Sure, our parents may have owned a few properties by the time they were our age; they probably had a lot more cash banked too.
But we’re not here to lament about how expensive Toronto is (the conversation is getting old); rather, we’re here to reasonably break down the minimum you need to survive in the city. Which is to say, we’re not including extras like the odd massage – sans benefits – or really any kind of summer vacation.
Basically, if you want to live roommate-free anywhere near downtown Toronto is your early 30s – a decent age to move away from mom and dad after all – this is the minimum amount of money you’re going to have to spend to do it and have any kind of life whatsoever.
Oh, and if you have kids, meet someone, lose your job, or face any other major life transitions this will no longer apply and you’ll have to go back to starting your financial worries all over again.
Ready. Set. Spend…
We don’t need to tell you that we’re moving by the way of New York City when it comes to housing costs.
With even the tiniest detached home selling for at least a million dollars (likely higher), home ownership is increasingly a pipe dream for 30-something Toronto professionals.
The problem is, however, the rental market situation isn’t exactly too great itself. While the recent rent control changes have been positive, the reality is that the first of the month is a time of dread for many pavement-pounding Torontonians. According to Numbeo.com, a website that compares costs of living in global cities, the average cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment in the downtown core is currently $1,629.69.
Of course, rent is just one component; according to the site, the average cost of basic utilities is $122.60. Add Internet, and you’re looking at an additional $58.27 per month.
So, if you’re a solo dweller in a one-bedroom apartment, you can expect to dish out a minimum of $1,810.56 just to keep a hot-water filled, wifi-connected roof above your head.
Sadly, according to the 2015 CRTC-commissioned Wall Report, Canadians pay some of the highest cellular service prices in the industrialized world. (Even our Economic Development Minister thinks it’s ridiculous.) According to the report, an unlimited talk-and-text cellphone plan with two gigabytes of data costs on average of $83.08 in Canada.
The only thing more frustrating than getting from point A to B in our construction and congestion-filled city is the cost associated with doing so.
On the TTC, just getting anywhere and back – regardless of distance travelled – will set you back $6.50 ($3.25 each way). Meaning, it will cost you $32.50 to get your butt to work and back each week and $130.00 per month. Of course, there is the option of a monthly Metropass (but coughing up $146.25 the same day rent is due is a tough one for some).
Even the most penny pinching of Toronto early 30-somethings will inevitably find themselves in the back of a cab or an Uber at least a handful of times a month (thank you 1:30 am subway closure, 2 am last call). In conversation with many of them, this cost averages around $80.00 per month – or ‘just’ $20 extra per week. In considering all these factors, it’s safe to estimate that the minimum transportation cost for many (aside from the savvy cyclists and walkers) is somewhere around $200-220.
And don’t even get us started on owning a car.
In the dozen or so single early thirty-something Torontonians polled, the average amount spent on groceries per week is $100.00, or $400.00 per month (again, at minimum). Of course, then there’s toilet paper, toothpaste, dish detergent and garbage bags, of which those surveyed reported spending an average of $25.00 per month on. So, your runs to the grocery store and the drugstore will set cost you a combined total of $425.00.
With Toronto’s art, entertainment, culture and culinary scenes putting us on the map like never before, there’s no point in paying the sky-high real estate costs to live in the 416-confines if you’re not going to try to take advantage of even a little bit of it.
According to Numbeo.com, the average price of a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant is, on average, $70.00 – a figure that seems pretty low, unless your “three courses” include tapas and not an ounce of booze. So, let’s add another $30.00 (again, minimum) to the tab and assume the lowest you’ll pay for you and your date is $100.00. If you pick up the tab twice a month, this means you can expect to pay $200.00 per month. If you treat yourself to two movies (note: just yourself) sans popcorn or snacks, you can add another $26.00 to this, for a minimum of $226.00 per month (of course, this doesn’t include concerts – and this year’s summer lineup is pretty damn good – art shows, or even hitting up one of our many awesome patios).
And no, you’re never allowed to eat brunch if you want to be able to pay rent.
Don’t give us this, ‘you don’t get to include going out in a minimum money post.’ ‘Cause we did and we do. In fact, it’s what keeps a lot of people sane.
So aside from the cab or Uber cost to get home (or there, if you’re in stilettos), anyone who has set foot in a Toronto bar or lounge knows that getting a decent buzz doesn’t come cheap. On average, you can expect to pay about $10.00 on average for a drink (including beer, mixed drinks and wine) at a Toronto bar (and no, we’re obviously not talking about the bars at the Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons).
If you opt for a specialty cocktail, it will set you back at least $16.00. So, if you go out once a week max, 4 times a month (we all need to blow off a little steam, after all), and have an average of three drinks each time (again, we’re working with minimum figures here), you’ll need to set aside somewhere between $120 and BOTTLE-SERVICE-BABY to fund your party cause.
By the time we enter our 30s, working out becomes more of a need than an option. Sure, you can workout in your condo gym, or – especially with the warmer weather – run outside. But if you’d rather join a proper gym or take the odd yoga class, it’s going to cost you. (Though we like to think our mental health, yes, mental health is worth it). According to Numbeo.com, the average cost of a gym membership is $53.99 per month, though many of us pay much more.
If you forgo the fancy lattes at Starbucks or the sort, and buy one large coffee each weekday at Tim Horton’s ($1.99), it adds up to $40.00 per month to catch that caffeine buzz.
Even if we try to stick to the absolute bare minimum – foregoing things like clothing purchases or manicures – the reality is that extras will come up. This could mean everything from wedding gifts for friends (we are at an age of multiple weddings per season, after all) to haircuts and unexpected expenses like a broken toilet or phone.
Most early 30-something Torontonians agreed that their monthly “extras” tab adds up to at least $125.00 per month.
So, when we add it up, if you can’t afford to dish out the following, you should consider getting a roommate, searching for a better job or moving out of the city all together.
Groceries/Household Items: $425.00
Dining Out: $226.00
Health and Fitness: $53.99
That means you need to make a minimum annual salary of $47,500 before taxes in order to bring home a monthly income of $3093 after after taxes, CPP, and EI.
In other words, if you’re a single 30-something looking to live in downtown Toronto, anything under $50K a year means you’re pretty much screwed from having any fun… and possibly a place to live.
Good luck out there. The struggle is definitely real.