Toronto: Too much of a good thing - MoneySense

Toronto: Too much of a good thing

Canada’s largest city ranks fairly low on MoneySense’s Best Places to Live 2013 list.


Bigger isn’t always better. With a population of nearly 2.8 million—recently overtaking Chicago as the fourth largest in North America—Toronto ranks 7th place on MoneySense’s Top 10 Best Large Cities in Canada list, behind its much smaller counterparts, Halifax, Winnipeg and even London, Ont. (Calgary, Ottawa and Edmonton took the top three spots, respectively.)

So what’s up with the Big Smoke? By most measures it’s a booming metropolis. Toronto’s population, for instance, is growing at a rate of more than 5% per year. And condo and hotel developers can barely contain themselves; as of October, the city had 147 high-rises under construction, twice as many as New York. The problem is, jobs, infrastructure and services aren’t necessarily keeping up.

The unemployment rate in this city 7.6%, higher than the national average, and salaries reflect the loose labour market. Incomes in the city average just $91,464 per household, way behind Calgary and even neighbouring suburb Mississauga. Bloated house prices are also holding Toronto down on MoneySense’s annual list, which takes dozens of socio-economic statistics into consideration.

The average price for a home in the city is $515,775. Sound rich? Unfortunately, that amount of money won’t buy much more than a couple of tiny bedrooms in highly sought-after downtown neighbourhoods.

Access to healthcare is also an area for concern in Toronto residents. Sure, the city is home to some of the world’s top hospitals and research centres, but finding a family doctor accepting new patients can be tough. There are roughly two doctors for every 1,000 people in Toronto.Still, there’s a lot to be said for Toronto’s progress. The city did climb considerably in the rankings this year, placing 28th out of 200 cities overall, compared to 47th in 2012.

Toronto is a great place to have fun, and accordingly received a high score in the arts, sports, recreation and culture category. Ontario’s capital also ranks second overall for percentage of the population that takes public transit to work at 34%, behind only Montreal. All the more reason to address the congestion and limited route problems that plague the city’s transit system.