Cool places to live around Toronto

Old Oct 15th, 2007, 05:54 AM
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Cool places to live around Toronto

My husband might have an opportunity to work long-term in Toronto, and I would be traveling back and forth for up to a year to visit.

My question is regarding where to rent an apartment. We are interested in pretty, quaint, areas without many chain restaurants, malls, etc. Schools are not a concern. We even wondered about areas a little way out of town-- like a cool small town up to 30 minutes away or something like that.

Since we will be maintaining two households during this time, price is a big factor.

Any suggestions about where to start?
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Old Oct 15th, 2007, 07:21 AM
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Hi - where in Toronto would he be working? It's a very big city with a quite horrendous rush-hour (which lasts much longer than an "hour"). It can take more than 30 minutes to travel around "within" the city during high traffic times, and morning commutes from the suburbs and "satellite" cities are notorious (the closer "commuter" communities also tend to offer lots of the malls, chain restaurants, etc., that you want to avoid).
So - depending on where he will be working, a few thoughts:
- Downtown Harbourfront area or other waterfront condos, or maybe somewhere near the St. Lawrence Market (but these will be pricey).
- The trendier inner city neighbourhoods like High Park, The Beaches, or Uptown (e.g. around Yonge and St. Claire or Yonge and Eglinton).
- the city of Oakville (feasible if he's working in west end Toronto) - has large "suburban" housing developments, but also has a nice downtown with interesting shops, upscale cafes, etc.
- Many of what were once "small towns" closer to the city now have a distinctly "modern suburb" feel to them. I think you would probably have to travel too far to get away from this. But let us know what part of the city he will work in.
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Old Oct 15th, 2007, 10:10 AM
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I will find out tonight the exact location of the office. It would be great if he could use public transportation to and from work.

Thanks for your reply. I will get back to you with more info.
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Old Oct 15th, 2007, 10:54 AM
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As you do your research...

The TTC is the City of Toronto public rtransit system, the TTC, with buses, streetcars, and a subway. It goes to all corners of the City of Toronto.

Surrounding the city are suburbes -- sometimes you can't even tell you've crossed the border. These have their own transit systems, with include buses that go to TTC subway stations around the edges of Toronto.

Any trip downtown that starts outside the city takes forever on these two-system adventures.

GO Transit is a highway-bus and commuter train system that runs to the downtown Union Station, in the heart of the big-towers business district. Trains run from various directions.

Round trip by train from Oakville, in the west, to downtown is about $10 a day, and takes about 35-40 minutes.

I'm in Oakville as I type, and leaving now to pick up a train passenger. It's a convenient system, depending on where you want to go once downtown.

bAK
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 11:04 AM
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"The Beach" (or some call it "The Beaches")! A Toronto neighbourhood, just east of downtown on the lake. Downtown is easily accessible via street car (public transit) in approx. 30-40 mins (depends on traffic during rush hour). You don't even need a car - everything is right there. It has many apartments - not highrises - more like duplexes or four-plexes (lots of these south of Queen street, which make it an easy walk to the water). Lots of small shops and restaurants - no big box stores. Friendly people and lots to do - a real neighbourhood with old trees and houses with character.

Here are a couple of links to Beach related sites.

http://www.wineva-oak.com/
http://www.beachmetro.com/

Good luck!
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 12:34 PM
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We recently returned to Toronto after many years of wandering. Previously, we had lived in the "suburbs" of Etobicoke, but decided to try something different.

Our apartment in The Annex, right downtown, near the university and on the subway is working really well for us. Lots of interesting theatre, restaurants, a really lively atmosphere.

Our situation is the exact reverse of yours, where my husband is the one who is away in another city. I think you might find that if your spouse is working in downtown TO, this might work well for both the in-town one and the commuter esp. with Porter Airlines out of the Island airport with ever-increasing frequency. I was visiting my DH this past weekend and flew in on the flight that landed at 8:10 -I was sitting in my living room with glass of wine in hand by 9pm.
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 02:48 PM
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I highly recommend the Bloor West Village area and High Park. On the east side, one has subway access to Bloor & Yonge, streetcar access to College & Yonge, & a different streetcar access to King & Yonge. Plus it's a beautiful place to live.
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 06:08 PM
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Wow, thanks for all the great info. I just logged on to post that the office is in Markham and of course I don't have a clue what the means in relation to any of these places. I'm off to research your suggestions right now!
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 06:17 PM
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If the office is in Markham, you do not want to be in downtown Toronto! Go to www.markham.ca to learn more. Or just Google Markham.
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 06:58 PM
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Markham is not in Toronto.

It's a separate city, with its own government, located adjacent to the northern / eastern boundary of Toronto.

There are lots of High-tech businesses there, still some farms, a number of small towns with farmland between them, all making up the city of Markham.

Badly managed government, but that doesn't really matter.

Probably a shortage of rent by the month furnished apartments. Markham is car-friendly. You'll need to get the specific address, go to Map Quest, find the location, and then go to Markham's transit system (called something like Viva, I think) and see if it is possible to get where he wants to go by bus.

Once that's determined, the next step is to find somewhere to live that's on the same route.

Well-managed personnel departs -- that's another few and far between concept -- should have the ability to make arrangements for accomodation.

Best bet is to get a car for the year. Look in the town of Unionville (which is inside Markham) for "quaint." It's a nice little town, with restaurants and antique shops on the main street.

BAK
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 09:01 PM
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Is Markham on the Go Train? Maybe he could do a reverse commute?
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Old Oct 16th, 2007, 09:03 PM
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But, why wld anybody want to do that...live in the city & commute out? Jst live in Markham.
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Old Oct 17th, 2007, 04:16 AM
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Markham is a nice place to live and work. It would be one of my choice areas. Or as BAK says, you could live further out in Unionville and still be close to Markham.
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Old Oct 17th, 2007, 05:06 AM
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We did consider the reverse commute, so that's not out of the question if there is good public transportation. He's been driving the freeways for a long time and would love to be able to take a train, subway, etc. to work. He might also be willing drive if it wasn't typical city freeway -- what would the commute from Unionville to Markham be like?

So, is Markham not too "suburban?" So many of the high-tech places around big cities are in the U.S. The last thing we want is cookie-cutter perfection and a mall. We are currenty in the suburbs of Dallas, if that gives you an idea of what we DON'T want-- hehe.

Even a funky, kind of hippie town might be good.

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Old Oct 17th, 2007, 05:29 AM
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Well, is Dallas a Chinese city?

He'll get his fill of chinese food in Markham.

I have not spent any time in suburban Dallas, but I have spent lots of time in suburban other cities. Markham's a cross-bred city. Several old small towns, and the farmland inbetween them, joined together into a city.

What it is like depends on where you are; lots of new or newish high rise condos, owned by investors, and for rent.

To me, the question is whether you want to rent an empty apartment and then furnish it just for a year, or try to find a furnished apartmentReverse commute; it's about 32-40 minutes on the Go Train from Unition station in downtown Toronto to the Markham Go station. "Markham" is both a station name and the name of the city. Go to Gotranst.com and you'll find schedules and maps. There are other stations inside the city of Markham. But remember, he'll now have to get from the GO Station to the office, which may or may not be wlaking distance.

Rememb er, snow comes in the winter up here.

As for living near Union Station. There are thousands of new condo units within a fifteen minutes walk of Unition Station. If you find any phtoso of downtown Toronto, they are probably out of date because of the pace of construction.
If you see pictures of the giant Fairmont Royal York Hotel (sort of like a castle) thUnion Station is right across the street. And it is about three blocks straight east of the CN Tower.

Lots of new construction in Markham, too, but again, it's a big place, so without knowing specifically where he is going to be... Markham heads south in a bit of a job, and you could live on the north edge of Toronto, but that gets complicated in transit.

When you get right down to it, Markham is car country.

Bloor West Village and The Beaches are out, by pub lic transit. One of my clients lives in the Beaches and used to commute to Markham, but by car, and to a part of Markham next to a big highway.

BAK


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Old Oct 17th, 2007, 07:05 AM
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As pointed out, Markham is a satellite community, just northeast of Toronto. I used to live not far from there many years ago. Haven't visited the area in recent years - Markham used to be a small town, but suburban development did start to surround it quite some time ago. You really need to get up to Toronto to do some scouting and get a feel for Markham and surrounding areas versus the downtown which is some distance away.
I know people who reverse-commute because they prefer downtown lifestyle. But, in addition to public transit logistics, there is some tendency for real estate (and thus rentals) to get pricier as you get closer to the downtown.
Unionville, on the edge of Markham, is nice, as mentioned, popular with day-trippers (lots of specialy shops, historic buildings, cafes, etc.). As far as living there I have had the impression that it is somewhat expensive-"trendy", but that should be verified.
The other northern and eastern "suburbs-satellites" popular with commuters include Newmarket, Pickering, Ajax - but you will still find the kind of urban sprawl that you hope to avoid in these areas.
Come up to Toronto for a few days - Tour the areas of the center-city mentioned here: The Beaches, The Annex, Downtown near Union Station, Uptown, Harbourfront (these will familiarize you with the offerings of Toronto, even if you end up living in the suburbs). Then go check out Markham area including Unionville and maybe other points North and East.
There are tour companies offering Toronto Downtown Bus Tours. These will not visit all the neighbourhoods mentioned, as they focus more on sight-seeing, but I have heard they are interesting and worthwhile and probably would be a fun and informative general introduction to the city.
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Old Oct 17th, 2007, 07:38 AM
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Yes, a visit is definitely in order because we want to check out all these suggested areas. Thanks, everyone, for the links. They are great.

I did find out that the office is on the 100 block of Commerce Way in Markham. We are really open to trying downtown (reverse commute) or something interesting on the outskirts, depending on the "vibe." I would think downtown would have a lot of energy. I understands rents in the whole area are pretty high, so of course that will (unfortunately) have to be a factor.

We do love Chinese, food, by the way!
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Old Oct 17th, 2007, 09:31 AM
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My office is at Commerce Valley West in Markham. It's mostly office buildings around here, with Asian retaurants nearby, and to be honest, I don't like it at all. But I'm biased, I worked downtown for many years and my company relocated up here. I still live just east of downtown, so when I'm working out of this office, I have the commute up the DVP and 404 to get here. That can take 35 minutes or it can take 75 minutes, depending on traffic accidents, etc. BAK is right - Markham is car country. I would never live up here, because I don't like the suburbs, but lots of people do and they like it.
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Old Oct 17th, 2007, 09:38 AM
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If you decide to investigate downtown, some friends had in recent years rented a couple of small but nice condo apartments in the Uptown area and I had the impression their rent was relatively reasonable. You might investigate the Yonge/Eglinton/Mount Pleasant/Davisville area.

Enjoy your trip to Toronto. Too bad it's kind of the "off-season" weatherwise right now (although it has been unseasonably warm this fall so far). Novembers can be gray, damp and chilly though so be forewarned. And by January there's usually at least some snow on the ground.
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Old Oct 17th, 2007, 12:01 PM
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How you do define "relatively reasonable" for an apartment?
Just curious...
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