Ah, Yonge street – the great dividing line between east and west Toronto.
No matter how long you’ve lived in Toronto, you probably have strong feelings about whether or not you want to be east or west of Yonge. Roncesvalles or Riverdale? Junction or Upper Beach? Trinity Bellwoods or Leslieville?
See? You probably just had a strong reaction to those choices. Some of you will probably even email me and tell me why the neighbourhoods I’ve compared aren’t even close and that I’ve lost my mind.
Today we take on one of the biggest debates in Toronto: should you live East Side or West Side?
For the most part, there are similar neighbourhoods catering to the same demographic and lifestyle on both sides of the imaginary Yonge Street divide. There are people with different ethnic backgrounds, hipsters and trendy moms with their $1,000 strollers on both sides of Yonge. You’ll find great parks, art galleries, local shops and farmer’s markets both east and west too, and you’re generally not too far from a Target either. Last week I discovered that the no-reservation cash-only restaurants have even arrived in Leslieville (FYI Leslieville, you could have left that annoyance to the West side).
There are similarly priced neighbourhoods both east and west of Yonge, though these days it’s a lot easier to find a renovated house on the east side (Leslieville and Riverdale). If you’re looking for a property to renovate, the west side (think Junction, Bloordale, Brockton Village and the Junction Triangle) offers great opportunities.
There are neighbourhoods in transition that have houses priced less at than $600,000, offering higher-than-usual price appreciation opportunities on both sides of Yonge: the Upper Beach/Danforth area (and East York, which sounds further away than it really is), Corktown and Regent park in the East and the Junction/Junction Triangle and Bloordale in the West.
We find more established neighbourhoods on both sides of Yonge too, neighbourhoods that already have all the shops and services and are in great demand: Roncesvalles and Bloor West Village in the West, and in the East, Riverdale and the Beaches (and arguably Leslieville).
So how do you decide?
1. Consider your commute. Do you need the DVP or the Gardiner? Streetcars or subways? Maybe you’re lucky enough to be able to walk or bike to work.
2. Consider your friends and family. Let’s face it – it’s nice to be able to drop in on your friends without having to trek across the city. Most people’s friends tend to be congregated on one side of Yonge or the other (which came first, the chicken or the egg?).
3. Consider your lifestyle. While I do maintain that most lifestyles can be reproduced on both sides of Yonge, take some time to think about the things that truly bring joy to your life. Where do you spend your time now? Is that because it’s convenient or because you really love where you already are?
4. Explore. There’s no better way to discover if you belong east or west of Yonge than by getting out there and discovering it. When we work with Buyers who can’t decide, we’ll take the time to explore neighbourhoods on both sides – brunch at a local hot spot, some house hunting, beers at a local pub. Don’t forget to visit at night too – it’s amazing how different some Toronto neighbourhoods feel at night.
So what’s my opinion of the east vs west debate? We live West, at Queen/Dufferin, but I could easily see myself living East too. I’m lucky because my job allows me to get to know the best of neighbourhoods on both sides of Yonge.
So…do you lean East or do you lean West?