It seems you can’t go too long before reading about how overpriced the city is, especially for renters. Young people living in the city are finding it severely unaffordable, and for good reason. Rent is also expected to rise by 11% in 2019, and who knows how bad the real estate market will get. Right now, the average price for a detached home in Toronto is nearly $1.3 million.
But some of us are sticking it out. Like a mediocre Hinge date (Tinder is so 2018), we’re just giving it some time to suss it out a little more (and enjoy another drink or two). Because, while it is often overpriced and overhyped, Toronto is actually a beautiful city — and by that we mean during the summer.
And while there is all this excitement about living in the most vibrant city in Canada (also known as the centre of the universe), Toronto’s rep definitely gets tainted by the cost of living here.
Simply put – it is far from cheap to live alone in this city.
Gone are the days of hand-me-down homes from parents, and affordable down payments for mortgages – adulthood vacation is over. So to show how just expensive this city is, we broke down monthly costs based on a single person living and renting in downtown Toronto (while trying to have any kind of life).
Might want to hold off on that extra guac while you read this…
The largest of all costs in Toronto: housing.
According to Numbeo, 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 $2,054.35.
Although, rental listing site Padmapper has Toronto as the most expensive place to rent in Canada, with a one bedroom averaging at $2,270.
So let’s say the average rent for a one bedroom downtown is $2,162.
And that cost doesn’t include hydro or internet.
Numbeo averages the cost of basic utilities (which includes Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for a Torontonian at $162.88, and since we don’t want to use up all our data while swiping left, adding internet costs an additional $70 on average per month (based on packages through Bell and Rogers).
So, to recap the math, if you’re a solo dweller in a one bedroom, you can expect to dish out a minimum of $2,394.88.
There is a reason we all go crazy when mobile providers offer $50 plans with over 2 or 3 GB of data. Phone plans are notoriously expensive in Canada, so much so that the federal government is increasing competition to lower cost of mobile phone plans this year.
And it’s all for good reason.
But since we’re talking minimum costs, a 4 GB plan in Toronto is around $90 a month.
For many downtown dwellers, Toronto is all about walking from point A to B in the city’s core. It’s part of the reason we shell out the extra dough monthly to live in a neighbourhood like Queen West.
For those who do transit to and from work by using the good ol’ TTC, it costs $146.25 per month.
Some downtown residents are taking advantage of all our bike lanes, which is great and keeps transit cost at a minimum.
But added costs come with all our lazy times, and those much needed Uber and Lyft rides, which would average about say… $50 minimum per month.
As for cars… what car? We live downtown.
Avo toast brunches aside, groceries are another necessary expense in Toronto.
Not using apps like InstaCart for grocery delivery, most downtown dwellers walk to the closest grocery store for their weekly grub.
According to the City of Toronto’s Nutritious Food Basket Calculator, an average 30-50 year old would spend about $266.11 per month on groceries.
One of the most exciting things about living downtown is you can walk to any and every bar or restaurant in the area. Of course, this can also be the downfall to your savings.
According to Numbeo, the average price of a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant is $80.00 – a figure that seems pretty low, especially considering the cost of booze. To make it more realistic, add another $30.00 to the tab and assume the lowest you’ll pay is roughly $110.00 if you want a drink.
And that’s for just one night out.
Realistically, a month includes at least one dinner, a brunch or two, and a couple of movie nights. You’re looking at a minimum of $270 per month, and that’s if you’re forcing yourself to stay in most nights (at your $2000 apt…).
Because the party doesn’t stop in your 30s, we’re giving this its own category. Heading out for a drink (or seven) keeps many downtown dwellers sane, and it’s one expense we happily choose to cover.
On average, expect to fork out $10 per drink in downtown Toronto. And since there are generally four weekends per month, if we average going out one night per weekend (again, important for staying sane), and have 2-3 drinks per outing, we’re looking at $90-120 at least.
Bottle service not included. (Nor is your late-night poutine.)
One of the major attractive features for many living in Toronto is the various fitness classes available to keep a healthy lifestyle. While the trails in and around the city offer free outdoor fitness, that’s only really available a few months a year during summer.
But luckily Toronto also offers plenty of options in terms of fitness classes. Barre, yoga, CrossFit, boxing, there are so many way to work off those beers. And according to a new report from LowestRates.ca, we spend $63.75 per month on fitness, on average.
Realistically, for fitness enthusiasts, this would include a yoga lass or two, which are priced a little more. Rounding up a class in there, fitness is generally about $80 a month, minimum.
We wouldn’t be true downtown residents without supporting our local coffee shops, and there are many to choose from in Toronto.
Keeping the coffee purchases minimal sans fancy sprinkly drinks, just a large coffee here, and an Americano there ($3), it adds up to about $4o monthly for the java juice.
Sticking to the bare minimum, and not counting what most of us would consider essentials (think haircuts and clothes), there are often unexpected extra costs that come up. From a broken phone screen to suddenly needing a space heater, we’re filing these as monthly “extra” miscellaneous cost.
We’re going to average this to about $125 a month.
So what does this look like when it all adds up? Way too real, that’s what:
Groceries/Household Items: $266.11
Dining Out: $270.00
Health and Fitness: $80
That means you need to make a minimum annual salary of approximately $50,000 before taxes in order to bring home a monthly income of $3,239 after taxes, CPP, and EI. That will leave you with roughly $300 a month, and you’ll need it since we haven’t even mentioned paying off debt or saving.
In other words, if you’re a single 30-something looking to live alone in downtown Toronto, anything under $50K a year means you’re probably out of luck, and need to look elsewhere or find roommates.
But, if you stick it out and are able to stay, Toronto is truly a great place to live… especially if you enjoy extreme cold weather, overpriced drinks, and inconsistent sports teams (which we, thankfully, have a couple to choose from).
Ah, Toronto – we’ll never quit you.