"Downtown" in Toronto is defined as the area from Bloor in the north to Lake Ontario in the south, Bathurst Street in the west and the Don River in the east. It is arguably the most recognizable skyline in Canada. In 1793 it was a small township called York. Today it's a thriving hub of finance, business, culture, entertainment and retail - and people live there, too! In the midst of all the financial transactions and business deals live millions of people, all managing to find living space within a few dozen city blocks. And there's room here for you as well.
The primary draw of downtown for most people is that most of Toronto's high powered jobs are concentrated in its office buildings, so living there would effectively eliminate any commute. Downtown is also home to the biggest entertainment venues, the loudest nightclubs, the tastiest restaurants, and the most unique stores. The high office worker quotient combined with the throbbing night life gives this collection of neighbourhoods two distinct characters: a high-stress deal-making daytime and a freer nighttime full of frenetic parties and laughing couples. Living here isn't for everyone, but if you like to be near the action it could be for you.
The Financial and Entertainment districts are the economic core of the city and what most people traditionally think of when they say "downtown." But actually downtown Toronto is made up of a collection of many more neighborhoods, some with quite different characters. For instance, there's Chinatown, with its ethnic flavor, Corktown with its breweries and Irish heritage, the Financial District with its towering office buildings, and the eclectic Kensington Market. When considering a downtown condo or apartment (there are very few homes in downtown Toronto) make sure to consider each neighbourhood carefully to find your personal best fit.
Housing types downtown can vary widely between neighbourhoods. The Entertainment District, for example, is known for its new steel and glass condominium towers while Corktown is populated by brick row houses snuggled together in a way that is very reminiscent of Ireland. New condo and apartment towers are being constructed all the time, usually at the expense of houses. The few houses that do remain are historic, generally built during the 1800s. In fact, the neighbourhood of Cabbagetown has the largest collection of Victorian housing on the continent.
With the intense competition for housing in the downtown area, the cost of living has jumped significantly in the past few decades, so if you want to buy in, be warned that it won't be cheap. A small house in Cabbagetown is now worth upwards of half a million dollars, while a standard sized condo near the waterfront sits around $405,000. Luxury condos abound in this area due to the high percentage of wealthy business professionals looking to live here. Luxury condos start around a million dollars. It's not unusual to see the prices for huge, full service penthouse suites in the Entertainment District (where film and music stars tend to congregate) listed at $8 million or higher.