Cityfolk living in/near York Region - can it be done?
December 22, 2018 5:33 PM   Subscribe

So, Mrs. Gefilte and I are considering a move from Toronto to regions north of the city. Can we find somewhere to live that balances our commute times without being driven mad by suburban blandness?

I'm a physician and reasonably portable in terms of my specialty. The Mrs. works in a field with limited employment opportunities, and just found a job in Aurora. The commute from TO to there is dreadful - 2 hours by car on a good day, 4+ hours by transit on other days, round trip. The job may become permanent in a couple of months.

We've been thinking for a long time about moving out of the city, what with horrible next-door neighbours to contend with (long story), poor infrastructure, and a general sense of wanting a bit of a quieter pace.

So, given that the Aurora job is the limiting factor, we were looking into the possibility of moving somewhere closer. We've explored Aurora, Newmarket, Stouffville, and Uxbridge so far. Aurora and Newmarket are fairly expensive, conservative, and kind of depressing from an aesthetic point of view. Stouffville and Uxbridge seem nicer, but smaller, and without a tonne of amenities.

We're wondering if any MeFites have experience living in/near York Region +/- north Durham. Where do you live, and what do you like about it? Any suggestions for other spots to consider that within a 30-45 minute drive of Aurora?
posted by greatgefilte to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I live in the area you are looking at and from your description of Newmarket as depressing and Whitchurch-Stouffvulle lacking amenities, there is nowhere around here that will suit your needs. I love where I live, but different people have different priorities and it sounds like Downtown TO is the best option, despite the commute.
posted by saucysault at 6:49 PM on December 22, 2018

I live in the area you are looking at and from your description of Newmarket as depressing and Whitchurch-Stouffvulle lacking amenities, there is nowhere around here that will suit your needs

We are willing to be convinced otherwise! I know I must come across as the stereotypical entitled downtown TO resident (we actually don't live downtown) and I apologize if I sounded judgmental about the cities and towns in York Region, I didn't mean to be. Obviously there's only so much that one can learn about an area just from visiting in short spurts, so I'm genuinely curious to hear about the experience of living in/around York from those who actually live there. I actually quite liked downtown Newmarket but it was hard to get a good sense of an actual neighbourhood surrounding it. Am I wrong? Stouffville was charming, and its smallness is not a criticism, I'm just curious what it's like to live there.

The actual question is: Where do you live, and what do you like about it?
posted by greatgefilte at 7:03 PM on December 22, 2018

Are the same opportunities available to her in Kitchener? We used to live there, and it's ... not terrible (we're aging ultra-lefty queers and it wasn't going in the right direction for us, but it might work for you if you're a little more mainstream and have more dollars to spend). Hamilton might also be possible, but less so? I'm hard pressed to think of another kind of town/city centre that has enough self-contained gravity to not just be a bedroom of Toronto (thus relying on it to help dissipate the suburban blandness) and TBQH within a 2 hour drive of the 416 it's going to be Kitchener/Waterloo or Hamilton and ... that's about it. Kitchener has a couple good hospitals and a lot of new condos going up, but the house prices are also jumping through the roof thanks to tech investment.

Anyway worth a thought.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:15 PM on December 22, 2018

Without knowing your preferences (beyond not-bland suburbia), it’s hard to recommend a specific neighbourhood to you, but there are some really nice pockets in Stouffville , East Gwillimbury etc. that have nature, shopping, community feel, ethnic foods, walking distance to a Main Street. , or whatever it is that suits you. I think you may want to ask a real estate agent who knows the area, for some recommendations.
posted by leslievictoria at 6:48 PM on December 23, 2018

Vindaloo’s wife here. Last year, we did a corporate relocation to Toronto, and faced a similar dilemma since the job is based in Vaughan: Toronto base but killer commute?, or live in the boring burbs...

My husband did end up commuting from Toronto for a year, and that was so long and unpleasant we decided that prioritizing living close to work was the biggest single factor to improve his and our family’s lifestyles, beyond anything else.

So we went from an older, architecturally interesting house in Montreal in a vibrant trendy neighbourhood to a bland ‘70s build in Thornhill, and it was the best decision. He’s got a stress-free 10 minute commute (a minor miracle in the GTA), we spend lots of time together as a family, and we explore Toronto museums, shopping or shows on weekends.

So my vote is move to Aurora! It was one of our move’s potential areas, and I liked the older neighbourhoods off Yonge St and thought there were good local amenities. Newmarket and the surrounding cities seemed similar, so may as well target what’s closest to your wife’s work. I’d prioritize the older pockets vs the new developments as far as tapping into walkable restaurants, shopping and community activities... live it up in Toronto on weekends if the burbs are too boring, get a hotel room for the night if you’re out drinking - still cheaper than a daily commute!
posted by Vindaloo at 4:34 AM on December 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

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