Where to Buy Now 2015: three posh neighbourhoods for wealthy buyers who want a whole lot of house
Average Condo Price: $396,935
Average Detached Price: $1,283,751
Average Semi Price: $725,068
Average After-Tax Household Income: $84,496
Bordered to the east by High Park and to the west by the Humber River, Swansea was its own village until 1967, when it was annexed by Toronto. The best homes are on large, 50-foot lots on streets like Riverside Drive and Brule Gardens, where some of the secluded, 1930s-era, Tudor-style residences have unrivalled access to the water—imagine catching a chinook salmon in your backyard. “It’s different here,” says Royal LePage agent Theodore Babiak. “It’s not pastoral, but it’s green.” Sales in the $1.5-million range are becoming more common, and the best homes sell for upwards of $3 million. (Smaller properties on narrower lots still trade for $900,000 or less.) But unlike notoriously tony areas like the Bridle Path, Swansea’s bucolic charm is just a short walk from the subway.
45 Ripley Ave., 416-762-6292
This 10,000-square-foot gourmet food store is not your standard grocer. Even more impressive than its selection of specialty goods is its in-store, open-to-the-public vault that stocks $1 million worth of cheese products.
Bloor Meat Market
2283 Bloor St. W., 416-767-2105
Everything you need for a backyard barbecue is available at this butcher shop: marbled AAA New York strip loins, house-made sausages, organic Irish salmon, kebabs, ribs and Mennonite-raised chickens from St. Jacobs.
Sweet Flour Bake Shop
2352 Bloor St. W., 416-763-2253
At this bespoke-cookie bakeshop, customers face two tough decisions: which dough—original, oatmeal or peanut butter—and which of the 20-plus add-ins. (Pre-baked goodies are also available.)
The buyer: Marc Kravis, Doctor
The street: Riverside Drive
The Price: $1.575 million
In October 2014, Marc and his wife, Melita, began searching for homes in Swansea, where he grew up. The area’s older houses and hilly topography made the hunt challenging; several places the couple looked at had structural issues. Eventually, in January, Melita found their ideal home through an Internet listing. “We saw behind what was obviously dated,” Marc says. “We saw the stateliness of the home.” Six months of renovations cost them double their initial budget, but, by the end, the couple had enlarged the 80-year-old Tudor-style house’s small kitchen, replaced its rear windows and converted an upstairs bedroom into an ensuite. The house is smaller than their previous one in Burlington, but they don’t see it as a downgrade. “It’s close to all the amenities we like,” Marc says. “We love the ravines, and we just like being in an older, established neighbourhood.”
96 Durie St.
Detached, four bedrooms, four baths
Listed for $1.689 million
Sold for $1.6 million
5 Brule Gardens
Detached, five bedrooms, four baths
Listed for $2.695 million
Sold for $2.495 million
2 Brule Gardens
Detached, six bedrooms, six baths
Listed for $3.998 million
Sold for $3.525 million
Average Condo Price: $814,913
Average Detached Price: $3,003,995
Average Semi Price: $1,899,176
Average After-Tax Household Income: $163,371
Rosedale is still a locale of choice for multimillionaire urbanites. For the merely well-off, though, the stratospheric prices can be a bit of a stretch. The same $2.5 million that might buy a sprawling new build in Etobicoke gets a renovated three-bedroom house in Rosedale. Prices for decent detached stock go up (and up and up) from there. South Rosedale has Victorians, which tend to be more in demand; the north end’s Edwardian homes are only slightly less expensive. But for some, it’s all worth it for the area’s enduring advantages: leafy streets, proximity to the financial district and access to some of the city’s best private schools—including the York School and Branksome Hall. And, sky-high costs aside, Rosedale seemingly yields a perpetual return on investment: a recent survey by the Globe and Mail revealed that resale prices in the neighbourhood increased by an astonishing 59 per cent between 2013 and 2014.
Evergreen Brick Works
550 Bayview Ave., 416-596-1495
It’s not just the Arcadian Don Valley setting or the stunning industrial architecture that makes this market a Saturday morning ritual for some 2,000 shoppers—and their accompanying spoodles. The selection of meat, cheese, produce and baked goods is fresher, tastier and more diverse than any other in the city.
All the Best Fine Foods
1101 Yonge St., 416-928-3330
Rosedale’s go-to food shop is known for its dinner-party provisions, particularly the prepared foods made fresh daily in the company’s off-site Leaside kitchen. Top sellers include chicken pot pie—a flaky-crusted, creamy, oozy mealtime staple beloved by every school kid in the neighbourhood.
Advice from a Caterpillar
8 Price St., 416-960-2223
The main attraction at this button-cute boutique, located just off of Yonge Street, is a collection of mostly European-designed clothing for kids ages six and under—including Bon-Ton dresses and Petit Bateau nautical wear from France, Stella McCartney’s children’s line, and organic cotton onesies by Mini Rodini.
56 Dale Ave.
Detached, four bedrooms, five baths
Listed for $2.595 million
Sold for $2.595 million
24 Whitney Ave.
Detached, five bedrooms, five baths
Listed for $3.95 million
Sold for $3.725 million
90 Roxborough St. E.
Detached, four bedrooms, five baths
Listed for $5.25 million
Sold for $5.06 million
Average Condo Price: $359,150
Average Detached Price: $1,145,792
Average Semi Price: $759,616
Average After-Tax Household Income: $68,825
A healthy stock of semi-detached houses makes Wychwood appealing to middle-class buyers, but the neighbourhood is also a prized locale for Toronto’s business elite. Owners in exclusive Wychwood Park—a heritage-protected enclave of Arts and Crafts–style homes where $2 million is considered the price of entry—include federal finance minister Joe Oliver and, until recently, former Hudson’s Bay president Bonnie Brooks. (She put her Wychwood Park home on the market for $2.795 million.) All Wychwood homeowners, regardless of the sizes of their individual bankrolls, enjoy access to a key amenity: Artscape Wychwood Barns, a cultural hub where neighbours can bond over free samples of fresh veggies and cheeses at weekly farmers’ markets. Retail in the area is improving, thanks to streetscape and transit improvements on St. Clair West—the strip recently welcomed its first gourmet butcher shop, Roast Fine Foods.
Artscape Wychwood Barns
601 Christie St., 416-653-3520
The Saturday farmers’ market at the Barns is a paragon of cheerful yuppie socialism: stroller-steering families stuff Monforte goat’s milk brie into reusable shopping bags, indie bands perform, resident Artscape artists find new patrons and, for a few hours, the world is a happier place.
The Stockyards: Smokehouse and Larder
699 St. Clair Ave. W., 416-658-9666
It took chef Tom Davis two years to perfect his recipe for lineup-luring fried chicken: the meat is prepped for 48 hours before being brined, dredged in a thyme-jerk mix and deep-fried. It’s time well spent: Davis’s chicken is the best bird in town.
Javad’s Buy and Sell
818 St. Clair Ave. W., 416-652-2611
Browsing this perilously packed emporium is like navigating a military obstacle course. But after you vault over the vintage wooden chairs and duck around the leaning towers of china, you might find some treasures: we once spotted a Tiffany-style lamp for $150 and a cowhide banjo for $100.
52 Burnside Dr.
Detached, five bedrooms, two baths
Listed for $1.35 million
Sold for $1.25 million
79 Helena Ave.
Detached, three bedrooms, three baths
Listed for $1.169 million
Sold for $1.34 million
8 Wychwood Park
Detached, five bedrooms, four baths
Listed for $1.99 million
Sold for $1.895 million