We've just returned from an extremely productive trip to Toronto and surrounding suburbs. We saw a lot of places, probably disappointed quite a few landlords, and made some excellent decisions on where we hope to live.
Let's see what we learned.
- We're definitely not going to rent in a high-rise building. It will be too difficult with our dogs, adding a level of stress and possible complications that we just don't need.
- We can afford to rent a beautiful townhouse in Mississauga. They are spacious, full of wonderful amenities like a fireplace, an extra bathroom, nice new kitchen, a tiny backyard, etc. We'll be able to get a three-bedroom, so we'll each have our own office. Yay!
- Public transportation to and from Mississauga is an issue. We didn't realize that most GO trains run only Monday through Friday, only during rush hours, and then only in the standard rush-hour directions. This is tough for people who work non-traditional hours as we do (and very much hope/intend to continue after we move). We'll have to figure something out with a combination of the trains, express buses and driving.
- Because of the above, we looked at places in our price range in other areas. This helped us rule out the eastern suburbs (Ajax, Oshawa, Pickering) as too wealthy and not geared towards rentals.
- We also looked at some home rentals in Toronto, and confirmed what we believed to be true. We could find affordable places in Toronto, but they would either be too small for us (brand-new townhouse on Bloor-Landsdowne) or some place we don't want to live (Eglinton-Dufferin, Bloor-Landsdowne, a few other places). They were decent places, if we were 23 years old and just starting out. But they were many steps down from where we live now, and we'd rather commute to the suburbs than live in them.
- We saw some houses for rent in Etobicoke (Bloor-Kipling and Lakeshore Drive-Royal Oak), which means we'd still be on the Toronto subway. One place was huge, with a fenced-in backyard, and in our price range. So that's a possibility, too.
- There is one exception to the GO train problem, and that's the Lakeshore line, which runs all hours, all days. It happens that my Number One area preference is also on that line: Port Credit. Port Credit was a fishing and port town before it was subsumed in Mississauga. It's the only place in Mississauga where we saw an actual town - with a main street you can walk, little pubs and independently owned stores - and it's only 20 minutes on the train to downtown, as opposed to 40 to most other nice Mississauga areas. And...
- We learned that there are some townhouses for rent in our price range in Port Credit! There are only a handful, and it would be an amazing bit of luck for one to become available right at the time we need it, but it could happen. And...
- While having a cup of coffee in Port Credit, we impulsively stopped in at a Remax agent (just next door to the coffee place), and learned that Remax also handles rentals, paid for by the landlord. Agents can be on the lookout for us. We had no idea that was possible! The agent was very nice and his initial database search turned up a few things we'd definitely look at. That might prove to the best cup of coffee we ever had.
- We also looked a little in Brampton. We saw two huge homes there, both with huge backyards, finished basements, and more space than we would know what to do with - both semi- in our price range. However, the transportation issues might be too difficult to live in Brampton. We still need to investigate further, but we're leaning towards ruling it out.
We also had dinner with our new friends BC and R, which was great. Other than that, Allan drove, I navigated and made phone calls, we ate a lot of high-fat food and had a good, if somewhat tiring, time.
Now I am more anxious than ever to hear from Immigration!