The Best(and Worst)Places to Live

How we ranked Toronto’s 140 neighbourhoods

The great thing about living in Toronto is that every neighbourhood comes with bragging rights. Rosedale has prestige schools. Trinity-Bellwoods is the capital for small-batch picklers. Etobicoke has low crime rates, Scarborough has lush parks, downtown has the most transit. Every neighbourhood has something going for it. But Torontonians are competitive, and we like knowing how we stack up.

To that end, we present a ranking of Toronto’s 140 neighbourhoods—a definitive document that separates the great from the good, the average from the awful. We teamed up with the urbanists, economists, sociologists and information scientists at the Martin Prosperity Institute, a think tank at U of T’s Rotman School of Management. They crunched every stat they could drum up: census data, community health profiles, the Fraser Institute’s school report cards, the Toronto Police Service crime figures and independent studies.

The last time we ranked the neighbourhoods, in 2013, we conducted an online poll of Toronto Life readers to determine what they look for in their neighbourhoods. This time, we used the same criteria and weightings, but improved our methodology, adding new information and more controls for land area and population. The city has drastically changed, and so have our rankings (to wit: Rosedale, the former champion, has dropped to number 18).

We scored each neighbourhood in 10 categories, broken down as follows:

1Housing (15%) affordability (cost versus income), appreciation (year-over-year change) and quality (how many homes recently required major repairs).

2Crime (13%) the number of incidents per neighbourhood by type

3Transit (11%) the number of overcrowded routes and TTC stops per square kilometre

4Shopping (11%) the number of groceries, hardware stores and pharmacies per square kilometre

5Health (10%) the number of cancer screenings and health care providers per capita, and the amount of air pollution, tree coverage and green space

6Entertainment (10%) the number of sports facilities, bars and restaurants per square kilometre

7Community (8%) the number of street beautification efforts per square kilometre, plus voter turnout

8Diversity (8%) the number and proportion of various ethnicities

9Schools (7%) the number of schools in each ’hood, and their performance in the Fraser Institute’s report card

10Employment (7%) the number of jobs and businesses per capita, plus unemployment rates

For more detailed look at our methodology, please visit the Martin Prosperity Institute’s website.

Of course, the perfect neighbourhood is a subjective ideal, so we’ve created an interactive (and addictive) feature that lets users create their own custom ranking by selecting and weighting their priorities. We’ve also included a smorgasbord of all the data we couldn’t let go to waste: tidbits about real estate, crime, money, schools, demographics and transit that help us better understand our city.

Some of our findings confirm what we already know—that wealthier neighbourhoods score higher for schools, that a huge number of jobs are downtown, that the suburbs are transit deserts. But there were also some surprises, especially in our top 10, which stretches across the whole city and features some rapidly emerging new players. So here it is: our mostly scientific, wildly controversial ranking, one that pits east versus west, downtown versus suburb, neighbour versus neighbour. Let the turf wars begin.

Edited by Emily Landau. Designed by Brennan Higginbotham and Matthew Warland. Research by Richard Florida, Vass Bednar, Isabel Ritchie and Greg Spencer at the Martin Prosperity Institute. Interactive by Tim Burden and Jennifer Abela-Froese. Illustration by Chloe Cushman. Additional reporting by Simon Bredin, Rebecca Philps and Reanna Sartoretto.