Before you move to Toronto, you should know about the city you're moving to. Toronto is a major cosmopolitan metropolis and is widely considered Canada's economic, social and cultural home. However, inside Canada, Toronto is seen as somewhat of an anomaly due to its proximity to the United States and international culture.
But, what is life in Toronto like? What a city looks like in a magazine or a few tourist sites or landmarks never paints a picture of living there. So, to help paint a better view, we've compiled a list of the things you need to know about life in Toronto.
Toronto is Canada's largest city and, according to Statistics Canada, is home to some 6.3 million people in the metropolitan area. Canada is known for its reliance on foreign workers to maintain its economy, and Toronto is the exact manifestation of that attitude.
The area of the city was frequented by indigenous tribes for over 10,000 years but was initially settled in by the Iroquois in the 1660s but was originally incorporated into a city by the British after the Toronto Purchase in 1787 and was established as the town of York in 1793. York was later incorporated as the city of Toronto in 1834.
Today, the population of the city of Toronto is made up of people from over 250 nationalities. As a result, Toronto is a center of diversity and the fusing of cultures. The culture of Toronto is inexorably linked to the vast amount of different cultures, races, religions and attitudes that make up its populace.
Toronto is hugely respective of the different religious groups that coexist within its city borders. It plays home to some of the oldest religious centres in North America, such as the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Temple, the Madina Masjid, The Holy Blossom Temple synagogue and the Cathedral of St. James.
Toronto is also world-renowned for its hugely respectful treatment of its LGBTQ+ citizens, with a massive pride festival hosted every year and the Church-Wellesley Village being world famous as Toronto's Gay village.
Canada is a bilingual country, with vast portions of the population speaking their particular brand of Canadian French. It's not uncommon for you to come across people who talk exclusively French in Canada. As a result, you'll find French menus in restaurants, French street signs, French organizations and even French-speaking establishments.
Torontonians generally don't speak as much French as the rest of Canada, but the city still caters to their French-speaking population. Most businesses and street signs will have some means to placate French speakers.
Language is hugely important in Canada. In fact, the Canadian government has a language requirement in either English or French for all new immigrants to Canada. This is called the Canadian language benchmark and it’s crucial that you pass it if you want to move to Toronto.
Find out more about how you can get your best Canadian language benchmark here.
So while you may not have to speak French to get by on a day-to-day basis, you will come across the influence of French Canada once you move to Toronto. Brushing up on a little French or learning a few basic phrases can go a long way in Canada, and you'll never know when you'll need it.
Toronto is run by its city council. This council comprises 26 members - the mayor (who handles major city issues) and 25 councilors who represent the 25 wards of the city. Toronto's current mayor is John Tory.
None of the members of the city council are to represent a political party. The Mayor and Councillors all have one vote when voting on city matters and all actions by the council are based on the majority vote. Each council member is allowed to choose how they vote on all issues.
Where is Toronto on the Map?
Toronto is located on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario, on the southeast side of Canada. It sits very close to the US-Canada border and is only around a four-hour drive from New York.
Climate/Weather In Toronto
Canada is famous for its icy climate. However, while Toronto sees its fair share of below-freezing temperatures, it also experiences beautiful clear summers, picturesque amber autumns and fresh green springs.
Toronto's warm season generally lasts for around 3.5 months, and most Torontonians treat from June 2 to September 18 as their primary summer months. During this time, the average daily temperature sits at a comfortable 20°C and sees highs of 25°C and lows of approximately 17°C.
The cold season lasts around the same time but falls from December 3 to March 16. During these months, the average temperature is around 0°C but can get down to a bone-chilling -8°C.
For many immigrants, the transition to the cold weather can be difficult. If you are from a country with a far different climate, make sure you prepare adequately for the cold by knowing what to wear, how to keep your home warm and how to handle the Toronto climate change effectively.
Work and Jobs in Toronto
Toronto's the economic capital of Canada. It's home to Canada's largest businesses and most significant workforce and is one of the best cities in the world to start a business. As a result, Toronto boasts some of the lowest unemployment figures in the world. According the City of Toronto's 2021 Census, 1.4 million people are employed in the city of Toronto, 82% of which are in full-time jobs. Only 5.3% of Torontonians are unemployed.
The primary industries in Toronto are financial services, real estate, wholesale and retail trade. Finding a job in Toronto is incredibly easy, and due to Canada's high minimum wage, most jobs are lucrative and can allow you to fund yourself completely.
While you don't necessarily need a job to move to Toronto, having one when you arrive will make life in Toronto far more accessible and more enjoyable. You can become a part of Toronto's world-renowned workforce and have the money to enjoy the fantastic lifestyle Toronto provides.
If you're looking to work in Toronto, you must ensure you have everything in check to come to Canada to do that work. Click the button below to talk to a Registered Canadian Immigration Consultant who can help ensure you have everything you need to start your journey in Toronto.
Cost Of Living in Toronto
Canada provides some of the highest quality of living in the world for a fraction of the cost of other developed nations. The quality of life in Toronto is seen as some of the best in Canada. However, quality does come with a cost.
While Toronto isn't the most expensive city in Canada to live in (that honour goes to Vancouver), being in one of Canada's most important centres of industry and culture does make it one of the more expensive places to live. However, when compared to other nations, Toronto is still highly affordable.
According to Numbeo.com the average monthly costs for a family of four living in Toronto come to around CA$4,769.86. The living costs of a single person are approximately CA$1,308.24. Rent for a single-bedroom apartment in the City Centre is CA$2,111.49 per month, and a for three-bedroom is CA$3,462.07 per month.
While these numbers can seem daunting, the average monthly salary in Toronto is CA$4,741.14 per person, so most cannot only get by but also enjoy the fantastic lifestyle available in Toronto.
Neighbourhoods in Toronto
Historically, Toronto is the combination of several smaller communities that became incorporated into one. As a result, Toronto boasts a wide variety of neighbourhoods each with their own style, culture and character. If you're looking to move to Toronto, here are some of the best neighbourhoods to seek out.
Old Town Toronto
Right in the center of the city, this vibrant exciting neighborhood is perfect for young professionals as it's close Toronto's central business district and home to some of the most vibrant, exciting things to do in Toronto. A stone's throw from the Distillery Historic District, Old Town is widely considered a perfect stating point for those really wanting to experience the vibrant, diverse culture of Toronto.
Another fantastic area for those looking to experience all Toronto has to offer, Kensington market is home to some of Canada's most diverse groups. On top of the amazing mixes of people, Kensington Market is dotted with hundreds of cafes, stores, bars and markets to ensure you have everything you need right out of your front door. However, what everyone will tell you is the best part of living in Kensington is the unique spirit and feel of the neighbourhood. Certainly a fantastic place for young professionals to get their start in Toronto.
For young families or those looking to start families, Scarborough is definitely somewhere you shouldn't miss out on. With the lowest crime rates and some of the cheapest rent in the Greater Toronto Area, Scarborough is the perfect place to find your feet and grow your family in Toronto. Famous for its multiculturalism and open-mindedness, Scarborough often provides a safe space for new arrivals.
For those looking for the peace and safety Canada provides, Davisville should be top of the list. With affordable housing, a friendly culture and extremely high safety standards, Davisville gives the feel of small-town living within a large city. This is also a fantastic area to raise children.
As with many major centres of industry and culture, Toronto public transport is the primary way to get around the city. The city has a dense network of subway and bus routes and several high-quality train routes to take you around the Greater Toronto area and all over Canada. Toronto transit is easy and quick once you get used to it, but you do have to get used to it
The best way to get to grips with Toronto public transport is to look at where you'll be living and the different means of public transport you'll need to use to get to all of the places you want to go before you move to Toronto.
Things To Do In Toronto
The people of Toronto work hard and play hard. Despite the cold winters, Toronto is known worldwide for its culture of outdoor eating, with a considerable portion of the city's restaurants having patios, allowing diners to eat, drink and socialize while overlooking the iconic Toronto skyline. Due to its enormous mix of cultures, Toronto is home to some of the best international cuisines.
Neighbourhoods like The Annex, Dundas West and Little Italy boast some of the best restaurants in Canada and present fantastic opportunities for you to get to know some of the many cultures of Toronto through one of the most straightforward means of cultural expression - food. Make sure you go to Toronto with an open mind and palette. Chances are, you'll be exposed to a world of cuisines you've never seen before and might find your new favourite food in Toronto.
One of the best things to do in Toronto is shop. Toronto is the home of some of the best local and franchise shopping in Canada. Toronto's shopping districts, such as Yorkville, boast a wide variety of international and local brands, catering to all styles and tastes. On top of this, Toronto's bohemian capital, Kensington Market, will give you a shopping experience you can't get anywhere else in the world.
The number of options presented to you can be daunting at first, so make sure to take time to explore the city's shopping districts before you start your spending spree.
Along with the city's excellent restaurant culture, Toronto's bar and club culture are so massive that they even have an Entertainment district, boasting some of Canada's most exciting and interesting bars. In addition, Toronto is world-renowned for its high-level cocktail culture.
Downtown Toronto standouts like Barchef and the Irv offer some of the best cocktails in North America and a wide selection of local and international beverages.
Arts and Culture
Toronto is home to one of the world's most exciting arts and cultural scenes. The melting pot of international cultures produces some of the most exciting displays of art, theatre, music, filmmaking and performance in the Western world.
Districts like the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) District boast the most significant art galleries in Canada, showcasing some of the most delicate art from local and international artists. Theatres like the Royal Alexandra and Princess of Wales also host massive worldwide productions. Finally, let's not forget that the vast Toronto International Film Festival bringing the stars at the TIFF bell lightbox.
Toronto is hugely sporty, drawing massive crowds for its ice hockey, baseball, football, basketball and soccer matches. Toronto's hockey team, the Maple Leafs are the city's pride and joy (and, yes, it's Leafs, not leaves) and the city's basketball team, the Toronto Raptors, won the NBA championship in 2019, bringing a considerable amount of international attention to Toronto's sporting pedigree.
The city of Toronto's baseball team, the Blue Jays, brings the heat to the MLB every year and Toronto's soccer team, Toronto FC, put the city on the map regarding the world's most popular sport.
Torontonians are very serious about their teams, so it would be in your best interest to have a passing knowledge of the local sports teams to have your best possible understanding of life in Toronto.
Education in Toronto
Toronto's education system is largely recognized as one of the best in the world. Home to the world-famous University of Toronto, OCAD University, Ryerson University and York University, the opportunity to further your education or provide a world-class education for your children is right outside your front door.
Education in Canada is free for all students in the public school system, and with some of the world's top schools like Don Mills, Bathurst Manor, Lawrence Park and Hillcrest Village right in the city, your education is in good hands.
A great idea is to look into what schools in Toronto fulfill your educational needs and ensure you have found the right place before you move to Toronto.
Unique Immigration Visas to Toronto
As capital of Ontario, Toronto has many unique pathways for a visa via the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program. Those looking to move to Toronto can massively increase their changes at getting permanent residency via one of Ontario's specific immigration pathways. Some of these programs are:
- The International Student Stream
- The Express Entry Human Capital Priorities Stream
- The OINP Tech Stream
- The Express Entry French-Speaking Skilled Worker's Stream
- The Entrepreneur Stream
Learn more about Toronto's unique immigration visas.
5 Fun Facts About Toronto
Here are a few fun facts about Toronto that you may not have known.
1. Toronto is the fourth largest city in North America.
Behind Mexico City, New York and Los Angeles, Toronto has the largest population of any city in North America. This is due in no small part to the 46.6% of Torontonians who are international immigrants, according to Statcan.
2. Toronto is home to the largest underground shopping complex in the world.
PATH is a collection of over 30km underground tunnels and walkways, connecting over 70 buildings in downtown Toronto. Path is home to over 1200 stores and provides a massive and unique shopping experience away from the freezing Canadian winters.
3. The Toronto Islands is the largest car-free urban area in North America.
As a focal point for attractions and entertainment in Toronto, the Toronto Islands are designed to be as friendly as possible to the visitor. As a result, very few cars are allowed into the Toronto Islands. The only cars allowed are service vehicles for the attractions.
4. Toronto has over 10 million trees.
Despite being a massive home of industry and population, Toronto is not just a concrete jungle. Over 25% of the city's area is covered by trees, most of which is due to over 18% of the city being parkland. This ensures the city has the perfect balance between industry and life.
5. Toronto is a city of many nicknames.
While many have heard of Toronto being referred to as the The 6ix, the residents of Toronto have given it a plethora of nicknames over the years. Just 10 of these are:
- The Big Smoke
- Queen City
- Hollywood North
- Little York
- Toronto the Good
- The Megacity
Pros and Cons
- Vibrant, multicultural population
- Massive and booming job market
- No shortage of activities and things to do.
- Relatively temperate climate for Canada.
- Lots of people lead to lots of traffic and a chaotic
- Relatively high general cost of living for Canada
- Higher crime rate than other Canadian cities
Is healthcare free in Toronto?
While the Canadian government doesn't like to use the term free, Toronto is home to arguably the best public healthcare system in Canada. However, getting your public healthcare card can take up to 3 months. For more information on the public healthcare system, look at some of these Frequently Asked Questions.
What's the fastest way I can move to Toronto?
How soon you can move to Toronto depends on your background, country of origin and links to Canada. Here's a handy guide on the fastest ways you can start your journey to Canada.
What are the most in-demand jobs in Toronto?
In-demand jobs change based on the needs of the different industries that exist within Toronto. While there is no specific list of the in-demand jobs in Toronto, here's a full breakdown of the in-demand jobs in Toronto's province, Ontario.
The Whole World in One City
With so many fantastic opportunities and so much life to explore, Toronto offers a truly unique experience. If this sounds like the city for you, click the button below to speak to a RCIC who can help you find the best way to start your life in Toronto.