When Vogue rated West Queen West one of the world’s coolest neighbourhoods in 2014, I knew the rest of Toronto would never live it down.
And I was right – a quick Google search for “Toronto’s best neighbourhoods” almost always pulls up the brand-name-fuelled, Instagram-friendly Queen Street strip west of Spadina.
But what about the rest of the west? Where’s the love for the gorgeous western waterfront, the foodie-friendly Junction, and our city’s top western real estate neighbourhoods?
I put together my top west-end neighbourhoods that you might not expect. Let me know what you think in the comments!
Dundas West and Keele
The pre-war, community-focused Junction has weathered some identity storms over the last few years. Its neighbouring area, the Junction Triangle, had a community naming contest which resulted in the confusingly similar moniker. But residents of the real Junction swear that they are really two distinct areas, with their own identities and boundaries.
With an ultra-hip growing food and bar scene, including the amazingly hip dive Hole in the Wall, the innovative brewpub Indie Ale House, and the literary-lovers’ Famous Last Words cocktail lounge, the Junction is growing into a nightlife destination. There are more than a dozen restaurants, cafes, and eateries along Dundas Street West at Keele Street – and more breweries and hip destinations opening all the time.
As for the real estate, the Junction has been a destination for affordable real estate for decades. Now, it’s gone the way of many other areas in Toronto – detached homes are rarely under $1-million, but at least there’s inventory.
If you love the Junction, it’s a great place for new-construction townhouses, older detached homes or semis, and family-friendly community.
West of High Park
Swansea is the neighbourhood on the far side of High Park. The southern tip is right on the water, with easy access to the Kingsway, Queensway, and Lake Shore Boulevard West, making it only a 15-minute drive to downtown.
Swansea sometimes gets missed among its upscale neighbours like Bloor West Village or High Park, but it’s not to be ignored. A serene, historical neighbourhood made up mostly of residential pockets, it’s a great place to raise a family, find larger real estate, and explore some of Toronto’s best nature in the city setting.
The best part about Swansea is its variety of real estate. From high-rise condos in the $300,000s to modern homes priced well above $2-million, you can find what works for you in this neighbourhood if its culture calls to you.
If you move to Swansea, you’ll quickly find your neighbours are nature-loving, friendly, and diverse. The population is Polish, Ukrainian, Spanish, Korean, and Philippino – an amazing mix that has led to some of the city’s best foodie hot spots being hidden in Swansea.
Lakeshore and Kipling
If you haven’t heard of New Toronto, that’s okay – but you may be surprised at how it isn’t all that new. The southern tip of Kipling on the waterfront has been called “New Toronto” since it was established in 1892 as a village. Amalgamated into Etobicoke, and, later, Toronto proper, New Toronto has stood firm in its small-town industrial identity, despite its shifting city status.
New Toronto is a prime location for modern, converted housing. As a former industrial village established as a postal centre for manufacturing centers in New York, late 19th and early 20th century buildings abound.
I can’t wait to see these mostly-empty and underused buildings turned into heritage housing. The McDonald Stamping Works, also called the “Boxer Building”, is the oldest surviving industrial building in New Toronto, built in 1890. With its proximity to downtown, massive natural landscape, and picturesque identity, New Toronto is poised to be one of the hottest hip housing neighbourhoods in the city.
You’ll also find Humber College and the Lakeshore Collegiate Institute here, meaning the neighbourhood escapes the static reputation of some of its neighbours. Multiple age groups including young professionals, students, and retirement-aged adults make New Toronto one of the hottest neighbourhoods you may not have heard of.
427 and the Gardiner Expressway
Tree-lined streets, picturesque housing, and friendly people – Alderwood is one of the most sought-after far-west neighbourhoods in the city.
With amazing access to Mississauga, Brampton, Etobicoke, Pearson Airport, the waterfront, and downtown (15 minutes in any direction!) it’s a destination for anybody looking for suburban prices in good proximity to the city.
The style of the neighbourhood, according to the residents who live there, is quaint. Its quiet streets have few stores and restaurants that stay open past 9 PM on weeknights. It’s perfect for families, with arenas, parks, baseball diamonds, and trails galore.
Today, development is coming in strong; former industrial and turn-of-the-century architecture is unused but pre-zoned for residential construction. Interest is growing, and I’m not expecting pre-construction prices to be as eye-poppingly low (by Toronto standards, to be fair) for long!
Interested in one of these neighbourhoods? I call the west end my home, and I’d love to chat more about what these areas have to offer to buyers. Let’s meet for a no-pressure chat!