How (un)affordable is Toronto?


Living in Toronto is expensive for millenials and Gen Zs. However, it is the biggest city in Canada and there are plenty of jobs, so it makes sense for young college graduates to find work there. But how do they make ends meet living in one of Canada’s most expensive cities on an entry level salary? (The average salary for 16-34 year-olds working in Toronto is $28,800.)

There are several housing options for young people looking for work in Toronto. They can live in the city centre close to work, or live further away, but still within the city, and commute to work. A third option is to live outside the city and commute further to work. Let’s see how the costs stack up.

According to Numbeo, the cost on average to rent a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre is $2,157.05/month. The cost of living for everything else for your average single person is about $1,304.40 (this is roughly the same throughout the GTA).

This means the average monthly costs for living in the city center is $3461.45 ($41,537.40 annually).

Brooke Porter lives in the city centre. She says, “I have a decent job and live with my boyfriend who also has a decent job but the vast majority of our pay goes to rent and bills, so saving is impossible. But being able to walk to work is nice.”

Outside the city centre, but still within the city, the rent for an average one-bedroom apartment is $1,730.00. But this requires the cost of commuting ($151.15/month) to the city center for work. So the total monthly cost comes to $3,185.55 ($38,226.60 annually).

Susan Zurawieka, who lives a subway ride away from downtown, says, “What I like about living in Toronto is that you don’t need a car to always get around. Everything is almost always accessible and public transit is also usually available. The bad part is that rent for young people is very unaffordable, and the cost of living is also not decent.”

The preferred method of commuting for thousand of Torontonians – The TTC streetcar

Living in a separate city is the third option. For this example, we’ll use Brampton. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Brampton costs on average $1,459.38/month.  The commute to downtown Toronto costs $16.08 a day, or $321.60/month. So the total average monthly cost of living in Brampton and commuting to Toronto is $3,085.38 ($37,024.56 annually).

Though, the time spent commuting needs to be considered with this option. The train from Brampton to Union Station is a 40-minute one-way ride.

Phil Caron commutes to Toronto from Oakville every day for work. He says, “I like not having to pay the ridiculous amounts for rent and I like being close to a lot of good food choices. I also like being downtown where everything is happening. I’m finding making relationships at work difficult because most people drive in from surrounding GTA areas and it’s tough to hang out outside work. Overall I think it’s good to be outside of downtown because you’re out of the madness. The traffic, the people, the noise, it never ends.”

At the end of the day, living and working in Toronto instead of living in a community close to Toronto doesn’t make that much of a difference in how much of your income is spent towards rent and commuting — only $4,000 a year difference to live in Toronto city-centre vs. Brampton, plus hundreds of hours spent commuting every year.

To see a noticeable difference in rent and living expenses, you’d have to travel as far away as Hamilton. The rent for an average one-bedroom apartment there is about half the cost of Toronto, only $1,077.86. You might even be able to work there and avoid a commute. The job market in Hamilton has been steadily growing.

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