There are definitely benefits to suburban living. You can get a bigger house that’s more in tune with your budget than you can in Toronto. Life moves at a slower pace and the streets are quieter. Smaller communities are known for low crime rates, lots of amenities, and high-quality schools, which is important when you have children. But, there’s also a downside to suburban living. For one, there’s not as many jobs as there are in Toronto, so you’ll have to commute. This cuts down on the time you have to spend enjoying the suburban life and will cost you more in gas.  

So, which is better – suburban or urban? What are the pros and cons of living in Toronto and commuting from the suburbs? The difference between the two boils down to three things, and they rely significantly on personal preference: money, time and lifestyle.

 Pros and Cons of Living in Toronto and Commuting From the SuburbSuburban subdivision housing, image courtesy of Ovlix

1. Is it Cheaper Living in the Suburbs of Toronto?

People’s first assumption is that living in the suburbs is significantly cheaper than living in Toronto, but is it? Earlier this year, the Globe and Mail published an article that found living in the suburbs is more expensive than you may think. “In dollar terms, a daily commute to Toronto from Hamilton could add about $3,500 annually to a household budget, per person,” the article states. 

Before making the move to the suburbs, do a financial analysis. Crunch the numbers for a mortgage and taxes per square footage. You’ll probably be able to get a bigger yard, so factor in the cost of maintaining it and don’t forget to consider the wear and tear on your vehicle, insurance, and cost of gas to commute.

2. The Time Factor

If you want to move to the suburbs to spend more time with your family, the suburbs may not be the answer. Not every family that’s made the move from Toronto to the suburbs is happy with their choice.

Think about how much time the drive will actually take you. What time do you get home now, compared to what time you’ll arrive home when you move to the suburbs? How much time will you be able to spend with your family after you factor in supper, homework, and their other activities? What about after school activities? Will you get home in time to drive the kids to games or watch their practices? You also don’t want to forget about the toll extra driving and heavy traffic can take on your psyche. 

3. Lifestyle 

The streets in the suburbs will be much quieter, and your kids will probably get more attention from their teachers. So if this is extremely important to you, then suburban life is probably a better fit.

But, what about shopping? Will you get everything you need where you live, or will you have to commute to Toronto on the weekends to stock up on groceries? How will this affect your family time?

You also need to consider your children’s lifestyle. No doubt, daily life is potentially safer and you’ll feel more comfortable with your kids walking to and from school, but is there enough to keep your children busy? If they’re small, the parks are probably sufficient, but if they have a keen eye for art or chamber music when they’re older (for example) and there’s no outlet for them to build on their creativity, you’ll end up moving back to Toronto, or someone is going to have to get them back and forth from the city.

What about the lifestyle needs of you and your partner? If you like socializing, are your friends willing to make the drive to meet up in your neighbourhood? Sure, you can stay in Toronto after work, but how late will you get home, before you’ll have to go back?

In the End, It Depends on You

There is no right or wrong answer to the question of which is better: suburban or urban. The key thing to do is to take a good look at your financial situation and the lifestyle you want; let that drive your decision. When you make a researched, informed choice, you make the best choice for your needs.