The overachieving Tracy Flick of neighbourhoods scores high in just about every category, particularly health, entertainment and employment. Sandwiched between Forest Hill and Lawrence Park, the area is aspirational without being ridiculously out of reach—property values steadily increase by more than 11 per cent year over year—and there’s a mix of detached homes and glittery condo developments. The impending debut of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT will make Yonge and Eg one of the city’s busiest and most crucial transit hubs. This is all candy for people who admire the Jane Jacobs model of city building, which is presumably why chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat calls the area home.
The leafy ’hood stocked with Tudor- and Georgian-style homes has a magical mix of low crime (hardly any robberies and vehicle thefts), premium access to transit and a robustly healthy population. The only category that taints its scorecard is entertainment, because most of the land area is occupied by mansions and castles. Luckily, there are plenty of bars and restaurants in the Annex and Yonge-St. Clair close by.
In 1793, a United British Loyalist named George Playter settled near the area that now bears his name. Last year, his descendants, the elderly Playter sisters, sold their immaculately preserved family home for $1.1 million. Theirs is one of many large, beautiful houses that line the leafy one-way streets, in an area where such coveted property is in short supply—most housing passes on through family generations. What the area lacks in available housing stock, it makes up for in shopping, transit access and schools (many homes here are in the catchment of the coveted Jackman Avenue Junior Public School district).
Tucked against the northwest corner of High Park, this neighbourhood enjoys a little bit of everything. It’s cloistered from downtown, but residents can still access the shops and services on Bloor. The Jane and Runnymede subway stops are close by. Crime is low, spiking only slightly for vehicle theft and assaults. The only downside: the houses are expensive and the Victorian stock is hit-and-miss for quality.
Affluent families and retirees flock to this posh ’hood with many of the same draws as ritzy neighbour Lawrence Park South—plenty of single-family homes are within walking distance of transit and retail on Avenue and Yonge. The clincher? Real estate is slightly more affordable: the multimillion-dollar houses are more commonly found south of Lawrence.
The neighbourhood’s jewel is Riverdale Park East, a beautiful expanse of hilly green space with tennis courts, soccer fields, a track, a swimming pool and a sprawling view of the downtown core. Young families are enticed by some of the city’s best schools (like Montcrest and Holy Name Catholic School), and the area scores high in employment metrics.
This cushy zone attracts lots of DINKs (double income, no kids), likely because of the excellent TTC access and the fact that there are virtually no schools in the immediate area. It’s a safe place to live (reported crimes, including assaults and break and enters, are low) and not quite as flashy as Yonge and Eglinton to the north. But all that could change soon: high-end condos and luxury rentals are starting to fill the gaps between pre- and post-war mid-rise buildings.
The beautiful parkland and cemetery are the defining features, but what really gives Mount Pleasant East the edge over fancy Rosedale to the south is a significantly lower crime rate. The mix of semis and detached dwellings in interwar suburban style, good schools like Maurice Cody and Sunnybrook, and quick access to downtown all boosted this pocket into the top 10. If it weren’t so white-bread, it might have soared even higher.
The area has plenty of small-town charm thanks to indie shops and cafés along Parliament Street, and the lovingly restored late-Victorian homes and laneway cottages. The revitalization of Regent Park has also beautified the formerly gritty borders. Plenty of TTC stops make accessing transit a breeze. But it scores dismally low in the diversity category, with a mostly white population and crippling income disparity.
Prime housing stock, large lots and excellent schools helped catapult Leaside-Bennington into the top 10. The growth of average real estate prices, year over year, is a comfortable 8.82 per cent, and only five per cent of the housing stock needs major repairs (unlike, say, Roncesvalles, where that number jumps to 14 per cent). Bessborough Drive Elementary and Leaside High School—Margaret Atwood’s alma mater—are both highly ranked.