Where to live in East Toronto or West Toronto? I will give you a good sense of what lifestyle these areas offer and what the cons and pros of each side of Toronto are.
When I work with clients who plan to move to a quiet, family-friendly neighborhood, I always start by advising them to consider Central Toronto, East Toronto, and West Toronto. While in my previous videos I spoke a lot about Central Toronto and its neighborhoods, there is plenty to talk about the East and West end. I don’t mean a geographical division of the city by Yonge street to the east and west part. I mean two neighborhoods to be compared – High Park on the west and The Beaches on the east.
Western Toronto is often seen as the more updated or upscale side of the city, with a denser population of both people and retail spaces. Eastern Toronto is newer and developing and historically considered to be cheaper. Let’s see both areas in numbers.
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How East Toronto and West Toronto are Different in Population
We start with Population. It is approximately the same – over 22 thousand people live in High Park and there are over 21 thousand residents in The Beaches.
62 % of the High Park residents are in the age between 30 and 60 years old, while in The Beaches 50% are of the same age category. In both areas more than half of the population is married. 81% of the High Park residents are employed while in the Beaches 55% have jobs.
When it comes to real estate 67% of the households in the High Park area are occupied by owners, while in The Beaches we see this figure is higher- 83%.
The average selling price for a detached home in High Park is $2.5 Mil and the same $2.5Mil in The Beaches. As I mentioned earlier, home prices on the east side of Toronto have always been lower. Just recently with a high demand for houses in family-friendly neighborhoods and a lack of inventory this situation started changing.
Now that we have the basic picture in numbers, let’s dive into the lifestyles offered by these two areas.
How East Toronto Lifestyle Differs from West Toronto
Each neighborhood has a number of shared features: outdoor life, strong communities, plenty of dog lovers, and family-friendly restaurants and shops; public transportation on both sides of Toronto is highly accessible.
But they’re also unique: Beach homes are of a different architectural style and the ambiance of the streets is somewhat relaxed and laid back. The West End is more urban, and Bloor Street is full of boutique stores, old-school Eastern European cafes, and upscale new restaurants.
Both neighborhoods have a low crime rate, and the average household income is above Toronto’s average. A typical resident is a professional, living in a household with a dual income, planning or raising a family.
Both areas are surrounded by fast-developing, smaller neighborhoods. Riverdale, Leslieville, and Danforth Village are the most desirable neighborhoods close to the beaches. While Roncesvalles, Swansea, Parkdale, Junction, and Baby Point are the closest areas to High Park.
On the east, these neighborhoods in most cases are cheaper than the beaches, because they are just developing and going through gentrification, plus the houses and the lots are significantly smaller. On the west, most of the closest areas to High Park are not cheaper. In some cases, they are even more expensive. This is due to the long-time established reputation of the west end as a family-friendly, safe, beautiful, and convenient destination to settle down.
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East Vs. West: How it Ranks with Families
Now let’s look at which area offers more schools with high ranking. I will use the data taken from Fraser’s institute website as a reference for this discussion. As a reminder, Fraser’s institute displays rankings for the most public and catholic schools in the elementary and secondary segment.
The map shows elementary schools in the High Park area. As you may see most of them are highlighted with green color, which means their ranking goes up from almost 8 to 10. Just a few examples of highly desirable schools: Runnymede Junior and Senior Public School with an 8.2 ranking, Swansea Junior and Senior Public School with 8.4, St Pius 10th Catholic school with 8.4, Howard Junior Public School with 8.4, and Garden Avenue Public Schools with the ranking of 8.7.
High schools are also highly ranked. One of the most sought-after is Ursula Franklin Academy with a ranking of 9.2 and lots of advanced programs to prepare your child for university programs and future careers.
Let’s look now at the East side and review schools the same way.
The most desirable schools are Courcelette Public School with a ranking of 9.2, Balmy Beach Community School with 8.8, St Denis Catholic School with 8.2. All the rest of the schools are ranked below 8.
The high school map features only 3 schools. Two of them are catholic with a not very high ranking of 6.8 and Malvern Collegiate institute with a ranking of 8.
I would like to remind you here that if your goal is to settle down in a neighborhood with great schools, you must check if your prospective home is actually located within the boundaries of the desirable school before submitting your offer.
Comparing the east and west, you may notice that there are more schools with a higher ranking in the west side of Toronto. It is one of the reasons why the housing in the high park area has always been more expensive and in higher demand.
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So, Which Toronto Region is Best?
First, let me tell you this – no matter whether you choose High Park or The Beaches – you will not go wrong. As a practicing realtor, I had an opportunity to analyze both areas for my clients. Both areas perform well for families. Both are safe, conveniently located within the city boundaries, and close to public transportation, major streets, highways, and downtown. While driving around the city, I noticed that the east of Toronto is less busy and less congested during the rush hours than the west side. It might change soon as The beaches acquire more condo buildings and of course, the population will increase.
By the way, in terms of condo living in both areas… condos are not so numerous in High Park and the beaches as they are in Downtown or say – Yonge and Eglington.
I would also say that the lifestyle in the Beaches area is more relaxed, while the west side is more active and filled with offices, businesses, venues, and activities. High Park is famous for its park which is called the same and attracts lots of Torontonians as well as tourists. The Beaches is an area with a beautiful sandy waterfront, which also attracts lots of people throughout the year.
So what to choose? East or West? I recommend you spend a few weekends and weekdays in each area, communicate with residents, shop in local stores, tour the schools if you have kids, and in general – feel the flavor of each neighborhood.
While working with a knowledgeable realtor you will be seeing lots of properties, and receiving lots of information and this will help you with your final choice.
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