A friend of mine is planning on moving to Toronto and is a bit unsure about where to rent. I figured I’d do a quick wrap up for her. She’s coming with her boyfriend, so she’s looking for a place they can share. Less condo inclined, non-basement dwellers. Seeking a quiet neighbourhood with easy transportation to get downtown for work. Let’s load up a map and have a look. Disclaimer: I know the west side far more than the east side. It’s quite-very possible I’ll miss a bunch of good spots out east.
A general rule for boundaries. Considering that you’d be working downtown, I’d be wary of going further west than Keele (unless you could find a really swell place in The Junction) or much further north than St Clair. If you’re as far north as St Clair, I’d hold off on looking further east than Bathurst. East of Yonge along Bloor seems fine, as it becomes the Danforth and there’s a bunch of affordable stuff around there. Plus Greek food, which could never not be good. It probably gets even cheaper east of Greenwood, but it’s also getting further away. I’d maybe hold Coxwell as your eastern limit.
Now for some areas.
Pros: Recently gentrified, so maybe there’s a corner case hope of finding somewhere affordably priced. Good restaurants. One particularly excellent bakery with stupendous cinnamon rolls. Night life is on the up and up. You can walk into antique stores and pretend you’re rich.
Cons: Starting to get to a lengthy commute if you’re working downtown.
Pros: Nice area, great restaurants/bars. Handy supermarket/LCBO.
Cons: Could be difficult to find a place unless it’s upstairs from a restaurant or something.
Pros: On the verge of gentrification. Still has a pleasant dusting of grittiness. Close to a bunch of super cool bars and restaurants along West Queen West. Amenities close by.
Cons: The Queen St Car can get a little slow during rush hour. Slight dusting of meth.
Little Portugal/Little Italy/Dufferin GroveBloordale/Dovercourt/St Clair West
Pros: Rad areas (St Clair West is starting to push it, but a friend of mine have found super nice places around there), a bunch of mom and pop places, as well as cool bars/restos handy. A few places probably in your budget. Keep an eye out for the nice quiet side streets.
Cons: Good places get snapped up around here. You’ll have to spend some time crossing your fingers.
Pros: Close to cheap food. Chilled out student-y areas. Pretty much ideal, really. Also Korean food is fucking great.
Cons: If you’re right next to Bloor it could be a little noisy.
Spadina between Bloor and Queen (University, Chinatown, Kensington), Baldwin Village
Pros: So much cheap food and drink. Chinese bakeries and tons of Asiatic food. Cool areas in general. Proximity is what you’re looking for.
Cons: Cheap food is hard to resist. If I lived here I’d need a belt with a 3m circumference. Some places could be kind of dingy/too studenty. In short, nice places are nice, some aren’t.
Pros: The gay village. Lots of fun vibrant stuff going on. I’m not sure of the housing situation, but I had friends who lived in the area and loved it.
Cons: During Pride it’ll be impossible to get in or out of. Everything will be pretty though, so there’s that.
To be honest, I’m not great here, because I rarely venture out east unless I’m seeing concerts at The Danforth Music Hall or grabbing a bite/drink at The Only. They’re excellent though. Greenwood/Coxwell has a shit ton of awesome cheap Indian food. Leslieville has fantastic cafes and restaurants. Some areas may be sketchy, some may be overly gentrified. I’d maybe not go far north of Danforth. Once you’re east of Coxwell things start feeling really far out (logistically, not in the 70s hippy slang kind of way). I know very little about the spaces between Danforth and Dundas, so I can’t be any kind of authority. They’re probably fine/nice.
TL;DR: West Is Best (unless it’s Wild Wild). I know very little about the east side, but from what people have told me there are some pretty nice spots out there.