Toronto is home to a variety of neighbourhoods, some of them set apart by multilingual street and store signs. Yonge Street is a unifying feature of the city and a valuable tool for navigation. It runs north from Lake Ontario through the downtown core of Toronto.
Ontario’s longest highway, Highway 401, runs east/west across the north part of the city. Traffic congestion can be high at any hour of the day and parking tends to be expensive. For this reason, public transit is a consideration when choosing a home.
Leaside is one of the most popular residential neighbourhoods in Toronto. It features large, single-family homes on quiet, tree-lined streets. Real estate here can be expensive. Its demographic is upper-middle class and it is well-supplied with parklands, schools and recreational facilities. The area has three subway stations, making the commute to downtown relatively easy.
Downtown Toronto is what most people think of as the “real” Toronto. Its iconic skyline of sparkling towers and famous landmarks is found within a rough square bordered by Bloor Street, Dufferin Street, the Don Valley Parkway (DVP) and Lake Ontario. As the business and entertainment centre of the city, it features many stores, restaurants, theatres, art galleries, museums and cultural centres. Housing options include high-end condominiums, converted warehouse lofts and apartments. Most consulates are located in this area.It is also home to the provincial legislature, several colleges and universities, and the corporate head offices of international companies and organizations. More affordable residential areas can be found on smaller side streets within the core. Downtown Toronto has many colourful smaller communities and neighbourhoods, including Kensington Market, Chinatown, the gay village (located around Church and Wellesley Streets), and Queen Street West. The PATH system, a large underground pedestrian walkway, links major buildings with subway stops, the intercity bus and train system, hotels, tourist spots, entertainment, shopping malls and Billy Bishop Airport on Toronto Island (www.toronto.ca/path/).
Toronto’s Midtown and Uptown neighbourhoods are found to the north of Bloor Street and include the high-end residential enclaves, such as Forest Hill, Rosedale, and Deer Park, and a busy commercial section between Eglinton and St. Clair Avenues on Yonge Street. Here we also find the prestigious Yorkville district, which has first-class hotels, restaurants and famous high-end stores. Real estate is very expensive in this exclusive area, which is well-supplied with parks, tree-lined streets and public transit. The Uptown area extends to Davisville Village, Lawrence Park, Lytton Park and North Eglinton areas, where there is a slightly more affordable mix of housing types, as well as good traffic connections to downtown.
North York has a suburban feel with single-family homes and quiet residential neighbourhoods, but it also includes high-density corridors where upscale condominiums and apartment buildings are clustered on major intersections and well-served by public transit. It is a very multicultural area. North York offers accessibility to great restaurants and shopping, including Fairview Mall and the Yorkdale Shopping Centre. It also has many recreational facilities, public parks, entertainment and cultural centres.
East Toronto includes neighbourhoods such as the Beaches, Riverdale, Leslieville, East Danforth and Scarborough. Housing in the Beaches offers residents easy access to the waterfront of Lake Ontario, a “hip” main street feel, and quiet, safe, single-family homes within easy reach of downtown. This area is in great demand and very expensive. Scarborough has a more suburban feel to it, offering a mix of housing options with varying proximity to subways or highways. Popular attractions include the Distillery District, beautiful parks with boardwalks and bicycle trails that run the length of the waterfront.
West Toronto and Etobicoke offer attractive, affordable housing with a middle-class demographic. Compared to downtown, the areas are relatively new and have a lower population density. Since these neighbourhoods are largely residential, they have ample public parks, transit, nature areas and schools, although they also have industrial sections. West Toronto and Etobicoke have good highway access and are close to Pearson International Airport. There are some high-density developments at key intersections where a range of condominiums and apartments are available.