Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Surviving New City Without A Car in Toronto

  • Location, location, location.  Picking a good location will make your life a lot easier.  Depending on whether it is winter or summer, the weather will drive your criteria.
    • Summer 
      • Transportation Consideration: Pick somewhere along the subway line. It makes you more mobile and your experience in Toronto more enjoyable.  There are tones of festivals and events to go to in the summer time.  
      • Grocery Consideration: Pick somewhere close to a supermarket or accessible to a supermarket through public transportation.  I'm Chinese.  I have to pick somewhere where I can buy authentic Chinese groceries.  
      • Zip Car Consideration: Pick somewhere you can access Zip Car within 5-10 min work.  Just for whenever you want to go somewhere further or need to pick up bigger item to have an option to fall back to.
      • Medical Clinic Consideration: Pick somewhere you can find a doc.  If you are alone in a city you don't know, the least thing you want is to figure out where the doc is and travel a long distance to get to the doc (then get your medication somewhere).
      • Bank Consideration: Pick somewhere close to your bank or accessible to a bank
    • Winter - there are a few more things to think about...
      • Best to find a place where it has underground tunnel that can connect you to the subway.  You want to minimize the distance that you will be exposed outdoor.  It can get quiet cold.  I can't bare more than 10 min work uptown during only Dec (Jan and Feb are the coldest month).
      • Fitness Consideration: If  you are active or want to keep active, you may want to find a location that is close to a place that offer sports you like to participate.  Apartment may be a good choice as most apartment has its own gym and swimming pool.  It is quiet convenient.  YMCA is a good place for multiple different sport and the membership includes a variety of fitness classes.  you can't really go outside much in the winter time so it is good to plan this in.
    • Yonge @ Sheppard, Yonge @ Dundas, Yonge @ Wellington have reasonably priced room for rent that fit all the above criteria.  
  • Finding a place to rent can get interesting.  I used craigslist for the 2 places I found.  It takes time to hunt and check-out the places but I always find places at location I want, at the price I want and furnished.  TO does offer some subsidized housing with pretty good rates at some good location.  It is a good alternative.
    • I usually text a friend where I'm going just in case.  There are some freaky people out there sometime.  
    • Check constantly!  Good places get taken quite fast.  But always look at the place before hand and chat with the folks you will be sharing to make sure they are not psycho.  The usual stuff. 
  • Zip Car is such a great option to go for.  You can rent a car by hour in case you want to do a short excursion outside of your subway line boundaries.  It is really easy to use and you can take the car to US too, which is not common with other companies with same kind of service.  An alternative is weekend rental from regular car rental place.  They have weekend deals in the summer time to rent a car for the whole weekend including drop off (depending on location) for only $60 or so.
  • Grocery Shopping gets challenging without a car and on budget.  Convenience usually equate to more expensive bills.  It is good to settle in your new place before winter hit so you can get familiar with what's around you.  I rent a Zip Car every 2 weeks to buy bigger item stuff from supermarket that sell cheaper stuff 


    • Milk and eggs for some reason are very reasonable at Shopper Drug Mart

    • sometime you will find local market offers cheap produce

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