How do you survive living in Toronto or any major city?!?!

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As I was on the TTC (public transit for non-Torontonians), I read this interesting article about one-bedroom apartment rent going up to $1850 from $1500 within nine months according to Padmapper. Also with the endless conversations with my family and friends about how expensive cost of living has gotten, it makes me ponder…how the heck do we survive living in Toronto or any major city?!?!?

Think about it, whether you live in the Downtown core, suburbs (Scarborough, Etobicoke or North York) or within the “Greater Toronto Area” (Pickering, Ajax, Mississauga, Brampton, Vaughn or Markham), you try to make it within your income. According to the average income this year so far is $58,677.

Just this year I managed to get a decent job with decent pay, and I’ve managed to aggressively pay off my credit card. I have been very fortunate but still, in the back of my head, I think of all the options to make the city’s cost of living work in my favour. So I decided to share some of the various options that not only I do, but family and friends.


I’m only speaking about rent because of the article I was provided. I do understand that many of you pay mortgage and property tax. However, you can consider the options the same way you would if you had owned your own property (house, condo, townhouse, etc.). So if you are on the verge of getting a property to live in, or have a property, you can still take this into consideration.

Living with your parents

This is probably the most cost-efficient way to have your cost of living to be affordable. Most parents are willing to let you pay a reasonable amount of rent. So if you are in this situation take advantage of the opportunity of saving a heap of money so you will eventually be able to afford a place on your own (whether it’s a house or condo). Just remember you’re now a grown adult living with your parents, so try to help around the house instead of acting like you are a tenant.

Living with others (roommates)

This is another cost-efficient way, however, could be a hit or miss. You could decide between living with a family member, friends, your significant other or even complete strangers. It’s true that choosing the right person to live with makes or breaks your experience with roommates. While the pros of living with someone is cutting cuts, especially if you find a decent price for rent, but you would have to think of the responsibility and tasks that need to be done around your place. If you’re planning to move in with a complete stranger try to meet up for coffee or a meal and see if you are compatible; because after all, you will be living together for at least a year.




High paying job

This is everyone’s dream from the moment you get out of high school or post-secondary school. Bam! You’ve gotten the six-figure salary career you always dreamed of! And you are able to run the whole company within 10-15 years. *Pop* Sorry I had to burst your bubble. That is not the case normally, so it is up to you to work towards your career and get to the high paying position. Normally you have to be content with an entry-level position and gradually work your way up. If having a full-time job doesn’t help your cost of living then I would suggest…

Part-time jobs

If you have the energy and time to have an extra job or two, then, by all means, give it a try. At this time it isn’t uncommon for individuals having multiple jobs to have multiple sources of income. Or another suggestion is…

Freelance work/side hustle

Is there something you are passionate about and want to earn money from? Well my friends, try freelancing! There are so many hobbies and interests that people have and get paid to do. Why not you? Are you a painter/artist? Are you a photographer or are you into fitness or even cooking/baking? All these special hobbies and interest can generate you money (if done right). So check out places like fiver or Upwork. And eventually, you could change your career and work for the business that you own.



When it comes to transportation you have to see which one works for you. Depending on your career it’s more feasible to have a car because of various meetings you might have. But if you’re working downtown then it’s more feasible to just take public transit. Sadly, in Toronto, whether you choose to take the TTC or GO, you could easily drop $146.75 or $275. Either way, the cost is a variable cost for you so try to minimize on this spending. Here are some suggestions:




A way to save money on transportation is carpooling. You and a friend/family member can agree to carpool to work to reduce transportation cost. Just agree to pay for gas money if it is not your car or if you are the driver agree on a reasonable price for gas; don’t forget parking fees as well. Hopefully whoever you carpool with isn’t annoying, making you find another option.


Is it cheaper to use a token or single-fare payments than getting a monthly pass? At work, I get a monthly discount on a metropass which saves me approximately $16. Let’s just say if I use my metropass on the weekend I would be getting a great deal. If you only go from point A to point B (work or school) then perhaps it’s more feasible to just purchase tokens. It’s always reasonable to do a run test for a couple of months, to see which option is more affordable.


Depending on the career you have or which location you work from, it might be more feasible to have a vehicle; especially if you have your own business (Tax deductible). Normally when you drive it saves you time compared to using public transit. Especially if you resort to taking a Taxi or Uber due to lateness. If you actually calculated the amount you spend on Taxi/Uber you may realize it’s cheaper to own your own vehicle. But make sure you are able to cut the cost of car insurance, repairs, etc.



I would say I used to be considered a social bunny! Most functions or gatherings that I would hear about I was there!! Birthday events, parties, fetes, functions, you name it. I. Was. There. However, I noticed my pockets didn’t appreciate how generous I was. I started to become more frugal (like I wasn’t frugal enough). Here are some ideas that work:

Affordable way of eating out

In South Korea, it was common to share meals. So ever so often I shared meals with my family and friends (and I REALLY appreciate the friends that don’t mind sharing). This way we will be splitting the bill instead of everyone paying for a meal. OR how about Groupon? Even though I don’t use this, it’s absolutely GENIUS! Finding meals for $20-30 a person that is normally $50-100!!! (this is a great gift for Christmas…stay tuned for a blog about that)




This only works for whoever has a place where people can come over and their family, roommates or even neighbours are okay with it. This is the most cost-efficient way. Each person brings an item and enjoys an evening of catching up. If you enjoy the outdoors there are parks that have picnic tables or bring a blanket (try not to do this in the winter time though).

Home-cooked meals

I get it, there are days you don’t want to cook. It’s easier just to order a pizza or from KFC. However, think of how much you would be saving if you spent $40-60 on groceries and meal prepped for lunch and dinner for the week. The average meal at work is $8-10 a meal, so if you were able to reduce eating out 5 times to once or twice you would be saving approximately $35-40 a week alone!


If you normally head out to the club every week, poppin’ those bottles, or attending soca fetes, where you are winin’ or wukkin’ up on somebody. But at the end of the weekend, you are regretting it. Well, then my friend, this section is for you! If you’re a promoter and you get paid for that, COOL! However, most of us aren’t that fortunate. If you are a person that loves going out. Then try to get on the discounted guestlist to save or start going out once in a while instead. Trust me, the place will still be there in a month or two (hopefully).


Various other expenses


I know many shopaholics! Many! Whether they are in Winners, in the mall or even doing online shopping. The advice I would give people that love to shop is, find SALES, go to discount or consignment stores! If you normally shop every week, try to reduce it to once a month. That means getting rid of those subscriptions online to stop the temptations. So example, if you normally spend $50+ a week with shopping, try cutting down to once a month and spend about $60 for a month or two.


If anything, this is my key guilty pleasure. I LOVE travelling! If I could travel 3-5 times a year, I would! However I’ve become more realistic with my lifestyle, I literally had to say “no” to 3 trips this year (It hurt me dearly). However I’m aggressively paying off my credit card, so at this moment I don’t have a budget for travel. But once I finish paying off my credit card I will open up a savings account strictly for travelling. Ideally, you want to plan a trip at least 3-4 months ahead of time so you don’t have to take away from another part of your budget. Also try to get a credit card that has AirMiles, or specials AND PAY IT BACK IN FULL!


A lot of ladies and fellas will hate me for this one. How many of you normally get a weekly touch up on your hair or get your nails done each week? What if I told you based on your hair you could do that yourself; also with nails and toenails!!! So instead of your regular 30-50 on your hair and nails, you can simply reduce to every 2 to 3 weeks and do your own touch ups on your own. Don’t worry, YouTube is your favourite tool for tutorials.


Honestly, Living in Toronto or any major city is tricky and finding ways to survive to make ends meet has to do with your lifestyle. So you have two options you bust your arse to live the lifestyle you are used to or you sacrifice for a while to be able to flourish in the future. It’s really your choice; I will stick to making some sacrifices for a short period of time and eventually rise to the top!!! Are you keeping up with the Joneses? Or live within your means? Drop a comment at the bottom. If you have difficulties budgeting, well I’m your lady. I will be able to set you up with a budget that works with you instead of against you.


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