416 or 905?
Is moving to the suburbs the move for you?
Or have you had it with suburbia and looking into urban living?
In recent conversations with a couple of clients, we recognized a stark contrast between those who were eager to leave the city vs those looking to move into it.
“I love this city so much! But when my baby started rolling around in dog food and the dog ended up in the crib – we knew we needed more space.” – Abode Realty client
One set of clients, a young couple who recently welcomed a baby (in addition to having 2 dogs), were very vocal in their desires for more space. They loved their downtown lifestyle when they first moved in together, but now their party of 5 was literally crawling on top of one another. Help!
Another set of clients, older and getting ready to retire, voiced a very different sentiment. Long ago, they too struggled with 416 or 905? 905 won the battle and they left the city for suburbia! They raised their family in a large home and their children had long since moved out. Now however, they yearned for a lifestyle change and were eager to get back to the city they loved.
“I love the hustle and bustle. I’d move back in a heart beat now that the kids are all out of the house.” – Abode Realty client
So, based on this, we decided to do a deep dive ourselves and look at what to consider when figuring out where to live, 416 or 905?
Which is right for you?
First things first. Let’s consider your lifestyle.
The 416 area code and the lifestyle that comes with it can be quite different than moving out into the suburban 905.
Does the sound of a bustling, energetic city excite you?
The lights, the people, the cars, the cultures!
Toronto is a hub of excitement! With restaurants, bars and cafes on every corner, living in the 416 means there’s never ending treats to tempt your palette. From local pubs to delicious patisseries, french drip coffee to ethically sourced beans, poutine + street meat to Michelin star bistros.
Beyond food and drinks there’s shops, art and culture! Boutique store fronts, museums and galleries, exhibits and festivals. The 416 is place of endless experiences.
Cultural diversity is also a wonderful aspect to living in the 416!
Crowned the most culturally diverse city in the contemporary world by BBC, Toronto has been welcoming foreigners from every continent since the late 19th century. From the early Italian, Portuguese & Jewish communities, to Chinese, Caribbean & South Asian immigrants. Lest we forget the Balkan, Iranian & Greek newcomers, with so many more to name. Toronto is a wonderful fusion of different neighbourhoods and cultures that the city embraces to this day.
Some questions to ponder – Do you prefer a quieter lifestyle? Would a quick trip to the mall work better for you than a boutique shop? Is Boston Pizza just as tasty as a trendy restaurant downtown, and more economical?
Transportation can be your best friend or your worst enemy in the six.
No car? No problem! Hop on the subway or streetcar to get to your destination. Not into public transportation? Walk! Toronto was recently ranked the #2 city in Canada for walkability. Everything is fairly close to get to and there’s no shortage of destinations.
That being said, if your work or destination is further out beyond the transit lines, traffic can be a major issue. The 416 is heavily populated, there are a lot of cars on the road, and street construction. Lane closures, a big sporting event or concert can add a decent amount of time to your commute.
It’s not to say that 905 or anywhere in the GTA doesn’t also struggle with traffic and overpopulated roads, but living in the downtown core can add an extra element to it.
Ask yourself – how important is walkability to you? Would you prefer wide lanes to narrow ones? Does public transportation illicit anxiety in a post-covid world?
Kids in the city can be a whole different conversation.
If you have them (or are planning to), kids can be a big consideration in where you’d like to live.
Schools in the 905, for the most part, are positioned on a good amount of land, with trees and parks, settled far from a city road. While urban schools can be located in and amongst other city buildings, have a smaller amount of space to play, but also located closer to urban experiences. Either is a great option depending on your preferences.
Various urban and suburban schools in the GTA are ranked as the best of the best according to Canadian school rankings. However the urban schools that rank high on the list have addresses that come with a hefty price tag thanks to their districts, while suburban ones are higher, but relative to their surroundings.
Question – is a smaller, quieter community school something you value for your kids? Or is urban living more of what you’d like your kids to experience? Are school rankings important to you?
Lifestyle is an incredibly large factor when deciding between 416 or 905!
Green space is limited in the 416
We can get into a whole discussion with tried and true Torontonians about the fact that trails, farms and large parks exist in the 416. They do! Hello High Park, hello Riverdale Farm, hello Edward Gardens!
This may satisfy city enthusiasts and urban street lovers. Bike lanes abound throughout the city and pedestrian friendly areas, dog parks, kids parks are there to be found!
However to those seeking a quieter lifestyle, in may just not be enough.
Moving into Toronto means that access to rolling hills, forests, trails etc. can be limited. Fresh air can also at times be not nearly as fresh as when you enter the city thanks to congestion.
Ask yourself – When you open the window, what would you like to hear, see, smell? Are you adverse to more concrete than green space? Does air quality matter?
Switching gears, the styles of home can differ great depending on if you live in the 416 or 905 area codes.
The six is a true juxtaposition of old meets new. Age being considered, Toronto originated with row houses and semi-detached homes which can be found in the heart of the city. Some are close to 100 years old! There can be a great community feel living in a tight quarters – if you’ve got great neighbours! If you don’t, well it might be too close for comfort.
As well, land is scarce in the 416, lot sizes can be quite tight!
On that note, if you can’t build out, you must build up. Sky-soaring condominiums rock the city skyline. Condominiums can be excellent if you value lifestyle over space. Lock up your door and with a quick elevator ride down – go live your life in the city!
Spreading out beyond the core of the 416, you have war-time bungalows and two storey homes in subdivision built in and around the 1970’s & 80’s. There are detached options closer to the core of the city, however they can be pricey when you consider square footage.
905 on the other hand typically has a lot more land to offer.
Thus single family, 2-storey, detached homes abound, typically built in picture perfect subdivisions with something the 416 doesn’t have a lot of – BACKYARDS! Semi-detached and town homes are still options too, if you’re looking for more fresh air, but don’t have the budget quite yet.
Neighbourhoods in the 905 are typically lined with sidewalks, parks and trees. Now if you’re not into maintaining a larger piece of land and have a strong dislike for grass-cutting – the 416 might be where its at!
A common misconception though is that all the 905 has to offer is a cookie cutter subdivision.
There are plenty of older homes located in the suburbs on great sized lots too! Often suburban towns have an old “main street” that also have local shops, restaurants and offer a great living experience similar to urban living, just without the extreme busy-ness. Picking up a home located close to “main streets” could mean the style of home is a bungalow, older 2-storey or even semi!
Additionally, some purchase homes in these neighbourhoods with plans to redevelop and build new custom built homes in the future when their finances will allow.
At the end of the day, the great pull of a 905 style home is having the square footage both inside and out to spread out.
There are a few things to consider when deciding 416 or 905. Let’s go through them one by one.
For the most part, markets aside, the price of a detached home in Toronto will be more expensive than that of the 905 suburbs.
As per the Toronto Real Estate Board, the average price of a detached home in the 416 area code stood at $1,947,975 in April 2022 while the average price of a detached house in the stood at $1,526,791 in April.
So if space is a factor, you get more bang for your buck if you venture into suburbia.
As a whole however, the 416 is actually cheaper than 905 due to the amount of condominiums and smaller style of homes (like townhouses etc.) available. If you’re a first time home buyer looking at getting into the housing market, condominiums are a the most economical option and get your foot in the door!
Condominiums in the 905 traditionally had a tendency to be geared towards down-sizers. They were smaller scale with more luxury amenities. They used to carry a higher price tag or just not suit a younger demographic. This however is rapidly changing. Suburban cities are now developing their own sky lines with new condominium towers!
This means that economically, you can get into the market in a condo in either the 416 or 905.
Land Transfer Tax + Normal Taxes
Ah land transfer tax! This one will get you if your buying in Toronto.
Either of the 416 or 905’s will have to pay the Ontario Land Transfer Tax. Thats a given. However if you purchase a home in the 416 – you have the Toronto Land Transfer Tax to consider as well.
Let’s get calculating using a $1,000,000 home as an example:
905 – $1,000,0000 = $16,475 Ontario Land Transfer Tax
416 – $1,000,000 = $16,475 Ontario Land Transfer Tax + $16,475 Toronto Land Transfer Tax = $32,950
Purchasing a home in Toronto will set you back, double the land transfer tax. Calculate your potential new homes land transfer taxes here.
This being said, the cost normal taxes in Toronto are typically lower than in the suburbs. So although you may be paying less in land transfer tax upfront, you could be paying more in taxes in the long run.
Ah commuting cost! This one will get you if your buying in the suburbs.
A study from the Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation found that commuting costs ranged from an average of under $200 a month in Toronto, to more than $800 a month in Halton Hills, Georgina & Clarington. For the closer suburbs, such as Mississauga, Brampton, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Markham and Pickering, the cost of commuting is anywhere from $200-$400 a month.
“It’s important that people are looking at the cost of commuting when they’re considering the cost of carrying a home,” said Andrew Scott, a senior analyst with CMHC.
So depending on whether or not you commute for work or work from home, this is something to you should be considering.
We hope we’ve shed some light on pros and cons of living in Toronto vs the suburbs.
At the end of the day, both options are amazing. We live in one of the best cities in the world and are lucky to call either the 416 or 905 our home.
We’re a little biased ourselves and believe that if there’s an option – lifestyle is the most important factor in selecting where you live.
There are economical home styles, pros and cons, no matter the location to make it work. It’s all about your priorities and your sacrifices. Decide on the lifestyle you want and design your life from there!
As always, Abode Realty and our affiliates are here to help tailor your sales story to one that perfectly suits you – 416 or 905.