Update: Our 2019 version of this post is now live. Get the updated figures here.
Toronto is, in many ways, a wonderful city to live in — it’s multicultural, boasts a fairly comprehensive public transit system, has a ton of great restaurants and galleries, and offers many ways for you to spend your recreational money. Plus, there’s a healthy population of big, hardy racoons.
It’s also very expensive.
Last spring, we published a breakdown of how much it costs to live here. After taking into account the average costs of housing, transportation, groceries, phone and internet bills, and entertainment — e.g., what many consider the basics of a modern life — the total came up to $2,350 a month.
City, provincial, and federal officials made many efforts to make the city more affordable over the past year — especially in terms of housing — but has anything really changed? Here, we’ll investigate by providing updated numbers for 2018.
To keep things consistent, we’ll provide cost breakdowns for the same major categories that we featured last year. For clarity’s sake, the costs are tailored for a single person without dependents, and who doesn’t own property. Consider this the most basic guideline from which to develop your budget.
Housing - $1,672.13/month
This is the category that has seen the biggest increase in the past year. Last year, we calculated the average rent a single person would have to pay came in at $1,334.75. This year, it’s gone up by more than $300.
Conventional wisdom says that you should spend a maximum of 30% of your monthly gross income (before taxes) on housing. A cursory look at rental listings in Toronto, however, will tell you that that rule is not applicable in this city. In fact, at the current monthly average, you’re looking at dropping more than $20,000 a year in rent. It’s likely the average Torontonian will be spending much closer to 50% of their income on their rent alone.
We consulted RentBoard.ca to look at the average price of various rental units in Toronto to come up with our average figure.
One bedroom condo: $1,919/month
One bedroom apartment: $1,683/month
Bachelor/studio apartment: $1,600/month
Two bedroom condo, shared with a roommate: $2,973/month, or $1,486.50 each
Average housing cost: $1,672.13/month
Phone and Internet - $127.50/month
Luckily, this number has come down a bit as telecom providers have gotten more competitive with each other (remember that 10 GB for $60 deal people were going nuts for last month?).
For internet coverage, the plans offered by Bell and Rogers for 25-30 Mbps (this is the speed that many companies recommend for decent quality streaming) and an average of 300 GB usage per month is $69.99 and $74.95, respectively. (Telus does not offer internet plans in Toronto.)
Other Toronto favourites, like Tekksavvy and Primus, each ask between $45 and $50 for similar plans.
For cell phones, a plan with 1GB of data, 300 local minutes, and unlimited text nationwide will cost you between $70 and $75 dollars at Bell, Rogers, and Telus.
Freedom offers a similar plan for only $60 — but with 10GB of data instead of just one.
Transportation - $176.25/month
Riders of Toronto’s public transit system can rejoice this year, because the TTC announced there won’t be a fare hike. So costs here remain the same as last year. In calculating this section, we left out car ownership. The TTC covers a lot of ground — and is generally cheaper to use than a car, for which you’d have to pay insurance, gas, regular maintenance, and city parking fees.
Note that if you are commuting into the city from the suburbs, that you might have to take the fees of another transit system into account — the buses in Vaughan and Mississauga, for instance, are not run by the TTC, so you won’t be able to use your transit passes from those cities to take the TTC.
Single adult fare (cash): $3.25
Single adult fare (tokens or Presto card): $3.00
Monthly pass (students): $116.75
Monthly pass (adults): $146.25
Chances are, you’ll also end up taking a cab, Uber, or Lyft several times a month. Let’s use the same budget as we did last year: $30 for an Uber trip from midtown (where the offices of LowestRates.ca are located) to downtown, and back. (The price is still the same; we checked.)
Time to come up with our total. Which TTC option should we choose? Let’s say you work five days a week, and have to take the TTC twice a day — to and from work. That’s 10 trips a week, multiplied by $3.00 each time for a total of $30 spent on transit per week, or $120 per month.
It would seem, then, that a pay-per-use Presto card makes more fiscal sense than a monthly pass. But, how many times do you go take the TTC outside of work hours in a single week alone, whether to meet friends, see family, go to the gym, or run errands? A monthly pass might be more fiscally sound after all — and it’s only $26.25 more.
Monthly transit pass: $146.25
Groceries - $283.60/month
A single man between the ages of 19 and 30 will spend an average of $319.87 per month on groceries, according to the ‘Nutritious Food Basket’ food cost calculator that’s up on the City of Toronto website. For women in the same age range, the average runs at $247.33.
Entertainment - $354/month
This is also one of the categories where your mileage might really vary. Some might be content to never go out and stream movies instead, while others prefer to go out a few nights a week.
Either way, we averaged out the below based on feedback from friends and family.
Dining out: $154/month
Buying lunch once a week: $10 each time, $40/month
Getting takeout for dinner twice a month: $20 each time, $40/month
Going out for dinner once a month: $50/month
Buying coffee twice a week: $3 each time, $24/month
Going out for drinks with friends twice a month: $25 each time, $50/month
Having drinks at home/friends house once a week: $50/month
Nights out (movies, events, shows, dates, etc.): $70/month
Going to the movies once a month: $20
Miscellaneous outings: $50
What we’re including this year that we didn’t last year are entertainment subscription services — since a quick poll of our content team found most had a subscription to the services below.
Netflix subscription: $10.99/month
Apple Music/Spotify (single person): $9.99/month
Health and Fitness - $75/month
New yoga and spin studios in Toronto seem to be opening every week. While those classes can run you as much as $20 a session, we’re going to base this calculation on the costs you’d expect at a traditional gym.
A gym membership on the cheaper end of the spectrum would cost you about $60 a month, at places like the YMCA or GoodLife.
We averaged out a monthly gym membership for a young person (no student discounts, though) at $75 amonth.
Insurance - $52/month
Many landlords in Toronto require renters to carry rental insurance. Using our insurance quoter, we found that the average cost of insurance for an apartment in the West End of Toronto is $52.
Grand Total - $2,740.48/month, or $32,885 annually
Phone and Internet: $127.50
Our grand total comes to $2,740.48 — that’s nearly $400 a month more than last year.
Much of this increase can be traced back to rent, which continues to climb in the city as vacancy rates remain low. The total cost also doesn’t cover student loans — which many millennials struggle with — and other debt repayments; savings contributions; toiletries; pet costs; clothing; insurance; or other miscellaneous fees.
Based on the current tax rate in Canada and Ontario, you’ll need to be making at least $40,583 before tax (or $32,885 after tax) to make ends meet in Toronto. But you won’t have any money left over if that’s what you make.
Experts recommend saving 20% of your income to contribute toward goals such as buying a home or retirement. If you want to save 20% of your income and still make enough to meet your monthly expenses, you’ll have to make at least $50,134 annually — which will leave you $39,462 after taxes.
And while Ontario’s minimum wage will be rising next year to $15, that’s only going to bring you home a gross pay of $31,200 based on a 40 hour work week.
All of this is to say: Toronto is a very expensive city.