Neighbourhoods guide

Where to live next

The hottest small towns and Toronto neighbourhoods

BEACH HILL | For lakeside charm

It’s not quite the Beach and it’s not quite the Danforth. Beach Hill is tucked in between, and this established neighbourhood offers a bit of everything including charm, location and a smattering of new restaurants and shops in the up-and-coming strip along Gerrard Street East and Woodbine Avenue. Here, you’ll find tree-lined streets, an eclectic mix of housing and really some fantastic commuting options including access to the subway at Danforth, new separated bike lanes on Woodbine and the streetcar on Gerrard.

PRICE TAG: Expect to pay more than $1 million for a renovated semi, of which there are plenty, and a detached home will run $1.5 million and up. There are also new condos springing up, especially at a new building at Gerrard and Woodbine.

BOTTOM LINE: This is a fantastic pocket of homes, which is quiet and family-focused but with enough transit options and local restaurants, such as Bodega Henriette, Beach Hill Smokehouse and Blue River Pizza, to attract young families to keep the area vibrant. And it’s a downhill walk or bike ride directly to the beach or north to the subway and Danforth’s nightlife.

 

O’NEILL, OSHAWA | For the value

Downtown Oshawa

There is no region in the GTA that is hotter than the ’Shwa. It’s an actual small town with a main street, easy access to the lake and very affordable housing prices. At least for now. The top neighbourhood is still O’Neill, one of the city’s oldest and best neighbourhoods with plenty of estate homes and large lots for privacy. The area is in the centre of town, just north of the core and close to all the important amenities including the Oshawa Golf and Curling Club, galleries and shopping with many schools and parks nearby. The housing stock is a mixture of Edwardian, Tudor and Arts and Crafts houses. If you’re looking for a picture-perfect older and stately family neighbourhood with access to green space and country drives, this could be the spot.

PRICE TAG: A large detached four-bedroom century home on a sought-after street can still be had for $600K to $800K. Modern rebuilds for $1.2 million. Bungalows for less than $600K.

BOTTOM LINE: Oshawa is one of the hottest areas in the GTA because you can get a lot more house for your money, but it’s not simply a suburban cookie-cutter enclave. This is an actual town with a proud working-class history and charming upscale neighbourhoods waiting to be discovered. Don’t sleep on the ’Shwa.

 

THE JUNCTION TRIANGLE | For the artsy cyclist

This little sliver of west end hipness runs south of Dupont and west of Lansdowne along the West Toronto Railpath down to Dundas. It’s one of the most exciting areas of the city with a burgeoning arts scene and plenty of cool new restaurants. If one is taken with city biking, this is a dream neighbourhood. The Bloor bike lanes will arrive in due course. The West Toronto Railpath runs through the western edge of the neighbourhood and the entire area is very cycle forward.

PRICE TAG: Most of the housing stock available will be condos, but there are serviceable semi-detached homes that come up on the market and run around $1.25 to $1.5 million. As this area is still on the rise, there are fixer-upper opportunities if one is willing to invest in a home in poor condition. A nice two-bedroom loft condo could be had for under $700K.

BOTTOM LINE: This is a neighbourhood that still boasts some urban grit, some artsy underbelly, thanks to the arrival of the Museum of Contemporary Art and other small galleries nearby, and offers a taste of what true urban living in Toronto looks like.

 

EARLSCOURT | For the young foodie family

Mercado Negro’s colourful patio

St. Clair West is hot hot hot from Bathurst all the way west as far as one can travel, and Earlscourt, between Dufferin and Old Weston Road, and neighbouring Corso Italia are at the top of the temperature gauge. One of the centres of the city’s Italian community (yes, the food is incredible pretty much anywhere you look), the neighbourhood is filled with solid brick family homes dating back from 50 to 100 years with a good mix of detached, semis and bungalows, which means young families are keen to get in here and enjoy all the area has to offer.

PRICE TAG: There is still a chance to nab a home here for under $1 million, but they are few and far between. Expect to pay more than $1.5 million for a detached home. Condos, of which there are many coming online, can be had for $600K to $800K, providing an entry point for first-time homebuyers.

BOTTOM LINE: This is such a vibrant area with a bit of everything, including a dash of urban grit combined with suburban quiet. It has culture, nightlife, parks. It’s great for cycling. It’s close to downtown but not too close. People in this area are family forward and look out for one another. And the St. Clair streetcar is fantastic.

 

BOWMANVILLE | For the history buffs

A historic home in Bowmanville

Bowmanville is the historic urban centre to greater Clarington. It’s got history, it’s got a vibe, and it’s red-hot right now. If you like grand Victorian homes, this could be the place for you. Although all of Clarington is garnering significant attention, Bowmanville is the prize. It is here in a fairly small district that one can find the quiet, tree-lined streets, in walking distance to the historic Victorian centre of town with its shops and restaurants.

PRICE TAG: Large Victorian homes are the thing in the historic Bowmanville district. Expect to pay $700,000 to $1 million to nab your dream home: large, newly refurbished, sizable lot and plenty of quiet and privacy on a tree-lined street.

BOTTOM LINE: Bowmanville is still far enough away to dissuade some homebuyers, but with working remotely a possibility now and in the future, many more are discovering the sizable charms of this picturesque neighbourhood, including those looking to wind down from work and cash in on the equity of their city home for something more affordable and park the savings or commute into the city a couple of times per week.

 

ALDERWOOD | For the urban wilds

Marie Curtis Park

Located between the QEW and Long Branch and bordering Etobicoke Creek, Alderwood has a long history in the city dating back more than 150 years and was originally planned to be called New Toronto Heights. It has continued to be a fantastic little pocket for years with large lots and plenty of privacy and it is finally getting noticed as young families get priced out of Long Branch and other nearby communities on the rise. Still, it is a relatively undiscovered territory by Toronto standards especially considering the fantastic location near transportation corridors, GO, burgeoning Long Branch, the lakeside amenities and a slew of gorgeous parks, such as Etobicoke Creek and Marie Curtis, not to mention the fantastic restaurants and shopping along Lake Shore.

PRICE TAG: Most of the homes are post-war construction with a good mix of styles. Yes, homes are being torn down or renovated completely, and the price point has seen quite the uptick of late. Bungalows for land value can still be had for around $1 million to allow homebuyers to create their own dream homes, whereas a renovated and detached home will run $1.5 to $2 million. There is still good value here.

BOTTOM LINE: Life south of the QEW is just fine for so many Torontonians who are discovering the sweet gems like Mimico and Long Branch along with the quaint pocket of Alderwood. The area has a bit of an industrial history that has shielded it from major price increases, but now is the time.

 

CLIFFCREST | For the savvy seclutionist

Bluffers Park

By now, Birchcliff is a well-established hot neighbourhood with a slew of condo projects in various states of completion that are changing this area for the better. Now, the slow march of gentrification is heading even further east in search of the next east-end hot spot. It looks like Cliffcrest, centred on Kingston Road between Midland and Bellamy, is the spot, and for good reason, not the least of which is a well-known lakeside gem by the name of Bluffers Park. Yes, Kingston is a bit of a dog’s breakfast with the ramshackle motels and strip malls in dire need of a sprucing, but it is changing. Veer off the main drag and there is nothing but picture-perfect avenues, some reminiscent of small-town Ontario. Others boast some of the best luxury homes in the city.

PRICE TAG: South of Kingston Road to the lake is prime Cliffcrest, and homes range in price as much as the housing styles. A bungalow can still be had for under $1 million, but there are also multimillion-dollar modern gems that hit the market boasting luxury living on the Scarborough Bluffs.

BOTTOM LINE: If privacy and luxury living are more important than shopping destinations and restaurants run by big-name chefs, then Cliffcrest might surprise. Think cliffside views overlooking Lake Ontario, spacious grounds, modern homes to rival the best in the city at a fraction of the cost. And this little enclave is starting to head up in a big way.

 

RATHNELLY | For the quirky urbanite

A row of Rathnelly homes © Flickr/Ashton Emanuel

One of the most unique and special neighbourhoods in the city, Rathnelly is best known for having mockingly declared that it was separating from Canada back in the day. It’s that kind of DIY vibe and community spirit that continues to permeate the air in the little neighbourhood that sits southeast of Casa Loma to Avenue Road. It is hard to find a home in this area in the best of times, but inventory has slowed to a trickle.

PRICE TAG: Most home sales in the area are of the condo apartment variety, but a detached home is a true prize, and to claim it, expect to pay north of $3 to $4 million.

BOTTOM LINE: This quirky ’hood is ideally situated near Casa Loma, Ramsden Park, Yorkville and more, yet it’s got its own unique spirit. There are fantastic private and public schools nearby, and it is a wonderful area for walking and cycling. Find a home here, and you’ll never want to leave.

 

BROOKLIN | For the rural charm

Brooklin’s Community Centre © Aquicon Construction

North of the downtown core of Whitby and beyond the suburban fringe homebuyers can find the charming neighbourhood of Brooklin. No, it isn’t the grittier, artsy neighbourhood to small-town Whitby. Brooklin has a charming historic centre that dates back 150 years to the time the village was named Winchester. It is primarily a rural area, sits on the Oak Ridges Moraine and provides residents with the perfect blend of rural and urban living.

PRICE TAG: Most homes that come up for sale in Brooklin are large, detached and newer homes and range in price from $800K to approximately $1 million.

BOTTOM LINE: If you’ve been yearning for a more pastoral kinda vibe but don’t want to give up all urban amenities, Brooklin could be a fine choice. It’s a unique pocket neighbourhood with upscale amenities at the ready, a good selection of homes and a farm-forward feel that will have you enjoying fresh produce and goods on the daily. Plus Highway 407 is close, so it’s easy to commute back into the city centre. But why would you?

 

UXBRIDGE | For the wannabe cowpokes

Downtown Uxbridge

The small town of Uxbridge bills itself as the trail capital of Canada, and that is enough for many people these days. The area on Ontario’s Greenbelt and the Oak Ridges Moraine is surrounded by gorgeous rolling hills, creeks and green spaces ideal for hiking, trail running, mountain biking and cycling. If you’re an active outdoors lover, this could be your mecca. But it’s also developing a reputation as one of the most sought-after residential areas in the GTA. Just last month, Uxbridge recorded one of its highest sales in history when former Maple Leafs hockey player Gary Roberts’s estate sold for more than $5.2 million.

PRICE TAG: Unlike some areas, the most popular Uxbridge homes are located in some of the countryside enclaves to the south of the city, whereas those in the picture-perfect town core and just north can be more affordable. For instance, a large, detached and modern home can be had for $700K to $800K in the central area. In the countryside preserve to the south, an estate home will run $1.5 to $2 million, but they are generally stunning and come with plenty of land.

BOTTOM LINE: This area is far enough away from the city to have retained a true small-town, country vibe. The people are unabashedly neighbourly, and the area is an outdoorsy wonderland. If you’ve dreamed of owning a horse, or at least a cowboy hat, this is the place.

 

UPPER VILLAGE | For the statement home

A home in Upper Village

This attractive midtown neighbourhood on the north side of Eglinton between the Allen Road and Bathurst boasts a moniker synonymous with fine living in the city of Toronto. It has long been a desirable address, but now, thanks to the soon-to-be-completed Crosstown LRT ushering in renewal and the desire for detached homes and some privacy within the city, the Upper VIllage is hot once again with bidding wars erupting over severely limited inventory.

PRICE TAG: No surprise most homes in this area are detached and sizable with good lots, but more modest than the palatial estates south of Eglinton in Forest Hill Village. Still, expect to pay north of $2.5 million to get into this neighbourhood.

BOTTOM LINE: This is an established family neighbourhood in a fine midtown area with all manner of transit options available, from the subway to the coming LRT, as well as easy commuting downtown or out of town via Allen Road to Highway 401. There are fine schools nearby, as well as excellent shopping and dining options along Eglinton. It’s a statement area.

 

RUNNYMEDE | For the west end sporties

Just north of Bloor West village is the hidden gem of Runnymede. A classic west end gem bookended by the posh Bloor West strip to the south and gritty Dundas West and the Junction to the north with the tony Baby Point enclave and the Humber River to the west, Runnymede is nestled lovingly in the middle of many remarkable Toronto areas. It’s no wonder houses fly off the market faster than they can be listed. Several hot new restaurants have located beyond the Junction and are now cooking up a storm on Jane Street to the west. The neighbourhood is anchored by Runnymede Collegiate Institute, which dates back nearly a century and was once the hallway of choice for NHLer P. K. Subban. Not surprisingly, the entire area is pretty sporty with constant hockey action at nearby George Bell Arena and other local rinks.

PRICE TAG: Although real estate in the area isn’t on the low end, it is certainly more affordable than other nearby neighbourhoods, and there is a good enough housing mix. The trouble is finding a house upon which to bid. And, yes, you will bid. Expect a renovated and detached three-bedroom home to approach $2 million.

BOTTOM LINE: Raising sporty and active kids is kinda the thing in this area. If they aren’t playing hockey, they’re down in the Humber River Valley or High Park or another of the many parks and green spaces nearby. That being said, there are plenty of food and shopping distractions to keep the entire family amused.

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