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Best neighbourhoods to buy a house in Toronto

by Corben Grant on 10 Dec 2021

Toronto is a vast and extremely diverse city. As Canada's largest and busiest city, it is a microcosm of all of the country's diversity with residents of all ages, incomes, backgrounds, and more living together. The city also has hundreds of years of history that have shaped it into what it is now.

The result of these facts is that Toronto has many different neighbourhoods, each with its own personalities, amenities, and community. For those looking to buy in the Toronto real estate market, each neighbourhood has its own considerations too in terms of what homes are available and for what prices.

If you are looking to buy property in Toronto or move to the city, you should not underestimate the way that the neighbourhood you choose can have a big impact on the way you will live or the performance of your investment. In this article, we will look at some neighbourhoods to consider for different kinds of homebuyers in Toronto.

Understanding the GTA

When people say "Toronto" they often don't actually mean just Toronto. The city has become synonymous with its surrounding metropolitan area, a collection of cities around lake Ontario that, together, form the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The City of Toronto makes up the centre of the area with the four municipalities of Durham, Halton, Peel, and York surrounding it. Therefore, outside of Toronto to the west you have cities like Burlington, Mississauga and Brampton. To the north, there are Vaughan, Richmond Hill and Markham, and to the east, there are Pickering and Oshawa.

If you work in Toronto and are willing to commute, the GTA real estate markets can offer you almost limitless choices for residential housing and they all offer relatively quick and easy access to the heart of the city. Due to the continuing outward expansion of the city, the areas in Toronto itself have become very dense and developed. If you are looking for a more traditional suburb, these areas may be best for you. Meanwhile, Toronto remains appealing for those looking for the one-of-a-kind energy and lifestyle that living in the city provides, the short commute to work, or simply the high potential for investment appreciation.

While each city in the GTA has its own reasons why investors or homebuyers may want to consider them, for the purpose of this article we will be looking at the city of Toronto proper. Just know, however, that even beyond the neighbourhoods we mention here, there are hundreds of others for you to consider.

Different neighbourhoods offer different options and real estate prices

The city of Toronto is home to 140 different official neighbourhoods so there is a lot of variety for would-be home buyers. No matter where you go in the city there will be opportunities for real estate investment. However, location can affect a lot beyond that. For example, the style of properties available in each neighbourhood will be different, as well as the age of the buildings.

The area you are in will also affect how easily you can rent out a property, for how much, and to whom. Different neighbourhoods can also have vastly different home prices. And finally, the community in each neighbourhood can offer very different lifestyles and experiences.

Before you choose a neighbourhood, you need to think about why you are buying property. Are you a landlord looking to rent? Are you a family looking for a place to settle? Are you moving to the city for its culture? Are you looking to settle in an area with others from your ethnicity or culture?

Next, you should figure out your budget. Prices will be high across the city and will vary from property to property. There are some areas that have much less affordable houses and based on your budget, may be out of reach. Generally, the most expensive real estate in the city is in the detached home segment. Beyond this, semi-detached, townhouses, and condos are more affordable options.

Best Toronto neighbourhoods for real estate investors

For investors, almost anywhere you buy real estate in Toronto is going to offer you a lot of value.

Due to the very high prices in the city, a lot of the population rents, meaning that if you plan to buy for rental purposes, you will have no shortage of tenants. Different renters are drawn to different areas with areas like the Annex, Baldwin Village, and the Bay St. Line popular with students, while families like to settle in areas like Riverdale and Leslieville. Finally, areas close to the developed downtown can fetch high rents from young professionals who work in the city.

You should also consider the price of the homes in the area compared to the rental potential and investment appreciation. Homes in Rosedale, for example, fetch the highest rent in the city.

You also need to think about what sort of investment you are looking for such as a condo or a detached home. Different areas will have more or fewer options for each of these, with some areas being primarily detached homes, while others may have tons of condos available.

Many real estate investors tend to be attracted to areas that feature favourable prices while displaying potential for high future growth. Often areas that are not yet hot are recognized as up and coming neighbourhoods, leading to increased investment and development in the area and a growth in property values. In Toronto, these days, neighbourhoods towards the edge of the city are seeing some of the best potentials as the inner core gets solidified and is very expensive. Areas displaying the best prices in comparison to potential growth include Yonge and Sheppard, Alderwood, and Moss Park.

Best Toronto neighbourhoods for families

Toronto is a great city for families due to the numerous schools and parks, as well as being a very safe city.

For young families looking to settle in Toronto, the most important factors in deciding what neighbourhood may be right for you will likely be what schools and parks are nearby, as well as local events and neighbourhood safety. Families with older children may want to consider entertainment in the area or public transit options. You probably also want to consider your commute to work and transportation options related to that.

Our top pick was Bloor West Village for its quiet and safe streets and its proximity to High Park, the largest park in Toronto. The neighbourhood also offers many appealing restaurants and boutiques while also being only a short distance from downtown.

The neighbourhood of Birchcliffs is another appealing choice for families. The neighbourhood features multiple large parks with tons of green space, including trails, beaches, and gardens. The area is popular with families and offers many bungalows and two-storey homes.

Another good neighbourhood for families is Riverdale, one of Toronto's larger neighbourhoods. The area has many options for both detached homes and condos to fit families of any size. Riverdale has a vibrant community, regular local events, multiple schools and parks and easy transportation options for getting to other areas of the city.

Other popular areas for families include Danforth Village-East York, Humber Valley Village, and Bedford Park.

Best Toronto neighbourhoods for luxury living

If you are the kind to spare no expense and have a spare few million to spare on a home in Toronto, you may want to look at these neighbourhoods known for their large, extravagant, and luxury homes. Generally, the most expensive areas of the city are located right in the centre.

The neighbourhood of Bridle Path-Sunnybrook-York Mills is the most expensive of all, with an average sale price of around $3.4 million. This area is home to numerous multi-million dollar mansions that represent the highest tier of accommodations in the city. Other similarly affluent neighbourhoods include Forest Hills South and Lawrence Park South. While prices in the area are not for the faint of heart, they offer a style of living like no other.

For fashion and shopping addicts

For those who are driven to the big city for its cutting-edge fashion and one-of-a-kind retail choices, you will find no shortage of choices in Toronto. These neighbourhoods may stand out for you.

The Mink Mile area in Yorkville has long been known as one of Canada's most upscale shopping destinations with stores for dozens of luxury brands and more mid-tier options.

Areas such as Queen Street East in the Beaches also offer a huge variety of shops and boutiques to explore.

Best Toronto neighbourhoods for business people

If you are the kind to live and breathe 'the grind' you will likely be spending a lot of time downtown in the built-up areas around Toronto's financial district. While these areas are great for work, they are not so great for living.

Nearby areas such as the distillery district offer very comfortable living choices and lifestyles, while still being close enough for work. Alternatively, you could settle somewhere farther away like the beaches, to allow yourself some space to breathe away from the hustle of the downtown core.

Most trendy Toronto neighbourhoods

If you are the hipster type who thinks the big city is the heart of hipness, look no further than these trendy Toronto neighbourhoods. Liberty Village has long been known as the spot for a trendy young population. The neighbourhood's many restaurants, bars and cafes make it a happening place both in the day and for nightlife.

Queen West is another nearby neighbourhood known for its trendy culture and was even ranked one of North America's coolest neighbourhoods by Vogue Magazine. The area is known for its artistic community and its many popular shops and restaurants. In addition, residents can enjoy sunny days in the popular Trinity Bellwoods park nearby.

Ethnic enclaves

One of the most wonderful things about Toronto is its highly diverse population. Toronto is often ranked among the most multicultural cities in the world. Many different groups of immigrants have settled neighbourhoods in Toronto, forming a community around their shared heritage. The most famous of these is Chinatown in downtown Toronto, but there are many others. If you identify with one of these groups, living in these areas can be a rewarding and comforting experience.

It’s worth knowing that in the decades since most of these communities were established, the city has changed a lot. Though these areas are traditionally associated with a particular group, the demographics of Toronto are now widely spread across the city. You will find people of all backgrounds in these neighbourhoods, despite their popular associations.

Chinatown

The most famous Chinatown in Toronto is located downtown on Spadina and Dundas, but it’s only one of many Chinese enclaves in the city. Another notable Chinatown nearby is called East Chinatown and offers a similar cultural experience outside of the more busy downtown Chinatown.

Greektown

Greektown is an area along Danforth Avenue in the neighbourhood of the same name. The area is known for its Greek restaurants and stores opened by Greek immigrants who came to Toronto after the First World War.

Little Italy

Little Italy is a neighbourhood in Toronto located along College Street and is known for its population of Italians and Italian businesses. Another area in the city, Corso Italia, is also known for its Italian heritage. Both areas also feature a significant Portuguese and Latin American population.

Koreatown

In the 1970s, Toronto welcomed a wave of Korean immigrants, many of whom settled in the Seaton Village neighbourhood. The area now features dozens of Korean shops and restaurants. Another popular Korean neighbourhood is found in Willowdale on the north end of the city.

Little India

This area in the Leslieville neighbourhood is known for its range of stores and restaurants catering to the Indian population and other South Asian communities.

So much more available in the Toronto real estate market

When it comes to neighbourhoods, Toronto has no shortage of variety. Truly, there is something for everyone and the areas we mentioned here makeup only a small percentage of all the neighbourhoods in the city. Don't be afraid to explore other areas of the city or ask one of many local real estate agents what area may be best for you.

Is there a particular neighbourhood you love in the city of Toronto? Let us know in the comments below!



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