U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > World Forums > Canada > Toronto
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
 
Old 04-05-2013, 12:07 AM
 
4 posts, read 14,305 times
Reputation: 10

Advertisements

Hello everyone - I will be moving from Edmonton to Toronto this year, in the late summer. I am going as a graduate student at the U of T. I chose Toronto, primarily based on the strength of the specific program and the excellent reputation of the Department & University. I am originally from Europe, and have traveled there frequently, but have lived in Edmonton for many years. I like Edmonton, and Alberta very much and have many close friends and family here, but a change of scenery is important for my career and to establish new contacts, so I am looking forward to the new settings, experiences and people. Thank you for any help and advice on my different questions!

My questions therefore all apply from the perspective of a graduate student. After my studies I will have different options as to where to go, so I am not seeking long-term housing or settling down at this time. I am in my early 30s and single, so there are no additional complications involved in moving family, etc.

What are the best areas to search for nice, but affordable accommodations (around the $900 - 1000 range), preferably near a Subway station? I was looking around the University area but see it's quite expensive. Most of my work and social life will center around the University and downtown so I do not anticipate traveling too far from there except for things like shopping, sight-seeing etc. I like having my own space and would prefer living on my own. What are affordable options in terms of grocery shopping, eating out etc?

Besides that I would like to get a feel for the overall atmosphere I can anticipate as a student in Toronto. I know there are a wealth of options for things like foreign cinema, cafe culture, theaters, museums etc. I expect the sheer number of opportunities in such a huge city will be great. I lived in downtown Montreal for a time and I loved it there - really enjoyed the cosmopolitan vibe and energy of the city.

I also love traveling to the US and hope to visit cities like Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, which are in much closer proximity to Toronto than the West. Maybe do some cross-border shopping as well. And although I will miss the Rocky Mountains and the wilderness, I will not miss the Alberta winters! I really enjoy hot and humid weather so the Toronto summers will be a plus; also, I hope for the Fall to last longer than in Edmonton. I am a big hockey fan, but I hear tickets for Maple Leaf games are quite expensive. I also hear that some people head down to Buffalo for games. I might see myself doing this sometimes, and for the NFL. Not as big a fan of baseball or basketball, but I think it would be fun to check out the Raptors and Jays sometime. Are tickets for those games as difficult to come by as for the Leafs?

In terms of culture, I am most interested in visiting and meeting people in communities from Central & Eastern Europe, for ex. Polish, Ukrainian, the Balkans, etc. When not at campus or out somewhere I expect I will be spending lots of time in cafes and libraries studying - what are the best Toronto Public Library branches for this? Also, the flight options to Europe, the US and hot weather destinations are much better in Toronto, another big plus.

If anyone can give me some general ideas on how I could best maximize my personal enjoyment of the Toronto area as a newcomer, I would greatly appreciate it. I will be very busy with my studies and am really looking forward to joining the U of T, but for the limited time I find outside of that I have little experience of the city as a whole so a few local perspectives would be great. Thank you!
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 04-05-2013, 07:53 AM
 
65 posts, read 188,230 times
Reputation: 66
Some thoughts...

Your challenge will be finding suitable accommodation in your price range within reasonable distance of the subway line. I suggest searching through kijiji or viewit.ca to see what is available. You may have to settle for a basement apartment. Have a look at the High Park/Bloor West Village or Roncesvalles areas west of the downtown core. These are very lively neighbourhoods with many cafes, restaurants, bars and good access to transit and parks. There is also a concentration of people of Eastern European backgrounds (Ukrainian, Lithuanian, etc) who live in these areas. Roncesvalles had a significant Polish community, although that is rapidly changing as that neighbourhood gentrifies and younger families have moved in. The distance from downtown is not so far that you cannot cycle to the U of T campus - (I often walk it if the weather is nice just because it allows you to traverse many interesting neighbourhoods.)

Libraries: The Toronto Reference Library is a good place to conduct research and is not far from U of T near Yonge and Bloor.

Sports teams : Ah the Leafs... I will admit, I only go to games when I get a free ticket! You can always check out the Toronto Marlies (our AHL team), tickets will be significantly cheaper. Jays and Raptors games are more accessible. The Jays' popularity (this could change this year) has been on the wane, so it has never been difficult to get tickets. And don't forget the Toronto Football Club (professional soccer)! The team has some pretty vocal and loyal fans .

Travel : Porter Airlines flies out of the Toronto Island airport to the major Eastern US cities and provides a much more pleasant experience than flying out of Pearson.

Groceries : You can save money by shopping for groceries in Chinatown, Kensington Market or stores like No Frills and Bulk Barn. Most central neighbourhoods have small fruit and veg stores, bakeries, butchers with competitive prices. From late spring to early fall, many neighbourhoods also host farmer's markets (check out this site for info tfmn.ca). There are also options to buy organic and health food products, but these will be more expensive.

A respite from urbanity : When you need to take a quiet break from studying, take the ferry to the Ward's Islands and go for a walk or bike ride along the trails. Ride or walk along the Leslie Spit trail to Tommy Thompson Park - a little corner of wilderness within the city limits.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 04-05-2013, 03:32 PM
 
4 posts, read 14,305 times
Reputation: 10
Thank you for the information! It is very helpful. I have just a few follow-up questions.

Yes, after doing some research, I realize that finding accommodation will not be as simple as I first thought. I have been searching through viewit, and there is also a U of T housing registry. Residence would be an option if there was nothing else, but there does not seem to be one with individual/private suites. I guess there are so many more students at the U of T that they have fewer options in that regard. I might eventually bring a car there, but likely not for my first year. And from my experiences, parking at Canadian Universities is difficult and expensive at the best of times. I enjoy walking as well - is Toronto more bike friendly than Alberta? I would ask about community gyms and recreation centers, but as a student I will have access to the campus ones.

I will definitely check out those neighborhoods. I have read about Roncesvalles, and it sounds quite charming. Even if the Polish community is smaller now, it will still be nice to spend time there and do some shopping for food and the like.

Yes, Toronto does not seem to lack in terms of libraries. Robarts is quite impressive, and TPL seems to have almost 100 branches! The Reference Library sounds great, and I guess there will be more local ones, depending on the neighborhood I wind up in.

I have heard the Leafs games are expensive. And I admit I am not really a fan of the team, but the overall experience at the ACC sounds fun, also the chance to see some of the good Eastern teams that rarely visit Edmonton. Maybe I will try to procure tickets for when (if) the Oilers come to town I think the other teams will be fun to check out, including Toronto FC. Are tickets for the Raptors fairly affordable?

I did not realize there is a separate airport on Toronto Island. My cousin mentioned they sometimes drive down to Buffalo and that they can find inexpensive flights from there. How feasible is public transport to the major US centers and Montreal? I know they have Amtrack passenger trains in the East, for instance.

Thanks for the tips regarding the markets. I remember going to Jean Talon market in Montreal, and I loved it there. The major discount stores in Edmonton for groceries are Superstore, Costco, and sometimes Walmart. Was just wondering about the TO equivalents.

The Islands and Tommy Thompson Park sound very nice. I was wondering about Toronto parks in general, like river valleys and the like. It sounds like there are some nice places along the waterfront, and the Beaches as well.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 04-05-2013, 04:09 PM
 
65 posts, read 188,230 times
Reputation: 66
Hello again!

Commuter cycling in Toronto is challenging. While there are some dedicated cycling lanes, there is a noticeable animosity between drivers and cyclists here. The city streets are crowded and often gridlocked - that coupled with the numerous construction projects and hazards like potholes and streetcar tracks makes being cycling "unfriendly" in Toronto. Even though it's been roughly 20 years since I spent some time in Alberta, I suspect Edmonton and Calgary probably have better cycling trails.

U of T has a very good athletic centre.

I think nosebleed seats at Raptors' games are probably around the 30$ mark.

Flying out of Buffalo is definitely a cheaper option - I was stuck on Porter because it is so convenient and comfortable. There is also regular bus service to Montreal and NYC.

I think Toronto is a good place to spend a few years as a student (without having quite the same laissez-faire atmosphere as Montreal), you will certainly find an infinite amount of activities to keep you busy!
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 04-06-2013, 01:21 PM
 
4 posts, read 14,305 times
Reputation: 10
Thank you for all of your helpful advice, Anitra! Yes, I am looking forward to experiencing Toronto. Plenty of suggestions in your posts to help keep me busy. I will definitely not be bored!
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 04-07-2013, 06:04 PM
 
Location: Toronto
2,467 posts, read 3,318,872 times
Reputation: 2676
I studied at U of T a few years ago.

While the city itself is great and the quality of education at U of T is excellent, you have to realize that an urban school like U of T offers a very different experience than a school in a university town like London or Peterborough, or even Ottawa. In Toronto, many of the students have grown up in the city or a nearby suburb and already have a group of friends they spend their time with. As a result, student life isn't quite as lively as it is in schools like Guelph, Trent, Western, U of Ottawa, Dalhousie, etc. In these towns, there's not that much to do but go to parties and meet other students, and most of the students are also from out of town, so they're all looking to make friends as well. In Toronto, you don't really have much of this, as there is so much to do in the city that students don't stick around campus or have many parties. Also, many students at U of T who live on residence are in demanding programs and spend much of their time studying. Student life just isn't what you think of when you think of a university town - the city is so big that the university is just swallowed up - it doesn't define the city like it would in a smaller town.

So think of the type of student experience you want before you accept an offer from U of T.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 04-07-2013, 07:14 PM
 
494 posts, read 1,153,799 times
Reputation: 511
^^^ He's a grad student. The grad student social structure is completely different than undergrad.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 04-07-2013, 08:24 PM
 
Location: Toronto
2,467 posts, read 3,318,872 times
Reputation: 2676
Quote:
Originally Posted by Average Fruit View Post
^^^ He's a grad student. The grad student social structure is completely different than undergrad.
Oh, sh1t. Missed that in his post.

I'm taking a grad program through u of t next year too. Maybe I'll see him around.

OP, if you need advice finding a good rental, PM me and I can help you out. I've lived all over the city and I know where you can find cheap apartments, and tell you the best areas to look in.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 04-09-2013, 12:51 PM
 
4 posts, read 14,305 times
Reputation: 10
Thanks for the observations, TOkidd. Yes, I noticed this at the U of A as well somewhat. Even though Edmonton is a much smaller city than Toronto, and the University plays a pretty strong role in the city's culture, there is less of that close knit school spirit, although it was strong in certain areas, and many students came from smaller towns outside the city. I noticed the 'vibe' you mention was much more prominent in Montreal when I studied there for a few months, though. But in that case the city was so interesting it was more difficult to get lots of work done, lol.

And as you mention, for grad studies it is very different - for my Department there is a Grad Student group with lots of social events, with more people from across Canada and abroad. And then there are the close-knit groups of people working with the same supervisor, etc. There are a few relevant Student Groups I'm thinking of joining, as well.

Thanks, TOkidd - I am doing alot of searching for apartments now, so I will message you if I have more specific questions.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > World Forums > Canada > Toronto

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2021, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Contact Us - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 - Top