In-depth comparison of the pros and cons of buying a home in Downtown Toronto

In-depth comparison of the pros and cons of buying a home in Downtown Toronto

Justo Team | August 13, 2019

Introduction

There are many reasons that you might be interested in buying a home in downtown Toronto, living in Toronto’s downtown core can be exciting. You will have access to excellent restaurants, as well as other amenities, cultural events, museums, easy access to public transit through the TTC whether that is the bus, subway, streetcar, etc., and Toronto’s waterfront. Downtown Toronto has a lot to offer for those who like going out with a variety of distinct neighbourhoods with great nightlife and events, which means you will never be bored living here since there is always something going on. 

Related article: How to Find the Best Places to Live in Toronto?

Living in downtown Toronto means if you enjoy hockey, are a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, enjoy basketball, and/or a Toronto Raptors fan you will have easy access to the Scotiabank Arena where both of these teams play or go to see concerts. Also, if you are a baseball fan or enjoy spending time in the Entertainment District, living in downtown Toronto means that you will not be far from the Entertainment District and Rogers Centre where the Toronto Blue Jays play. While there are many advantages associated with living in downtown Toronto and benefits you can enjoy if you own a home in downtown Toronto, there are some downsides to living in and owning a home in downtown Toronto.

While this article contains an analysis and comparison of the pros and cons associated with buying a home in downtown Toronto, this is only meant to serve as a starting point for you if you are considering buying a home in downtown Toronto. Only you can decide what the best choice is for you and your situation, i.e. whether or not you would benefit from and enjoy owning a home in downtown Toronto. Some people might love the convenience and amenities that you have living in downtown Toronto and in Toronto’s urban core and can tolerate some of the downsides of living in downtown Toronto such as crowds. Others might enjoy spending time here but might not be able to tolerate the crowds or may want to live somewhere that is not as densely populated as downtown Toronto. 

Related article: Pros and Cons of Buying Homes in Downtown Toronto

 

Pros for buying a home in Downtown Toronto

Easy access to transportation and a variety of amenities

If you are planning on buying a home in downtown Toronto because you want to make your home in one of the neighbourhoods in downtown Toronto which make up Toronto’s urban core you will be enjoying easy access to a multitude of amenities. Amenities ranging from excellent restaurants and bars, nightlife, access to the Entertainment District, transportation, sporting events, cultural activities from concerts of all types, the ballet, the theatre, opera, museums, other cultural activities, close proximity to the waterfront, and more. This means there is something in downtown Toronto for everyone no matter the weather or the season.

Another thing to consider is if you like to go out a lot in downtown Toronto and/or work in downtown Toronto, you could save money each time you go if you are taking Lyft, Uber, taxis, or other methods of transportation from other parts of Toronto or the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) you could save time and money living here. You might be thinking the home prices here are high, how would I save money if I live closer to places where I am spending a lot of my time? Places, where you are spending a lot of your time, might be work, areas where you like to spend time during the weekend or in your free time, parks, etc.

For example, if you are a sports fan or have season tickets for the Blue Jays, Raptors, and/or the Maple Leafs for pleasure or work purposes, chances are that you are spending a good bit of time going to these games. If you are living far away from Toronto’s downtown core and the Scotiabank Arena or the Rogers Centre, how much time are you spending roundtrip to go to these events? How much money are you spending to get to these events if you live in a different area in the City of Toronto or somewhere in the Greater Toronto Area?

If you are not sure how much you are spending commuting from where you are living now to downtown Toronto you could check your TTC card and see how much you are spending, if you are driving calculate the mileage between your home and frequent destinations, check your debit or credit card statements to see how much money you might be spending using Uber or Lyft to get here, etc. Toronto is a massive city and distances in the City of Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) can be humongous. Also, you might consider clocking how much time you are spending if you are commuting from downtown from another area.

Traffic can be nightmarish in Toronto so you could be spending a lot of time in traffic or in transit if you are commuting four or five days a week between another part of Toronto or somewhere in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and your job in downtown Toronto. How much time are you spending in traffic or in transit? Our time is valuable and once our time is spent it is something that we cannot get back. Would you rather spend a lot of time each week, month, and year commuting, in transit, and/or traffic or would you prefer to be something else with this time? Take a moment to really consider this if this might apply to you.

If you were to live in downtown Toronto and are spending a lot of time here, you might be able to live closer to places where you are spending more of your time, i.e. working or your free time. In other cities, you might be able to walk, bike or eventually take an electric scooter (rental scooters like those found in cities like Washington D.C., San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro, etc.) to places where you might have previously driven, used a ride-sharing service, taken the subway, etc. If you are not driving, you could potentially save a lot of money on parking and headaches related to finding parking.

 The time you are saving by not having to go as far as to reach your destinations here you could spend doing other things like sleeping in if you work in downtown Toronto, spending more time exercising, spending more time with your loved ones, or pursuing other passions. If you are someone who lives in another part of Toronto that commutes into downtown Toronto for work, for events, evenings out, etc. you could really be saving money living closer. Think of what you could do with the money you are saving on commuting, you might be able to save some more money for your next trip, add to your savings or your retirement, or even put this money towards paying off your mortgage. 

Related article: How to get a second mortgage in Toronto (Ontario)?

The walkability of downtown Toronto and the convenience of living in downtown Toronto

Additionally, downtown Toronto is known for being extremely walkable. So, if you are a person who enjoys walking and might not want to have a car, dislikes driving, or sitting in traffic (but really who enjoys sitting in traffic?) living here could be great for you. You might be able to live somewhere and depending on your lifestyle, where you work, spend your free time, etc. be able to survive and even thrive without having a car. 

You might even be able to find a place where you might be able to walk to the grocery store, pharmacy, restaurants, shops, TTC station, etc. and be a short bus or Uber ride away from other destinations. This means if you are making something or realize you ran out of an item you need, it will not be a big deal for you to quickly pop into the supermarket, pharmacy, etc. to buy whatever item(s) you need. This might not be the case if you were to live in another part of Toronto or the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

If you were living in another neighbourhood in Toronto or the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) where you might be further away from shops, restaurants, grocery stores, etc. which means if you suddenly realized you needed something for a recipe and did not have it, that quick to the grocery store you might be making if you were living downtown could take you longer and be a much larger inconvenience if you had to drive 15 to 20 minutes to the store to the store and back home from the store to pick up whatever you needed plus however long it would take you to purchase whatever item(s) you needed.

While there are many benefits associated with car ownership and there are some places where you really need a car because this is your only mode of transportation, you might not want or need to have one here. Car ownership can be expensive and can be headache-inducing. The price for maintenance and repairs for cars is always increasing, the cost of insuring a vehicle is always increasing, the cost of fuel is high and increasing, parking in Toronto can be outrageously expensive and nightmarish. And traffic in Toronto does not make it a fun place to drive. If you are a person who cares about the environment, is keen on doing their part to reduce their carbon footprint, save the planet, etc. not owning a car and living in an urban centre might help you to reduce your carbon footprint.

If you are living in a smaller dwelling in an area where all of your things (work, grocery stores, shops, restaurants, parks, etc.) are relatively nearby you might not need to drive as much, you might be able to walk, bike, take public transit, etc. And if you have a smaller dwelling you will have energy bills since you are heating or cooling a smaller space and you might not need to use as much electricity because you are living in a smaller home. The smaller your home is the less furniture you need to buy to fill the space. If you enjoy being a minimalist or are trying to have less stuff living here in a small home could really help you to achieve this goal.

Access to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ)/Toronto Island Airport

Another benefit of buying a home in living in downtown Toronto is having easy access to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport which is located close to Toronto’s city centre and has flights to Montreal, Chicago, and Canada’s Eastern seaboard. With these flights to other cities in Canada and certain cities in the United States, such as Chicago, where you can connect and reach many other places in the world, this makes travel much less stressful. The proximity and size of the Billy Bishop airport make travel much easier and can you avoid a trip to Mississauga if you are flying out of Toronto Pearson International Airport. If you travel frequently and fly a lot or fly on an airline that flies to the Billy Bishop airport, you will probably enjoy not having to make the trek out to Mississauga to leave Toronto. And how much more relaxing and simpler it is to not have to fly out of or through such a busy and crowded airport. 

Return on your investment (ROI)

Another benefit of buying a home in downtown Toronto is the potential for a return on your investment (ROI). Even if you are only buying a small condo entry-level condo here since the Toronto real estate market is growing, which means you can build equity in your investment. This means when it comes time to sell your home you might be able to earn a profit off your investment, especially if the Toronto real estate continues growing and prices continue increasing.

Related article: How to invest wisely in Toronto’s real estate?

 

Cons for buying a home in Downtown Toronto

Traffic and congestion in downtown Toronto

One downside to living in downtown Toronto is the traffic. Toronto being the third most densely populated city in Canada has a lot of traffic and a lot of congestion which means it is not a fun place to drive if you want to have a car. 

Lack of parking in downtown Toronto

As mentioned earlier, parking in downtown Toronto is limited and expensive. Downtown Toronto is not the place to live or buy a home if you have a car and enjoy driving since you could end up spending thousands of dollars on parking. There have been reports of people paying $40,000 CAD per year for access to covered parking space in downtown Toronto.

Pollution and Air Quality

Given the amount of traffic and people living in the City of Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), it should surprise no one that air quality and air pollution are an issue in Toronto. While the air quality in the City of Toronto might not be as bad as polluted cities such as Santiago, Chile, Beijing, Bogotá, Colombia, or Mexico City, but the air quality in the City of Toronto is still problematic. During 2019 alone, there have been days when there have been air quality alerts because the pollution in the City of Toronto has made it harmful to people’s health. The air quality in the City of Toronto has been recognized as being moderately dangerous for your health. This is something that you should consider if you have allergies, asthma, are immunocompromised, have any history of respiratory issues, etc.

Noise pollution and light pollution

The City of Toronto, especially downtown Toronto, suffers from noise pollution and light pollution. This means it might be louder to live here and harder for you to sleep if you are a light sleeper when compared to other cities and neighbourhoods further away from Toronto’s urban core.

Might be harder for you to access green spaces living in downtown Toronto

There are not as many parks or green spaces in downtown Toronto as there are in other areas in the City of Toronto. Much of the City of Toronto’s public land on the waterfront for Lake Ontario has been sold off to developers and is filled with condos, which is great if you live there. However, if you are looking for a quieter, more tranquil space you might need to leave Toronto’s urban centre and venture into areas to find more peace and tranquillity.

Related article: Types of Houses in Canada and How to Get the Best Price for Them

Downtown Toronto is crowded and densely populated

As mentioned earlier Toronto is the third most densely populated in Canada after Vancouver and Montreal, the 19thmost densely populated city in the world. Millions of people come to Toronto to visit each year and the City of Toronto is growing each year as more people are flocking to Toronto for a variety of reasons including jobs since there are a lot of jobs here in Toronto.  Take a moment to consider this. If you do not like crowds or sharing your space with a lot of people, you might want to consider living in a different part of Toronto or the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). 

Expensive to buy a home in downtown Toronto

Toronto is one of the most unaffordable cities in the world. This means that buying a home in downtown Toronto can be incredibly expensive and might for unattainable for many people. It might be difficult or impossible for many people to afford to buy a detached house here, so there are many condos in the area for the people who want to live here. If you do not enjoy condo living or want more space, you might need to find a place further away from Toronto’s urban centre.

There is less ethnic and racial diversity in downtown Toronto than other areas in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)

If you are looking to live in a neighbourhood that is not racially, ethnically, culturally, or economically homogenous you are not going to find that much ethnic or cultural diversity in downtown Toronto. While in the past downtown Toronto might have been more culturally and ethnically diverse, this is no longer the case as more people are being priced out of downtown Toronto and recent immigrants, ethnic and racial minorities are choosing to live in other areas in Toronto, the inner suburbs and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Related article: The Most Expensive Neighbourhoods in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area

 

Things to consider when you are buying a home in Downtown Toronto

Relative stability and strength of the local economy and job market in Toronto

Something to consider about Toronto and Canada is that during the 2008-2009 global financial and economic crisis and meltdown, Canada and Canadian banks were not as affected by what happened as banks in the United States and Europe. Canadian banks before this meltdown were not over-lending, overextending themselves as much and doing some of the other Canadian and American banks had done. This meant that Canadian banks did not suffer as much during this period and stayed stronger than American and European banks. This means that if there were ever were another financial crisis Toronto, employment and the Toronto real estate market might not be as badly impacted as other areas in the world.

 Hypothetically if there were another crisis of this magnitude, that impacted you living in Toronto, the value of your home here in downtown Toronto and home prices in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) might not fall as much as they would in other places. Note that in an ideal world you would want to be selling your home during an economic downturn, but things happen, and you might not be able to control when you need to sell your home. Housing values are given this and other guidelines that the Canadian government has put into place to help prevent something like what happened with the housing market and banking system in the United States from happening means you can probably expect to begin seeing a return on your investment after several years of owning a home in downtown Toronto.

Additionally, Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area has become a financial and a technology hub, this combined with a low unemployment rate, and a growing startup scene in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) will help to ensure that home prices in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) will continue to increase over time. This means that even if you were to buy a small, more entry-level condo and things continue on like they are now, your initial investment in buying even a small condo now could result in large dividends for you down the road when the time comes to sell your home.

Related article: GTA home buyers and sellers are overpaying by thousands

The high cost of living in Toronto and in downtown Toronto

However, while increasing home prices would be great for you as a buyer since it would allow you to build more equity in your home and see a higher return on your investment, the high cost of living and high home prices in Toronto especially downtown could make it harder if you are a single person buying a home by themselves and hope to have a family one day and need more space to accommodate your growing family. High home prices if you need more space in downtown Toronto could mean that you might have a hard time finding a place to live that you would be able to afford with sufficient space for you and your growing family.

Additionally, high home prices and a high cost of living in the City of Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) mean that you might have to save up for a long time so you would be able to afford to make a down payment for a home in downtown Toronto. This might mean that you might have to do things to economize and budget so you can save money for this or save more money quickly to make your dream of owning a home in downtown Toronto a reality.

If you really want to invest in the Toronto real estate market and buy property in downtown Toronto but do not currently have the funds to make this a reality, you could always consider getting a side hustle or an additional job to help you to save up for a down payment to buy a home here. The more income streams you have, the more money you can make and the easier it could be for you to save up the money to make a down payment. 

Another thing to consider is that you might have to spend a lot of money so you can buy a larger home, i.e. a home that is larger than a studio, one-bedroom, or two-bedroom condo. Depending on how much you have and how much you are able to put down, you might only be able to afford to buy a condo, townhouse or small detached house in downtown Toronto with how expensive real estate is in downtown Toronto.

Related article: The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide for Buying a House in Toronto

 

Conclusion

It is important to note that wherever you are hoping to invest in real estate or move to if you will be moving in the next few months or years, this is a decision that should be taken seriously. Investing in real estate is a big deal, choosing to buy a home no matter if you are a person who is a seasoned investor or a first-time home buyer looking to purchase your first home is something that you should take your time doing. Even if you are an experienced investor you will want to seriously consider how you could benefit from owning a home here and if this is the right decision for you and if you are ready to do this.

It is important to be deliberate and strategic when making major financial decisions such as buying a property. You will need to do your due diligence, including research, whether that is reading articles like this, speaking with a trusted real estate agent, people you know who might live in the area, learning about housing statistics and real estate trends in Toronto. You can consider this as a starting point you could use when developing a pro-con list for whether or not you should buy a home in downtown Toronto if you are a person who makes pro-con lists as part of their decision-making process. Some people find that sitting down and making a pro-con list whenever considering an important decision is helpful for them but this is not the case for everyone.

Buying a home in downtown Toronto could be great for you, if you plan on making your home in downtown Toronto, you would be able to enjoy the convenience and all of the amenities available living downtown. If you are a person looking to buy an investment and/or income-generating property in downtown Toronto, you might also be able to see a sizeable return on your investment (ROI) if you are renting your property and even when the time comes to sell your property. However, there are downsides to living and owning property in downtown Toronto, for some people the risks and benefits of owning a home will outweigh the risks and downsides to owning a home, for others this will not be the case. Others might prefer to buy and/or live in a different area of Toronto or even outside of the city. While some people might consider buying a home here, renting it out as an income-generating property and stay wherever they are currently living whatever you decide to do with this information, you should do whatever is best for you and your family.

Related article: Types of Houses in Canada and How to Get the Best Price for Them

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