As Canada’s most populous metropolitan area, the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is an obvious choice for newcomers who settle in Canada. It’s not only a hub for business and finance, but the GTA is home to communities from around-the-world. In fact, Toronto and its surrounding areas are known for their multiculturalism and diversity. Here is what you need to know about living in the Greater Toronto Area. 

Want to learn more about where to live in Toronto?
See Toronto neighbourhoods guide for newcomers for an overview of key highlights for living in Durham, Halton, Peel and York regions.  

The Greater Toronto Area (GTA)  

The Greater Toronto Area is divided into four regional municipalities: Durham, Halton, Peel and York. Together with Toronto, it has a population of approximately 6.5 million people. The GTA is vast. It extends along Lake Ontario to the east and west, and north of the Toronto city centre. With so many suburban towns, it can feel daunting deciding which is the best community for you and your family. Here are some of the most popular neighbourhoods in the GTA: 

Brampton

In the region of Peel, Brampton lies north of Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson International Airport and approximately 40 km north-east of downtown Toronto. 

Key highlights

Known as the Flower City, Brampton was originally settled in the early 1800s. Today, it’s one of Canada’s fastest-growing communities that combines the conveniences of a larger city with a family-friendly community. Brampton is also home to 170 different cultures, with more than 70 languages spoken by its residents. 

Access to public transit

Brampton Transit offers bus services that cover the whole city. It also connects to downtown Toronto through GO Transit’s Georgetown service, as well as to Mississauga, York, and the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission). In addition to regular bus services, Brampton Transit also offers a rapid bus service, called Züm. 

Brampton Transit buses have a bike rack on every bus, making it easy to bike and ride to get to places. There is also a covered area for bike storage at the Brampton GO station. Brampton also offers recreational cycling trails, covering 33 km. Some routes follow through parks and urban forests and parks, while others wind through the city’s suburban neighbourhoods.

Driving from Brampton to Toronto takes approximately 40 minutes, but could be longer, depending on traffic. With adequate transit covering the city and connections to other parts of the GTA, having a car in Brampton is not essential. 

Recreation and shopping

The Rose theatre in downtown Brampton features performing arts, music, comedy, dance, and cultural events. There are plenty of outdoor activities, from outdoor skating to ziplining. The city is also home to an oasis of peaceful lakes and rivers, where you can canoe, sail, paddle-boat, or fish. Bramalea City Centre is a large mall with over 250 stores and restaurants. Or shop in Downtown Brampton, which is filled with boutique stores and restaurants. 

Schools

Brampton falls under the Peel District School Board, which has 220 schools serving over 140,000 students from Kindergarten to Grade 12. Brampton is also served by the Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board. The city is home to Sheridan College Davis Campus, with more than 12,000 post-secondary students studying applied health, engineering, and technology or community services programs. 

Average rent

The average rent for a studio apartment in Brampton is $1,539, a one-bedroom apartment is $1,625 CAD, and a two-bedroom apartment is  $1,911 CAD per month, according to Zumper. 

Crime rate

Brampton falls under the region of Peel, and the crime rate for this area ranks at 50 on the Crime Severity Index, lower than the Canadian average of 75.01. 

Burlington 

Nestled on Lake Ontario, Burlington sits between Toronto and Hamilton and was ranked as Canada’s best community to raise a family by Maclean’s Magazine in 2019.

Key highlights

This family-friendly community backs onto the Niagara Escarpment, and more than half of the city is rural space. Burlington has a vibrant downtown core close to Lake Ontario with boutique shopping, cafes, restaurants, and the Burlington Performing Arts Centre. It’s also home to the sprawling Royal Botanical Gardens

Access to public transit

GO Train services are available in Burlington to Toronto’s Union Station, along the Lakeshore West corridor. There are three GO stations in the town: Burlington GO, Appleby GO, and Aldershot GO Station. Trains leave twice an hour in both directions, with more regular service during peak times. Free parking is available at GO Stations, and bus connections are available through Burlington Transit. Buses have accompanying bike racks for cyclists. Burlington’s comprehensive bus route extends from Lakeshore to Dundas Street and means having a car is not essential to getting around. The town is also a bike-friendly community, with 48 km of bike lanes and cycling trails. 

Recreation and shopping

Burlington boasts a variety of recreational facilities, including neighbourhood rinks, outdoor skating, community centres, and pools. There are also multiple parks across the town, as well as recreational trails and bikeways for walking or cycling. Mapleview Mall is a popular shopping spot, which houses 165 retailers, as well as two restaurants and a food court. 

Schools

Burlington falls under the Halton District School Board, which serves over 64,000 students from Kindergarten to Grade 12, as well as the Halton Catholic District School Board. A number of public and Catholic schools in Burlington rank highly on the Fraser Institute for academic prowess. 

Average rent

The average rent for a studio apartment in Burlington is $1,450 CAD, a one-bedroom apartment is $1,703 CAD, and a two-bedroom apartment is $1,979 CAD, according to Zumper

Crime Rate

Burlington falls under the region of Halton, and the crime rate for this area ranks at 27 on the Crime Severity Index, according to Macleans Magazine. This is considerably lower than the Canadian average of 75.01. 

Markham

Markham is a city in the Municipality of York, 30 km northeast of Downtown Toronto. The city has a population of over 353,000 people and is considered Canada’s high-tech capital. 

Key highlights

Markham is a melting pot of cultures and home to a large Chinese population, as well as South Asian and Black communities. The city is known for having some of the city’s best Chinese restaurants and is the location for Pacific Mall, North America’s largest indoor Asian mall. Markham Village is lined with historic homes, parks, and local businesses. Markham Fair, one of Canada’s oldest county fairs, takes place each October for four days.  

Access to public transit

Markham is serviced by GO Transit on the Stouffville line, as well as the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) and York Region Travel. Commuters can travel to downtown Toronto from Markham GO either by train or GO bus. Most residents in Markham do drive. While a car isn’t strictly necessary to get around, you may consider living somewhere within walking distance to Highway 7, where you can get around within Markham more easily. The city of Markham has over 400 km of on- and off-road bike routes and trails for recreational cycling or commuting. 

Recreation and shopping

Markham has plenty of community events, including the Taste of Asia Festival. As Canada’s largest Asian festival, it attracts over 150,000 people each year. The city also hosts the annual Markham Jazz Festival and Markham Ribfest. Markham also has over 22 km of pathways for walking or cycling. Milne Dam Conservation Park, park of Rouge National Urban Park, is Canada’s only urban park. It’s home to wetlands and forests. As well as Pacific Mall, CF Markham mall underwent a recent renovation and offers over 160 retailers. 

Schools

Markham falls under the York Region District School Board, with students in Kindergarten to Grade 12, as well as the York Catholic District School Board. Markham also has a number of private schools for both elementary and secondary students. 

Average rent

The average rent for a studio apartment in Markham is $1,599 CAD, a one-bedroom apartment is $1,865 CAD and a two-bedroom apartment is $2,213 CAD per month, according to Zumper. 

Crime Rate

The crime rate in York Region ranks at 40 on the Crime Severity Index, lower than the Canadian average of 75.01. 

Mississauga  

Mississauga lies west of Toronto, along the shores of Lake Ontario. With a population of over 800,000, it’s Canada’s sixth-most largest city. The city is also where Toronto Pearson International Airport is located, as well as the headquarters to many Canadian and international companies. 

Key highlights

Mississauga is known as the “City of Villages” and is made up of five neighbourhoods: Clarkson, Downtown, Meadowvale, Port Credit, and Streetsville. Each area has a unique character. The city offers a wide range of museums, arts, and cultural events. Celebration Square is a free outdoor entertainment space with skating rinks in the winter and splash pads in the summer, as well as free cultural events and concerts. The Art Gallery of Mississauga showcases artists from around-the-world. Port Credit’s Blues and Jazz Festival takes place every September. The Living Arts Centre stages theatre performances and concerts and offers art classes and children’s camps.

Access to public transit

Mississauga’s local public transit system is called MiWay. It operates 96 bus routes across the city, linking residents to GO Train services and Square One. GO Transit connects Mississauga to Toronto, and the Lakeshore West line has two stops, one in Port Credit and the other in Clarkson. Trains depart twice an hour in either direction and more frequently during peak times. The Kitchener line has one stop in Malton, and the Milton line has multiple stops in Mississauga.

With access to public transit and bike routes, it isn’t necessary to have a car to live in Mississauga. However, two-thirds of the residents are car drivers. The Mississauga cycling network has around 500 km of multi-use trails, shared routes and bike paths throughout the city. 

Recreation and shopping

Mississauga offers a vast range of sports and recreational activities, including an indoor trampoline park, axe throwing, alpine indoor skiing, rock climbing, bowling, and roller skating. The Credit River is a popular spot for canoe or kayaking, and Erin Park has everything from tobogganing in the winter to salmon fishing. There are over 500 parks, and the City of Mississauga runs recreational programs year-round. 

When it comes to shopping, the villages of Port Credit and Streetsville are filled with locally-owned businesses. Located in the city centre, Square One is one of the largest malls in Canada. Along with high street brands, it also has over 20 artisan food merchants. Other malls include as well as Heartland Town Centre in the north and Erin Mills Town Centre.

Schools

Schools in Mississauga come under the Peel District School Board, with 220 schools serving over 140,000 students from Kindergarten to Grade 12, and the Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board. There are many high ranking public and Catholic schools, as well as the choice of private schools that specialize in Montessori, IB, and gifted programs. Sheridan College has a campus in Mississauga at Square One, where post-secondary students can study Architectural Technology, Interior Design, Marketing, and Advertising. 

Average rent

The average rent for a studio apartment in Mississauga is $1,612 CAD, a one-bedroom apartment is $1,773 CAD, and a two-bedroom apartment is $2,150 CAD per month, according to Zumper. 

Crime Rate

The crime rate in Mississauga ranks at 50 on the Crime Severity Index, lower than the Canadian average of 75.01.

Oakville 

The community of Oakville is known for its charming harbour and downtown. It’s home to over 200,000 people and was named the best place to live in Canada in 2018. 

Key highlights

Only 40 km west of Toronto, Oakville began as a village in 1857 on the shores of Lake Ontario. Olde Oakville is known for its heritage and state homes and attractive downtown filled with boutique stores and restaurants. The Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts showcases a mix of theatre, dance and music performances. Oakville is also home to the Glen Abbey Golf Course, which previously hosted the Canadian Open. 

Access to public transit

Oakville is on the Lakeshore West corridor and serviced by two GO Train stations. Trains depart twice an hour to Toronto’s Union Station, with more regular service during peak times. Although Oakville is continuing to grow and spread, it’s possible to get around the town without a car. Oakville Transit runs buses that cover the sprawling community and link to the GO station, Sheridan College, and commuter carpool locations close to the major highways. Oakville also boasts over 193 km of on- and off-road cycling paths. 

Recreation and shopping

Oakville offers families a variety of recreational facilities, including neighbourhood rinks, community centres, public libraries, more than 200 parks, and community pools. Oakville also has over 200 km of walking and cycling trails, set in 1,420 hectares of parkland.  Downtown Oakville’s Jazz Festival and Midnight Madness attract large crowds in the summer. The town’s main shopping mall is Oakville Place

Schools

Oakville falls under the Halton District School Board (HDSB), which serves over 64,000 students from Kindergarten to Grade 12, as well as the Halton Catholic District School Board. Oakville also has a number of private schools, including Appleby College, St. Mildred’s, and Dearcroft Montessori School. Sheridan College’s Trafalgar Campus is known for its animation program, which has produced Academy Award nominees. The Oakville campus has 9,500 post-secondary students enrolled and is home to the Faculty of Animation, Arts and Design. 

Average rent

The average rent for a studio apartment in Oakville is $1,600 CAD, a one-bedroom apartment is $1,850 CAD, and a two-bedroom apartment is $2,685 CAD per month, according to Zumper. 

Crime Rate

Oakville comes under the jurisdiction of Halton. The crime rate for this area ranks at 27 on the Crime Severity Index, considerably lower than the Canadian average of 75.01. 

Richmond Hill  

Richmond Hill began as a small settlement north of Toronto and today has a population of over 200,000 residents that speak 126 languages, including Chinese and Persian. 

Key highlights

Richmond Hill’s arts and culture include the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts, Richmond Hill Heritage Centre, which showcases the history of the area, as well as the Boynton House Art Exhibition Space. Opened in 1935, the Richmond Hill David Dunlap Observatory runs registered tours and programs for the public. The town offers a host of festivals and events throughout the year, including a Canada Day celebration, Moonlight Movies, and Ribfest. It’s also home to the GTA’s only indoor wave pool. 

Access to public transit

Richmond Hill is serviced by GO Transit on the Richmond Hill Line, the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission), and York Region Travel, which provides bus services to nearby GO Stations. There are five TTC bus routes operating between York Region and Toronto. With public transit available, a car isn’t strictly necessary to get around. Richmond Hill offers nearly 150 km of trails, including 90 km of bike-only routes, as well as bike lanes and shared lanes. 

Recreation and shopping

Richmond Hill offers 147 parks and 150km of trails for walking, cycling, or hiking. In the winter, you can also hit the trails and snowshoe or ski, or ice skate along the Richmond Green skate trail. There are also a number of places to fish in Richmond Hill. Hillcrest Mall is located in the heart of the town and offers more than 100 stores and services. 

Schools

Richmond Hill falls under the York Region District School Board, with students in Kindergarten to Grade 12, as well as the York Catholic District School Board. The town also has a number of private schools for both elementary and secondary students. 

Average rent

The average rent for a studio apartment in Richmond Hill is $1,439 CAD, a one-bedroom apartment is $1,700 CAD, and a two-bedroom apartment is $2,400 CAD per month, according to Zumper

Crime Rate

The crime rate in York Region ranks at 40 on the Crime Severity Index, lower than the Canadian average of 75.01.  

 

Get the most up-to-date and relevant information, resources, and tools, personalized to match your unique Canada journey – all in one place.

The Arrive app features personalized programs, expert guidance, exclusive newcomer offers, and much more. Wherever you are in your journey, the Arrive App will help make it less stressful and more successful. Arrive is your single source for what you need to succeed in Canada.

Download the free app for iOS and Android devices.

 

 

 

About Arrive

Arrive is powered by RBC Ventures Inc, a subsidiary of Royal Bank of Canada. In collaboration with RBC, Arrive is dedicated to helping newcomers achieve their life, career, and financial goals in Canada. An important part of establishing your financial life in Canada is finding the right partner to invest in your financial success. RBC is the largest bank in Canada* and here to be your partner in all of your financial needs. RBC supports Arrive, and with a 150-year commitment to newcomer success in Canada, RBC goes the extra mile in support and funding to ensure that the Arrive newcomer platform is FREE to all. Working with RBC, Arrive can help you get your financial life in Canada started – right now. Learn about your banking options in Canada and be prepared. Click here to book an appointment with an advisor.

* Based on market capitalization

 

Disclaimer:
This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.