeps showing up on rankings for best city in the world to live. With millions of immigrants, foreign workers, and international students already calling Toronto home, you might be considering a move to Toronto yourself. If this sounds like you, see below for Moving2Canada’s top 19 things to know before moving to Toronto.
19 things you must know before moving to Toronto
- Toronto is multicultural
Toronto is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, with more than half of its residents belonging to a visible minority and more than 200 languages spoken. Regardless of where you’re from, someone from your hometown already lives in Toronto.
- Toronto is safe
Compared with other large North American cities, Toronto is very safe. Sure, some Toronto neighbourhoods might be a little sketchier than others, but most people (men, women, and children) will probably feel pretty secure wandering around, regardless of whether or not the sun is up.
- Toronto is fun
With so many people flocking to Toronto from across Canada and the world, there are established communities for every possible pastime. With so much to do, the biggest challenge might be choosing which activity you want to check out next.
- Commuting in Toronto can be a challenge
Public transit in Toronto, operated by the Toronto Transit Commission (or TTC), probably isn’t actually as slow as it seems to the people who live here, but everyone will still understand when you blame the TTC for being late. Invest in a bike, or join a car-sharing scheme.
- Toronto has four distinct seasons
Toronto is a four season city, with sweltering summers, colourful autumns, snowy winters, and sopping wet springs. The good news is that, compared to some other Canadian cities (such as Montreal or Ottawa), Toronto’s winters are actually pretty mild.
- Buying a house in Toronto is expensive
High housing costs are a fact of life in Toronto, at least for the foreseeable future. With the price of the average detached home in Toronto currently sitting at around $1.35 million, you’re probably going to need to think about renting, at least when you first arrive.
- Renting in Toronto is expensive, too
Toronto rents are high by Canadian standards. In addition, the vacancy rate in Toronto has been low for quite a while, meaning it can be difficult to find a place to rent at all. But it’s all worth it for those incredible burritos… right?
- There are a lot of work opportunities in Toronto
The silver lining to the expensive housing market is that Toronto’s economy is diverse and booming, which means that finding a job — a good job — in Toronto might be easier than you think. Toronto might also be a great place for you to launch your dream career, as it’s a major hub for plenty of industries, including finance, film-making, education, and all the various species of tech, including artificial intelligence.
- Toronto is a city of parks and beaches
From Toronto Island to Trinity Bellwoods to the Beaches to Rouge National Urban Park, you can easily escape the urban jungle to a park or a beach without ever leaving the GTA or needing a car.
- There are so many great things to eat in Toronto
One of the many advantages of living in a city as diverse as Toronto is the huge variety of incredible food. You will probably find you have too much to choose from, and that’s okay, because it’s nearly time for brunch.
- Toronto is LGBTQ-friendly
Torontonians are by and large a progressive lot, so it should come as no surprise that Toronto has been consistently recognized as an excellent home for the LGBTQ+ community. Toronto Pride is a nationally important annual event, and LBGTQ+ Torontonians can feel comfortable living openly all year-round.
- Dating in Toronto largely happens online
While the dating culture is alive and well, more and more Torontonians these days are meeting significant (and not-so-significant) others through apps like Bumble and Tinder.
- East or west: you can only pick one
Getting across town takes a surprisingly long time. As many Torontonians will tell you, if your friends move across town, you will never see them again.
- There is an established bar culture
The Toronto craft beer scene has really taken off in recent years, giving the city’s hipsters something besides beard oil to talk about. Similarly, Toronto mixologists are currently engaged in a war for cocktail supremacy. Both of these realities are good for even the casual drinker who enjoys the occasional libation or three.
- There is also a major coffee culture
Toronto has loads of great independent coffee shops where you can enjoy any of the countless variations of two ingredients (espresso and milk) in the company of friends or strangers. Coffee Time is not one of them.
- Toronto also has a significant cannabis (sub)culture
Even before Canada legalized cannabis, it was common to catch a whiff when walking down the street in Toronto. Many (though not all) Torontonians have embraced legal weed with open arms.
- Tipping is practically mandatory, and it’s getting more expensive
A 15% gratuity is still considered acceptable, but that has recently started creeping up to 18% or 20% or more.
- Credit cards are accepted (almost) everywhere
Credit cards are increasingly being accepted at places they very recently weren’t, such as at bars or in taxis. Having a credit card will make your life easier in a lot of ways (and not just because you need one for Uber or Lyft).
- It will feel like everyone has a dog except you
They don’t, but the fact remains: there are a lot of dogs, and people with dogs, in Toronto.
Moving to Toronto factfile
- Population (GTA): 6 million approx
- Average July highs: 27C
- Average January highs: -1C
- Rainy days (0.2mm+) per year: 114
- Top industries: Technology, design, financial services, life sciences, education, arts, fashion, business services, environmental innovation, food services, tourism.
- Average residential property price (Dec 2019): $764,200
- Time zone: EST (UTC -5 hours)
And that’s it! If you want more, we have more to tell you about living in and around Toronto. Check out the Moving2Canada Toronto city guide for more information on what to expect from life in Toronto.