Toronto is currently leading in a race that no one wants to win: the race for the costliest place to rent in Canada. And even worse, they’ve maintained the top spot for a few consecutive years. According to this report released by Bullpen Research & Consulting and Rentals.ca, Toronto’s average rent for a one-bedroom unit hit $2,299 in January 2020. The average rent for two-bedroom units also soared up to $2,914.
So if you plan on moving to Toronto for whatever reason, just know this: when it comes to housing, Toronto could be defined as the New York of Canada. Average rent costs in Canada’s most populous city and the Greater Toronto Area keep going up without warning.
Toronto has and will continue to be the most popular city to live in Canada. It offers exciting neighbourhoods for a vast array of people, whether you are raising a family, recently retired or studying, this city has just the place for you to live. Because of my job, people always ask me where is the best place to rent or live in Toronto.
For me, the answer to that question is subjective; one person’s dream neighbourhood could be another’s worst nightmare. In this article I have tried to answer the question objectively as possible, I have my biases like anyone, so I will make apologies in advance if some of the shine through. But I will try to leave them at the door for this piece wherever possible.
These diabolical rates are pricing a lot of people out of getting their own houses in the city. It is not uncommon news in Toronto and GTA that some rental costs are higher than some people’s mortgage payments.
This isn’t to say that purchasing a home is cheaper than renting a home in the area. The average price for buying a typical home in Toronto sits at around $873,000. And to qualify for this purchase you need an average household income of $160,000 (or two $80K salaries).
To put that in perspective, this kind of money is only earned by the top five percent of Canadians and the top 10 percent of earners in Toronto.
Fact: there are many more housing options for rent and purchase in other Provinces besides Ontario that are a lot more affordable. But if you absolutely must live in Toronto, then all hope is not lost. There are always exceptions when it comes to finding an affordable house in an area filled with seven-figure-priced housing and astronomic rental costs.
But first, a few tips for finding good rental deals in Toronto and around GTA
Before you go putting money on any kind of property, glance through these few tips to help you get the best deal you can. Note that these tips work best if you’re looking to rent an apartment.
How To Find A Rental Place In Toronto?
1. Be on the lookout for older buildings
Apartment buildings and condos populate the skyline in Toronto and GTA. However, not all of them are options if you’re looking for an apartment unit on a strict budget. Make sure you are only looking out for the older buildings, preferably those built before 1991. This is because of the strict 1991 rent control policies that regulate rent changes for these apartment buildings. Anything built after 1991 is subject to sudden spikes in rent that could render you homeless before you fully settle into your new home.
2. Consider not-quite-finished buildings
If you don’t like the idea of living in an old building, you can consider an almost-finished one. The possibility of getting an early move-in rent price is always there. With such a deal, you’ll often get access to amenities and outlets at a much lower price than people who move in after the building is completed. Don’t forget though that it’s a new building and doesn’t have the rent control feature of older buildings. This means the rent could still eventually go up.
3. Use a real estate agent
The thing with real estate agents is that you can utilize them to get the best deal on an apartment. Why? The cost for the agent’s services are covered by the building owner; you won’t have to pay a dime. If you find a deal you like on a property listing platform, you can directly reach out to the agent in charge of the building. That way you have a much better chance of snagging the unit before anyone else.
So here goes, my best places to rent In Toronto in no particular order. As long as you’re willing to consider locations and neighbourhoods outside the high-brow areas of Toronto and GTA, there are several places where you can snag a good house. We’ve listed a few neighbourhoods where you can pay rent that is way below the $2,300 city average
Or as Torontonians call it Hipsterville East, is one of the trendier places to live in Toronto. Rows of cafes and shops peddling their sustainably sourced products are only broken up by the occasional yoga centre.
Don’t get me wrong I love Leslieville, it has a thriving arts scene and even has a pet shop where I can pick up some organic treats for my little companion. Close to the beaches are still reasonable, making it accessible for the singletons, couples as well as new families.
Residents of Cabbagetown love its picturesque heritage homes, variety of restaurants and cafes, spas, gyms and yoga studios as well as it’s a vibrant lifestyle. Most residents will also tell you they relish the endless list of activities that are available to both young and old.
This suburb is well known for its nightlife as it is for being family-friendly during the day. Rents are a little higher here, but there is such a variety of accommodation available, most renters will be able to find a great place to live here.
3. Davisville Village
If you need a faster pace of life and access to vibrant nightlife, Davisville Village or nearby Yonge & Eglinton offers attractive housing options for renters.
Small houses to High rise condos, be warned the cost of living in this area is not cheap, but that is sometimes the price you have to pay to be entertained,
4. Dufferin Grove
Often described as more hippie than hipster, this neighbourhood is home to singles and families alike.
Residents love it there because of the abundance of shops, affordable rental properties, schools, safe streets, stunning community gardens, excellent older architecture and the fact that it allows easy access to the city centre.
5. The Junction
As you drive through the Junction, you could be excused for thinking that this is a lovely family-oriented suburb, with its, community events, parks, heritage homes and antique shops. While it is home to many families.
It is quickly becoming a favourite hangout for the cities hipsters. Organic shops, raw food bars and coffee stations are opening-up every month. They have also started to convert the Junctions lofts into trendy galleries and studios.
Rents are still reasonable, which is another reason it is gaining popularity.
6. Church & Wellesley
The centre of Toronto’s LGBTQ community, this is certainly not for the faint of heart. If you are after trendy stores and restaurants that serve incredible food late into the night. All this while is surrounding yourself by an area that is famous for its community spirit, then Church & Wellesley could well be the place for you.
Renting might be a little hit and miss for some people’s liking, the price is middle of the road. This area deserves to be packed with families because it has great parks and schools. Unfortunately, it isn’t.
7. Deer Park
If you have a family with kids, look no further than Deer Park. This area caters to families like no other suburb. Providing access to high schools also offers the best open green spaces in the city. The 512th street streetcar makes your commute downtown as smooth as could be.
From a renters perspective, the average prices in the area are also lower than in most of the city. Rental properties are also freely available, everything for three-bed townhouses to one-bed apartments in stunning heritage homes. Whatever your heart desires.
8. Kensington Market
Last but certainly not least, Toronto is nothing if not diverse, the epitome of this is Kensington Market. This small area attracts people from all over the world; you will encounter a community so ethnically diverse it will be unlike anything you have ever seen before. This tight-knit community is bursting at the seams with charm. Even though It is a famous weekend shopping district from many Torontonians, it remains one of the most reasonable places to rent property in the city.
Renting in Toronto isn’t cheap by any standards, but the good news is that there is a wide choice of outlying commuter towns to choose from, where prices are much lower albeit with a slightly longer drive into the city itself. Don’t let this put you off as getting around Toronto is pretty straightforward.
9. Guildwood Village, Scarborough
If you’re the type of person who doesn’t care much for the increasing population of the city life. If you love nature and an outdoorsy lifestyle with plenty of landscape and nothing but nature, Guildwood may be worth considering.
This breath-taking neighbourhood south of Kingston Rd., near the Scarborough Bluffs. The average rent here comes in at an affordable cost of $950/month.
10. Rexdale-Kipling, Toronto
This neighbourhood, located in northern Etobicoke, also has enough elements of nature to keep it attractive. It is bordered to the east by Islington Avenue, to the west by Highway 27, to the north by West Humber River Valley and the south by Rexdale Blvd.
Rexdale also has some interesting spots like the Racetrack and Woodbine Casino. Most buildings in this neighbourhood are publicly owned which aids the affordability of housing. The average monthly rental costs are currently at $968.
12. Long Branch, Toronto
This village/neighbourhood is located at the west end of Toronto. It has Mississauga west of its borders, New Toronto to the east, Lake Ontario to the north and the railway tracks leading into downtown Toronto the south.
Part of Long Branch’s attraction is that it isn’t far from the city and is just a train ride away. It also has a lot of landscape and green space going for it. The average monthly rent costs here sit at $1,062.
13. New Toronto, Toronto
This south-western neighbourhood of the city has a very rich history. It has a lot of waterfront homes and parks for those who love nature and water. Some of its notable landmarks include Lakeshore Yacht Club, Humber College’s Lakeshore Campus, and the New Toronto Lawn Bowling Club. Rent here costs $1,306 on the average every month.
14. Keelesdale, Eglinton West
This neighbourhood is the definition of diversity. A good distance away from the hustle and bustle of the city, it has a predominantly Asian and European influence. Most of Keelesdale’s residents have Spanish, Italian, Vietnamese, and Portuguese descent. Keelesdale. You can also enjoy the many Caribbean-themed restaurants along Eglinton Avenue, as well as get your nature fix at the Keelesdale and Haverson Parks.
Keelesdale is located south of Eglinton, north of Rogers Road, east of the Union Express rail and west of the railway tracks. The average monthly rent for Keelesdale is currently $974.
- Rockcliffe-Smythe ($1,015)
- Beechborough-Greenbrook ($1,044)
- Kennedy Park ($1,048)
Best Neighborhoods For Affordable Home Purchase in Toronto and GTA
15. Oshawa, Durham
Some call it the Golden Horseshoe, and some others fondly refer to this city as the “eastern doorknob” for the Greater Toronto Area. Oshawa lies on the shores of Lake Ontario, about 60 kilometres to the east of downtown Toronto. It is Durham’s largest municipality. Currently, the average cost of buying a home in the municipality is $556,309.
16. Brock, Durham
Also called the ‘Township of Brock’ or ‘Brock Township’, this town is located a little north of Oshawa. It is also known as the ‘Gateway to the North’ because the neighbourhood is 95km northeast when travelling from the City of Toronto. Relatively speaking, Brock is more of a rural settlement which makes it a lot different from the city. However, there are still a few places with the city vibe and an urban feel: Sunderland, Beaverton, and Cannington. Houses in Brock have an average market value of $573,951.
17. Clarington, Durham
Yet another entry from the regional municipality of Durham, Clarington is the region’s largest in terms of landmass having an area of 608 square km. There’s a lot to see and love in Clarington, from its few city-like areas such as Newcastle and Bowmanville to the predominant breath-taking picturesque scenery of the neighbourhood as characterized by the Oak Ridges Moraine and more. As potential homeowners find it difficult to buy a home in the City of Toronto and its surrounding cities, they are migrating faster into places like Clarington, so expect the prices not to stay low for too long. However, an average house in Clarington currently goes for $585,562.
18. Georgina, York
This York neighbourhood is fast filling up as well as people make their way from the city to other pastures. The extension of 404 Highway has made Georgina an even more attractive and accessible destination. This neighbourhood is 70km away from Toronto, making it the northernmost part of York. Georgina is a sizable tourist attraction. Activities like horseback riding, boating, and golfing are common in the municipality due to its proximity to the Simcoe Lake. It is also known as the ‘Ice Fishing Capital of Canada’ because of the year-round fishing it offers. Housing here currently goes for $590,255.
19. West Humber-Claireville, Toronto
Two quick things about West Humber. Its rich culturally diverse population means you will most likely run into non-English speakers from time to time. It’s also big on public green spaces with over 50 of such spaces available for use by its residents. The Disco Yard and the Claireville Conservation Area are just two of such spaces. The municipality is one of the 140 neighbourhoods in Toronto. It sits in Etobicoke North, in northwest Toronto. West Humber is ideal for people who want calm environments and some relative quiet. Housing in the area currently goes for an average of $732,854.
- Rexdale-Kipling ($732,854)
- Bendale ($742,670)
- Rogue ($752,292)
- Weston ($783,141)
- Black Creek ($859,215)
To conclude this topic, I’ll reiterate Toronto is one of the most expensive cities in North America. But it is a beautiful and vibrant place to live. No matter what ethnicity you are from, people in Toronto are very welcoming and warm at heart. The rent prices keep soaring northwards every year and you don’t really have an option. With the city’s reputation of attracting thousands of new immigrants with limited places to rent, no wonder the rent prices always on the rise.
Anyways, that was the list of the best 8 neighbourhoods in and around Toronto to call your place home.
House-hunting can often be a strong reminder that sometimes gems can be found in unexpected places. So if you’re tired of not finding what you want or finding the house of your dreams only to discover that it’s way above your budget, you can try looking in some of the places mentioned above.
As mentioned earlier, house hunting with the help of an agent can often help make your search a lot more fruitful. Cast a wide net when looking for the perfect place. Use online real estate property listings like ViewIt, Realtor.ca, PadMapper, Kijiji, Condos.ca, Craigslist and others.
And lastly, when you’re working with a tight budget, it is best to keep an open mind. You’ve already decided to check out options outside the city so it shouldn’t be much of a stretch to be flexible on certain other items on your checklist. This will likely result in a lot of your dreams.
If you liked this post, please share it on social media and help spread the word. Let me know your thoughts below. Thanks a lot for reading and have a fantastic day!
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Sagar Sridhar is a personal finance blogger from Canada. His genuine passion for personal finance coupled with his unique style of writing is what stands out. Professionally, he is a computer engineer, agile certified and has a master’s degree in Project Management. His writing has been featured or quoted in the leading Canadian publications such as Credit Canada and many other personal finance publications. While he is juggling between his day job and blogging, he is the main author on this blog and has miles to go before making the final pit stop.