I’ve been around the block a couple of times. I grew up in Boston, Massachusetts and moved to Toronto at the age of six. I only became a Canadian citizen ONE MONTH AGO. But does that mean I’m a purebred, tried and true American? No! I am a Canadian national LOYALIST… with a little perspective.
Spending a lot of my life jumping between Toronto, Boston and yes, New York City, has heeded some interesting results when it comes to comparing Canadian cities to American ones. Although I adore NYC, I am of the firm belief that Toronto should no longer be referred to as the NYC of Canada. Hello, we’re our own separate entity – and an IMPRESSIVE one at that.
Here are my five indisputable reasons why Toronto trumps NYC!
1. We’re just like New York… only better
Everyone compares the two cities for a reason! Think about it… Wall Street? Yeah, we’ve got Bay Street. You know, the one that’s home to infamous, multi-national banks like TD, BMO, Scotiabank, and CIBC!
How about Broadway? Mirvish may not have the same global renown (yet), but this season, we’re getting Emmy-Winning shows like Waitress, The Band’s Visit, Dear Evan Hansen… oh, and a little known musical called HAMILTON! Canadian premiere, baby!
Tourism, you say? Have you SEEN Yonge-Dundas Square? All the bright, shiny lights of Times Square, minus people heckling you for a photo at every turn. Oh, and way more open walking space. Not to mention, the Eaton Centre consolidates all the storefronts of Times Square, leaving room for incredible restaurants, cafes, and subway stops. And… the skyline views from rooftop patios are SUPREME!
2. Our sports hype is unrivalled
The Knicks? Yeah… been there, done that! The Toronto Raptors have made NBA history this year with their win in the NBA championship finals against the unrivalled Golden State Warriors. The hype is so real that the iconic Maple Leaf Square has been temporarily renamed “Jurassic Park.” From shutting down parkways to three-day lineups, the Raptors have absolutely dominated Toronto sports culture as of late.
And how about the comeback of the decade? The Toronto Maple Leafs have once again become a force to be reckoned with. A handful of iconic Leafs players including Mitch Marner and John Tavares even hail from the GTA. Canadians everywhere are dutifully involved in the hockey season, but there’s something magical about watching the Maple Leafs play. Land of the maple trees! Represent!
3. We’re way CLEANER
Whenever my relatives come to visit Toronto from the U.S., I always hear the same comment: “Wow, this city is so clean!”
If you’ve ever walked through the streets of New York City, then you know what I’m talking about. The perma-grime on absolutely every object in sight, the layer of smog hanging in the air, and the undeniable stench of urine in the subway system. My Lysol wipes are shivering at the thought.
Toronto, by comparison, at least maintains a sense of cleanliness in its busiest areas. Maybe it’s because people are more conscious of throwing litter on the ground.
And while we may not be the greenest city on earth, people are definitely more cognizant of their environmental impact. The city of Toronto is lined with garbage bins on every block, making it almost impossible to litter without feeling horrible for doing so. And everything is so close together that driving is literally slower than walking or taking the subway!
Torontonians bash the TTC for subway delays and maintenance, but I truly believe that we take it for granted. The New York subway is, in essence, a tin can of utter despair. No air conditioning, ever. Smells you have never smelled before. And believe me, you may think that Line 1 during rush hour is uncomfortably busy, but you don’t even want to KNOW what it’s like on the metro. Gas…ping… fo…r….. air……..
4. Spread your stuff out in an apartment with (*gasp*) more than one room
Torontonians love to complain about limited, expensive real estate, but if you’ve ever SEEN a typical apartment in Manhattan – you’ll be thanking your lucky stars that your queen-sized bed actually fits in your bedroom. NYC has been notorious for building 400-square-feet-or-less apartments since 1987 when the city initiated its Quality Housing Program.
As if 400 square feet wasn’t tiny enough, in 2013 Mayor Bloomberg challenged architects to design even smaller (seriously?) living spaces. The winning design, Carmel Place, received 60,000 applicants in 2015 for 302 square foot ‘micro-apartments.’ At the time, the rooms (because that’s what they are – literally just ROOMS), went for $2,750 per month. I just gagged a little.
For example, a 900-square-foot space in Toronto (which is about the size of a two-bedroom apartment) goes for around $1,300 LESS than the same space in NYC. I won’t deny that Toronto is an expensive city to live in, but I would definitely do some price/space/location comparisons before jumping to any conclusions.
5. We’ll improve your zen by tenfold
Friendliness? In NYC? Never heard of her. New Yorkers are notoriously cold walking through the city to get to work, pushing their way through the crowds to sit down at their desks on time. Don’t expect acknowledgement on the subway, and definitely don’t expect anyone to hold any doors for you.
Toronto, by comparison, is the epitome of grace and well-mannered folk! Smile at the person across from you on the subway, and you’ll get a friendly hello. Walk up to the cash register at Tim Hortons to learn that the person in front of you paid for your coffee. The door will always be held, and the friendly weather conversation never ceases to amaze me.
Yeah, walking to school and work in the middle of Yonge-Dundas Square is undeniably busy, but there’s an air of calm that the Big Apple just doesn’t have a grasp on. Your blood pressure will lower. Your life span will extend. More time to say good morning to strangers on the subway. IT ALL COMES FULL CIRCLE!
6. We’re on the come up. Literally.
If you were to tell me you haven’t heard more about Toronto in recent years than ever before, I would say you’ve been living under a rock.
Thanks to a little known rapper named Drake (ahem, Degrassi is quaking) Toronto has come to global renown as “the 6ix” (yes, you have to spell it that way, or else it doesn’t count). Now that we’ve got that traction going, Toronto/GTA-based artists are showing their true colours and stepping into the limelight. Tory Lanez, The Weeknd, PARTYNEXTDOOR and Jully Black are simply a short list of internationally acclaimed artists representing the Toronto music scene.
Toronto has also become a hub for business and tech startups – many of which started in Ryerson’s own backyard! Inkbox, the now infamous semi-permanent tattoo company was co-founded by a Ryerson entrepreneurship graduate. The company started in the Ryerson Fashion Zone and amassed $10 million in funding in 2018.
Another Toronto startup-turned-international is Ritual, an app permeating the third-party meal ordering realm. The app encourages locals to try new restaurants or cafes through deals and discounts provided through the app, thus forming a customer’s ‘ritual’ at their new favourite spot. Ritual amasses an impressive 1000+ restaurants across the city, and currently, holds the title as the biggest restaurant network in the city.
So, are you ready to make the move to Toronto? From art lovers to sports fanatics, tech entrepreneurs to musicians, this city has a niche and place for every human of every background. The idea of New York City might be at the forefront of all that is bright and shiny in the world, but I believe it’s about time that we start to expand our horizons north of the border. When it comes to studying, working and living in the big city, Toronto is where it’s at.
What are you waiting for, eh?