Renting in Toronto. Where do I start?
You pay high rental prices for small spaces — and those small spaces are becoming harder to come by. So you’re stuck competing for sometimes shady properties with landlords who demand a shocking amount of your personal information.
By comparison, the cost of living in Mississauga is a dream come true. My rent is just $500 a month and I live in a 1,500 square foot three-storey townhouse with a spacious living room, kitchen, in-home washer and dryer — oh, and a puppy.
I admit, choosing to rent in Mississauga versus Toronto wasn’t an easy decision to make. For a bit of background, I was born and raised in the former, but after moving out of my parents’ home to live in London, Ont. for four years during university, I dreamed of my next home being in Toronto: I'd live in a cute apartment with my “ride or dies”, and basically pretend my life was like a 2017-version of Friends. However, it took me awhile to sort out my career, and in hindsight, I’d say moving back in with my parents to take the time to figure out what I wanted to do was a good thing — both for my bank account and my personal life.
Before you dismiss the idea of moving to the suburbs entirely, I’ll share with you why living just a little outside of the city (I work in Toronto — trust me, it’s doable!) has a lot of perks and isn’t as bad as it seems.
The rent is dirt cheap
As I mentioned earlier, I only pay $500 a month for rent. How did I hit the rental jackpot, you ask? For one, I have three roommates. During the time I was working towards being able to afford to fly the nest, I met my boyfriend, Chris, at a friend’s party in Mississauga and this year we decided to make what I’d consider a pretty big adulting step and move in together.
As much as I tried to throw the word "Toronto" around — I was hoping he'd want to move there to make my commute shorter — it didn't work. Because his job is in Oakville, we compromised on finding a place Mississauga. At the same time, my boyfriend's sister and her partner were looking for a place to live and the four of us decided to join forces for the sake of cheap rent. With the luxury of splitting utilities and Internet four ways, I only have to contribute about $160 a month for those expenses, and I spend about $150 a month in groceries ($300 total split in half with Chris).
My commute actually isn’t so bad
Commuting is something most people have to do — even if you live in Toronto, if you aren’t within walking distance from your office, you're still techincally commuting. The LowestRates.ca office is in Midtown, and it’s a five minute walk from Davisville station, making it very accessible via TTC. Every morning I’m in my car by 7:20 a.m. to drive to Kipling station, and once I’m settled in (the pro of getting on the subway at Kipling is I always get a seat), I can catch some extra ZZZ’s on my ride, read a book, and/or get really good at Sudoku (it’s the little things). So, the commute isn’t so bad — and I’m in the office by 8:30 a.m. However, I will divulge that my cost of commuting is more because I have to pay $6 for parking at Kipling and then about $3 each way for the TTC (I use a Presto Card and still don’t understand how the cost per trip works *makes mental note to figure it out*). In total, my cost of commuting is $240 a month.
Traffic doesn’t make me want to rip my hair out
Full disclaimer, it’s way easier to get around the suburbs if you have a car, so although it is an added expense, I don’t have to worry about Toronto-levels of congestion. When I’m walking around Toronto, either to get to work or when I’m meeting up with friends, I can’t believe the gridlock — it would drive me crazy if I drove around the city. My insurance is $153 a month and I pay about $70 a month in gas. In total, the cost of having a car $223 a month.
I still have a social life
I may not live close to a lot of restaurants or bars, but Mississauga really isn’t that far — seriously. Since I work in Toronto, I’m easily able to meet my friends for a drink after work, and if we go out on the weekend I can usually get home in an Uber for just $30.
What it comes down to is attitude. Wherever you live, home is what you make it. I could sit here and complain that I don’t live in Toronto, but I love my living arrangement. My roommates are so fun, I love living with my boyfriend, and my best friend's place is only about five minutes away from me. Plus, despite living in the suburbs, I still feel like my life is somewhat like Friends because I’ve still got my “ride or dies” navigating the adult world with me.
In total, my rent, utilities, car, commute and “fun money” combined is probably about $1,500 a month, which I’d say is relatively cheap compared to what my Toronto friends pay.
In the end, as much as I love Toronto, I actually feel lucky to live in Mississauga.