Expat guide for areas to live-in Toronto
Located in the western most part of Toronto, Etobicoke is bordered on the west by the city of Mississauga and Humber River to the east. It is the closest of Toronto neighborhoods to Lester B. Peason Airport, which serves as its northern boundary, and stretches down to Lake Ontario. Etobicoke is known for being one of the more spacious regions and good areas to live-in Toronto, with less than 15% of the city’s population living there, on over 20% of Toronto’s space. This is due, in large part, to the lush green space and many parks that the neighborhood has to offer, including the Humber River Valley.
While Etobicoke isn’t the most transit friendly neighborhood, it is ideal for car owners, offering access to most of Toronto through many of the city’s major freeway systems that are routed through the area. Those who rely on city transit systems would do well to settle in Etobicoke’s centre, around Bloor Street, where they will have access to the subway system. TTC buses do service the area, but the wait time can often be upwards of 1/2 an hour or more, with the added frustration of the buses being full during peak times. Those who require the GO Transit System should move into Mimico, where the Mimico Go Transit Station is located.
There is a wide variety of housing options in Etobicoke. Many of the more upscale housing can be found in areas like Thorncrest Village, where there are impressive mansions and large properties, while places like Humberlea, the Queensway, and Mimico offer more affordable housing options for young or middle-income families. There is also a large number of apartment buildings and condominiums throughout the neighborhood for those who are not seeking to buy houses.
International Schools: Canada does not have an international school system, but there are many schools in the area that may cater to your particular needs, or have similar curriculum to that of an international school. Click this link for a comprehensive list of Etiobicoke schools and a list of their specialties and curriculum.
Supermarkets: Loblaws; Metal Supermarket; Bruno’s Fine Foods; Vince’s Market; Rabba Fine Foods
Restaurants: A wide variety of restaurants can be found in Etobicoke, including lots of fastfood and casual dining. Sushi Kaji is a popular choice for those craving shushi. Fans of Spanish cuisine may enjoy Casa Barcelona. The Old Mill Restaurant features fine dining in the evening, with a very extensive brunch on Sunday mornings.
Cinemas: Albion Cinema (1530 Albion Rd), Cineplex Odion (1025 The Queensway), Rainbow Cinema (500 Rexdale Blvd)
Sports: Centennial Park Golf Course, Humber Valley Golf Course, Annette Community Recreation centre, which has a pool, basketball courtse, and a skating rink, Canlan Ice Sports, paved recreation trails at Centennial Park and along the west bank of the Humber river, and excellent hiking trails along both sides of the Humber River and in Old Mill Park.
Occupying the north central part of Toronto, North York is a relatively recent addition to Toronto. It was its own municipality before amalgamating with the city of Toronto in 1997. North York is the second largest area of Toronto and is one of the most diverse in the city in terms of affluence. Some of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods, such as the Bridle Path and Hogg’s Hollow are in North York, as are some of the more impoverished neighborhoods, like Jane & Finch, Lawrence Heights, and Flemington Park. North York is also one of Toronto’s most multi-cultural neighborhoods, with about 60% of the population moving to the city from outside of Canada.
While there is a multitude of housing options in North York, it is most notable for its wide variety of apartment complexes and condominiums. Much of North York’s central area is reserved for high-rise office buildings and corporate headquarters. The surrounding neighborhoods, particularly Don Mills, have become very popular amongst those seeking to own condos in Toronto.
Due to recent developments of the subway system in North York, the central part of this neighborhood is quite easily accessible with subway stations at North York Centre, Finch, and Sheppar-Yonge. Bus service in this area is also relatively speedy, with most neighborhoods served by buses that offer waiting times of around 5 minutes.
International Schools: While Canada does not have an international school system, there may be a school that caters to what you are looking for, or may have a similar curriculum to an international school. This link leads to an excellent list of schools that serve the North York area, and the curriculum they have to offer.
Supermarkets: Pusateri’s Fine Foods; Cataldi Supermarket; Tone Tai Supermarket; Highland Farms Supermarket; and Metro
Restaurants: North York is also a haven for the hungry, with a staggering variety of restaurants and eateries of all kinds. Those who crave French Cuisine might want to check out Auberge Du Pommier, while those into authentic Vietnamese should check out Pho Dau Bo. Anyone looking for a more casual dining experience may want to check out the Triple Crown or Windfield’s.
Cinemas: Cineplex Odion Sheppard; Empress Theatres; Eglington Town Centre Cinema
Sports: Don Valley Golf Course, Douglas Snow Aquatic Centre, excellent walking/recreational trails along Black Creek and in Ed Bales Park, and John Booth Arena.
Central Toronto is often referred to as “Old Toronto”, due to the fact that its boundaries are the same as those of the City of Toronto prior to the amalgamation of several municipalities in 1997. This area encompasses much of the core area of the city, and boasts a wide variety of eclectic neighborhoods like the Annex, High Park, Forest Hill, and Rosedale. This is the most densely populated area of Toronto and is also the main location of Toronto’s downtown, financial district, and the entertainment & fashion district.
Housing in Central Toronto is quite expensive, due to the large number of surrounding amenities and conveniences. Buying a house in central Toronto can be exceptionally difficult, due to the high cost and demand of housing in the area. There is, however, a very large variety of apartments available, as well as a huge number of condominiums. Renters and buyers in this area, however, should expect to pay top dollar for their homes.
One of the biggest advantages to living in this area is the ability to get around. Central Toronto is the hub of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), with main subway stations like Spadina Station, St. George Station, and Bloor-Yonge Station offering access to every major line in all directions. Central Toronto also offers speedy bus service and street car service along some of its more direct streets. There is also no shortage of taxis, and most major freeway systems link to Toronto’s central core. Central Toronto is also home to Union Station, the main hub of intra-city transportation in Toronto.
Central Toronto is easily one of the city’s most vibrant areas, and is a favoured spot for those seeking entertainment in various forms. There are many, many pubs and eateries to choose from, and some of Toronto’s most popular shpoping destinations are located here.
International Schools: While Canada doesn’t have an international school system, like the U.S and the U.K, there are a couple of schools in Toronto that have a similar curriculum. One of those schools, York School, is located in Central Toronto, and seeks to teach its students to become citizens of the world. Click the link for more details.
Supermarkets: Annex Grocery Store; Bloor Superfresh; Metro; Rabba Fine Foods; Gaby’s Croceries
Restaurants: There are a TON of restaurants in this area! Fans of authentic Italian food might want to check out Era Ora, on Avenue Road, while Izakaya, on Front Street, is one of the more popular places for Japanese cuisine. If you’re just looking for good, old fashioned pub grub, you can’t do much better than the Groundhog Pub, on Bloor Street, while C’est What, on Front Street offers unique dishes and microbrewed beer. Folks with families should definitely check out the Old Spaghetti Factory, located on the Esplanade.
Cinemas: The Scotia Bank Theatre (259 Richmond St.); The Varsity/Varsity VIP Cinema (55 Bloor St. West); The Cumberland Theatre (159 Cumberland Ave); The Carlton Theatre (20 Carlton St.); Rainbow Cinema (80 Front Street).
Sports: St. Michael’s College School, which has a running track, baseball field, and football fields (both North American & Soccer); Trinity Bellwoods Park, which has excellent walking trails, tennis courts, and baseball & soccer fields, and a fitness facility, and amazing hiking trails and soccer fields in High Park. Central Toronto is also where the city’s major sports teams play. The Toronto Maple Leafs (hockey), Toronto Raptors (basketball), and Toronto FC (soccer) all call downtown Toronto home.
Located just north of Central Toronto, East York was once its own autonomous community before amalgamating with the city of Toronto in 1998. Although not as populated as some of Toronto’s other neighborhoods, East York is experiencing a recent resurgence in popularity, particularly amongst young professional couples and families. Areas like Thorncliff Park are also popular amongst recent Canadians hoping to adjust to their new city. Due to it only recently joining up with Toronto, East York is a very self-contained neighborhood, with most amenities within easy reach of its residences. Housing in East York is a mixed bag, with lots of affordable condos and high-rise apartments, but plenty of mid to high-end properties as well.
Getting around in East York is relatively simple, due to the neighborhood’s access to public transit. The Bloor/Danforth area is well served by the city’s subway system, and rapid bus and streetcar service carries passengers where they need to go in a very efficient manner. East York is bordered by the Don Valley Parkway, a north/south route that allows drivers access to most of Toronto’s main highway systems. There are also ample walking and bicycle paths for those who like to travel in the sunshine and fresh air.
International Schools: While Canada doesn’t have an international school system, like the U.S and the U.K, there are a couple of schools in Toronto that have a similar curriculum. One of those schools, York School, is located in Central Toronto, close to East York, and seeks to teach its students to become citizens of the world. Click the link for more details.
Shopping: Summerhill Market, Fresh From the Farm, Marhaba Supermarket, Metro, Loblaws
Restaurants: There is no shortage of fast food and casual dining restaurants in East York. Those seeking Chinese food should check out Number One Chinese Food, while Thai Fusion offers up spicy Thai fare. The Wally Tap & Grill is a great place to relax and eat some pub grub. Anyone craving fish and chips should definitely check out The Olde Yorke Fish & Chips.
Cinemas: Beach Cinemas (651 Queen Street East), The Fox Theatre (2236 Queen St. East).
Sports: Leaside Tennis Club, East York Tennis Club, East York Gymnastics Club, Woodgreen Community centre, which has exercise equipment and a swimming pool, and the O’Connor Bowl.
On the far eastern side of Toronto is Scarborough, another independent community that joined the city of Toronto in 1998. A large and culturally diverse neighborhood, Scarborough is among the best of bets for those looking to buy housing in Toronto. Although technically part of Toronto, Scarborough residents maintain a very independent ownership of their neighborhood, and a strong sense of community can be found here. Canada Post has maintained Scarborough’s status, so mail should be directed to Scarborough, not Toronto.
A wide variety of housing, condos, and high-rise apartments can be found in this area, but distance is a factor. In fact, Scaroborough’s distance from downtown Toronto often earns it the unflattering nickname “Scarberia”. Nevertheless, a good effort has been made to keep commuters to the city core connected through highway systems and city transit. The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has extended bus service over much of the region, as well as the Scarborough RT, which connects the neighborhood to the subway system. The GO Transit system also offers routes to some of the more far-flung parts of the area.
International Schools: There are no international schools in this neighborhood, but this link might help you find a school that caters to the international curriculum.
Shopping: Food Market, Fung Yao Supermarket, Metro, Loblaws
Restaurants: Scarborough features a wide variety of restaurants, with an emphasis on Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine. Anyone seeking Vietnamese food should check out Pho 88. Fans of Shwarma should head for Shwarma Empire or Ali Babba Kabob House. Ted’s Restaurant is a great place for causal cuisine, while Royal Chinese Seafood Restaurant serves just what the name implies.
Cinemas: Famous Players Coliseum, AMC Commons 20, Ciniplex Odion at the 401 & Morningside, and the Silversity at the Fairview Mall.
Sports: Brookside Golf & Country Club, Agincourt Recreation Centre, which has exercise equipment & a swimming pool, recreation & hiking trails at North Scarborough Trails and Highland Creek, and Centennial Ice Galaxy, which has winter sports equipment and a skating rink