Toronto is a great city. In fact, it’s consistently ranked one of the best and most livable cities. With a population of 2.79 million people and 5.5 million in the Greater Toronto Area, it’s Canada’s largest city and one of the most multicultural on the planet.
If you’re moving to Toronto, it can be overwhelming and exciting at the same time. Here are a few things you should know:
Toronto is one of the safest large cities in the world. You can ride the subway and walk around, even at night, without worrying. But there are still some areas that are safer than others. Make sure you know where you’re going before you end up in the wrong part of town. How can you learn more about where to go and not go? Torontonians are friendly—ask someone for help if you’re lost or need directions. Pick up a local paper for recommendations on where to go and things to do. Toronto Life magazine, Toronto Star and Metronews (a free paper) are great places to start. They won’t steer you wrong. There are also lots of websites, such as toronto.com or tripadvisor.ca you can visit and books to read that will offer you advice about the best places to see—and the places to avoid.
Toronto is very multicultural—and cultural. That means there are lots of neighbourhoods to explore and festivals to attend. The summer is an especially good time to check out all the culture Toronto has to offer. There’s Pride festivities, Taste of the Danforth, food truck festivals and jazz and arts celebrations. Visit the Beaches, Queen Street West, Yorkville and Harbourfront, to name a few popular destinations. There is so much amazing food to eat and things to see, so whatever you’re craving, Toronto is a haven for culture. No matter who you are or where you’re from, everyone is welcome in Toronto.
Ride the Rocket. You’ve probably heard that traffic in Toronto is atrocious. Whomever told you that is right. Learn to ride the TTC subway system and use the bus routes. You can get a student rate on a Metropass or pay the regular fare, which is $3.25. The TTC’s website (ttc.ca) has lots of information to help you get where you need to go. More above-ground routes are being planned to make the city even more accessible. You can even take a train directly from Union Station to Pearson International airport. If you enjoy biking, there are lots of bike lanes in the downtown core. Or you can always take a taxi or hop in an Uber. If you’re driving, look for Green P parking or other paid lots. Pay attention to parking signs or you could end up with a ticket. And don’t text and drive or drink and drive. The police are always monitoring to ensure drivers are driving safely and obeying the laws of the road.
The city is expensive. There’s no way to sugar coat it. Housing is especially costly—the average detached home is now more than $1 million. Rent can also be high, but the good news is there are lots of condos and apartments for rent in every part of the city. Do you know where you want to live? Do you have a roommate to share the cost? Is student housing available to you? Do your research and find some place convenient and affordable. While housing prices are high, other things can be found on the cheap. Get recommendations from foodies to find delicious, affordable places to eat. There’s lots to be found. “Street meat” (hot dogs sold by vendors on street corners) is tasty and cheap.
Make friends. Toronto is a big city and it can be overwhelming when you first arrive. You’ll want to do your best to meet people. While it can be scary at first, this is a great opportunity to explore new interests and get involved. Join a gym, sign up for a class, volunteer or participate in a local student group. There are no shortage of ways to meet people. You will quickly find that Toronto is home.
Crestwood Echo June 28th, 2017