Looking for an apartment in Toronto can be intimidating—from the high prices, to the extensive number of neighbourhoods. This can be a very stressful time for one person, in addition to the other things that have to be taken into consideration when moving with your family. Before we jump into our guide for apartment hunting in Toronto, I would like to highlight a few external resources that you may find helpful in your search:
- BlogTO’s ‘List of Toronto Neighborhoods’
- City of Toronto’s List of Toronto Neighborhoods
- The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s ‘Renting Your First Apartment’
- CBC’s’ How to find a great apartment in Toronto on a budget’
Things to Keep in Mind
Do Your Research and Budget
Ask just about anyone and they will tell you that Toronto is one of the most expensive Canadian cities to rent an apartment in. Don’t be discouraged, be prepared! Before you begin apartment hunting it is good to know the average price of Toronto rental. Keep in mind that these are averages, and generally apartments closer to the downtown core will cost you more than those on the edges of the city. Basically, you are paying more for the convenience of being closer to amenities. Keep in mind that the price listed for the rent of the apartment may be less than what you will actually end up paying each month. Some units include amenities such as electricity, water, heating/air conditioning, internet etc., while others do not.
When deciding what you need in an apartment, it is going to be different if you have a family than if you were just going to live alone or with a roommate. Children grow and need their own space to sleep and for play! You should think about whether you plan to expand your family during the period of time you will be living in the apartment – you might need an extra bedroom. If you have or will have a stroller you should consider the width of the hallways, as well as the number of stairs and doors there are. When viewing apartments, you’ll also want to consider potential safety hazards. For example, railings, stairways, balconies, and windows will be important to consider, depending on the needs of your child.
Possibly the most important thing to consider once you have set your budget, is proximity, and it has two components. First, you should decide what things you would like nearby your home. Of course, there are the obvious things like childcare and school/work, but it is also important to keep other things in mind, such as libraries (free entertainment for you and your child), grocery stores, laundry facilities (if not included in your building), public transportation, parks and even coffee shops. A good idea might be to make a list of the types of things you want to be near and rank their importance. Mark them on a map of the neighbourhood you like and keep this in mind when searching for rentals.
Unfortunately, in many cases you may not be as close to some things as you’d like, especially if workplaces and schools are not close together, which is where the second component of proximity comes in—transportation. With the right mode of transportation, even things that are across the city can be fairly accessible. When thinking about transportation, it is important to consider not only how you are going to get places, but also how long you are willing to spend commuting. If you plan on using a car, remember that not all units have parking available and when they do it often costs extra money. If you plan on using public transportation, find out where the nearest Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and Go Transit stops are located. In terms of TTC fare, it is also important to calculate whether it would be cheaper for you to pay individual fares, or purchase a TTC pass if you are riding on a regular basis (tip: children under 12 ride for free!). If you hope to walk or cycle to most destinations, you can use the Walk Score website to find out if the neighbourhood you are looking at is accessible.
For more information on things to think about when deciding if an apartment is right for your family, check out part 2 of this blog: 5 Tips For Apartment Hunting With Your Family.