By Laura Hull –
Renting apartments in Toronto’s Downtown East is possible as long as tenants are willing to sacrifice other priorities, area residents say.
According to liv.rent, a rental platform that conducts research in Toronto, the average one-bedroom, unfurnished unit in downtown Toronto costs about $2,407 per month. Other popular rental sites – such as Condos.ca, FaceBook Marketplace and Zumper.com – show similar prices in the Spadina Avenue, Bloor Street, The Esplanade and River Street neighbourhoods. Generally, rents range from $2,200 to $5,000 per month for luxury one-bedroom apartments.
Ava Thorne is an undergraduate student at Toronto Metropolitan University who lives in the St. Lawrence neighbourhood. “I work a minimum wage job at a restaurant in the Financial District and I’m financially independent from my parents, so I work 30 to 40 hours a week to be able to pay rent every month,” she said.
Even with a full course load, Thorne was working during the school year. “It was not fun, to put it nicely. My grades and mental and physical health definitely suffered, but I didn’t really have a choice,” she said.
“I don’t have the safety net of wealthy parents or a healthy rainy day fund,” she added.
Vasu Mistry, who recently completed a master’s degree, is trying to move to downtown Toronto from Ottawa for a well-paying job offer.
Right off the bat, “I’ll be paying 60% more than what I used to pay in Ottawa. As a student, I found Ottawa to be quite affordable compared to Toronto,” Mistry said. He’ll share a two-bedroom apartment with a friend, with prices ranging from $3,000 to $3,500.
Mistry’s major problem in finding an apartment so far has been lack of recent pay stubs (part-time pay stubs are not enough), a minimum 750 credit score, and Toronto landlord references. “Some landlords were not willing to accept references from Ottawa,” he said.
Based on his experience, Mistry said that people in a similar situation as him, with no guarantor but having a good credit score, “will have huge trouble finding an apartment in Toronto. They might have to settle for a basement even if they have a great salary.”
A common misconception is that residents can simply move to another part of town that is less expensive. But “the main reason I chose to live in this area is to be close to campus,” Thorne said. “Now my entire life is downtown.”
“I love living down here. Most of the time, it’s absolutely worth the struggle.”