Featured image of the Toronto neighbourhood profile for Mimico

Mimico Toronto Neighbourhood Profile From Frank Leo & Associates

Click on one of the headings in the table of contents to jump directly to that section. 


History of Mimico

Landmarks & Notable Features

Things To Do In Mimico

Public Transportation

Meet The Neighbours

Local Culture

Real Estate In Mimico


Residential Amenities




Dog Parks

Welcome To Mimico, Etobicoke’s Waterfront Community

Mimico is one of Toronto’s older neighbourhoods and has roots stretching back over 150 years. Since its humble beginnings as a village and industrial town it has blossomed into a modern urban community with gorgeous waterfront park land in South Etobicoke. 

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History of Mimico

While “The Beaches” is the big city neighbourhood with a small town vibe in today’s Toronto, Mimico used to have its place as the small town in the big city. The region has a rich and well-documented history, though much of it deals with the administrative matter of incorporations into what eventually became the GTA. 

In the 1800s, Mimico, Ont., was originally known by the First Nations People as “Omimeca”, meaning “the resting place of the wild pigeons.” These pigeons would stop over in the Mimico area as part of their migratory journeys. 

The passenger or “wild pigeon” is now extinct, but its memory lives on in the name Mimico which evolved from the Ojibwe word which found its way into anglophone mouths. 

One of Etobicoke’s most prominent businessmen, William Gamble, opened a sawmill on the west bank of Mimico Creek up from the lake, and a small settlement for the mill workers was built nearby. As a devout man, Gamble helped fund Etobicoke’s first church and the settlement had everything you’d need to be incorporated as a town in the early 19th century. 

Mimico began to develop in the 1890s below Lakeshore Boulevard, where many of Toronto’s wealthiest families built their summer homes. A few of these homes still exist today.

An image of historic mimico intended to show off the neighbourhood for a Toronto Mimico Neighbourhood Guide
photo courtesy of wikicommons

The town truly began to grow as a year-round community in 1906, when the Grand Trunk Railway opened its Mimico Yards. The need for nearby housing, as more railway workers and their families arrived, led to a building boom

Mimico was incorporated in 1917 and retained its town status until 1967, when it was amalgamated with the borough of Etobicoke. In 2001, it became a community within Toronto.

Landmarks & Notable Features

“Embassy Row”

It may not compare with downtown Toronto’s collection of diplomatic facilities, but Lakeshore Boulevard W. is home to the embassies of both Poland & Ukraine. Interestingly, Poland’s Consulate is in a historic lakefront manor while the Ukraine Consulate has a new office building near Mimico Creek. 

Mimico Creek 

Although the pedestrian trail lining Mimico Creek doesn’t begin until just north of the Gardiner Expressway outside of Mimico, the creek itself is a well-known landmark at the very eastern tip of the neighbourhood. Like the neighbourhood itself, Mimico Creek gets its name from the native word “Omineca” which described the now-extinct migratory pigeons which stopped over on their lush waterfront during their journeys. Today, there are 2 gorgeous parks where the creek meets Lake Ontario, plus walking trails which stretch north all the way until Eglinton Ave. 

Humber Arch Bridge

Perhaps Toronto’s most visually distinct pedestrian bridge, Humber Arch Bridge sits on the eastern extreme of Mimico crossing the Humber River. It’s large, towering design and wide walking space isn’t typical of pedestrian bridges but the extra space doesn’t go to waste, especially during the summer months. The Martin Goodman trail crosses this bridge and brings hundreds of tourists, cyclists, and visitors each day. 

An image of the Humber Bay Arch bridge intended to show the neighbourhood landmarks for a Toronto Neighbourhood profile
image courtesy wikicommons

SanRemo Bakery

Any local will attest to the absolutely legendary status of Sanremo Bakery on Royal York Rd., but the reputation of this full-service Italian-Canadian bakery and restaurant extends beyond the neighbourhood. Positioned at the top of many “best of the city” bakery lists, Sanremo Bakery has been serving up Italian-inspired baked goods since 1969. That’s not all they serve, either. Sanremo offers a full selection of deli fare plus hot meals and even catering. The bakery’s apple fritter is the claim to fame at this local spot, but there’s no shortage of great food to try. 

Train Maintenance Yards

Servicing both Via Rail and GO Transit trains, this massive industrial facility dominates the western-most quadrant of Mimico. To locals it’s not much more than an obstacle to getting around, but the train-yards provide vital maintenance to the city’s infrastructure while providing a good source of jobs in the local community. 

Mimico Centennial Library 

One of Toronto’s Carnegie Libraries, the Mimico Centennial Library has been around for over 100 years, as the name suggests. Although the building itself is not as impressive as some of the city’s other libraries and the library is not a municipal treasure, it’s certainly well-known amongst locals.  

The Waterfront Parks

Most visitors to Mimico come for two things – the waterfront parks and the views they offer of Toronto’s downtown skyline. These parks at Mimico’s eastern extreme may not offer the sandy beaches of Toronto’s East End, but they offer their own unique charm and have the unobstructed views that The Beaches don’t offer.  

Things to Do in Mimico

Visit The Waterfront

There’s no shortage of activities on the Mimico waterfront in the summertime. Whether you want to sit down and relax in the shade to have a picnic or read a book, walk or bike the waterfront trail, or simply grab a few photos of downtown, the waterfront is the place to be in Mimico. Trails are accessible even in the wintertime, and the area’s close proximity to the main Lakeshore Blvd. W. promenade makes ducking back for a coffee or a meal quite convenient. 

An image of humber bay shores park intended to show off the area for a Toronto Neighbourhood Profile of mimico

Play Some Tennis

The Mimico Tennis Club is typical of your Toronto community tennis club except for one detail. It’s one of the few tennis clubs in the city which offer red clay courts. You won’t find that fast-surface play easily in other parts of the city, so if tennis is your sport Mimico is a great place to live. However, If you’re simply interested in some casual tennis without the club atmosphere, there are well-maintained hard courts available for public use in Ourland Park on the west side of the neighbourhood. 

Indulge Your Passion For Watercraft

If sailing is your passion, Mimico is the place to be in Toronto. Lake Ontario already offers world-class fresh-water sailing, and Mimico is well-appointed for sailing of all kinds thanks to both the Mimico Cruising Club and Etobicoke Yacht Club, both located in Humber Bay Park West along with the Humber Bay Sailing Centre sailing school. Whether you are a beginner or veteran of the seas, there’s a community there for you in Mimico.

image: wikicommons

Enjoy Humber Bay Parks

It would be a shame to visit this waterfront community without taking advantage of the splendid natural beauty of the waterfront park land. Starting from Mimico Waterfront Park which is located near the bottom of the neighbourhood, you can follow a trail all the way to Mimico’s eastern border and through a number of great lookout points, gardens, and other features along the way. Mimico’s waterfront trails connect up to the Martin Goodman trail which leads all the way through downtown to the East End, making Mimico the perfect departure point for a longer trip through the city. 

Shop The Humber Bay Farmers Market

Every Saturday from May 25th to October 5th the Humber Bay Farmers Market takes place in Humber Bay Park West from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. With 30+ vendors offering the full range of organic, vegan, gluten-free, and sustainably sourced goods, the farmer’s market is a great way to start off a day in Mimico. There’s parking available on the market lot, although spots fill up fast. Whether you want to stock up on goodies for the week or simply grab a snack for a picnic in the park, the farmer’s market welcomes patrons of all kinds. 

Visit The Butterfly Garden 

The Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat is a garden parkette on the south end of Humber Bay Shores Park which is free to visit for some wildlife spotting. This foliage-dense pocket of the park has plants specially selected to attract wildlife, especially butterflies. Of course the availability of wildlife to observe depends on the season, but the community stewardship program which runs the butterfly sanctuary is a terrific place to learn about optimal times to visit and to get a more extensive knowledge of local wildlife. Whether you want to visit to spot some Monarchs – the most common butterfly at the HBBH – or help out pruning some plants for an hour or two, this park of Mimico is great for a new experience. 

Walk Mimico Creek

While Mimico Creek runs through the eastern tip of the neighbourhood, the walking trail actually begins slightly north of Mimico’s northern boundary. The trail is not continuous as it stretches north and it isn’t as cut off from the city as the Don Valley and Taylor Creek Trails in the east, but Mimico Creek is still a nice break from hectic city life and offers a more peaceful nature experience than the hugely popular waterfront parks in Mimico. 

Catch A Panoramic View of Downtown Toronto 

You can catch a great view of Toronto’s downtown core from most sections of Mimico’s waterfront parks, but the real Instagram-worthy snaps can be had at 1 of 3 lookout points – Etobicoke Point at the end of Humber Bay Park West, the far tip of Humber Bay Park East, and Sheldon Lookout Point by Humber Bay Arch Bridge. 

Public Transportation

As one of Toronto’s older neighbourhoods, Mimico is well-connected to the rest of the city by not only the TTC but by GO Train service as well. The grid layout of the neighbourhood makes choosing a transit route simple and unambiguous. TTC Service is ubiquitous in Toronto, but what sets Mimico aside in terms of convenience is the GO Train which gives fast access to other Toronto neighbourhoods and other cities entirely. 

TTC Service in Mimico

Going north or getting to the Bloor-Danforth Line is as simple as catching either the 110 Islington Bus or the 76 Royal York Rd. bus from anywhere on Lake Shore Blvd. W. and above. 

Crossing the east-west axis is a little trickier if you are north of Lake Shore Blvd. W. Since the neighbourhood is bisected by railroad tracks, there aren’t many convenient bus routes for getting across Mimico. 

Luckily, just north of the Gardiner Expressway there’s Route 80 which takes you along the Queensway either to Sherway Gardens in the west or eastbound to Parkside Dr. 

However, if you’re near the water the 501 Streetcar service on Lakeshore will take you all the way to downtown and beyond, but you’ll have to switch streetcars at the Humber Loop. The transfer keeps you on the same route and doesn’t require an extra fare. It’ll take you along the Gardiner Expressway until it meets Queen St. West, then it goes all the way across town to the Neville Park Loop. 

It can be a rather enjoyable journey even though the 501Streetcar is one of the more popular streetcar routes in the city. It takes you around the Humber Bay, past High Park, and through one of the city’s most vibrant neighbourhoods. Best of all, if you get on in Mimico you’ll have a good chance of grabbing a seat before the streetcar gets busy around Roncesvalles Ave.

Use the TTC Trip Planner to map out your journey from start to finish. 

Mimico GO Train Station 

The Mimico GO Train Station is a transportation amenity that not all Toronto neighbourhoods are lucky enough to have. The centrally-located GO Station grants Mimico residents access to Toronto’s entire waterfront stretch and beyond. With the Presto system in place, switching onto the TTC is simpler than ever as riders can use the same card to pay TTC fares. 

Commuters can hop on for a comfortable and stress-free commute to Liberty Village or the downtown core via Union Station. 

Those with a farther destination can either transfer onto the Eastbound Line and ride as far as Oshawa. In the other direction, you can get on at Mimico and ride all the way to Hamilton. Although Mimico may not be the most walkable neighbourhood, it certainly has some advantages which it comes to intercity and mid-range travel. 

Visit the GO Transit website for full route times and details. 

Meet The Neighbours

As a neighbourhood in Toronto’s largest city, Mimico is diverse in terms of age, culture, and the background of its residents. According to the latest census data, the neighbourhood has a population of over 34,000 residents and it’s growing fast. The population change in the 5 year span between 2011 and 2016 alone shows an increase of 28%. 

This rapid growth is due in large part to the continued development of the condominium community in the neighbourhood’s east end, a development which shows no signs of slowing down. 

The population density is around 5,000 people per square kilometer, although the condominium community pumps that average up considerably. 


Over recent years, Mimico has steadily transitioned from a predominantly family community to a hub for working professionals drawn to the condo developments along Lakeshore Blvd. W. 

Over 65% of residents are working-age people between the ages of 25 & 64. 60% of residents live in 6+ storey apartment-type housing and a whopping 46% of homes are single person households. 

With the proportional number of children and youth well below the city average (10% vs. 15%)  and the working age population considerably higher compared with other neighbourhoods (52% vs. 45%), it’s clear Mimico has undergone a demographic change along with its housing development. 

Median family income is only slightly higher than the Toronto average at about $93,134, but the proportion of the Mimico population living in what is considered poverty is also below city averages. 

Local Culture

Up until recently Mimico has been a quiet family and immigrant community without too many frills. While this type of neighbourhood vibe still remains in the western part of Mimico, a more typically urban culture has emerged due in part to the appearance of condominiums in the east. 

The southern part of Lakeshore Blvd. W. is still mostly a residential space with occasional corner shops and the type of local culture typical of a suburban Toronto neighbourhood. Closer to downtown is where the commercial real estate lines both sides of Lakeshore Blvd. and the restaurants and stores give you the idea you are certainly in a major urban centre. 

Farther east still is the large condo community which exemplifies the major metropolitan condo lifestyle. Large condo developments often have their own amenities either in the buildings or close by. Many of the neighbourhood’s residents spend over an hour commuting to work and less than 30% take public transit, indicating that there’s more of a car commuting culture to the area. 

Real Estate In Mimico

Residential real estate in Mimico can be broken down into 2 categories which can be distinguished geographically. There are waterfront condos densely packed into the eastern tip of Mimico and the rest of the neighbourhood’s residences which cover the majority of its land mass.  

Along the parts of the lakeshore there are a number of low-rise apartment buildings, but the vast majority of residential space in Mimico is taken up by single family houses. 

As can be expected, closer to the water there are more upscale houses. The northeastern residential zone is especially nice with its old-growth foliage and quiet residential feel. 

An image of condo's in Toronto's Mimico neighbourhood
Condos in Mimico. Image: B.Kasimov, Flikr

There are still plenty of great homes to be found farther west. The northwestern section has gentrified in recent years, owing in part at least to the convenient access to the Gardiner Expressway and the close proximity to Mimico Go Station. 

The western part of Mimico is strictly industrial, dominated by the Go Transit Maintenance Facility and Toronto Maintenance Centre, and it’s unlikely any rezoning will take place. However, the condo market does continue to expand in the east with lakefront property at a premium. 

A large empty lot at the eastern tip of Mimico is expected to become a condominium community fuelled by the city’s ever growing need for high-density housing. 

Interested in real estate in Mimico? Frank Leo & Associates have all of your real estate needs covered with decades of experience selling & buying properties in the area. Get in touch to find out how we can accommodate your real estate needs. You can also catch all the latest Mimico real estate listings on our website.


According to municipal boundaries, Mimico is a South Etobicoke neighbourhood beginning at the Gardiner Expressway and stretching right down to the Lake. It spans from Ashbride’s Bay in the East to just past Kipling Ave. in the West with a thick slice of the Southern shoreline cut out around Dwight Ave. 

An image of the Toronto neighbourhood of Mimico taken from Google Maps

Mimico’s most distinguishing geographic features are Mimico Creek, Ashbridge’s Bay Bridge, and the Humber Bay Parks which the creek spills into. 

 The Lake Ontario shoreline has been spectacularly transformed into a number of interconnected lake-front parks each offering its own unique setting. These green spaces offer gorgeous panoramas of the Toronto downtown plus a place to leave behind the fast pace of the urban environment for a few minutes. 

Next we have Mimico Creek, a thin and winding creek cutting through the northern tip of the neighbourhood and ending up in Lake Ontario where it’s capped off by two parks situated on peninsulas which spill out onto the lake – Humber Bay Park East and Humber Bay Park West. Although you can’t walk the creek from the lakeshore itself, a few hundred meters north begins a trail which stretches north for several kilometers. You’ll find plenty of park space, sights, and sounds along the way which are definitely worth it for a run, a bike ride, or just a casual stroll. 

A bit Further north-east of Mimico is Ashbridge’s Bay, where the Humber River meets Lake Ontario. There isn’t much green space to speak of here, although the Humber Bay Arch Bridge is a sight to behold for its size and shape which isn’t typical of pedestrian and foot-traffic bridges. 

Most of the remaining land covered by Mimico – which is most of it – is flat, featureless, and covered in single-family housing. This residential portion of the neighbourhood is bisected by the railroad and has Mimico GO Station directly in the middle. Quite convenient for commuters working in the downtown core since Union Station is the second stop on the Lakeshore Eastbound Line.  

Residential Amenities

Ourland Recreation Centre (Local Community Centre)

Located on Ourland Ave. near the Western border of the neighbourhood, this municipal community centre is one of the more well-appointed community centres in Toronto. Indoor facilities are limited to a gymnasium and bocce ball court, although the centre is surrounded by ample greenspace complete with a baseball diamond, outdoor pool, and well-maintained tennis courts. 

Available programming includes children’s sports camps and a raquet club for both children and adults. Check the city’s website for a full list of programming. 

Mimico Arena

Immediately south of the train maintenance yard is Mimico Arena, a small local sporting venue that’s home to an ice rink in the winter and a lacrosse league in the warmer months. The arena may be modest in size, but it’s still a great place to skate with the family during one of the leisure skating periods offered in the winter. Athletically inclined youth and adults can join one of the sports leagues offered the rest of the year, whether that be hockey or lacrosse. 

Mimico Adult Centre

Offering adult learning courses and ESL studies, Mimico’s Adult Centre provides help for newcomers to Canada hoping to improve their English as well as programs for established Canadians hoping to pick up a new skill or hobby. Classes include everything from self-care pain management to ballroom dancing to bridge and calligraphy. The centre has a positive, encouraging atmosphere and patrons fondly describe the feeling of being in an environment full of like-minded adults from all walks of life working together to build a new skill. 


Mimico’s only library is the Toronto Public Library Mimico Centennial Branch, but it’s quite sizeable for a local branch. Built over 100 years ago thanks in part to an endowment from The Carnegie Corporation, it was updated in 1966 and has been in steady operation since. 

The branch offers all the amenities you’d expect from a major metropolitan library branch plus a spacious second floor with ample room to study, read, or relax. 

Mimico Branch is also one of the few Toronto Library Branches which features both meeting rooms and a Theatre / Auditorium you can book

You can take advantage of Library programming for patrons of all ages. These programs include everything from March Break camps for kids to adult book clubs. 

Take a look at the library website for an up-to-date list of programming.

Schools & Education

Mimico has no shortage of both private and public schools, though the only high schools in the immediate area are just slightly outside of the neighbourhood’s boundaries. Mimico High School closed in 1988. John English Junior Middle School now occupies the Mimico Highschool building. 

In addition to regular TDSB elementary schools, Mimico is home to Montessori Schools, Bi-lingual Schools, and Nurseries. Both the Toronto District School Board and Toronto Catholic District Schoolboard service this neighbourhood. 

Elementary Schools

Seventh Street Junior School, 101 Seventh St, 416-394-7820

Second Street Junior Middle School, 71 Second St, 416-394-7640

John English Junior Middle School, 95 Mimico Ave, 416-394-7660

George R Gauld Junior School, 200 Melrose St, 416-394-7830

David Hornell Junior School, 32 Victoria St, 416-394-7690

Catholic Schools

St. Leo Elementary, 165 Stanley Ave, 416-393-5333

Childcare & Private Schools

The Mildenhall School, 35 Ourland Ave., 416-259-2822

Oak Learners, 394 Royal York Road, 416-820-5233

Phoenix Montessori School Inc, 2 Station Rd.,  416-695-1212


Like many suburban Toronto neighbourhoods, Etobicoke is split between people who live in the neighbourhood and commute to the city’s various business areas for work and local workers who staff essential amenities like stores, restaurants, and local businesses. 

The western part of Mimico is largely industrial zoning so the area has a number of corresponding businesses where residents could find labour. Typical of the periphery of a major city, office space in this part of the city is much more affordable than downtown or even midtown Toronto. As a result, small to medium businesses and recently started companies often call Mimico their home and may be in a position to take on employees. 

Although not in Mimico proper, just to the south are both Humber College Lakeshore Campus and Toronto Police College, both of which offer both primary and ancillary employment to many Torontonians. 


For all of its comfort and convenience, Mimico is definitely not among Toronto’s most walkable neighbourhoods. It’s currently sitting at a walkability score of 62, probably due in part to the fact that it’s bisected by some industrial zones, namely the enormous Toronto train maintenance yards and the Ontario Food Terminal. 

With that said, it gets more walkable farther East on the lakeshore where more condominiums and modern development has grown. There you’ll find restaurants of all kinds as well as grocery stores and other amenities, not to mention access to green space and recreational opportunities. 

The 501 Streetcar route makes moving around by foot even easier through the south end of the neighbourhood, though the only real north-south transit opportunities are by main roads on a bus. 

Some of the area’s walking is tremendously enjoyable, namely the waterfront and parts of Lakeshore Blvd. However, parts of western Mimico are mostly industrial and if you choose to walk them you’ll find yourself on busy roads with little to offer in terms of scenery or amenities. 

Ultimately, Mimico is more of a commuter or car owner’s neighbourhood. With so many residences in a small area there simply isn’t enough commercial retail space outside of Lakeshore Blvd. W. to service such a large population. 


Bikeability in Mimico is another story. The neighbourhood has a bikeability score of 77, owning largely to the convenient thoroughfare provided by Lakeshore Blvd. W. and the side streets which make up much of the residential area. 

With the exception of Royal York Rd. and Islington Ave., most of the streets have lower traffic volume and are therefore more pleasant and safe to cycle. Cycling is far more convenient than walking if you need to cross the train tracks. Since the only overpasses are on main thoroughfare roads, getting to those track crossings is much faster via bike. 

Cycling gets truly enjoyable on the waterfront trail. It’s more of a leisure trip, but taking a bike out onto the Humber Bay Parks and Humber Bay Shores parks is a top cycling experience. 

Green Space

Although much of the neighbourhood is taken up by private residences there is more than ample greenspace if you know where to look and you’re willing to spend a few minutes getting there. 

An image of the the view from Humber Park Bay West
The view looking west from Mimico’s Humber Bay Park West waterfront park. image: wikicommons

The crowning jewel of Mimico is its lake shore parkland. You’ll find waterfront park after waterfront park in Mimico’s east end, and practically each park is complete with beaches, trees, and plenty of greenery. Just be aware that the beaches in this part of Toronto are of the rocky variety, unlike Woodbine Beach in The Beaches. 

You can get a bit more privacy at Mimico Waterfront Park, although it’s less travelled because it is considerably smaller than its counterparts. Moving north along the shoreline you’ll find Humber Bay Park West and Humber Bay Park East flanking the outlet of Mimico Creek into Lake Ontario. 

These two parks sit on wavy peninsulas splitting away from the creek. 

The western half of this park is a trail featuring several lookout points along the way and ending    with an off-leash dog park. Etobicoke Yacht Club takes up most of the real estate of the peninsula, but the park is still a worthwhile trip for the views, especially if you have a pet to take advantage of the park. 

Humber Bay Park East is a peninsula full of parkland and a trail that loops around. The park’s trail connects up with the rest of the shoreline parks to the north, passing through Mimico Butterfly Garden along the way. 

You can then follow Humber Bay Shores Park all the way northeast out of the neighbourhood to Ashbridge’s Bay where you’ll find Humber Bay Arch Bridge and the popular Sheldon Lookout.

Each park in this area has something to offer, but they are all united with 1 quality. Tremendous panoramas of Downtown Toronto. 

However, if you should find yourself in need of a change of scenery you can also visit one of the local parks set into the neighbourhood. You have Ourland Park to the west, Coronation Park in the centre, and Mimico Memorial Park to name a few.

There’s always Mimico Creek a bit north, but you have to leave the neighbourhood to get there. You’ll also find numerous parkettes around the southern end of Mimico and beyond. There are some truly cozy parkettes at the end of streets which hit the lake. 

Dog Parks

The Mimico area has 3 dedicated dog parks, all of which are located in the Humber Bay belt of parks. There are other places available for dog walking, but the designated off-leash zones are all concentrated in the neighbourhoods east end where the green space is most abundantly available. 

Humber Bay Park West Dog Park

The most isolated yet most rewarding dog park in Mimico, Humber Bay Park West Dog Park has something to offer for dogs and their owners. As an off-leash park, it gives canines the opportunity to frolic, socialize, and exercise freely while their human companions enjoy nature and take in some of the best views of the Toronto skyline in the city. Unobstructed thanks to the sweeping Humber Bay, park visitor get a clear shot at the CN Tower and surrounding downtown core. 

Humber Bay Park West

Although it doesn’t support off-leash dog walking, this section of the Humber Bay peninsula is a bit more accessible and offers the added bonus of public washrooms. It’s got great scenery and lookout points of its own, plus you can walk several hundred meters of Lake Ontario Beach! 

Humber Bay Shores Park

This park is also strictly on-leash for dogs, but dogs can enjoy nearly a kilometer of beachfront grass, trail, and beach to sniff around and explore. The park is lined by condos on the west side, so the accompanying amenities are never too far away to make the area convenient and enjoyable. It’s also just a few steps from Lakeshore Blvd. W., so catching a streetcar to another part of the city is simple and convenient. There’s also a parking lot just to the south of the park, but it fills up quickly. 

An image of a room full of boxes to illustrate downsizing in Canada

Downsizing in Toronto & The GTA: A Real Estate Guide From Frank Leo & Associates

Downsizing crosses the minds of many Canadians in the later stages of life because of the potential financial benefits and lifestyle improvements it can provide. When the kids have left the nest and work life is winding down moving to smaller property can seem like the obvious move, yet there are many Canadians who are unsure about whether downsizing is right for them. 

A recent survey about downsizing in Canada found that nearly half of baby boomers say they have no plans to downsize. So why such a contentious split on the issue?

Quite simply, Canadians just aren’t sure about the realities of downsizing. It’s not as simple as just selling your home, buying a smaller residence, then pocketing the difference. In fact, four out of ten Canadians who haven’t downsized say they’re skeptical of potential savings while a third of those who plan on downsizing admit they aren’t sure about the costs. 

So, this guide will share what we at Frank Leo & Associates have learned over decades in the Toronto & GTA real estate industry helping 1,000’s of residents buy and sell homes to downsize. 

We’ll start with the fundamentals, and remember that if you have any questions or require clarification about your situation don’t hesitate to reach out to us

What is Downsizing, Exactly?

Downsizing involves selling your property, usually a single-family home, and buying a smaller property, often a townhouse, condo, or bungalow. Downsizing can mean different things to different people, but it involves switching to a smaller, cheaper residence, often with lower square footage, with a substantial difference between the selling price of the old home and the cost of the new property. 

Why Do Canadians Downsize?

Although many people downsize because of the financial advantage of liquidating part of their net worth to fund retirement, some people downsize to reduce maintenance expenses on a property that isn’t fully used. 

There are a number of reasons Canadians choose to downsize, but they mostly come down to financial and practical considerations. Here are some of the common reasons people choose to downsize:

  • Their homes have become too big for them, whether because their family has shrunk or a smaller living space is more suitable for their lifestyle
  • They travel to warmer climates in the winter and don’t need to pay for the upkeep of such a large space in the winter. Given Canada’s climate, it’s no surprise that snowbirding is a popular practice here. 
  • Housework, yardwork, and maintenance become to much or they would prefer to have more free time 
  • Cutting monthly expenses like heating, hydro, and taxes becomes a priority later in life
  • Moving closer to family in another part of the city or in another part of the country entirely
  • They need or want to downsize to pay off their mortgage or other financial obligations
  • The money from downsizing can help fund a more comfortable retirement

As many positive reasons as there are for downsizing, it’s a life-altering decision that shouldn’t be undertaken lightly. Individual circumstances vary and downsizing isn’t right for everyone even if the real estate sale and moving process goes smoothly. 

Factors to Consider When Downsizing 

Prospective downsizers should be aware of all the costs, risks, and considerations which can come up with downsizing. Remember that there’s more to consider than just finances when downsizing. Emotional ties to a home, local amenities, and lifestyle choices are all important factors to consider. 

The Financial Considerations

Buying and selling real estate comes at a price. There are government taxes to consider on top of the expense of staging, marketing, and putting in the effort of finding a buyer who will pay top dollar for your property. 

Although getting a real estate agent to sell your property comes at a price, that extra cost can be well worth it if you’ve selected the best real estate agent for you. 

For one, you’re saved the hassle of handling all of the administrative and legal matters of the sale of your home. That can be a full-time proposition on its own and isn’t exactly something most downsizers want to worry about as they’re planning their new life and making the moving arrangements. 

Perhaps most importantly, the right real estate agent will maximize the profit you make on the sale of your property. That extra profit can outweigh the expense of the agent’s commission. 

Real estate agents specialize in finding qualified buyers for your property to maximize the value of your home sale. At Frank Leo & Associates, for example, we put a multi-million dollar marketing system to work for each client to attract the type of buyer who knows the value of the home and is willing to pay what the home is worth. 

You can find more information about why choosing the right real estate agent is important in our article on the importance of picking the right real estate representation.

The Costs of Staging Your Home Before Downsizing

An often overlooked detail of downsizing is getting the home into a presentable condition for the sale. Referred to as staging a home for sale, making a home look its best can help up the sale price and help the home sell fast. 

Staging can come at an additional cost if handled privately or with a brokerage which holds open houses. However, not all brokerages depend on open houses to sell homes. You can read more about how we market and sell homes without the use of intrusive open houses if you are interested in selling without the disruption of your day-to-day life.  

There may also be essential repairs to consider before selling a home. The cost of these repairs or improvements must be factored into any downsizer’s financial calculations if they are to get an accurate idea of where they will stand after the sale. 

Parting With Belongings When Downsizing

A smaller home means less space to keep things. Most people have collected a lifetime of “stuff” off all kinds – from books and clothing to furniture and even vehicles. 

Some of these items are just clutter, kept just in case they come in handy someday. Others are reminders of precious family memories or a different stage of life. It’s important to consider what it’s practical to keep and what has to go. Having that question sorted out before finding a new place to live helps avoid unpleasant surprises later on. 

For some people, sorting through so many personal affairs can be daunting and downright difficult

A storage unit is always an option, but that tacks on a monthly expense that most downsizers are looking to avoid. 

Condo Fees

Condominiums are a popular downsizing option, especially for older Canadians. The convenience of the amenities most condos have combined with the lack of maintenance responsibilities make condominium community living an attractive option indeed. 

That added convenience does come at a price. Condo fees should be carefully considered and budgeted for to get an accurate idea of finances. 

The Costs of Moving

There’s no way to get around moving costs and expenses, and they go up the farther away you plan to move. The practical option is to get rid of unused things, but there’s probably a reason you’ve kept them all those years if you still have them around when it’s time to downsize. 

The more things you have to take with you the faster moving expenses can add up. Moving across town is one thing, but crossing the country with a lifetime of personal effects can really eat into the profit of a homesale. 

The Reality of Moving Away From Home

When we’re young, moving to a new place means making new friends, having new experiences, and starting life on our own terms. All of those factors may be true later in life as well, but most downsizers would probably agree that they’re moving to create a more comfortable lifestyle and not because they didn’t enjoy the community they had at home. 

Unfortunately, we can’t take our friends, favourite neighbourhood spots, and local community with us. Moving away from the place you’ve called home for years isn’t something to be undertaken lightly. 

For some people, the concern isn’t even personal. With 35% of young Canadians between 20 and 35 years old living with parents, downsizers may be considering the potential return of their children when picking a new place to live. 

There are so many real-world factors to consider when moving that one couldn’t possible factor them all in, but having as many changes accounted for as possible will make for a smoother transition. 

Leaving The Memories Behind

Everyone has a special attachment to the place they call home. Simply being prepared to say goodbye to a home where you’ve shared memories and gone through milestone life events is something every downsizer should anticipate. 

Even if it isn’t possible to prepare for the emotional impact of such a move, accepting that it will happen is a step closer to a smoother transition to the next place you’ll call home. 

More Advice On Downsizing in Canada

If you’re thinking of downsizing give us a call or contact us through our website. Even if you’re not ready sell and you’re just looking to shed some light on a few questions or concerns, one of our staff would be happy to help make sense of downsizing and share some of the insights we’ve garnered over 3 decades in the Toronto real estate industry.