Living in Toronto... a few pointers?

A friend of mine just received official word that he’s going on a doctorate exchange to York University in Toronto from August 2010 to the end of the year (hooray!). Obviously, this means he now needs to find a place to live. Before the Craigslist scouring begins, it would be good to know a few things about this area.

Attached is a map where he’s marked the locations of the university, downtown Toronto and the headquarters of a martial art he practices. Ideally, the apartment would be situated somewhere with pretty good access to all three places. Probably a one-bedroom, maybe two, depending on the rent levels in Toronto.

So, Toronto Dopers, are there good apartments to be found somewhere in this vicinity? What are people paying for apartments in this general area? What’s a “reasonable” rate, i.e. if a Craigslist posting has a two-bedroom apartment for rent at $650/month, is that a rip-off, a fair price, or a sign that the apartment doesn’t have an indoor bathroom or something? (We get these in the local papers all the time: “225€/month on Helsinginkatu!” -> 10 m2, no stove, no shower)

York University and the marial arts locartion are both on the far northern fringes of the actual City of Toronto. A location with relatively-equal access might be near Yonge and Sheppard, but that means a 30-40-minute bus or subway ride to all three.

You will not get a two-bedroom apartment for $650 a month. I pay more than that for a zero-bedroom “studio” apartment near the sewage-treatment plant. :slight_smile: You might get a room for $500/month. One-bedroom apartments are 800-1000 and up, depending on luxury; two-bedroom apartments are 900-1100 and up.

The northernmost location in the map is outside of the actual city of Toronto. Rents might be somewhat cheaper there, but I’m not sure. In order to get there from the university, you’d have to take buses across the municipal boundary, which (depending on the route chosen) may mean paying a double fare. I can provide more details. Unless your friend is driving? It’s definitely too far to walk.

First question - how is your friend planning to get around? It looks from the map that the Martial Arts place is on Yonge north of Steeles, and York is south of Steeles, so that tells me that someone is on the verge of developing an intimate acquaintance with the Steeles buses if he or she is using the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) as a sole means of getting around.

The neighbourhood just west of York U - Jane and Finch has a reputation as a rough part of town, but there are lots of student apartments to the east, north and south of there.

I’m skeptical about a two-bedroom for $650., but I haven’t rented for a while. For what it’s worth, the above ground apartments that used to be our house were all one bedroom places that went for $1000 a month and they were quite nice. The two basement apartments, essentially bachelor apartments, went for $500. a month and were not nice. At all. (These prices were apparently low for the current market, as people looking for an income property were not interested in our house - too much money to bring it up to code vs. not enough money coming in to make the renovations worthwhile. Enter us - but that’s a whole other story…)

He’s thinking about getting a car, apparently. Yeah, I was really wondering about the $650 claim, too, although I just looked at the ad again and it’s one-bedroom, not two. Luckily he has a few contacts over there himself. I’m just really glad it’s him and not me doing the apartment-hunting, as long as it has a couch I can crash on I’m golden. :smiley:

Jane/finch is definitely a rough part of town; has been for decades. My father lives in that general area around Jane & Driftwood, and he’s heard his share of gunfire over the years. I’ve lived there myself, though in the 70s, and being young I didn’t really notice much. Rent isn’t going to be cheap in the Greater Toronto Area though, even for a fleabag 1 bedroom, unless you know someone or share accommodations. I’m paying close to $1100 for a 1-bedroom apartment in Brampton. (Though it’s in an extremely convenient part of town)

You’ll probably find the cheapest accommodations in the little 3-storey digs that tend to line strips of Jane, and along Keele one main street east. They ain’t luxury by any means but they’re livable. My father and I lived in one on Keele just north of Wilson, and they were pretty fleabag, though this was the early 80s.

I lived for much of my high school years between the martial arts location and York University, and some few years in my early 20’s as well, so I know the area reasonably well. The apartment for $650 is almost certainly a basement; an apartment building would be more. As long as your friend stays east of York University, they will likely be in a decent neighbourhood (there are “nice” areas west too, but further than is desirable from the Yonge Street address).

My one bedroom apartment downtown was $915 inclusive, but when I first moved to the city I lived in a small two (tiny) bedroom basement apartment that did not have a stove or a living room and it was $835 inclusive (that was 10 years ago) and it flooded during the spring thaw.

One might be able to get a room in a shared apartment or house for about $500.

My ex-girlfriend witnessed a guy get gunned down on his own front doorstep in a Jane/Finch neighborhood.

Not sure if universities still do this, but does York have a housing service that looks after more than just the usual school residences and dorms? (My undergrad school did.) IME, such a service will often allow landlords to list local places for rent, with students being the desired tenants. Not that Craigslist can’t be useful, but it seems to be a hotbed for scams lately; so it might be worthwhile checking York’s web site to see if it has such a service.

Anyway, another vote for “$650 won’t get you much.” IIRC, ten years ago, I was paying about $800 for a one-bedroom near Don Mills and Sheppard. It was nothing special: a one-bedroom in a high rise in a forest of high rises. I have no idea what my old place would be now, but I’d guess that even without the construction of the Sheppard subway, it would be substantially more.

Boy, these people sure don’t believe in easy navigation! List of links for your pal here. One of them includes info on housing.