Toronto is Canada’s largest city and one of the most multicultural urban centers in the world. The city is bustling with life, teeming with cultural diversity, boasting incredible arts, entertainment, and sports scenes, and home to several top-ranked universities. For many students, however, one significant concern is finding affordable housing in this vibrant city. This article aims to guide students through some cheap, yet charming neighborhoods and housing options in Toronto.
Cheap places to live in Toronto for students
1. The Annex
Situated near the University of Toronto, The Annex is a student-friendly neighborhood filled with affordable housing options. Home to several low-rise apartments and semi-detached houses, it’s an attractive option for students who want to live close to the university. The area offers an array of dining and entertainment options with local eateries, boutique shops, and independent cinemas, providing a balanced lifestyle for residents.
2. Kensington Market
Kensington Market is a lively neighborhood with an eclectic blend of cultures. This area is best known for its diverse food scene, vintage clothing shops, and vibrant street art. With a range of affordable rental apartments, Kensington Market is a popular choice among students. Its central location and unique atmosphere offer an exciting urban experience on a budget.
Once known as Toronto’s ‘Village of the Future’, Parkdale has undergone significant transformations over the years. Today, it’s an affordable neighborhood known for its character homes, hip restaurants, and unique shops. For students seeking cheap housing, Parkdale offers numerous shared houses, apartments, and basement suites. The area’s strong community vibe and proximity to Liberty Village make it an ideal spot for students.
4. Little Portugal
Little Portugal is a dynamic neighborhood with a strong sense of community. Housing here is more affordable than in many other parts of the city, with a variety of low-rise apartment buildings and shared housing options. Local Portuguese bakeries, trendy bars, and quaint cafes lining Dundas Street West add to the charm of this area.
5. East Chinatown
Just east of downtown Toronto, you will find the lesser-known but equally vibrant East Chinatown. Offering a cheaper cost of living compared to its western counterpart, East Chinatown is an excellent place for students to explore. The area boasts a variety of budget-friendly food options and affordable housing, especially around Gerrard Street East.
Now that we’ve covered some affordable neighborhoods, let’s dive into some cost-saving tips for finding housing in Toronto.
1. Consider Shared Housing or Roommates
Sharing a house or apartment is a practical way to cut costs. Not only can you split the rent, but utility bills, internet costs, and even groceries can be shared. Websites like Kijiji, Craigslist, and Viewit can be helpful resources for finding shared accommodations or potential roommates.
2. Look into Student Residences
University-managed student residences often provide a more affordable option for students. They can also offer a ready-made community and convenient access to campus facilities. For instance, the University of Toronto provides several residence options for its students, each varying in cost and amenities.
3. Check Out Off-Campus Housing Services
Most universities have off-campus housing services that list verified and affordable accommodations for students. It’s advisable to check these before looking at commercial listings.
4. Consider a Homestay
For international students, homestays can be a cost-effective and culturally enriching living option. Homestays typically include meals and provide an excellent opportunity to improve language skills and learn about Canadian culture.
5. Plan and Budget Ahead
Toronto’s rental market moves quickly. Having a budget in mind and knowing what you’re looking for can help speed up the process. Remember to factor in additional costs such as utilities, internet, and transportation when budgeting for your living expenses.
6. Be Flexible
While living in the heart of downtown might seem appealing, it’s often more expensive. Being open to living a little further out can lead to significant savings. Toronto’s robust public transit system makes commuting from outer neighborhoods both easy and efficient.
7. Rent Negotiation
While this might not always be successful, it’s worth a shot to negotiate the rent with potential landlords. If you are planning to stay for a longer period, landlords might be willing to offer a reduced rate.
8. Furnished vs. Unfurnished
Furnished apartments might seem like a convenient option, but they often come with a higher price tag. Opting for an unfurnished place and investing in some basic, second-hand furniture could be a cheaper option in the long run.
9. Beware of Scams
Unfortunately, rental scams are not uncommon. Always verify the listing, meet the landlord in person, and never transfer money without signing a contract.
10. Understand Your Rights as a Tenant
Knowing your rights can save you money and prevent disputes with landlords. For instance, it’s illegal for landlords in Ontario to require more than one month’s rent upfront.
Despite the city’s reputation for being expensive, there are still plenty of affordable living options for students in Toronto. By following these tips and exploring the suggested neighborhoods, students can find a place to call home without breaking the bank.
Remember, the Toronto experience is not solely about where you live, but what you make of your time there. The city is filled with opportunities for learning, growth, and exploration. From its world-class museums to its bustling food scene, to its beautiful green spaces, Toronto offers an enriching experience for every student. Whether you’re strolling through the picturesque streets of The Annex, sampling global cuisines in Kensington Market, or enjoying a concert in Parkdale, your time as a student in Toronto is bound to be memorable.
Embrace the challenge of finding your perfect spot in this diverse city, and you’ll undoubtedly learn and grow along the way. After all, your student years are not just about academic growth but about personal growth and life experiences too. Toronto, with its mix of cultures, opportunities, and neighborhoods, is the perfect backdrop for this exciting chapter in your life.
“Proud thinker. Tv fanatic. Communicator. Evil student. Food junkie. Passionate coffee geek. Award-winning alcohol advocate.”