By Olivia Bucherer-Ezer, University of Toronto, Canada
Time to plan where to stay in Toronto? Let’s break some options down.
Just a cheeky disclaimer before we get into the nitty gritty’s of Toronto’s accommodation options… this is all based on mine or my friends experiences, which are obviously subjective so don’t be completely put off if you already something in mind. This is more of a guidance in case you have absolutely no clue where to start… just as I did this time last year.
So lets jump in and hopefully this can be of use!
on-campus student residence
So first off, there’s the student residence dotted around university of Toronto’s campus. Of course this is a very tempting option:
- surrounded by students
- tenancy all sorted.
- right by uni
- It’s extremely expensive
- The students will be younger as it’s their first year
- Being on campus may be restrictive
Honestly speaking, I wouldn’t bother. It was my first option and when I started looking at the various places I was overwhelmed by (1) how many there were and (2) how extortionate even the cheapest, most simplistic options were.
I don’t know anyone who did this option, mainly because we only got our confirmation from university of Toronto after the application deadline… but I guess its a blessing in disguise!
off-campus student residence:
- Great location
- Food included
- Less independence
A friend of mine stayed in campus one which is a 5 minute walk from uni and close to any kind of transport you’d need so a brilliant location. Meal plans are compulsory and even the cheapest one requires wayyyy too much money which is non-refundable at the end of the year — she often had to over-order to get through her amount but I have to say the food is very yummy and there’s a huge variety of options everyday. My friend said she’d preferred to be able to make her own food when she wants and said a lot of the students there were quite immature… but again, completely subjective. You can apply for a roommate match which allows you to cater who you’d be in a flat with – might be a good option if you have campus one in mind!
Sherbourne / Harrington housing
- Sociable areas
- Student heavy (mixed international and canadian)
- Cheaper options
- Location (pretty big one)
Had a few friends stay in Sherbourne and it’s a pretty good option ! In the summer/warmer months they open up the balcony which is a sociable area with BBQ’s, large tables etc. they also have an indoor sociable area too so its pretty facilitating for meeting people and is very student-heavy. There are options to have a room with a slidy door and while its tempting given its lower cost it’s a major no-go… privacy is a must!! It’s located on the East side of town, about a 25 minute walk from campus and further from where most of the good bars and restaurants are so a bit of a commute to and from everything. My friends often complain about how they’re always the ones travelling for things. Most of the buzz of the city is in downtown west Toronto which is still an easy streetcar ride away from Sherbourne so definitely work keeping as an option and generally my friends would recommend.
- Good location
- Student heavy
- Cheapest rooms are pretty poor standard
- Bit more of a gamble with flatmates given the age range
Generally speaking, Tartu is the ideal… you’re right by campus, close to transit and only a walk away from cafe’s, bars, restaurants and going out spots. You’re West of the city meaning you’re close to trendy spots in the city and Tartu is made up of a tonne of international students. Of course its pot-luck who you’re in a flat with, and students range from age 17 all the way up to 27 so its always a gamble but no one’s had an awful experience with flatmates. Tartu has received very divided opinions from those I know who have stayed there. The split is predominantly between those who had the cheapest rooms and those who payed a little extra for a nicer one. Two of my friends who were paying the base price for a room said they had to deal with cockroaches and poor heating / air con which was not worth the saving. They actually ended up moving out and into a rented apartment for second semester. Some of my friends who were only here for the first semester said they just about dealt but not for the entire year. Those who paid a little extra said they would definitely recommend Tartu and mentioned that they’d had a few people say they wished they’d put in a little more for a better stay!
student Co-op Housing
- More homely feel
- Cheaper option
- Pot-luck with housemates
Co-op housings is a great choice if you want a more homely residence. Again, its mostly pot-luck who you’re in a house with but some of my fiends who did this became really close with their housemates! They’re converted houses made for students to live in, so a similar feel to what we are used to doing for accommodation in the UK. Prices range quite drastically but it’ll be somewhere between incredibly cheap up to the standard price you’d pay for any other accommodation in Toronto. They’re often located close to campus too so I would 100% recommend looking into this.
Long-term Airbnb / Rent
- freedom and independence
- requires a little more stress and effort! (but worth it)
This is what I opted for and I would completely recommend. I was lucky in that I had somewhere to stay when I moved out in August and during my first week, some of the friends I made were also trying to find somewhere to live. We searched on Facebook market place, went to a few viewings and found a teeny flat in a perfect downtown location called Kensington Market (would highly recommend looking around here). Rent was a LOT cheaper and living with friends was also great and definitely made my experience better. Of course this was a lot of luck but a few of my friends who also did this highly recommend it too. If you have any connections in Toronto it’s very much worth reaching out to see if you can buy yourself some time while finding somewhere to stay. Alternatively, finding people online to live with (either through the International Facebook group chat or through a roommate finder) is worth trying too.
Overall I’d most recommend finding an apartment with some friends or doing Co-op housing as they give you the most freedom and independence. However, again, this is simply from mine or my friends judgements. These aren’t the only options so its worth doing additional research into more residencies.
I know how tough it can be to sort out accommodation living so far away from where you are going. Make sure not to stress yourself out too much, it will all work out even if it means you have to sort it once you’re there!
If you are struggling and want to ask any questions about accommodation feel free to email me at email@example.com
Good luck!! 🙂