Perhaps best known for its assortment of neighbourhoods and living options, expats may nonetheless find that securing affordable residential accommodation in Toronto can be a challenge. 

Toronto considers itself a big city made up of little neighbourhoods: Greek Town, Chinatown (all six of them), Little India, luxurious Rosedale and Kensington Market, to name just a few. While each neighbourhood boasts its own distinctive, thriving and evolving history and culture, they all still welcome everyone from all walks of life, especially newcomers.

Types of property in Toronto

Expats moving to Toronto will find there are plenty of different types of property available and newcomers are likely to find something to suit their budget and circumstances.

For most cities, it is the case that the closer to the city centre, the more expensive the rentals become. This is only partly true of Toronto. While luxury condominiums dot the skyline, and while the city is busy constructing more high-rises and skyscrapers than even Manhattan, there is a large immigrant population living in sub-par housing within the city’s core. This creates a striking contradiction where multi-million dollar condos reach upward next to homeless shelters that can appear to be near collapse.

This uneven distribution of wealth means that there are apartments available for people from all walks of life almost anywhere in the city. While the districts in the west and north have some extremely expensive properties and rentals, there are plenty of townhouses, high-rises, and small houses in and amongst them from which to choose.

Finding accommodation in Toronto

Whether purchasing or renting property in Toronto, there is a great variety available. One can find anything from a bachelor condo to a luxury detached home. Keep in mind that though it's possible to find nearly any type of accommodation in any given area of Toronto, some areas are more commonly associated with certain accommodation features. For example, accommodation on the periphery of Toronto is more likely to come with green space and ample parking opportunities.

Both furnished and unfurnished accommodation is available in Toronto, but, typically, most rentals are unfurnished, unless specified otherwise. Properties for sale generally come unfurnished. However, it is important to realise that even if an apartment is marketed as unfurnished, it still most likely includes a few basic appliances such as a refrigerator and stove. Newer unfurnished accommodation may even include a washing machine, tumble dryer, dishwasher and microwave.

The best way to find accommodation in Toronto is by perusing the plethora of online listings. Additionally, local newspapers offer classifieds. Real estate agents can also be incredibly helpful, as they are familiar with the market and the logistics surrounding leasing and negotiations. In many cases, these agents host listings on their company websites as well.

Renting property in Toronto

Lease agreements are very important in Canada and are usually followed to the letter. Therefore, it is important that new arrivals in Toronto read the contract carefully, as once it's been signed, its conditions will be legally binding.

Lease agreements generally cover the following: duration of the lease (usually 12 months), additional financial responsibilities of the tenant (water will usually be included in the rental charge, but tenants will have to pay for gas and electricity usage), deposit (usually two months' rent, refundable in principle), and forfeiture conditions (which explain how any breach of the contract leaves the tenant liable for eviction from the property).

It is also important to carry out an inventory and note any damages when moving into a property because deductions from the security deposit will be made for any damages to the property at the end of the tenancy.