Another Torontonian checking in …
I’d like to point out that if this thread was going on in the summer, it would be very different:
Rather than ‘It’s so fcking cold’ we’d be saying 'It’s so fcking hot and humid and smoggy!’. But I still love it: the four seasons thing is definitely interesting, spring and fall are so lovely they make the freezing and the steaming worthwhile. And no matter how cold it gets there’s usually plenty of sun.
I’ve been in several other ‘world cities’ - London, Paris, Rio, Barcelona - and although they are fantastic I will always love Toronto. It’s mostly the multiculturalism, which means many fantastic restaurants (I live five minutes from Little Italy, Little Portugal, the Korean Business District, fifteen Ethiopian restaurants and seven Greek ones - also there’s another Little Italy, a Little India, a Carribbean section, Greek Town and two Chinatowns, one of which is well-populated by Vietnamese), lots of neat music, and a cultural permissiveness that I really missed in those other cities (the term ‘foreigner’ is almost never used here, people seem to be interested in cultural differences rather than threatened by them).
You can find good live jazz or folk any night of the week. You will have more trouble finding good electronic music but it is still possible. In fact, there probably isn’t a kind of music you could name that you can’t find someone playing in Toronto.
There are several repetoiry cinemas where they show second-run/foreign/independent release movies for half the (exorbitant) price you pay at the big cinemas.
The Toronto Film Festival, every September, can’t be beat. Ditto the Jazz Festival, every July - and if you miss it, there’s one just down the highway in Montreal in August.
Toronto is pretty flat (if you live downtown) so biking is the way to go. The transit system is very badly funded (something like 80% of its income comes from the farebox, way more than every other North American city), so if you don’t live near a major route you will have to find alternatives.
The black squirrels are terrifying and may one day take over the world: for now, though, they’re harmless. They will challenge your right to cross certain paths in Queen’s Park, but stand up to them and you should be alright. The snow snakes aren’t too much of a problem, especially once you take the anti-snow-snake course.
Rent: I paid $1750 for three bedrooms, clean, two bathrooms, an outside deck, about a half-hour bike or subway ride from the business district. I’m moving to a two-bedroom $900 place about a half-hour bike or streetcar ride from the business district.
The best thing about Toronto which you often hear is that we don’t have any ‘slums’ in the US city sense. There’s no ‘inner city’. There are a few poor and somewhat ‘violent’ areas, but most of them have some middle-class families living there, and I have never been nervous walking down the street at night in any of them.
There are ongoing tensions not only between English/French (which don’t really affect you in T.O, except that all calls to government/national call centres start with ‘For instructions in English, press 1. Pour les instructions en francais, appuyez le 2’) but between West (Vancouver/Victoria) and East (Toronto), everyone seems to have a strong preference and the debate will never be resolved. Take all opinions (including mine!) with a grain of salt.
See you in Toronto!