Toronto here we come!
August 20, 2007 6:56 AM   Subscribe

1 Year in Toronto: My wife and I are moving to Toronto for a year in January. She has a job already sorted (that's why we're going) and I'm probably going to carry on being a freelance WebDev/SysAdmin/etc whilst we're there. Questions are many, housing, work, tax, transport, fun, recommendations, advice...

Things we haven't sorted out yet:

- Where to live? What to pay for it?
- What to do with all our stuff? Ship it over from the UK or try and live without it for 12 months?
- What am I going to do it freelancing doesn't work? Will I have to pay tax on my earnings, even if I'm contracting for US an UK clients whilst in Canada?
- What should we make sure we do in the year we're there? What's good to see and do?
- Should we rent a car or rely on public transport?

And probably a gozillion other things that just won't occur to me until the day before we fly out. There must be people who've done this before and have tales, wisdom and experience to share. Can you help make this an amazing year in Canada?
posted by gaby to Travel & Transportation around Toronto, ON (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
- What am I going to do it freelancing doesn't work? Will I have to pay tax on my earnings, even if I'm contracting for US an UK clients whilst in Canada?

There are definately various employment & tax laws which you may run afoul of - it may be simpler to incorporate a LLC in the UK, then incorporate a subsiduary in Canada. I've considered doing this for Canada>US and it is not too costly. Consult an accountant both in the UK & Canada before you leave.

- What should we make sure we do in the year we're there? What's good to see and do?

Make sure you get out of town a couple times - the Niagara region is nice in early summer. Ottawa is a nice visit as well.
posted by jkaczor at 7:00 AM on August 20, 2007

Where will your wife's job be?
posted by bassjump at 8:01 AM on August 20, 2007

That's alot of questions. There have been previous moving-to-Toronto questions here that you should consult.

Specifically though...

Where to live? What to pay for it?

Uh, that depends. You could get a small place or a big place. You could pay $700 a month for a tiny/ugly place or as high as $2000 for someplace really nice. Where you would want to live depends on a lot of factors. Maybe you could be mor specific. For example, what part of town will your wife be working in? Downtown? North York? Markham? These are all "Toronto" but not really very close together.

What to do with all our stuff? Ship it over from the UK or try and live without it for 12 months?

Some combination thereof. If it's really just 12 months, you may be better off without it. Also, none of you appliances nor your TV will work. But I assume you knew that.

What am I going to do it freelancing doesn't work? Will I have to pay tax on my earnings, even if I'm contracting for US an UK clients whilst in Canada?

Canadian tax is based on residence, not citizenship or location where the income was earned. Refer here to see if you would be considered a Canadian resident for tax purposes. SO in theory, yes, you would need to pay tax on income for UK clients if you live in Canada.

In practice, income earned outside of the country is not reported to the government, so the only one who will know about it is you. I would never advocate tax fraud, but the truth is that it's not hard to not report foreign income.

What should we make sure we do in the year we're there? What's good to see and do?

Oooh, there's lots. Ottawa and Niagara are nice, as the previous poster indicated. Lots of museums in Toronto. Get up north and see Algonquin Park, go canoeing, camping, etc. Be a tourist and go up the CN tower, but only on a clear day. Go out to the country in March to visit a sugar bush and get some fresh maple syrup. I'm sure you'll figure it out once you get here.

Should we rent a car or rely on public transport?

Here you have some options. If you live downtown(ish) you could rely on public transportation. If you're outside of the core, you will need a car. If you weant a car part-time and you live downtown then there are car-sharing services that are cheaper than rentals and very easy to access, like Zipcar.
posted by GuyZero at 8:04 AM on August 20, 2007

Do you know the address or major intersection your wife will be working at? I would let that decide whether you get a car or not, and to some degree where you choose to rent. You can always use Zipcar when you need a car.

I wouldn't ship anything over, personally. Where I work we have placement students from the UK and Ireland come over for 12 month periods, and they always always regret dragging too many things with them, especially if they choose to travel before they go home. A year goes more quickly than you might think. Assuming you'll be going home at least once, you could always switch over the summer/winter wardrobes at that point.
posted by jamesonandwater at 8:05 AM on August 20, 2007

If you're going to live fairly centrally you do NOT need a car. In fact it would be better not to have one. Public transit (despite the complaining) is good and there are lots of cyclists here. I rent a car once in a while to get out of town but otherwise get around on foot, by bike, or (from January-March) by transit.

It would definitely help to know where your wife will be working, because Toronto is full of great neighbourhoods. It is pretty pricey to live here but with two people you'll be fine.
posted by loiseau at 8:16 AM on August 20, 2007

Response by poster: bassjump: She will be working pretty much in the city centre, at Western Hospital. I guess that unless we're living nearby we're going to need a car.

jamesonandwater: We're not planning on going home at any point so we'll just bring a big heap of clothing. I suspect we could find a fully furnished place to live as well so we wouldn't need to ship that much crap over.

I did a yahoo search through previous posts that were tagged Toronto but nothing leapt out at me on the first 50 or so posts. Any good suggestions as to previous posts about this subject?
posted by gaby at 8:17 AM on August 20, 2007

I (personally) would choose to live in/near the city center. You could live in an urban, centrally located apartment, or in a cozier neighborhood like the Annex. Maybe check out a description of various neighborhoods to get an idea of what the different areas are like. I'll second those who said that the public transport is very doable, Toronto is a good city for cycling, and that Zipcar or rental cars would work for longer trips out of the city.
posted by bassjump at 9:01 AM on August 20, 2007

When I was preparing to move to Toronto people gave me a lot of really helpful advice/descriptions of neighbourhoods in this thread.
posted by jamesonandwater at 9:49 AM on August 20, 2007

- Where to live? What to pay for it?

If she's working downtown, and if you're only staying for a year, you should definitely live downtown. It's the best way to experience the best parts of the city.

Take an hour or two to browse the Toronto Neighbourhoods map, especially the downtown maps, to get a feel for what kind of area suits you. Then check out the craigslist Toronto Rentals to get a feel for prices. (Wikipedia also documents the neighbourhoods pretty thoroughly.)

FWIW my SO and I live in a comfortably spacious 2-bedroom flat in Cabbagetown (the second bedroom is my home office) for $1500/month, which I think is a very fair price for the place. If you like I can point you towards pictures and such so you can get an idea of what that price fetches you around here. My email's in my profile.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 10:13 AM on August 20, 2007

Toronto Western Hospital as at Bathurst (running north/south) and Dundas (east/west), and both of these streets have streetcar (i.e. tram/trolley) routes that connect to the subway, as do College (the next street north) and Spadina (next street east). This means that a commute by public transit (TTC) will be fairly convenient so long as your apartment is within a reasonable distance of the subway anywhere in the city.

TTC subway, bus, and streetcar maps are available here. This PDF map of downtown routes will be of interest to you, as are route maps for the Bathurst and Dundas streetcars. The last two may be a little hard to decipher without local street knowledge, but hey.

There are lots of great places to live within walking distance of the hospital, however, such as the Annex (the area roughly north of the hospital, which is fairly wealthy and composed largely of expensive older brick homes) or Kensington Market (just east of the hospital, with simmilar homes and a combination 'hippie' and Chinatown vibe). Rent in either area tends to run about $1200/month and upward for a two-bedroom apartment.
posted by onshi at 10:33 AM on August 20, 2007

Bicycle, even in January, really!
The TTC is fine, but waiting for a streetcar, and then a transfer, is a total pain. Around downtown, a bicycle will carry you at least twice as fast as the TTC, and considerably faster than a car, not to mention you can park anywhere. Save the TTC for going bigger distances. If you really feel like you need a car for something, you can always use one of those car sharing organizations (zip car, and there is at least one major competitor), but a car is absolutely not necessary. At all!

I would look for a floor in a converted house (house that is being rented out as 3-6 apartments). Someplace near the Annex, but not in the Annex (unless you don't mind paying a premium). If you go by that neighborhood map, I'm thinking Dovercourt Park, Christie Pitts, Seaton Village, the South Annex, Bickford Park, Dufferin Grove, or the northern part of Little Italy.
Toronto Western is the small circle on the above link, the big circle is all the neighborhoods I mentioned. The edges of that box to the south and west are less nice areas, and to the north or west are variously more expensive, student getto, or getting to be too far away from work.

I believe 2 bedrooms (and/or 1,000+ sq.ft) will cost $1,300 +/- $200, depending on the details.
It has been very much a renters market in the last few years. Probably still is, but the signs (literally: "for rent" signs) have not been quite as obvious this summer. Nothing to worry about though, they are still building Condos way faster than they can fill them, and this will keep the rental market down for the foreseeable future.
posted by Chuckles at 1:17 PM on August 20, 2007

I'm a little biased towards the West End. Personally, I think the nicest locations to live in Toronto are a single floor of a house in one of these areas:
The Annex (bounded by Dupont, St. George, College, and Christie, and centred around Bloor&Brunswick)
Little Italy (bounded by Harbord, Spadina, Dundas, and Ossington, centred around College&Bathurst)
Bloor West Village / High Park (near to Runnymede or High Park TTC stops)
Queen West (around Queen&Ossington).
You wouldn't need a car in any of these locations, as they are all TTC and bike accessible.

For a place with 2 bedrooms in those neighbourhoods, you can expect to pay somewhere in the beighbourhood of $1200 - $1500, although there are better and worse deals to be had. I suggest a 2-bedroom because then you'll have an office. Best way to find a place in a house (ie, a place with some yard space) is to wander through the relevant neighbourhoods, as it seems that many Toronto landlords aren't craigslist-savvy and instead tend to post signs. It's pretty easy to find a sublet on craigslist, though. For apartments in multi-unit buildings, browse Basically, if the place is being listed by a current tenant (ie, a sublet or seeking roommates), craigslist is the best option, but if it's being listed by the landlord (an entire apartment or floor of a house for rent), viewit and neighbourhood signs are a likelier option. Personally, I have no patience for newspaper ads anymore- I want to see what I'm getting before I get there- so while these may be a great source of apartments, I wouldn't know.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 6:14 PM on January 2, 2008

« Older Things to do in Ibiza   |   Searching for book preview publication Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.