A high concentration of tiny-but-affordable condos or apartments is like kindling — somewhere nearby, there’s sure to be sparks of a singles’ scene.
If you’re looking to rent or buy and you’re single, but not necessarily wanting to stay that way — or if you’re currently attached and not necessarily planning to stay that way — there are some spots in Toronto where you’re more likely to be mingling with your kind.
Where singles in Toronto live
The miniature condo cities sprouting up in Toronto’s core, for example, would be a good start for amenity-craving, high-octane socializing, young urban professionals.
According to a recent report from the National Association of Realtors, single women in the U.S. are purchasing homes at more than double the rate of single men, but — like the premise behind “ladies free” nightclubs — where the women go, men are sure to follow.
“For singles, keeping fit and having a place to soak up the sun and hang out with friends is essential,” says Sarah Miskelly, sales representative at Keller Williams Referred Urban Realty, and TorontoHomesFinder.ca. “CityPlace is a mecca of large-scale condos with numerous amenities — similarly Liberty Village is essentially a world unto itself, with shops, restaurants and bars to please all residents.”
If your pocketbook is on the plump side, King Street is for you.
“King West is a bit more upscale, you’ll find more stylized and boutique buildings,” Miskelly says, pointing to condos such as Fashion House and Thompson Residences, renowned for their outdoor pools and summer parties. “New contender 12 Degrees Condos at 15 Beverley St. has a salt-water rooftop pool with stunning views of downtown.”
Meanwhile, Queen Street beckons the edgy-chic crowds that live to wander the streets and sample the shops.
“Queen West has more boutique-style buildings heavy on style, low on amenities, yet in a neighbourhood named by Vogue as the world’s second coolest,” Miskelly says.
“It’s what’s outside your door that matters most — endless restaurants, bars, shops and beautiful Trinity Bellwoods Park, a summer paradise of cool people lounging on the grass.”
As for renters in the core, rental prices are keeping up with home prices, Miskelly says, pointing to a 12 per cent rent increase downtown.
“For singles in Toronto, the cost of living the downtown life — without the bank of mom and dad — leads many to live with roommates.”
Miskelly says the hottest neighbourhoods often have the lowest square footage — and two-bedroom units can be as small as 600 square feet, and may actually be one-bedroom-plus-den units, with no windows. Spaces that tight can be hard to share for renters.
Moving outside of the core, of course, brings lower prices and often bigger spaces. For condo communities, Miskelly recommends Leslieville (Dundas and Carlaw) and Parklawn (Parklawn and Lake Shore), and recently Toronto Storeys’ roundup of neighbourhoods at each price point highlighted the remaining sweet spots for affordable prices:
- Fort York
- North York
- North of Yonge and Eglinton
- King and Bathurst
- Lansdowne and Dupont
As for renting, the under-$1,000 options can be found sprinkled throughout the city, mostly outside the core. While not as sexy as a downtown pad, the luxury of space and privacy can be worth the longer cab ride home from the bar.
Where singles in Toronto play
Professional matchmaker from Friend of a Friend Matchmaking, Claire AH — her professional nom de guerre — says the downtown core is a pretty straightforward dating scene.
“If you’re a banker or someone who wants to find a banker, you’ll find them on King,” she says.
Well-heeled clientele have no problems connecting with each other in the Financial District’s gilded gastropubs, and Toronto’s “meat market,” the Entertainment District, is already overflowing with Cristal clubbers — so Friend of a Friend Matchmaking’s services tend to focus on just about everybody else, including the LGBTQ+ community.
AH says the singles sweet spot — both for meeting new people and neat venues to take a new cutie — is the comfortable locale halfway between cafe and bar.
“You can choose the level of engagement and choose the ambiance, instead of necessarily saying it has to be drinks or it has to be coffee,” she says. “Sometimes alcohol is signifying one thing for a date, while coffee is signifying something else — so if you have both, you get outside of those date-idea constructed limitations.”
She points out a handful of favourite spots for straight and LGBTQ+ singles that capture this hybrid coffee-or-cocktails mingling environment — almost all available along the Bloor-Danforth line:
The Only Cafe near Danforth and Donlands: “They have an amazing beer selection, they have board games if you’re into that kind of thing, they have cozy seating and they have a great back patio. Or you can go right next door, to the cafe side of things, where they have coffees and teas and pastries.”
Holy Oak Cafe near Bloor and Lansdowne: “It has a bit of a queer, LGBTQ bent, but it’s one of the most accessible places to anybody, regardless of gender or sexuality.”
Northwood near Bloor and Ossington: “Great cocktails, ample beer selection, but also has a cafe element.”
Odin Cafe near King Street East and River Street: “A wine bar in the evening and a cafe during the day” — with a spectacularly polished (and award-winning) interior.
The Beaver near Queen and Gladstone: “A queer-friendly — but not exclusively queer — spot with great brunch, a cafe during the day, and dance parties and bar at night.”
The Steady near Bloor and Dufferin: “A solid brunch, a lot of events,” and also famous for cocktails, dance parties in the back, and an inclusive, everyone-welcome environment.
Glad Day Bookshop near Church and Wellesley: “They’ve recently moved to an all-new venue at Church and Wellesley, fully accessible; it’s an LGBTQ+ bookstore but it’s also a cafe, with brunch on weekends, really great cocktails and beer at night, dance parties and an event space.”
The Piston near Bloor and Ossington: “For people who love dancing, I love The Piston. It’s surrounded by a lot of great restaurants, with a lot of pre-dancing or post-dancing snack options; it has a bar in the front, not too expensive, but on the weekends they have really great dance parties. One of their nights is called Synthesexer (the second Friday of every month) — it’s supposed to be a bit sexy, a bit crazy, so you can meet somebody you might want to hook up with, but it’s still a respectful space.” While groping can be a major issue in dance venues, The Piston is definitely grope-free.
AH favours interactive environments — say, board games, arts events, cooking clubs, karaoke, bookstores or dance parties — for opportunities to start conversations with strangers, and hopefully score a phone number.
“The reason why I gravitate towards places that have an interactive community element is because the icebreakers are there. You don’t just seem like you’re saying, ‘Oh hey, you’re hot.’ If you overhear them saying something interesting, or see them picking up a certain book, that can be a really nice introduction.”
In the summers, it’s easy. Liberated from our long, arduous winters of hibernation, Torontonians flood outdoors and mingle freely.
“The parks, the beach and the island is just great,” AH says. “If you go there with some friends, your friends will run into some other friends, and you’ll meet new people.
“If you bring the dog, everybody would come to see the dog. You can ask somebody to throw your Frisbee back, ask somebody to watch your stuff for a minute while you go to the corner store. At the beach, you can say, ‘Does anybody need to borrow some sunscreen? I have some extra.’ Those are some organic icebreakers.”
As a matchmaker, AH encourages singles to remain open-minded, and avoid the usage of dating apps or online services to place ever-increasing limitations on who we want to meet. Checking boxes for body types, income or height is incredibly limiting — and not necessarily an indicator of whether we’ll feel “that sizzle” in someone’s presence.
“With online dating and apps, there are so many things we consider deal-breakers,” she says. “Online dating permits us to order people like a pizza. But maybe if you saw someone in front of you, you might not actually know they have a weakness for Top 40, or maybe they’re only 5’10”. It just enables you to be a little more open.”
After all, you have to be at least a little open to let someone sneak into your heart.