City Guide: Toronto
There are a few good reasons that Canada frequently appears high up in the polls as a favourite destination for expats around the world. The world’s second largest country offers not only a selection of vibrant, cosmopolitan cities, but acres of breathtaking natural scenery, from epic forests thick with birdsong, to glittering lakes reflecting all of nature’s glory throughout the colourful seasons. And with the ease of integration that comes from its dual national language of English and French, it’s clear that this is a country that British expats find very easy to settle into.
Toronto has a reputation for being the most developed of Canada’s cities, providing a wealth of opportunities, both for working expats looking for economic success, and others looking to take advantage of the range of entertainment the city has to offer.
Neatly nestled between Lake Huron and Ontario, the climate of Toronto can be surprisingly mild. Cast aside those preconceptions of year-round, snow-covered landscapes dotted with bears; although winters do usually see snowfall, with average temperatures of -9°C, summers in the city are hot, reaching an average of 26°C. The diversity of the climate presents those who love the Great Outdoors with a range of seasonal activities from hiking, boating and swimming the lakes to enjoying the myriad of ice-rinks the city sets up in the colder months.
Aside from the outstanding natural beauty surrounding the city, there are numerous urban delights to be enjoyed. The shopping is excellent, with high street options as well as designer boutiques, and there are some wonderful markets such as the colourful St. Lawrence market, bursting with fresh produce. Kensington Market is the established bohemian district where vintage shops and record stores can be found in abundance, as well as numerous art spaces and galleries.
Toronto also has a thriving theatre programme and due to the huge melting pot of cultures that call the city home (nearly half of the city’s population was born outside Canada), the restaurant scene is global and diverse. The city’s tourism website www.seetorontonow.com is a great way to find out what’s on in the area.
Toronto for kids
Toronto is an excellent city for those with children. The standard of education is high and it’s easy to find a good public school. There are also international schools, private schools, schools specialising in the arts and language schools to choose from. However, it is important to be aware that expats with resident permits are able to access the public schools for free, but those without will need to pay fees.
In terms of keeping the kids entertained, Toronto is chock-full of museums and parks as well as youth sports centres and theatre groups aimed at young people. There are playgrounds, summer camps and educational centres that provide numerous programmes of activities to keep young people busy during school holidays. And of course, you are only a short distance away from all that glorious nature.
The nuts and bolts
Getting around Toronto is a breeze, thanks to its sophisticated public transport network. The subway, buses, trains and street cars keep the suburbs and outlying areas connected with the centre, while cyclists are supported with a bike-friendly, inner-city area.
Another convenience for expats with a resident permit is access to tax-funded health insurance – but those without a permit must ensure they secure private health insurance. Expats will find lots of helpful information for ‘new Canadians’ on the Toronto city website.
If you are considering moving to Canada, Cadogan Tate will assist you every step of the way – from your first enquiry to unpacking at your new home, we are here to help and advise you.
Information correct at time of publication.