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Living costs in Toronto

PongePonge Registered User regular
edited August 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
I've been offered a 4 or 6 month internship in Toronto after my Masters Degree finishes with the company that makes the software that I use but I've learned the pay they offer is $800 canadian per month. They admit this isn't enough to live on but I'm just wondering how far off the mark this is (i.e. how much would I have to pay out of my own pocket to make ends meet?)

I'm a student, so I'm used to scraping by and living in pretty crappy apartments, so I'm not expecting any sort of lavish lifestyle.

Also I can't drive (for medical reasons, I have epilepsy), is Toronto a city thats difficult to get around in on public transport?

Cheers guys,

Ponge on

Posts

  • HIGH NOONHIGH NOON Registered User
    edited August 2010
    Well, $800 a month would either get you a real small bachelor apartment in the downtown core, but once you broaden your path outwards (I.e. Past High Park to the West, Eglinton to the North, and the Don Valley Parkway to the East) rent should cheapen up. Like anywhere, too, you would save a ton if you opt to find some roommates.

    My girlfriend is currently in the process of trying to find a place downtown, as we both attend Ryerson University, but it's very, very difficult for her to find an apartment that is even appropriate for a 20 year old female at $800 a month. I would argue, for your sake, that you could probably live somewhere on the subway line, which stretches pretty far all over the city, and commute to work in the morning. It certainly would put an ease on your pocket. Note though, that a monthly pass for the TTC is about $120 per, but if you are using it every day, including weekends, it really is invaluable, despite the headaches the subway can greet you with. Their transit system is quite reliable overall, I just find the subway to break down a lot more than ideal.

    Food prices is, like any major city, generally absurd, but you can usually find an absolute TON of small fresh-food markets to buy cheap produce from (Chinatown, Kensington Market, and Gerrard St East have especially good groceries), and there are more amazing multi-cultural restaurants for weekend discoveries than anywhere else I have ever been to in my life.

    Like I said, I would vie for living with room-mates, as you never know what the prices may be for living in a house with 4 or 5 others. I did that last year in a rooming house for students mostly from Africa, and we paid $400 a month, all inclusive, and the house was surprisingly well kept (at least on the inside).

    If you need any tips when you get to Toronto, like interesting places to check out, good places to get the cheapest/best food ever, things like that, feel free to PM me.

  • NODeNODe Registered User
    edited August 2010
    Here's the Toronto transit website .
    If the company is big enough/ you feel comfortable asking maybe they'd be willing to cover part of your transit pass.

    You should be able to find shared accommodation in the $300-$500 range. The GO Train gives you some "outside the Toronto core" options, that still have solid transit coverage, but the Go Train cost would probably offset any rent savings.

    Would the internship start at the end of the school year (April/May/June)? If so you'd likely be able to score decent rent through a sub let or a landlord that generally rents to students looking to fill rooms in the "off season".

    Avoid downtown grocery stores like Rabba and stick to the markets like HIGH NOON says and you can eat quite cheaply.

  • Page-Page- Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    You can get most anywhere with public transit, but it'll take some planning if you need to catch a lot of different buses. Not too difficult. The costs can vary. You can get a monthly bus pass for ~$115, but it will only save you money if you use it more than 5 days a week (if it's just to and from work). They're still really nice to have, though.

    As the others have said, don't shop downtown, unless it's in chinatown. However, there are many cheap places to eat downtown ($7-8 for a meal, tip included), especially if you like Korean or Vietnamese.

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  • ZeonZeon Registered User
    edited August 2010
    Toronto is expensive. I pay 660 to split a 2 bedroom just on the edge of "downtown". Slightly farther out, i payed 700 for a basement bachelor. Neither of these places were in spectacularily good neighborhoods or close to anything. They are considered "cheap" places. You could get a bunch of roommates but its still probably going to be about 500/month. I have no idea where youd get an apartment for 300/month, even splitting with like 5 or 6 people, but i have a feeling if you could find such a place, youd be looking at like 6 hours of commuting every day on public transportation. Generally, the time it takes to use public transportation is 4 times as long as it takes to drive somewhere. Itd take me about 1 hour to get to work on the TTC, it takes me 15 minutes (with no traffic) to drive there.

    The transit in this city is passable, at best.. Youll have to take lots of different buses if you dont both live and work on the subway line, which basically covers bloor end to end in the GTA and yonge up to i think sheppard? Also goes out into scarborough, but who wants to go out there. The traffic in this city is also retarded, like, LA levels of insanity, so if youre taking buses, expect to be sitting on them for a while. The subway is decent, rarely stops or shuts down (other than overnight, between 12am and 6am on weekdays) but if you want to live on a subway line, again, youre looking at big money, those apartments, even craphole apartments, are in high demand because there are a lot of people that use the TTC due to the cost of driving a car in this city.

    Considering your 800 a month will work out to probably like 670 after taxes, i dont think you will be able to live. I make over triple that, and its still tough. You would probably have to find a second job at the very least. If you got a minimum wage job and worked both full time, youd make about the equivalent of 15/hour, which would let you live fairly well.

    *edit* oh yeah, if you DO decide to live outside the GTA (toronto, etobicoke, york, east york, north york, scarborough) to save money on rent or something, you will need to pay for seperate public transportation. Your metropass will not cover you on any non-TTC buses. You can take go buses to speed up your transit time but its really expensive (i think 250 per month now for a go pass?) and then you will still need a metropass to get around in toronto itself.

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  • ForkesForkes Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Find out where you are working, and if it is on a Subway line, or close to one. And, even though it sucks, Scarborough is cheap living. It is mostly families and suburbs, but the rent is super cheap compared with living in the city.

    I was living at Yonge and Eg, and paying $850 for a shared two bedroom. It was an awesome place, but I live in Kingston now, and I am paying $325 for a shared house.

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  • NODeNODe Registered User
    edited August 2010
    Zeon wrote: »
    You can take go buses to speed up your transit time but its really expensive (i think 250 per month now for a go pass?) and then you will still need a metropass to get around in toronto itself.

    I think my wife was paying ~$190 per month for her GO pass from Oakville to Union station. It varies depending on where you start and where you're going.

    As Forkes says, finding out where your job will be located is an important first step.

  • ZeonZeon Registered User
    edited August 2010
    NODe wrote: »
    Zeon wrote: »
    You can take go buses to speed up your transit time but its really expensive (i think 250 per month now for a go pass?) and then you will still need a metropass to get around in toronto itself.

    I think my wife was paying ~$190 per month for her GO pass from Oakville to Union station. It varies depending on where you start and where you're going.

    As Forkes says, finding out where your job will be located is an important first step.

    Oh ok i wasnt aware of that. My friend is out in ajax and she was telling me her go pass was about 250 to get to yonge station. I figured a GO pass would be the same as a TTC pass, where you just have it and can take GO anywhere.

    Also Forkes how did you get a 2 bedroom at yonge and eg for 850??? Last time i was looking around there a one bedroom was 900 + parking, and a 2 bedroom started around 1300 for the small ones with no balconies, and that was in a crappy run down building slightly north of eglinton (2 blocks if i remember right). Unless you meant 1700 split so you pay 850, that sounds more reasonable for that area.

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  • GodfatherGodfather Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    I'm living in the Royal York area for $600 a month, which is basically whiteyville central, so it is possible to get a great place for cheap.


    Stay the hell away from anywhere around Dundas West. My first apartment was there near Runneymeade, and that's where I almost got shanked the first time.

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  • PongePonge Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    I just checked, and the office is on Front St. West, slap bang in the middle of the financial district. Would I be correct in assuming that this would be the same as every other major city in the world in that this would be the easiest place to get to, but the most expensive place to get to?

  • NODeNODe Registered User
    edited August 2010
    Expensive to live very close to. It won't be anymore expensive to get to than anywhere else that's downtown.
    If anything this gives you more options as you only need to get to Union Station and you can pretty much walk to work from there. So you could viably live somewhere on the Go Train route and get to work without buying a TTC pass.

    Oakville has a surprising number of student rental options thanks to Sheridan College. Best case there you'd be looking at paying ~$450 a month for a room in a condo or a shared apartment with 3-4 other students. Of course then your living in Oakville, which is socially a barren wasteland and has limited cheap food options.
    Mississauga I can't speak on.
    Scarborough has at least one private college and so should have some options. It's...sketchy though. My wife, then girlfriend, lived "on campus" in Scarborough for a year and was within half a block of two seperate shootings. Your tolerance for that sort of thing may vary though. North York is similar.

    Honestly if you have enough lead time you should be able to track something down that's much closer to the core and still in your budget.

  • Rear Admiral ChocoRear Admiral Choco Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Ponge wrote: »
    I just checked, and the office is on Front St. West, slap bang in the middle of the financial district. Would I be correct in assuming that this would be the same as every other major city in the world in that this would be the easiest place to get to, but the most expensive place to get to?

    Well not really, the TTC doesn't cost any more no matter where you're taking it. I think Express Downtown buses might cost more, but there's no real reason to take one when you've got the subway line. As long as you can reach the TTC on foot, the fare will be a flat rate.

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  • HIGH NOONHIGH NOON Registered User
    edited August 2010
    Yep, I would try for an apartment on the TTC line, somewhere in the west end, by Islington or Kipling. You might get lucky. Hell even Victoria Park area has surprisingly cheap rents. Good luck! You do NOT want to live in the suburban wastelands that are Mississauga and Oakville. I am from there, and can almost guarantee you that you will hate your life should you embark on a town of 95% houses, 5% strip malls. Trust me, just don't do it.

  • SwashbucklerXXSwashbucklerXX Swashbucklin' Canuck Fabulously Ford-Free TorontoRegistered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Yeah, that kind of pay will barely cover the rent here after taxes are taken out, if you can find a super-cheap place to begin with. I don't know if you're American or Canadian, but if you're American you should know that food here is rather expensive compared to what you're used to. Or even if you're from elsewhere in Canada, you should know that basic supplies along the Toronto subway routes cost more than they do elsewhere (and everything is especially expensive downtown, of course). $800 a month isn't even close to cutting it, especially if you're not local and don't know where to get things on the cheap.

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  • ZeonZeon Registered User
    edited August 2010
    I really really dont think youre going to make it on 800 having to go all the way downtown. Heres your breakdown:

    Pay after taxes: about 670 (taxes are ridiculous in ontario, also pray your employer doesnt take money out for benefits or insurance or pension, not likely since its an internship, but ive seen it happen)

    Metropass: 110 dollars. So youre down to 560 dollars.

    BARE MINIMUM FOOD BUDGET: 25 dollars a week. Ive done it on 20 and even at 25 dollars youre eating a lot of instant noodles and rice. Maybe whatever fruits in season (so its cheap). If you shop at chinese grocery, you can stretch your budget but it still wont go incredibly far. So youre down to 460 a month.

    Do you want to have a cell phone, so you can call your employer or be reachable by anyone? Minimum plans are like 30 bucks here. You can get prepaid but youre still look at like 10 bucks plus you'll have to buy a phone. So lets say prepaid at 15 dollars a month. Youre at 445.

    Do you want internet? Its not cheap here. Lets say you have roommates and you split it. 20 a month. 425.

    Can you get an apartment for 425? Yes. Will it be on a subway line? Hell no. Will it be in a terrible part of town? Hell yes. Will your commute be long? You bet. Will you have any disposable income? None what so ever. So you better hope you dont get sick and need medication (which is not free here) and nothing else comes up the entire 8 months.

    Unless this is a super dream job, or youre willing to work 2 jobs every day, or youre a masochist, id look for something else. I mean, basically youre taking a job for less than half the minimum wage in a city where even minimum wage workers have a really tough time making ends meet.

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  • PongePonge Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Thanks for all the advice guys, I really appreciate all the breakdowns. It is a pretty good opportunity despite the pay, it would allow a lot of networking over there I should think.

    I think I'm going to try and work for 6-12 months and save up some cash and then re-evaluate the situation. More than anything I just enjoy working outside of the UK, so it would be a good way of getting out of the country for 6 months, for the experience more than anything else.

    Cheers guys,

  • arcticmonkeysfanarcticmonkeysfan Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Zeon wrote: »
    I really really dont think youre going to make it on 800 having to go all the way downtown. Heres your breakdown:

    Pay after taxes: about 670 (taxes are ridiculous in ontario, also pray your employer doesnt take money out for benefits or insurance or pension, not likely since its an internship, but ive seen it happen)

    Metropass: 110 dollars. So youre down to 560 dollars.

    BARE MINIMUM FOOD BUDGET: 25 dollars a week. Ive done it on 20 and even at 25 dollars youre eating a lot of instant noodles and rice. Maybe whatever fruits in season (so its cheap). If you shop at chinese grocery, you can stretch your budget but it still wont go incredibly far. So youre down to 460 a month.

    Do you want to have a cell phone, so you can call your employer or be reachable by anyone? Minimum plans are like 30 bucks here. You can get prepaid but youre still look at like 10 bucks plus you'll have to buy a phone. So lets say prepaid at 15 dollars a month. Youre at 445.

    Do you want internet? Its not cheap here. Lets say you have roommates and you split it. 20 a month. 425.

    Can you get an apartment for 425? Yes. Will it be on a subway line? Hell no. Will it be in a terrible part of town? Hell yes. Will your commute be long? You bet. Will you have any disposable income? None what so ever. So you better hope you dont get sick and need medication (which is not free here) and nothing else comes up the entire 8 months.

    Unless this is a super dream job, or youre willing to work 2 jobs every day, or youre a masochist, id look for something else. I mean, basically youre taking a job for less than half the minimum wage in a city where even minimum wage workers have a really tough time making ends meet.

    Its an internship not a long term job and what they are paying him is more of a stipend than a salary. I'm pretty sure he doesn't actually expect to cover all costs with $800 a month.

    Also, I don't really know what you guys are talking about with food being expensive in Toronto. I'm from Ottawa and go to school at U of T and I find that buying groceries in Chinatown or T&T (big Chinese supermarket chain) here are alot cheaper than in Ottawa. Also there are tons of places to eat near downtown that are both cheap and good and I am not just talking pho.

  • PongePonge Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Yeah, I knew it would be pretty off the mark to survive on, I was more wondering how much extra I would have to fund myself to cover living costs.

  • arcticmonkeysfanarcticmonkeysfan Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Well, alot of people I know pay only like 500-600 a month in rent living near Chinatown (Spadina ave, College street) which is close to the streetcars, not too far from some subway stations and by downtown. Its really not as hard to get cheap rent near downtown as some of the people in this thread have suggested. I guess you just have to be a poor student to look for it.

    Actually if you are lucky enough that your internship happens to be from May to August you could live in some of the U of T residences which are clean, safe and downtown. Mine charges $2400 Canadian for the entire summer (only May 1 to August 28 however). You'd get your own room and share a kitchen and a couple bathrooms with 3 or 4 other people.

    Here's a link: http://www.utoronto.ca/innis/residence/summer.html

  • SwashbucklerXXSwashbucklerXX Swashbucklin' Canuck Fabulously Ford-Free TorontoRegistered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Also, I don't really know what you guys are talking about with food being expensive in Toronto. I'm from Ottawa and go to school at U of T and I find that buying groceries in Chinatown or T&T (big Chinese supermarket chain) here are alot cheaper than in Ottawa. Also there are tons of places to eat near downtown that are both cheap and good and I am not just talking pho.

    Yeah, the one kind of store that allows for cheap groceries downtown is one of the Chinese chains. The other big chains, though, charge a premium at their downtown stores. The biggest difference, though, is if you're used to paying US prices for groceries. Believe me as a dual citizen when I say that a lot of staples (poultry and dairy in particular) are more expensive here than they are just about anywhere in the States.

    The OP is from the UK, however, and since I haven't been there since 1997 I don't know how food costs compare. :)

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  • Al_watAl_wat Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    without going into specifics, I think about $2000 a month including food, rent, any other living related expenses, transportation, and being able to have a life would cut it.

    Maybe $1500 if you are stingy, eat really cheap and find a low rent place.

  • NODeNODe Registered User
    edited August 2010
    Also, I don't really know what you guys are talking about with food being expensive in Toronto. I'm from Ottawa and go to school at U of T and I find that buying groceries in Chinatown or T&T (big Chinese supermarket chain) here are alot cheaper than in Ottawa. Also there are tons of places to eat near downtown that are both cheap and good and I am not just talking pho.

    Yeah, the one kind of store that allows for cheap groceries downtown is one of the Chinese chains. The other big chains, though, charge a premium at their downtown stores. The biggest difference, though, is if you're used to paying US prices for groceries. Believe me as a dual citizen when I say that a lot of staples (poultry and dairy in particular) are more expensive here than they are just about anywhere in the States.

    The OP is from the UK, however, and since I haven't been there since 1997 I don't know how food costs compare. :)

    The UK is pretty horrifying expense-wise, so he might be in for less of a surprise than some people here are suggesting.

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