2 questions about moving to Toronto: How to make cross-national cost-of-living comparisons & which neighborhood would be best for us?
January 17, 2009 1:28 PM   Subscribe

2 questions about moving to Toronto: How to make cross-national cost-of-living comparisons & which neighborhood would be best for us?

I have been offered a faculty position at McMaster in Hamilton, ON. If my partner & I moved there (from the U.S.), he would like to attend York for grad school (and has already applied). I have read all these posts, but have two specific questions that aren't answered there.

1. How would you recommend that I go about making a salary comparison for my current position in a large Southern U.S. city and the offer at McMaster (assuming we live in Toronto)? There's the cost-of-living comparison and the issue of exchange rate.

I haven't found free international online cost-of-living city comparisons, but I did find the U.S. government info used for employees posted abroad, but if this data is like government per diem rates, it overestimates abroad expenses.

The exchange rate seems to fluctuate with the price of oil (a major commodity exchanged b/t the U.S. and Canada). How should I factor this when comparing salary offers?

2. Assuming we decided to accept the offer, we would prefer to live in Toronto. I would commute (which several future colleagues do). He would want (ideally) to take public transportation to York, but could drive if necessary. Which neighborhoods would you recommend?

-will rent
-are ok with either single family, apt, or condo
-have a large (lazy) dog and 3 indoor cats (so parks are nice)
-no kids, though it's a possibility
-are 30-somethings
-like diversity (lived in Mexico City for years & speak Spanish--so near Latino areas a plus)
-like ethnic/international cuisine, particularly Indian/Mexican
-currently live in a 'transitional' neighborhood and find it suits us
-would like a walkable area, with coffee shops, restaurants, and grocery nearby
-would like reasonably priced 2-3 bedroom/office (or ~1K sq.ft.)
-would like to have easy access to mass transit to get into Toronto for museums, dinner, etc.
-visited recently and stayed in the Annex and visited W. Queens West and liked the vibes there but have no idea how expensive they are. Someone also suggested High Park but we didn't visit that area.

So which neighborhoods would best fit? What are housing rates like in those areas?
posted by mdion to Work & Money (35 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: There's a significant Latino presence around Bloor & Christie, heading west to about Dufferin. This is a pretty vibrant area, more studenty towards the east (as it approaches the Annex and the U of T neighbourhood) and gets a little worn down ("transitional") further west. Ossington is what's being hailed as the next neighbourhood in transition right now.

There's a huge park at Bloor & Christie and Dufferin Grove park (at Dufferin) has a ton of community programming (farmer's market, pizza oven, puppet shows, etc.) I live at Bloor & Dufferin and a tortilleria and a latin american grocery store have both opened nearby in the last 6 months. I think you'll be disappointed by Mexican food in Toronto but we have lots of excellent Indian restaurants. One of our two main subway lines runs along Bloor.

High Park is a massive park, a little further west along Bloor; it's a richer neighbourhood (known as Bloor West Village) and I don't find it as interesting. Basically the only area around here I'd suggest you avoid is Bloor & Lansdowne, which can be sketchy with drugs & prostitution. Either stay on the East side of Dufferin, or west of Dundas West and you'll be OK.

For housing costs I'd suggest you take a look at Craigslist and viewit.ca to get a sense of what's out there and what it would cost. If you come up with anything specific in the region I've mentioned I'd be happy to tell you what the micro-neighbourhood is like.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 1:51 PM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: thanks, sevenyearlurk. Will look into those areas on craigslist and viewit.
posted by mdion at 1:56 PM on January 17, 2009

For anecdotal purposes, one of the employees at my work (based in Concord) commutes from Hamilton every day and HATES it. It often takes him 2-3 hours to get to work and back with winter traffic. Even in summer, at rush hour it is at least an hour each way.

You may want to stick that into your calculations.
posted by Brockles at 2:06 PM on January 17, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, Brockes, but wouldn't I be commuting in the opposite direction? From home in Toronto to job in Hamilton. I've been told it's about 45min to an hour by those that do it, but I'm not sure which part of Toronto they live in.
posted by mdion at 2:22 PM on January 17, 2009

Response by poster: I mean....Brockles
posted by mdion at 2:22 PM on January 17, 2009

Well, it is 45 mins to an hour driving. But traffic is often bad (both ways) and the 401 can be easily jammed in either way during the commute. Just be warned that the further east you go, the less likely a consistent, sub-1hr commute is likely. I'd certainly consider it essential to live west of the 400, even west of the airport if you want a reasonable commute rear round.
posted by Brockles at 2:25 PM on January 17, 2009

Living in Toronto and commuting to McMaster sounds like a recipe for misery. I also say this from knowing people who've done it. If you're really committed to trying it, make sure you don't sign a long term lease.

The idea of "Latino" as an identity is far less developed in Canada than it is in the U.S. It's making some inroads thanks to US television and media, but it really wasn't a thing here when I was growing up. That means that when a colleague asked me about Latino neighbourhoods in Toronto a couple of years ago I was stumped. I asked some friends and they pointed to some Italian and Portuguese neighbourhoods (those also being latin languages and therefore would fit the bill), but couldn't think of any areas with a dense population of Spanish speakers or stores catering to them. TeleLatino, the television station, for example, does half its programming in Spanish and half in Italian.

Yes, there are a decent number of hispanic people and shops around Bloor and Christie, but it's hardly the Spanish-speaking equivalent of Chinatown or the Danforth (Greek) or Little Italy. According to the city's web page, the neighbourhood to the East of that intersection has about 1% Spanish speakers and to the east 3% . That said, you'll find Toronto in general is very diverse and can find pretty much anything you want, except a high-concentration of anything Mexican.

You'll want to check out the city's profile of Toronto neighbourhoods That's where I got the figures cited above. I grew up on the Western side and loved it, though I was in the Bloor Landsdowne area mentioned above.

I would put a plug in for the east side of that line, which is the Annex. Great restaurants and coffee shops, very walkable, safe, a few blocks from the Museum, great access to both east/west and north/south public transit. Two big minuses for this neighbourhood for you: It can be a little pricier to rent than places further out, and getting the Gardiner (which you'll have to do to commute to Hamilton) would be a real bitch.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 2:29 PM on January 17, 2009

When we moved to Toronto three years ago we moved to Yonge/Eglinton. It's a nice area with plenty of restaurants and bars and it's a quick subway ride downtown. It's not far from the 401 highway so it gives easy access to go north, east and west of the city. It's not a cheap area by any means, but bargains can be had at the moment for renters. It was great recommendation by a cousin of mine who lived in TO for years.

I admire your resolve to commute to Hamilton, it will be harsh, but that would definitely be outweighed by the fact that you will have Toronto to yourselves on your days off. I wouldn't want to have lived in any of the towns in between. Too boring.

Right now we live in North York above the 401 at Leslie and Shepherd. It's a bit out of town for us now, but we had to move because of children. Saying that, my wife just walked out the door to get the subway to Yonge/Eg for a night out, so it's still good for those occasional times when drinking and driving don't mix. Obviously we got more for our money out here. garden.. extra bedroom etc.

As for money, I would simply take any US$ amount and multiply it by 1.2. That's how I work when dealing with the US. Canadian product prices tend to be that much more than the US equivalent. Right now, moving any money into Canada will be to your advantage. We've seen the CAD$ go from about 1.2 to 0.8 US$ in the past year. Right now I believe we're at about 0.85.

Good luck, it's a great city. Feel free to pm with any questions.
posted by Frasermoo at 2:32 PM on January 17, 2009

Yes, anecdotally, my bf claims it can take him 20-30 minutes to get from the Gardiner to my apartment in the annex when the traffic is bad. 45 minutes to an hour to Hamilton is ridiculously (irresponsibly!) optimistic.

And sure you can life west of the airport to make it more tolerable (that's not actually Toronto, but whatever), but then you're not in Toronto, you're out in a wasteland. It won't be walkable, it will be your typical suburban, hellish, sprawl. If you're willing to live in a wasteland, why not live in Hamilton?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 2:33 PM on January 17, 2009

Count me among those who think that commuting from Hamilton to Toronto every day would be a misery, and that I'd be surprised if you could to that in under an hour each way more than 60-70% of the time. Unless you're willing to shell out for the 407 toll road every day, maybe, or willing to commute at 6AM.

And I don't know where McMaster is in Hamilton, but if it's on the other side of the harbor, ugh. They occasionally close the Burlington Skyway for wind and that'll add an easy two hours to your trip.

Being in a circumstance where you have a 45 minute to three hour commute each way, and your partner has a 40 minute TTC trip to get to York every day, seems a really awful way to live.

As for your questions:

(1) Isn't really all that relevant unless you're planning on doing all your shopping in Buffalo. You get paid in loonies, you spend loonies, the exchange rate won't have much of an effect on your life. About the only way that the exchange rate will hit you is that retail prices tend to follow exchange rate in a glacial, lots-of-inertia way. Like, lots of prices went down noticeably around last Christmas when the exchange rate spiked and haven't gone back up yet now that the exchange rate has dropped... but they probably will.

If you want to compare the salary to a competing US offer or a current US job, consider instead the direct costs of living. I am emphatically not an expert, but as a rough ballpark I'd guess that excluding housing, an equivalent quality-of-life salary would be about 25% higher in Canada -- a $60K US salary would be like a $75K Canadian, or thereabouts.

Countervailing, not a lot. Your out of pocket health insurance costs will probably be lower, depending on the plans offered by a US university. It will certainly be simpler.

Other things:

You can expect to have zero credit when you get there, but it shouldn't be a long-term problem. A friend of mine who took a job at UT had to start over at the point of a secured credit card with about a $500 limit; a couple of years later he bought a house in Mississauga.

Toronto drivers are awful. Especially on 401, which has stupid-rays built into the guardrails or something.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:58 PM on January 17, 2009

Traffic on the QEW/403 is pretty much always bad. You'll be going the right way, in terms of traffic, but I suspect you'll still run into trouble - especially on the way home in the early evening.

That said, they're widening the highway between Oakville/Burlington, where it's at its worse, so that might help.
posted by backwards guitar at 3:02 PM on January 17, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for feedback. How much does traffic vary by time of day? I understand that the current Mac faculty that commute from TO are able to schedule classes/meetings for off times.

Also, what is out toward York? We didn't visit b/c of the strike, but at least one Mac faculty member lives out that way (and commutes via GO, which everyone says is crazy but he says he copes by doing lots of reading/grading in transit).
posted by mdion at 3:10 PM on January 17, 2009

Response by poster: I see (now) that backwards guitar says traffic is always bad. Given I've made a 40min-1 hour commute in Mexico City traffic, maybe my tolerance for bad traffic is high. Also, Atlanta sucks, too.
posted by mdion at 3:12 PM on January 17, 2009

I was in a similar situation last year: I go to Mac and my significant other is at York, and we both decided to live at Yonge-Eglinton in Toronto. The commute to Hamilton is a drag (I take the subway and the GO bus - 20 minutes to get to Union station, then a 1 hour GO bus ride to Mac), but I'm used to it now. One of my colleagues does the commute as well, but she lives near High Park and has a car and thus her commute is about 1 hour. Going from Hamilton back to Toronto usually takes longer (+15-30 minutes), but I usually leave work at around 7pm and bypass traffic.

The York commute (if your partner decide to take public transit) also takes almost 1.5 hrs during peak times if you're at Yonge and Eglinton. However, if you live closer to the west side of the city and are near one of the stops on the University line near Downsview, this time will be significantly lower. I know of large pockets of York students who live north of Bloor (e.g. around St Clair West) and their commute to school is about 45 minutes using public transit.

So, in conclusion: I recommend living on the west side of the city (e.g High Park, Ossington) for its livability (culture, shops, restaurants) and its proximity to the highway - it will make your commutes less stress-inducing.
posted by charlton at 3:24 PM on January 17, 2009

PS. The commute from York to Hamilton takes about 2-2.5 hours on the GO bus. I've done it: not fun. There is nothing out near York - it is the definition of suburban wasteland. Lastly, if you commute from Hamilton-TO/TO-Hamilton during non-peak times, the trip takes about 45-60min. Good luck!
posted by charlton at 3:28 PM on January 17, 2009

If one of you is at York and one at Mac, you might give at least some thought to living in Hamilton instead: the commute is going to exist either way, and the money that will get you a big 2-3 bedroom place in Hamilton will get you a one-bedroom in Toronto.

I have lived, worked, and gone to school in both cities. On the one hand, there is no question that Toronto has more cultural amenities but on the other, there is no part of Hamilton as skeezy as the grimmer parts of Toronto. I would suggest as a starting point looking at the area around Westdale: it is a five-to-ten minute walk east from the Mac campus and Westdale Village proper (centered around King Street West) has a bunch of small, good restaurants, a single-screen arthouse cinema, a large grocery, and possibly the best bookstore I have ever encountered. As a bonus, its northern edge is defined by Churchill park, the bottom corner of a C-shaped greenspace that encircles Cootes' Paradise, the westernmost tip of Lake Ontario. The feel is not a million miles removed from the Annex, in fact.

About the only point on which it doesn't meet your list above is it is not as diverse as most parts of Toronto; as the esteemed penguin observes, Latino does not the same cultural heft that it does in the US. I think Montreal has the largest grouping of Spanish speakers, but even there I have never found a neighbourhood that was primarily Spanish-speaking.

(And contrary to the reflexive reaction of Torontonians, Hamilton is not a blue-collar lunchbucket city. I advise you to steer clear of stereotypes that date from, oooh, 1965 or so.)
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:29 PM on January 17, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, ricochet. I know that lots of people hate on Hamilton even though it does have some nice things to recommend it.

However, I'm more willing (and have more patience) to commute than my SO; not to mention that I gain more professionally from the move, so some sacrifice on my part may be reasonable.
posted by mdion at 3:54 PM on January 17, 2009

When I moved from NYC to Toronto, I asked for almost a 20% premium in CAN$ over my US salary, and got it. Fraser's right, many things are much more expensive up here.

There is no Latino culture in Toronto in comparison to what I experienced in NY, let alone what I'm sure you have in the more southern states. That shouldn't factor into your decisions, I should think. You'll experience diversity and Indian and Mexican food (of varying quality!) pretty much everywhere though, especially if you're out and about on the subway etc every day.
posted by jamesonandwater at 3:59 PM on January 17, 2009

Also, what is out toward York?

North York is mostly built-up small lot suburbia, except for right around Yonge. Except for some bits of recent infill, it doesn't start getting really awful until you get out past Steeles IMHO -- that's where the butt-ugly McMansions on tiny lots walking distance to absolutely nothing in wretched planned-community subdivisions really start getting dense.

Lastly, if you commute from Hamilton-TO/TO-Hamilton during non-peak times, the trip takes about 45-60min.

Many's the time either us or biscotti's relatives have spent 2+ hours getting between around Leslie/Finch and Hamilton, or just spent an hour or so getting through Oakville. Off peak, or weekend.

I'd agree that it takes 40-60 minutes... when traffic isn't stopped in Oakville for no obvious reason, when there's no lane closed, when there's no construction, when there hasn't been a wreck within the next 10 klicks... any of which aren't uncommon in a freeway network as heavily stressed as the GTA's.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:59 PM on January 17, 2009

If the relevant program is okay, your partner might as well also apply to grad school at UB. That would also be a pretty long commute from Hamilton, but would be more consistent, especially if he picked up a nexus card.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:07 PM on January 17, 2009

No matter which way you're headed for your morning commute, just getting to the 401 or the QEW will be frustrating and time consuming during rush hour. Trying to accommodate both commutes is tough. If you absolutely must live in T.O. I'd recommend my neighbourhood (as I always do in these types of AskMes).

The area west of St. Clair West subway station around Christie to Dufferin still seems reasonably priced for renting and there's a good mixture of incomes and ethnicities. You can find Mexican and Central American restaurants and there's a summer street festival called Salsa on St.Clair. There's also bunch of Italian restaurants, a Greek bakery, fast food, Portuguese barbeque, Jamaican, etc. Something closer to Eglington West subway station might suit you too, and there are a lot of tiny bungalow that might offer rentals.

The subway line goes up to York (I'm told) and if it off rush hour, getting to the Allen Expressway and up to the 401 isn't too hard. Still, a nasty commute if there's any kind of accident cleanup.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:15 PM on January 17, 2009

Here's the GO Train map. Union Station is the main terminus in downtown Toronto, with routes to Hamilton and York, but the housing around there is basically stacked condo suburbia. If you do decide to do the commuting thing, you might like living in Parkdale, in the Jameson / King area- that's pretty close to Exhibition Go Station, you could walk there. It's a transitional neighbourhood, ethnically diverse, mixed incomes. Or the Roncesvalles (pronounced RON-sez-vale) area. Public transit in that area would be the King Streetcar, which is pretty frequent & fast, as streetcars go (it's faster & more reliably scheduled than the Queen or College streetcars). Rental housing in Parkdale is quite reasonable- you can probably get a big, comfortable 2-bedroom apartment (likely one floor of a large house), with some yard space, for about $1500/month.

Other neighbourhoods you might like are High Park or Little Italy, or anything near Bloor Street, between St. George and Ossington. That area is basically several neighbourhoods melted together: near Ossington it's a a transitional area with some random ethnic bubbles, then KoreaTown is at Christie, then the Annex around Bathurst, then the UofToronto campus around Spadina. Grab a map of Toronto and plug street names into Craigslist: Ossington, Christie, Bathurst, St. George, Harbord, etc). All those neighbourhoods are full of interesting things to see & do, close to the subway, and pretty reasonable for rental housing.

I agree with others who say that commuting to Hamilton every day will suck. Hamilton and York are far apart. I know it sounds like they're satellites of the same city when you read it on paper, but man, that's gonna be a lot of commuting time-- I've commuted from downtown to Oakville, which is only about halfway to Hamilton, and I hated it. It took forever. The GO Trains, while they're not awful or anything, have no wireless internet, and though I had paperwork I could have done on the train, for some reason I just hardly ever managed to get anything done on that commute. It was just a lot of dead time. If your partner has any interest in going to grad school at McMaster I think you two would be a lot happier living in Hamilton and coming into Toronto for a few days at a time to visit (staying with friends, Craigslist sublets, etc). Anyway, congrats on the job offer!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 4:38 PM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I don't know if this is an option for you, but I know (or know of) a number of faculty at campuses like Mac, Guelph, Waterloo etc. who live in Toronto. They do what they can to organize their teaching and administrative schedules so that they only need to be on campus a few days a week and work from home the rest of the time. Some of them rent a small room or apt. so that they can stay over when necessary. Doing it that way keeps the commuting from driving them nuts.

I actually know one guy who teaches in Montreal and lives in Toronto, taking the train out in the early morning and returning in the evening a few days a week -- but everyone thinks he's crazy.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 5:23 PM on January 17, 2009

Best answer: Wherever you live, one of you will probably have a major commute. Being near a north-south subway stop might be best for both of you. I live west of the area bonobothegreat describes, and I think St. Clair/Christie is a good fit:

- You're a short bus ride or a healthy walk to the St. Clair West TTC station at St. Clair and Bathurst. From there, you can take the train north to get to York, or south to Union to catch the Go train out to Hamilton. You have to transfer from the train at Burlington, but the bus brings you right onto campus at 7:32, 8:12 or 9:17 AM, and plenty of other times throughout the day. (See the schedule here and here. Click the green arrows at the right edge of each chart to see more.) That's about 1.5 hours in the morning and night, for 3 hours in transit daily. If you treat this as reading/laptop/marking time, this could work, but it is a fair chunk out of your day. I commuted between Toronto and McMaster for an entire school year via Go Transit and found it pretty comfortable, but your mileage may definitely vary.

- It's a great, affordable, eclectic neighbourhood with a definite Latino presence out west to Dufferin and beyond. However, the streetcar tracks on St. Clair West are being reconstructed in stages right now. The good news is that you'll find taking the bus to the station is pretty low stress, and if you want to wander back and forth in any direction on the street, there's a special transfer that lets you hop on and off, back and forth, for 2 hours. The bad news if that if construction hits your neighbourhood some time soon, well, it's construction with all the hassles that involves. See this TTC guide to the current phase of construction.
posted by maudlin at 5:24 PM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Adding to what sevenyearlurk said: I commuted between grad school in London (Ontario!) and Toronto for the entire summer before I commuted to Hamilton from Toronto. Getting to London required VIA Rail (45 minutes TTC time, 2 hours VIA train time, plus 15 minutes bus time in London). I went out to London early on Monday, stayed overnight, and returned to Toronto around supper time on Tuesday. I was able to make a full round trip on Thursday for one class (as did my prof, often on the same car of the train), but otherwise I lived, worked and did my remaining research in Toronto, thanks to U of T. Maybe this is why I treat the Hamilton commute as no big thing, so calibrate my advice about commuting accordingly.
posted by maudlin at 5:35 PM on January 17, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, all, for this input. Right now, we're just trying to figure out if this will work (and work better than our current situation). York is really the only good fit for his interests, and well, Mac is the only place that's offered me a new job.

Now, I'll just have to check out average housing rates in these areas and spend some quality time with the TTA, GO, and google maps sites.

Thanks again! Will check back for any additional comments/suggestions.
posted by mdion at 6:37 PM on January 17, 2009

This page purports to compare a bunch of major cities. TO is 54 and Atlanta is 109 on the list. I don't know exactly, but it seems that housing is more expensive in Toronto than in most US cities. I would expect anything like a 2bdrm 1K sqft apartment to be pretty expensive. Like $1500 CDN and way up from there for anything nice because 1000 sq ft is big by TO standards. BTW, you know it's pretty freaking cold here right now, don't you?
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:56 PM on January 17, 2009

Congrats on the job offer! Mac is a great University. I lived in Parkdale (western edge of Toronto) about ten years ago and commuted out by car to the Oakville/Mississauga border for my job (that is about halfway to Hamilton). I left my house at 6.45 in order to be at work for 8.00 and I was late several times. My drive home was a little better because I left work at 3 and was usually home shortly after 4. When I moved to the Annex I have to add an extra 30 mins to my commute and was constantly late and getting home at 5. Those are considered "off-peak" times. If I left late, (and minutes counted after my 6.15 leave time) it would be a two or three hour drive. The traffic is lightest from 8 pm to 6 am and 10 am - 2 pm. So the commute IS pretty bad. The three-lane 403 into Hamilton is hellish because two lanes of the East-bound QEW, one on-ramp from Brant St, one or two lanes from the West-bound QEW and two lanes from the 407 all merged into three lanes of the 403. The math isn't good there. And since there are only a couple of exits from the 403 until Hamilton on that long stretch if there is an accident the road shuts down and you sit there for hours (I've done it, not fun). In all the years I lived in Burlington I cannot think of ever a time that I was able to commute from Burlington (east of Hamilton) to Parkdale in less than 45 mins even at 4 am. There is only the QEW-403 as an option to get from downtown Toronto to Hamilton so ANY problem (weather, accident. heavy traffic) can't be avoided by taking another route (except the scenic Lakeshore drive that takes about three hours non-peak and traffic lights every 100 feet).

Echoing that "Latino" culture is not very prominent here. I know lots of Central and South Americans but I don't think I have ever met anyone from Mexico. Sorry I can't give you guidance there.

I went to York. I'm not a fan of the academics. Will he get his schooling done before the next strike? Look closely at the date of the agreement (when it comes). Brock or Guelph would be an easier commute from Hamilton. Driving to York is hard, too many students, not enough parking spaces, long windy walks to classes. Public Transit is better but it is a pretty long commute to Downtown.

Wow, I sound really down on this but I guess it would be workable as a temporary situation. It just seems to be a LOT of commuting for both of you to live so far from where you work/school. Will either of you have the option of a lot of off-campus time (telecommuting/online courses?). Otherwise, it sounds like you won't be home long enough to enjoy your walkable neighbourhood. When I was at University I really appreciated that Profs that took the time to be involved on the campus as opposed to the ones that commuted in from afar to teach class and then disappear until next week.

As far as housing prices, there are quite a few houses on the market that have been for sale for six months and are not selling. The prices you see on Realtor.ca are of the houses NOT selling. So the present high prices are giving you a distorted picture.
posted by saucysault at 5:00 AM on January 18, 2009

I'm glad saucysault put in 2 cents because I've done the reverse commute thing as well just between Mimico and Oakville when I went to Sheridan (which is only a 1/4 of what you'd be doing) and I never arrived as relaxed as I did taking the train.

I think you have to look at why your future co-workers would be doing the TO/Hamilton commute and I think you'd find it because they have children in school in the city and a spouse at home to care for them. If both of you are going to be such long distances away, who's going to look after the dog? Who's going to let it out to pee if both of you are stuck in traffic?

Please consider how vastly better your home life would be if you both were a short distance from McMaster. Think how much more relaxed and effective you'd be as a teacher. hink of the money you'd save on housing. Visit central Hamilton and you might find that it's one big transitional area. Being in Hamilton puts you closer to the edge of the GTA and thus, makes it easier tp get away on the weekends. Also, Toronto is fine for what it is, but it's not Newyork City by any stretch.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:35 AM on January 18, 2009

Union Station is the main terminus in downtown Toronto, with routes to Hamilton and York, but the housing around there is basically stacked condo suburbia.

What are you talking about? The area around Union Station is about as urban as you can get in the GTA. It's not suburbia by any stretch of the imagination.
posted by oaf at 8:09 AM on January 18, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, all. Not that it matters much to y'all, but I would probably only be going to campus 2 days a week and working from home the rest. Some weeks may require 3 trips a week. (Indeed, during my campus interview, many faculty were not in the office except for interview/class related activities. How that affects undergrad education is another whole can of worms....but then again, those familiar with higher ed will know that higher ed isn't really about undergrad education anyway....)

My schedule would be much more flexible than that of my SO, assuming he's taking a full-time load at York (and assuming the strike ever ends). For his grad studies/interests, other unis in the region are not suitable (for reasons that won't interest most of you).

The dog would not want for trips out to pee. :)
posted by mdion at 11:38 AM on January 19, 2009

Drop us a MeMail if you move near St.Clair & Bathurst.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:12 PM on January 19, 2009

Best answer: OK, then I'll amend my advice a bit to say you should definitely find any congenial neighbourhood within walking distance of a north-south subway line so that your SO has a reasonable daily commute and so that you can get to Union Station for your Hamilton commute fairly easily, too.

Anything from St. Clair/Bathurst and St. Clair/Christie as a northern boundary, then south to Annex/Kensington/Queen West south of Bloor should be good. TTC stations: St. Clair W., Dupont, Spadina, St. George, [not much around Museum and Queens Park], St. Patrick, Osgoode should be fine for a first look. If you're willing to go a little further west from any of these points, taking a bus or streetcar to the subway station, rents are generally cheaper.

Here's the TTC Ride Guide [PDF: zoom to 150%, look in areas K13 and points south, from St. Clair W.]. To get to York, go north from any of the named stations to Downsview station (end of the line), then any of these buses: on weekdays, 196 Express or 196B, and on weekends, 106 (the milk run). See this TTC page for more detail, plus a list of other alternatives.

Try ViewIt.ca to hunt for reasonable housing in these areas. After you set geographical limits, you can define number of bedrooms, price ranges, etc.

I am happy to hear that your dog's bladder is not at risk. :-)
posted by maudlin at 7:54 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

i'm currently halfway though a phd at york, and live on the east side of downtown, in the church/wellesley village. from wellesley station, i actually only found that it would take about an hour and fifteen to get into york, far less for my summer course (usually less than an hour).

grad students are often directed to the annex (and the annex is a great place, don't get me wrong), but i wanted to be a little separate from my peers (we spend a lot of time together as it is, what with class and etc).

i'm biased, because i live over here, but i love downtown toronto, east of yonge!! i have some friends who live even further east (broadview/danforth area) and travel out to york with no problem.

the other great thing: if you end up in cabbagetown, riverdale, or leslieville areas, you have riverdale park at your doorstep, a superdreamy dog heaven! east on queen, you'll find a ton of amazing little shops, coffee places, etc. it was one of my favourite places to bike to & read for a while last year. super chill and homey vibe over there.

might be worth looking into! good luck :)
posted by crawfo at 12:47 PM on January 20, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks again everyone! We should know definitively in a couple of weeks if we're moving or not.
posted by mdion at 4:10 PM on January 23, 2009

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