Real estate costs have skyrocketed. What does it really cost to live in Toronto?
If you’re planning to move to Toronto in the next few months, you may have heard (a lot) about how real estate prices here have gone through the roof, and that costs are right up there with Vancouver, San Francisco and New York.
While that may be true for some piece of real estate – particularly detached single-family homes close to downtown Toronto – the reality is a little more nuanced.
Sites like Expatistan [https://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living ] have some information for international cost of living comparisons, but here are some basics from those of us who actually live here.
In downtown Toronto, you can buy groceries at convenience stores, ‘specialty’ stores (like Whole Foods) or at regular grocery stores. Convenience and specialty stores will generally have higher prices, but even regular grocery stores in the downtown area will be more expensive than the same stores in the suburbs.
Lunch downtown/business district $15 (no alcohol)
Dinner in a mid-priced pub $25 (no alcohol)
2l of 2% milk (carton) $4 specialty/$3 grocery
Loaf of bread $4-5 specialty/$3-4 grocery
Ground beef, 1lb $6 specialty/$5 grocery
These figures are from the Toronto Real Estate Board, early 2016. It’s important to remember that these are averages only and can vary significantly depending on location, amenities, services and what utilities are included.
1 bedroom apartment, downtown $1600/month
1 bedroom apartment, suburbs $1100/month
2 bedroom apartment, downtown $2200/month
2 bedroom apartment, suburbs $1800/month
Utilities, 1 bedroom apartment $130/month
Many people living in downtown Toronto – especially those without children – don’t bother owning a car, instead renting from Zipcar or another car-sharing service, taking Uber or taxis, or using public transportation. The TTC (Toronto’s public transit system) has good coverage in the downtown/midtown areas.
One-way ride on TTC, 1 adult $3.25 (includes transfers between subway, bus and streetcar)
Monthly transit pass, 1 adult $141.50
Cab fare, downtown to midtown $15 exclusive of tip
Gasoline, 1l $1.01
Toronto has a wildly diverse entertainment scene, from $15 tickets for indie plays to $200+ for a Saturday night showing of Kinky Boots at the Royal Alex theatre. Here are some examples.
Movie ticket, 1 adult $15
Martini, high-end cocktail bar $22
Beer, pint, average pub $7
Large coffee, Starbucks $4
Art Gallery of Ontario, 1 adult $20
Sales tax in Toronto (and throughout Ontario) is called HST, the Harmonized Sales Tax. It will add 13% to most things you buy, except for some items such as books, children’s clothing and feminine hygiene products. Non-Canadians may be able to apply for a rebate on the tax they’ve paid once they’ve left the country.
While no one would call the cost of living in Toronto ‘cheap’, it’s within the norm for large North American cities. Many of our American clients have said that in their experience, the closest comparison is Chicago in terms of the cost of everyday items