If you’re coming to live and work or spend long-stays in Canada and Toronto is your chosen destination, my guess is you are already searching online for information on where it’s best to live at in this great city.
For this post (and in future ones), I’m going to write about where I think it is best to live in Toronto from an immigrants’ experience.
I’m going to write about different spots in the municipality of East York first (where I have settled for the past 5 years), and will cover the area where I think it is not only affordable to live at, but also generally offers the best amenities for its residents.
Please note that I do not intend to convince anyone to pursue my suggestions here because your essentiality may be different from mine. My intention is just to present my own experience while seeking for a permanent place to reside at in Toronto.
So, with that behind, here’s my take about East York, one of the places where it’s best to live at in Toronto…..
We have lived in at least 3 municipalities in Toronto since we arrived in 1998 – Scarborough, North York and now East York.
Like all other immigrant families, we started out as renters and without a vehicle – so in choosing a place to reside permanently, the tendency is of course to select where it is very convenient to get to work, shop for groceries, affordable apartments, proximity to health services and of course recreation.
When in Toronto, depending on where you will reside, all of those I mentioned about proximity to most conveniences is possible; however, there are certain communities where you can have them plus more. And some of those neighborhoods is at the East York district.
In East York, if you will decide to make it your home, I think the best place to rent an apartment is around the area of Pape Avenue and Cosburn Avenue, so let me discuss about that area first.
Why is it I prefer the Pape/Cosburn area in East York? For so many reasons:
24-hour bus route
Pape & Cosburn
Pape Avenue and Cosburn Avenue at that particular intersection are both 24-hour bus routes. So, even if you’re working very late or came home past midnight (or even later) from a goodtime, you are assured that you will be able to get home when you want to. Be aware, though, that not the whole stretch of Cosburn is a 24-hour bus route. The part past Coxwell Avenue, Eastward is not part of the overnight route.
Nearby to most basic necessities
The intersection is within walk away from anyone’s basic necessities. There are at least three major banks, 2 drugstores, plenty of eating places including fastfood shops and restaurants, gas stations, a post office branch, wash/dry laundry, fruit and vegetable shops not to mention a grocery (Food Basic) and many other establishments that will make everyday living needs closer to home.
Near the Pape subway station
It is very close to the subway network via the Pape subway, so getting from place to place around the city even without a vehicle is easy. This will benefit those who are newly arrived in Canada and those who prefer public transit. I actually timed the walk to Pape subway station to the aforementioned intersection and it only took me 15 minutes of leisurely walk. So, it’s even shorter if you use a bike to the station, lock the bike there and then take the train, which was the practice of many downtown workers.
Near Toronto East General Hospital
A General Hospital which can perform major medical emergencies is less than 10 minutes by cab, ambulance or car. Toronto East General Hospital is a major service hospital which sometimes are being utilized by residents of even the nearby municipalities of North York and Scarborough. It is located along Coxwell Avenue.
Toronto East General Hospital
Dentists and family doctors
There’s family medical center nearby but most family doctors, dentists and lie-in clinics can be found at Danforth Avenue. Just walk straight or take the bus South along Pape Avenue and there are a lot of health care practitioners to choose from. Provincially-funded private laboratories are also in that area, so whenever your doctor want you to have an Xray or something, you don’t have to rush or get caught in traffic for that. In fact, it is better to walk or take the bus to go there.
East York Community Center
For those who have school age children, this area is particularly close to some elementary schools run by Toronto District School Board
(TDSB) and the Toronto Catholic School Board
(TCDSB). Some of the nearby elementary schools there are: Chester Elementary School
(JK to Gr. 5), William Burgess Elementary School
(JK to Gr. 5), Westwood Middle School
(Gr. 6 to 8). There is only one Catholic elementary school close-by, though: Holy Cross Catholic Elementary School
at Donlands Avenue (JK to Gr. 8).
For high school level students, there are at least 2 nearby: East York Collegiate Institute and Danforth Collegiate both for Grades 9 to 12 and both can be easily reach by bike. Catholic high schools are bus rides away.
Close to a Recreation center
The Pape/Cosburn neighborhood has a Community Center nearby which houses an indoor heated swimming pool, a public library, a gym and child care services. East York Community Center is only about 5 minutes by foot.
(Above is a 360 degree view of the area provided by Google so you can explore it somehow…..)
Apartments in the area
There are a lot of apartment buildings in the area. You can chose from high rise, low rise or second story apartments dwellings. High rise apartments can be found along the stretch of Cosburn Avenue and Gowan Avenue. Low rise apartments are concentrated East along Cosburn Avenue, while second story apartments (mostly 2 bedroom apartments on the 2nd floor of a commercial store) are on Pape Avenue. The rental on this apartments varies place to place but you can find 1 bedrooms that rent for as low as $830, utilities included.
If you are renting a second story apartment, though, the rental starts at $950, gas and electricity not included.
There is also a Seniors home on Floyd Avenue but I have not inquired any information from them.
Basement apartments in private homes
Other than renting in the usual apartment buildings, you also have the option of renting in a basement apartment of some residential homes in the area. Most detached homes are in the following streets: Gamble Avenue, Torrens Avenue, Woodville Avenue, Gowan Avenue, Floyd Avenue and Westwood Avenue.
This type of rental arrangement is popular among first time immigrant families because usually, the utilities, internet and cable are already included with the rent, and there are no more paperworks required to back-up your application unlike in regular apartment properties.
The rental in this kind of property is around $800 for a 2 bedroom, utilities included including cable and internet.
East York Civic Center
Be aware that not all homes in the area have basement apartment, though. Actually, it is very difficult to find one in the area. Most usually the home owners there would rather have the whole house for rent, rather than just their basement. Knowing someone who is from the area is usually how basement apartments can be located.
Renting for cheap in private homes
If you are going to live solo and are not fuzzy about privacy, the cheapest way to rent is through room rentals in private homes. The rent can be as low as $350 if you think this is for you. The downside are – you maybe sharing your room with another person; you’re sharing bathroom, kitchen, dining, living area with all occupants of the house and no separate entrance.
There are some private homes that were upgraded exactly for this purpose and have separate entrances, a living area, a kitchen and bathroom for all the renters, but you will still share them with the other renters. Many students from Korea and Japan are in this kind of rental arrangements.
Bars and nightlife
For those who love the nightlife and love to bar hop, there are only 2 small bars in the area and none of them will appeal to the young at heart, I’m sorry to say. Downtown bars are just 10 or 15 minutes by car or subway, anyway, so you’ll still get the adrenaline you’re seeking in a bar scene.
Those are some information about the Pape/Cosburn area, my favorite in East York. I have not included the parks and biking/hiking trails that are closeby because my intention for this post is only to give you the major needs as a new resident of Toronto. But if you are a nature lover or perhaps love to hike or bike in a wooded/nature setting or into bird watching/photography, there are Toronto parks nearby for those kinds of activity.
I am into those so I’ll write about Toronto parks and trails separately in future posts.
That’s about it for now. Hope you find this information helpful to your search and don’t hesitate to leave a comment if you have something to say about living in East York in Toronto.
Some link resources on East York:
East York Tidbits — http://eastyork.org/tidbits.html
Toronto District School Board — http://www.tdsb.on.ca
Toronto Catholic School Board — http://www.tdsb.on.ca
East York Community Center — http://www.toronto.ca/parks/prd/facilities/complex/329/index.htm