Often ranked as one of the best places to live in the world, Toronto is home to a powerful economy, vast green spaces, and a verve that comes from having more than 200 cultures on its streets. Newcomers will soon realise that the city operates at a taxing pace, but can expect many opportunities to pause and revel in its world-class cultural and culinary delights. Our list of pros and cons offers a snapshot of what expats can expect.
Accommodation in Toronto
+ Pro: Wide range of neighbourhoods
The Greater Toronto Area has around 230 different neighbourhoods, all of which are distinctive in some way, whether through style, character or architecture. Newcomers stand a good chance of finding the right fit for both their taste and budget.
- Con: Rent is expensive
Rent is more expensive in Toronto than anywhere else in Canada, and there are a few reasons for this. For one, the city has attracted a lot of foreign investors who can afford to pay top dollar for accommodation. The amount they’re willing to spend drives up housing costs throughout Toronto, meaning local costs don’t reflect local salaries.
Another reason for high rent prices is that developers are adding condos to many neighbourhoods. As the real estate market perceives condos to be higher-end, their presence drives up rent in neighbourhoods that previously featured mostly houses and apartment buildings. The city’s services also contribute to the high rent. In short, Toronto, in terms of amenities, offers more than smaller cities such as Ontario, so it costs more to live there.
Working in Toronto
+ Pro: Strong job market
Toronto is Canada’s financial capital and is a great place to further a career in business. Indeed, the city’s financial sector employs around a quarter of a million people. The world’s biggest tech, pharmaceutical and international research companies have offices there, too, and the startup scene is strong. New jobs are constantly created.
Getting around Toronto
- Con: Expensive, unreliable public transport
Toronto is one of the world’s 10 most expensive cities when it comes to public transport fares. Added to that, buses are routinely packed and the subway often breaks down.
- Con: Traffic congestion
Toronto struggles with traffic congestion as most big cities do, though busses and subways are among the alternatives to driving.
Cost of living in Toronto
- Con: The city is expensive
Rent isn’t the only expense where Toronto residents are saddled with hefty bills. Drinks, food and utilities are all pricier than in other Canadian cities.
Raising kids in Toronto
+ Pro: Broad schooling options
The city’s school system provides a high standard of education and can accommodate students who don’t speak French or English – the country’s main languages. Students can find aids in languages such as German, Punjabi or Vietnamese. Another plus is that residents and those who have work permits can enroll their kids in public schools free of charge.
+ Pro: A range of fun activities
Parents can entertain children at a variety of venues, from farms and amusement parks to kid-friendly museums. There’s no shortage of things for little ones to do.
Healthcare in Toronto
+ Pro: Publicly funded healthcare
The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) funds Toronto’s healthcare system, and coverage extends to all residents of Ontario Province. Residents pay a minimal monthly premium that is automatically deducted from their salaries, with the cost covering doctors, specialists and surgery.
- Con: The OHIP only covers residents
Expats who don’t have residence permits will have to rely on private health insurance, rather than the tax-funded OHIP.
Lifestyle in Toronto
+ Pro: Eclectic food scene
Toronto is easily among the best foodie cities in North America. Gastros who relocate here can explore the world through their palates, as Toronto’s celebrated multiculturalism applies to its dining options too. Choices include heavenly dim sum in Chinatown, authentic pasta in Little Italy, home-cooked German meals and Mediterranean-style dishes.
+ Pro: Incredible arts and culture
The city is a wonderland for art lovers, who can sate their appetites for beauty, meaning and sophistication at an enviable list of attractions. Theatre, live music, comedy shows and poetry readings will vie with exceptional museums and galleries for their attention.
+ Pro: Multiculturalism
While Canada is, on the whole, accepting of different cultures, Toronto’s appreciation for diversity is apparent in its neighbourhoods. People from all over the globe have shaped various parts of the city, adding signature elements of their cultures to the Toronto experience.
+ Pro: Low crime rate
Though some degree of crime is inevitable wherever expats choose to settle, Toronto suffers relatively little of it. In fact, it often ranks among the safest big cities in the world, and the safest city in North America.
- Con: Challenging weather
Toronto’s winters are slightly milder than those in other Canadian cities, though temperatures can get extremely chilly. Summers, on the other hand, can be hot and humid, with temperatures reaching around 95°F (35°C).