Moving to Toronto
Since English is an official language of Canada and overwhelmingly the most spoken among residents of Toronto, Brits moving to the shores of Lake Ontario should have no trouble adapting. Canada also has a publicly funded healthcare system that’s free at the point of service - so no great surprises there either.
As the major financial centre of Canada, Toronto has plenty of employment opportunities in the financial services sector (and service sectors as a whole) for people who have cut their teeth in similar roles in the UK.
The most pressing problem you’ll have to solve (once visas and work permits are settled) is where to live. Getting a feel for different areas of the city really requires being on the ground so it’s recommended to find a short term let in a location with good transport links before making a decision on where to settle permanently. Toronto covers a large area (think Birmingham, Wolverhampton, West Bromwich combined) so, for a family, having a good transit plan in a must.
Thinking of moving to Toronto?
Fill out the form at the top of this page to get up to 70% off your shipping quote by comparing suppliers!Compare Quotes
The Canadian Dollar fell significantly against the pound in 2010 to about CAD1.53 to 1GBP and has remained at that level since. Together with the fact that Toronto property is generally much more affordable than that in, say, London, that could provide a golden opportunity for UK migrants looking to buy.
If you're moving to Toronto from anywhere in the world, there are a few things you should start looking at including the job market, property and neighborhoods, the education system if you have children and moving your belongings to your new place.
Moving to Toronto from the UK
Because it’s in Canada, anyone unfamiliar with Toronto (or T’ronto to locals) might assume that it’s a cold, remote place where not much happens. But unfounded assumptions are often wrong and in this case, way off the mark. Far from being much colder, Toronto is actually found at a more southerly latitude than London and enjoys considerably more sunshine; far from being remote, Toronto is less than 8 hours driving time from New York; and far from being dull, Toronto is the largest, most happening city in Canada and one of the most diverse cities in the world.
The population of Toronto is only just over 2.5 million but whether you’re moving from a larger or smaller city you’ll find that it packs an awful lot into its compact cityscape. It has over 350 parks, more than 50 ballet and dance companies, over a dozen islands, 11 buildings that are over 200m tall, 6 opera companies, 5 universities, three rivers, two symphony orchestras, a ton of theatres and a raft of professional sports teams.
Toronto is the economic, cultural and media capital of Canada which enjoys world class healthcare and education standards and one of the lowest crime rates of any major city in the world. It is, in short, a darn fine place to live.
Comparing Toronto vs London
Toronto is a much smaller city than London which means that life there is altogether more manageable: the cost of food and consumer goods is lower, property is more affordable, rents are cheaper, pollution levels are significantly lower and you generally spend less time commuting.
Toronto and London experience a similar range of temperatures but Torontonians have warmer summers with more sunshine and more severe cold snaps in winter with temperatures falling below −10 °C for days in a row and exacerbated by wind chill. Toronto also gets more rainfall and snowfall than London (about 40% more).
Toronto’s incredible diversity makes for a more intricate cultural tapestry than London, albeit a smaller one. The Royal Ontario Museum (‘ROM’), the Art Gallery of Toronto (‘AGO’) and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra are all world-renowned. The city’s performing arts scene is the third largest centre for English speaking theatre in the world and incubated international comedy stars like Jim Carrey and John Candy.
Canadian Music Week, the country’s largest music festival, takes place in Toronto in May and features over 1,000 artists, at 60 active music venues around the city over 5 nights.
Getting your stuff there via sea freight is generally cheaper than buying new, have a look at shipping costs from London to Toronto
Property in Toronto
House prices in Toronto's real estate market have been increasing. As of September 2012, the average price of a condo apartment in the City of Toronto was CAD352,851 (about £229,000), up 5% year on year. The average price of a semi-detached house was CAD603,700 (about £392,000), up 24% year on year, and for a detached house, CAD805,308 (about £523,000), up 17%.
Property transfer tax (akin to UK stamp duty) is payable in Ontario - 1% of the purchase price up to CAD250,000, 1.5% on any portion of the purchase price over CAD250,000 and 2% on any portion exceeding CAD400,000. You can rent a one bedroom apartment in the centre of Toronto for as little as CAD1,000 (about £650) per month.
- Family Friendly: The Beaches, a 20 minute drive up shore from the city is within easy reach of the CBD while providing a small town feel as well as annual jazz and arts festivals.
- Hip and Trendy: West Queen West is the creative hub of the city and also hosts a large number of bars and restaurants.
- Upmarket: Rosedale, to the northeast of the CBD, has been Toronto’s most affluent area for over 100 years. It’s almost totally enclosed by ravine parks and features some huge houses which sell for millions of dollars.
- Up and Coming: The Junction is so named for lying at the intersection of Toronto’s two main rail routes. The gentrification process began in the early 2000s and shows no signs of stopping.
Schools and Education in Toronto
Education in Toronto is overseen by the province of Ontario, begins with Junior Kindergarten at the age of 4 and is compulsory until 18 (or until a high school diploma has been completed). Students generally progress through elementary school until the 5th grade, spend grades 6-8 at middle school and grades 9-12 in secondary school. The school year runs September to June.
There are over 100 publicly funded secondary schools and many more publicly funded middle and elementary schools under the jurisdiction of both English and French school boards in Toronto alone. An increasing number of public schools offer specialised programmes in the arts, sciences or sports, some teaching in French and some offering internationally recognised IB qualifications.
Students are guaranteed a place at their local public school but can also apply to attend a school offering one of these specialist programmes.
About 6% of students in Toronto attend private schools - there are over 50 to choose from with the most prestigious (e.g. Upper Canada College for boys or Branksome Hall for girls) charging fees in the region of CAD30,000 (£19,500) per year. International schools include the York School, Toronto French School and the Lycée Français de Toronto.
There are several universities based in Toronto, or with campuses in the city, including the University of Toronto and York University, respectively Canada’s largest and third-largest.