Author Topic: Need advice on moving out in Toronto  (Read 3248 times)


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Need advice on moving out in Toronto
« on: October 23, 2015, 03:39:44 PM »

I'm 24, and I live in Toronto. I work as a freelancer (self-employed, which means I collect HST and get to write off business expenses) at home doing programming work, and earn around $60k/year (I have one client that occupies most of my time, give or take a few smaller jobs that come up each year). I've lived with my parents up until now, and while it's kinda sucked, living with them since graduation (May 2014) has allowed me to amass a nice 'stash, to the tune of approximately $100,000. I have a maxed out TFSA + RRSP, plus some taxable mutual funds that I inherited a while ago. I don't have any debt, and I have excellent credit. I'm also looking to move out. I'm seeking advice on what to do with regards to a living situation, because I don't want to make a poor decision that screws me over decades from now (having this much money saved up means I'm not concerned about going bankrupt any time soon, but I don't want to accidentally end up treading water and have to work for a few more decades because I did something stupid.

I'm looking to move out because things have gotten crazier at home, to the point where my productivity has dropped immensely. I'm not being forced out or anything, but things are overall kinda shitty. My current job lets me work from home, which is a rather nice perk. I meet with clients every few weeks or so, so I don't have to commute or anything (all of my clients are in Toronto). I also don't have a car (but can drive).

Decisions to be made:

-- Should I move, or should I just STFU and put up with the insanity (and enjoy a savings rate of around 95%)

-- Renting or buying (I'm against buying[0], but I feel that it has to be included for the sake of completeness)

-- Should I stay in Toronto (where most of my friends and clients are), or should I move somewhere further away at the expense of a social life and continue to hoard money.
-----> I've looked at Waterloo, for example, because of the tech stuff there. Other areas around Toronto could also be considered - Hamilton looks cheap, but I've never been there, so I don't know what to expect. I don't like the idea of moving away from an urban area though, because that would almost certainly require buying a car (and the money pit that entails).

-- If I rent in Toronto, I'm torn between getting a cheap place with minimal perks (Padmapper implies that I could find a place for between $1200 - $1400 in an older apartment building on a subway line, or find a condo to rent right downtown near the waterfront for approximately $1600 - $1700ish), and enjoy all the perks of a billion dollar backyard (+ no commute time/cost to go anywhere).

-- As for a more expensive place ($1600ish), there's a chance that I could end up with more money soon enough - $90,000 doesn't appear to be out of the question for someone with my specific skill set and a few years experience (at a typical office job), but I don't want to count on future income that doesn't exist yet.

-- I've thought about roommates. I don't like the idea of living with random people, and some of my friends also want to move out, but aren't going to be ready for >6 months.

-- Assuming $1600 on rent, a budget I drew up (including food, hydro, phone, internet, and a small amount in transportation) has me with just under $500 each month in leftover money, after saving $1500/month (TFSA + RRSP max). Is this correct, or did I screw up somewhere.

Thanks in advance.


  • -- I feel that I have to include buying in a list, because some of my friends have recently purchased places (naturally, with huge mortgages). I'm mostly against buying because most of the condos seem to be built like crap, and working as a programmer means that there's a high chance that I'll be offered a job elsewhere (California, etc) for a huge salary, which I don't think I could turn down (which would require selling the place suddenly, eating up realtor fees).
« Last Edit: October 23, 2015, 03:54:48 PM by bidoof »


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Re: Need advice on moving out in Toronto
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2015, 06:24:35 PM »
Congrats on building up a huge stash at 24!  If you have it invested wisely, you'll be one rich person with the time you have to let it compound.

Needing to be mobile for employment reasons is a big factor in why DH and I rent (the other compelling argument is that rent is cheap compared to current real estate bubble prices.)  You don't need a fancier, new, waterfront condo, nor do you need to be walking distance to a downtown office, since you work from home.  An older building along the subway line will be convenient enough for your periodic client visits and social outings, plus the older ones will have rent control once you sign a lease, and the units tend to be bigger.

Saving $200-500 a month in rent costs is significant.  If your earnings go up, great, but don't rely on an uncertain future possibility. Rent as little space (and luxury) as you need, stash the rest.


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Re: Need advice on moving out in Toronto
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2015, 06:26:42 PM »
For background, I'm in Toronto (Yonge/Eglinton) and did not grow up in the city. My family all lives in the States.

If it weren't for the location of my job/my husband's job, I would GTFO out of Toronto. Buying is insanely overpriced right now by almost every metric. Rent is also pretty bad (but much less so). We probably have different hobbies, but I often find the options for things to do in the city very disappointing. Definitely not worth the premium I pay for living in Toronto versus a smaller centre.

in your position, I would:

- Truly look at moving and setting up your consultant business in other centres. Peterborough, Hamilton, Guelph, London, and Owen Sound come to mind. There may be incentives to move your "small business" to these areas.
- Definitely not buy (at this point). Basically every "rent versus buy" calculator suggests renting when it comes to Toronto
- If you must rent in Toronto, consider a building built before 1991. Rent control only applies to buildings occupied before that date. I really can't stress how great rent control is. My husband and I have been in a wonderful, older 2 bedroom apartment near Yonge/ Eglinton for about 3 years. It was a good deal when we got it, and we currently pay $1375/month (all utilities included, plus parking and storage). There's no way we could get that same deal now. And we know we can keep it basically indefinitely because the rent control increases are very modest...

Regarding the bigger picture of whether or not you should move out - I honestly would move out and start living like a goddamn adult. I'm sorry, I don't mean to sound harsh, but it shocks me how long young Canadians stick around their parent's house. My close friend is a lawyer, making $$$$$, and she lives at home and lets her parents pay for everything. My god.


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Re: Need advice on moving out in Toronto
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2015, 07:29:26 PM »
okits: The reference to a waterfront condo was mostly a reference to this: - Of course I don't need to be there (or any highly desirable area really), but there's a voice in my head saying 'if you have to spend a lot of money anyways, spend a bit more and live in a nice area downtown, as opposed to being in the middle of nowhere. I specifically mentioned the waterfront because MMM is right; living in an area like that would cut your social expenses down dramatically, with free things like bike paths, beaches, parks, etc. at your doorstep.

sparkshooter: I grew up in the city, so most of the people I know are here - if I didn't have any connection to this place, I'd definitely be leaving ASAP. As for the smaller cities you listed, I'd be curious to know what incentives exist for moving your business; if there are savings to moving aside from discounted rent (which is partially offset if you have to buy a car - being under 25 means that my insurance would be insanely high). Owen Sound would probably be out because of distance, but I was considering areas around the GTA because I could just take a GO train to Toronto for meetings.

I hadn't considered rent control in my search - I don't know if it would actually benefit me (having to move in a few years would make it moot), but it would be a great thing to have if that never happens.


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Re: Need advice on moving out in Toronto
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2015, 08:03:39 PM »
I'm definitely no expert on this, but I am aware of a grant program run in Bruce and Grey County (info here: It looks like the same sort of program is available in Guelph (, which suggests that maybe it is available all over the place?

Regarding rent control: it can be important even after just a year. If you rent an apartment for $1600 this year, there is nothing that would prevent the landlord from charging $2000 next year. Obviously you have the option of leaving, but if the market has gone up 25%, you're basically SOL and will be stuck paying the new market rate. Obviously that's a bit of an exaggeration of what would likely happen, but not by much. Rents are rising fast in Toronto to (slowly) catch up with the crazy appreciation in house/condo prices.


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Re: Need advice on moving out in Toronto
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2015, 11:59:51 PM »
Get a cheap place - enjoy your freedom.  You can move up to nicer later!   

If you move up too soon, you will never go back down. 

Much easier to start cheap & move up.


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Re: Need advice on moving out in Toronto
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2015, 08:30:04 AM »
Rent, don't buy.  You'd probably be buying a condo, and they are pretty stagnant in resale value.  Detached houses are on fire, but condos have not appreciated much in the last few years.  Start looking on    Lots of apartments, all different price ranges.  Picking a location that is a neighbourhood with services is priceless.  Our son used to live in High Park, right on Bloor Street, a block from the subway and the park.  Older buildings sometimes have great soundproofing - his sure did.  He paid $1150/month, all utilities included, for a large one bedroom.  Everything was within walking distance or a quick subway ride, and getting downtown took about 20 minutes.   He's in the Beach now - got married and needed to live in the east end.  Rents there are pretty pricey, but he has friends in Leslieville paying $1300 for a one bedroom.

(Apologies for the non-Torontonians - these neighbourhood names mean nothing to you.  Those familiar with Toronto know these are super places to live).


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Re: Need advice on moving out in Toronto
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2015, 01:25:31 PM »
You need to decide how much you value living in Toronto. There is no question that housing is cheaper almost everywhere else in Canada. If your friends all live here and you love the (relatively) mild winters, cultural diversity, political situation, and stuff to do of Toronto, then this may be the place for you to stay in spite of the housing cost.

I live in a junior one bedroom unit in older building two blocks away from Yonge and Bloor for $1200/month including utilities. While I'd like to spend less (or nothing), the thought of taking on several roommates or spending more than my current 40 minute subway commute is unbearable. Since you work from home, you should be able to reduce your rent costs below $1200/mo.

From a revenue perspective, you will make more money in Toronto than in a small town. Although you can work from home, you do mention that you need to occasionally visit clients. If you're truly not in love with Toronto, you could always drive in for the day when necessary. This option is most feasible if you live somewhere like Kitchener-Waterloo. But even if you reduce your rent by $300/month living in Kitchener, you'd still end up paying more in clown car costs. (I'd stay in Toronto!)

I think in your position you should increase your income. With your qualifications you are worth much more than 60K/year. If you find it hard to solicit work (and if that's the case, I empathise; I was terrible at soliciting business), and you face no major impediments to working an office job, you may find it more appealing to work a much higher paying 9-5 job until you achieve financial independence.


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Re: Need advice on moving out in Toronto
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2015, 01:45:15 PM »
Lived in Toronto about 5 years and Hamilton for a little longer here.

Do you have one or two friends that would make great potential roomates?
If so, splitting a 2 or 3 bedroom's costs even in a fantastic location would likely be the best financial move.  Even if you have to wait 6+ months to do so.

Hamilton is great if you want to take the GO in and still not buy a car, but the social cost of a new city and making new friends can eat those savings up. Eventually it's a great place to buy a house and let housemates pay your mortgage. Walkable downtown and lots of neighbourhoods in the lower city where you don't need a car. But research the crap out of neighbourhoods and rent in Hamilton first before ever, ever buying.

I wouldn't do KW or Guelph. Car costs are huge and house costs are also pretty big. I used to drive into Guelph for work and traffic is insane in KW.


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Re: Need advice on moving out in Toronto
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2015, 09:22:23 PM »
I definitely would echo renting in Toronto right now over buying. Your ability to work from home does give you the option to move outside of expensive areas and use public transport (or what TO calls public transport) to be close to friends and family, events, etc