Living in Toronto vs NYC: Tale of Two Iconic Cities

Toronto NCY

As a world traveler and journalist, I’ve had the privilege of experiencing the vibrant cultures, diverse lifestyles, and unique challenges of cities around the globe. Today, I will get into the heart of two of North America’s most iconic cities: Toronto and New York City.

Both metropolises are teeming with life, opportunities, and stories waiting to be told. Let’s embark on this journey together, comparing these two giants head-to-head.

Size and Population

When it comes to sheer size and population, both Toronto and NYC are titans in their respective countries. But how do they stack up against each other?

Toronto’s Demographics

Toronto, the largest city in Canada, spans approximately 243 square miles. With a population nearing 3 million, it’s the most densely populated city in the country.

The metropolitan area further extends this number, housing a bit over 6 million residents.

New York City’s Demographics

In contrast, New York City covers around 300 square miles and boasts a staggering population of almost 8.5 million. The metropolitan area is even more impressive, with around 20 million inhabitants.

Clearly, NYC takes the crown in terms of sheer numbers.

Location and Geography: My Personal Exploration

Central Park, New YorkHaving journeyed through numerous cities, I’ve always been fascinated by the unique geographical landscapes each city presents. Toronto and NYC are no exceptions.

Let me share my personal experiences and observations of these two iconic cities. To begin with, while most know that Toronto is the jewel of Ontario, Canada, and NYC is the heartbeat of New York, United States, there’s so much more to their geographical tales.

During my stay in Toronto, I often found myself gazing at the vast expanse of Lake Ontario. The city’s southern edge kisses the lake’s northwest shore, offering breathtaking views, especially during sunset.

As I ventured further, I crossed landmarks like Steeles Avenue to the north, the tranquil Rouge River to the east, and the bustling junction of Eglinton Avenue and Albion Road to the west. Walking through Toronto, I felt the city’s topography – a broad sloping plateau crisscrossed by serene river valleys.

My adventures led me to some of its 1,600 named parks, covering an impressive area of over 8,000 hectares. The trails, extending beyond 124 miles, became my haven for hiking and biking, allowing me to experience Toronto’s natural beauty firsthand.

Toronto ParkOn the other hand, my escapades in New York City presented a contrasting coastal landscape. The vast North Atlantic Ocean to the south often beckoned me with its majestic waves.

I ventured to Rye Brook, a town situated in Westchester County in the northern region of New York, one of the safest places in the region. Additionally, my travels took me to Nassau County in the east and the lively state of New Jersey to the west. The geographical makeup of New York City itself fascinated me with its distinctiveness.

The city is divided into five distinct boroughs or counties. I’ve strolled through the streets of Manhattan and taken ferries around Staten Island, both standing as independent islands. My journeys also led me to Queens and Brooklyn, integral parts of Long Island’s vast stretch.

The Bronx, with its rich history, felt different, being an extension of the US mainland. The intricate network of tunnels, bridges, and ferries connecting these boroughs always amazed me, showcasing NYC’s architectural marvels.

In both cities, every step I took and every sight I beheld added a new chapter to my travel diary, enriching my understanding of their unique geographical tapestries.

A Glimpse into History

Both cities have rich histories that have shaped their identities over the centuries. Let’s take a brief journey back in time.

Toronto’s Historical Footprints

Founded in 1793, Toronto was originally named York. It was renamed in 1834, distinguishing itself from other regions named York.

Despite the name change, it’s affectionately called Little York, especially after it overtook Montreal as Canada’s economic hub.

New York City’s Historical Saga

New York, founded in 1624, predates Toronto by nearly two centuries. As one of the original thirteen colonies, it became the first capital of the United States in 1788.

NYC has been home to many of the Founding Fathers and boasts numerous historical sites, including the Statue of Liberty and Central Park.


Snowfall Times Square NYC Winter ManhattanJourneying through different cities, I’ve always been attuned to the shifts in climate, and Toronto and New York City provided some of the most memorable experiences in this regard. Both cities, with their four distinct seasons, painted vivid pictures of nature’s beauty, but also showcased stark contrasts, especially when the snow began to fall.

During my winters in Toronto, I often found myself bundled up in layers, bracing for the intense cold. The city’s winters are not for the faint-hearted.

While New York has its share of cold days, with temperatures sometimes plummeting to 28 degrees Fahrenheit (-2 degrees Celsius), Toronto’s winters are on another level. I’ve experienced nights where the mercury dropped to a bone-chilling 17 degrees Fahrenheit (-8 degrees Celsius).

The snowfall in Toronto is both a beautiful and challenging spectacle. The city gets blanketed in thick layers of snow, making it look like a winter wonderland, but the biting cold can be relentless.

Contrastingly, New York’s winters felt milder to me. The cold, while still sharp, is drier and more bearable.

Toronto RainThe snowfall, though present, doesn’t match the intensity of Toronto’s, making winter walks in NYC a tad more pleasant. Summers, however, are a delightful affair in both cities. I’ve enjoyed many sunny days in Toronto, with temperatures hovering around a comfortable 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius).

It’s the perfect weather for picnics by Lake Ontario or exploring the city’s numerous parks. New York City, on the other hand, turns up the heat a notch. With temperatures often reaching 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius), the city buzzes with energy.

The warmth, while intense during mid-summer, never felt too overwhelming, and the vibrant atmosphere more than makes up for it. In essence, both Toronto and New York City offered me a rich tapestry of climatic experiences, each season bringing its own charm and challenges.

Economic Landscape

Navigating through the bustling streets of Toronto and New York City, I’ve witnessed firsthand the economic powerhouses that these cities are. Their financial landscapes, while rooted in their unique histories and cultures, are a testament to their global significance.

In Toronto, the city’s reputation as Canada’s financial and business epicenter is evident everywhere. From the towering skyscrapers of Bay Street to the innovative startups sprouting in its tech hubs, Toronto is a magnet for those hungry for opportunities.

The city’s diverse industrial landscape is truly impressive. Whether it’s the latest tech breakthrough, a blockbuster film in production, a fashion week extravaganza, or the hum of manufacturing units, Toronto’s economic pulse is palpable.

I was particularly intrigued to learn about its GDP growth, which surged by 3.3 percent in 2017, a clear indicator of its thriving business environment. And with it being dubbed the “Silicon Valley of Canada,” the average annual salary of 93,947 CAD (USD 71,420) didn’t come as a surprise, though the typical earnings stand at 61,841 CAD (USD 47,012).

On the flip side, New York City, with its iconic skyline dominated by financial institutions, is nothing short of an economic behemoth on the world stage. Its title as the world’s financial capital, as ranked by the Global Financial Centers Index, is well-deserved.

As I walked down Wall Street, the heartbeats of the world’s largest banks, insurance giants, and top-tier business corporations echoed in my ears. The New York Stock Exchange, a symbol of global commerce, stands as a testament to the city’s economic might.

NYC’s influence spans across sectors, from commerce and real estate to the glitz of entertainment and the innovations in technology. The city’s average annual salary, pegged at USD 100,260, with a typical figure of USD 102,027, speaks volumes about the lucrative opportunities it offers.

Cost of Living

Having lived in both Toronto and New York City, I’ve had a firsthand experience of the cost of living in these two iconic cities. Both are undoubtedly among the priciest in their respective countries and while they offer unparalleled experiences, they also come with their own set of financial challenges.


In Toronto, fondly referred to as “The Big Smoke,” finding a place to call home was a journey in itself. The city’s real estate prices have skyrocketed over the years.

As of January 2024, renting a typical 1-bedroom apartment set me back around $2,200. And to think that this was a 25% increase from the previous year was mind-boggling!

However, I did find solace in the fact that moving a bit away from the downtown area offered slightly more affordable options. New York City, “The Big Apple,” was a different ball game altogether.

The city’s reputation for exorbitant rents is not unfounded. A similar 1-bedroom apartment here cost me a staggering $3,700 in January 2024, marking a 13% increase from the year before.

The quest for a decent apartment in a good neighborhood felt like a full-time job!


Toronto’s grocery prices, while higher than most Canadian cities, were manageable. On average, my grocery list looked something like this:

  • 12 large eggs: $3
  • 1 lb. boneless chicken breast: $6
  • 1 qt. whole-fat milk: $2.5
  • Daily bread for two: $2
  • 2 lb. of apples: $3
  • A basic lunch in the business district: $18

In contrast, NYC’s grocery bills were heftier. My typical grocery expenses in the city were:

  • 12 large eggs: $7
  • 1 lb. boneless chicken breast: $9
  • 1 qt. whole-fat milk: $1.25
  • Daily bread for two: $4
  • 2 lb. of apples: $5
  • A basic lunch in the business district: $24

Utilities: Keeping the Lights On

Utilities, an essential yet often overlooked aspect of living expenses, also varied between the two cities. In NYC, my monthly utilities for a 480-square-foot apartment averaged around $120.

Meanwhile, in Toronto, the same utilities cost me about $90.

Healthcare Quality

Navigating the healthcare systems of both Toronto and New York City has been an enlightening experience for me. The differences, largely stemming from the overarching policies of Canada and the United States, have provided me with unique insights into the strengths and challenges of each system.

Toronto: Universal Healthcare’s Promise

In Toronto, the healthcare system is a reflection of Canada’s commitment to universal healthcare. The quality of care I received here was top-notch.

From routine check-ups to specialized treatments, the medical professionals I encountered were highly skilled and compassionate. However, it’s worth noting that while the quality of care is commendable, there can be longer wait times for certain procedures and specialist appointments.

This is a common critique of universal healthcare systems, where care is accessible to all, but might sometimes come with a wait. One of the most significant advantages of Toronto’s healthcare system is the cost—or lack thereof.

Many essential health services are covered by the government, and funded by taxpayers. This means that a visit to the doctor or a trip to the emergency room doesn’t come with the anxiety of a hefty bill.

New York City: Navigating the Insurance Maze

New York City, on the other hand, operates within the U.S. healthcare framework, which is heavily reliant on medical insurance. The quality of care in NYC is world-class, with some of the best medical institutions and specialists available.

However, access to this care often depends on the type of medical insurance one has. During my time in NYC, I quickly realized the importance of having comprehensive medical insurance.

Without it, medical bills can be prohibitively expensive. This insurance-centric approach means that while the care is top-tier, it’s also tied to one’s ability to pay or the quality of their insurance.

Taxes and Healthcare: A Balancing Act

The difference in healthcare funding models is also reflected in the tax structures of the two cities. Toronto, with its government-funded healthcare, has tax rates ranging from 5.05 percent to 13.16 percent.

In contrast, New York’s tax brackets range from 3.078 percent to 3.876 percent. The higher taxes in Toronto can be attributed, in part, to the funding of its universal healthcare system.


As a world traveler, the cleanliness of a city often leaves a lasting impression on me. It speaks volumes about the city’s management, its residents’ civic sense, and the overall quality of life.

My experiences in Toronto and New York City, in terms of cleanliness, were quite contrasting.

New York City: The Battle with Waste

Walking through the streets of New York City, the city’s struggle with cleanliness becomes evident. The iconic skyline and bustling streets are often juxtaposed with piles of trash bags lined up outside buildings.

These sights, while part of NYC’s unique character, are a stark reminder of the city’s ongoing challenges with waste management. Delayed trash collection schedules are not uncommon, and I learned that this is often due to budgetary constraints affecting waste management facilities.

The sight of accumulated trash, especially during the warmer months, can be off-putting, and it’s a concern shared by many residents. The city’s dense population, coupled with its bustling commercial activities, means that waste generation is high, and managing it efficiently is a monumental task.

Toronto: A Cleaner Perspective

Toronto, in stark contrast, presents a much clearer picture. The city’s streets are noticeably cleaner, and the sight of trash bags waiting for collection is rare.

Toronto’s waste management system seems to be more efficient, ensuring timely collection and disposal. During my strolls through Toronto, I couldn’t help but appreciate the cleaner roads and the fresher air.

The city’s approach to cleanliness and waste management is commendable and reflects a commitment to providing its residents with a healthier living environment.

Public Transportation System

NYC Bus InsideNavigating through the bustling streets of Toronto and New York City, I’ve relied heavily on their public transportation systems. Both cities boast extensive networks, ensuring that no corner is out of reach.

In Toronto, the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) offers a seamless experience, with its subways, buses, and streetcars connecting every nook and cranny. However, when it came to hailing a cab, my experience was a tad different.

Unlike NYC, where yellow cabs are almost omnipresent and can be flagged down with ease, in Toronto, I often found myself having to call ahead to book a taxi. New York City’s MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority), with its iconic subway system, buses, and even ferries, offers an unparalleled commuting experience.

The city’s rhythm is perfectly complemented by its efficient transit system. And of course, the ease of grabbing a cab in NYC, often within a minute, added to the convenience.

Lifestyle and Entertainment

Both Toronto and New York City, being the economic powerhouses of their respective countries, are bursting with entertainment options. From world-class museums, vibrant clubs, and diverse restaurants, to iconic sports teams, the choices are endless.

While Toronto offers a rich tapestry of cultural experiences, NYC, with its legendary nightlife, iconic landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and Times Square, and a culinary scene that’s second to none, often felt like the epicenter of global entertainment. However, it’s not just about the glitz and glamour. Both cities are also conducive to family life.

The plethora of schools, childcare programs, and family-friendly activities ensure that there’s something for everyone.

Safety and Crime Rate

Safety, an essential aspect of city life, is where I felt Toronto had a slight edge. Based on data from the Toronto Police Service Records Management System, the city saw a 17.6 percent increase in the total crime rate.

While any increase is concerning, the city’s overall safety measures and community engagement programs instilled a sense of security. New York City, on the other hand, presented a more complex picture.

The 2022 crime statistics report indicated a 23.5 percent increase in major crime categories. Walking through the streets of NYC, while I always felt the city’s vibrant energy, I was also aware of the need to be cautious, especially in certain neighborhoods.


Is it more expensive to live in NYC or Toronto?

The cost of living can vary based on several factors, but generally, NYC is considered more expensive than Toronto.

Is it a good idea to live in Toronto?

Toronto is a vibrant city with a diverse culture, good healthcare, and educational institutions. Whether it’s a good idea to live there depends on individual preferences and needs.

Is it colder in Toronto or NYC?

Toronto generally experiences colder winters than NYC.

Is New York City warmer than Toronto?

Yes, NYC tends to have milder winters compared to Toronto.

Which is best, Toronto or New York?

Both cities have their unique offerings. The “best” city depends on individual preferences, such as lifestyle, job opportunities, and cultural interests.

How does Toronto compare to US cities?

Toronto is one of the largest cities in North America and is comparable to major US cities in terms of infrastructure, culture, and economic opportunities. However, there are differences in healthcare, education, and other public services.

What city in Canada has the highest cost of living?

Vancouver is often cited as having the highest cost of living in Canada, closely followed by Toronto.

Is NYC more expensive than LA?

Both cities are among the most expensive in the US, but NYC generally has higher living costs, especially in terms of housing.

Is Toronto too expensive to live in?

While Toronto is one of the more expensive cities in Canada, many residents find the quality of life, job opportunities, and cultural experiences to be worth the cost. However, affordability is subjective and varies based on individual circumstances.

Which City Takes the Crown: Toronto or New York?

Exploring Toronto and New York City has been a privilege, showcasing the unique offerings of both cities. NYC stands as a global hub of commerce and culture with higher average salaries, thriving in economic dominance.

It’s a city of endless opportunities but comes with a high cost of living. On the flip side, Toronto, known as “The Big Smoke,” provides a more affordable, family-friendly environment.

It excels in safety, and cleanliness, and boasts a rich cultural diversity, offering a balanced urban life. The relentless pace of NYC versus the harmonious blend of modernity and tradition in Toronto showcases a striking contrast in urban lifestyle.

The choice between the two reflects one’s personal and professional priorities, each city holding its unique appeal and lessons on adaptability and ambition in urban living.

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