50% of Toronto residents live paycheque-to-paycheque. Nearly nine-in-ten Torontonians say if they leave the city, high cost-of-living will be a driving force.

Our October survey of Toronto residents asked about cost-of-living concerns, and whether the expenses of life in Canada’s biggest city might push people to move.

Download the full report here.

Top Takeaways

  • Exactly half (50%) of Torontonians are living paycheque-to-paycheque.
  • 59% of younger Toronto residents aged 18 – 34 and a majority of middle-class Torontonians earning $50,000 – $99,000 live paycheque-to-paycheque.
  • Two-thirds of Torontonians (66%) expect they’ll still be living in Toronto in five years’ time. Even more (70%)want to stay in Toronto. But these groups aren’t necessarily the same: 10% of Torontonians want to stay but expect they’ll have to leave.
  • Among people who want to move away from Toronto, cost-of-living is far and away the most cited reason (87%), followed by overcrowding (53%) and crime (48%). Among those who want to stay but think they’ll have to leave, cost-of-living is most often cited (77%) followed by lack of housing (42%).

50% of Torontonians live paycheque-to-paycheque

Exactly half (50%) of Toronto residents report living paycheque-to-paycheque, meaning they have nothing left over to put in their savings after they cover their monthly expenses.

Six-in-ten (59%) Torontonians aged 18-34 report living paycheque-to-paycheque, compared to only 40% of those over the age of 55.

Even middle-class Torontonians are feeling the pinch. A majority (54%) of households earning under $50,000 – $100,000 live paycheque-to-paycheque.

Staying in Toronto vs. leaving: the next five years

Two-thirds (66%) of Torontonians expect they’ll be living in Toronto in 5 years’ time. But the city will experience no small amount of turnover: 27% expect they’ll be living elsewhere, with 8% saying they’ll definitely be moving.

We find a noticeable income gap in the number of Torontonians who expect to be living here in five years. Among those Torontonians who report living paycheque-to-paycheque, more than a third (34%) expect they’ll move away from Toronto. Only 21% of people who aren’t living paycheque-to-paycheque, on the other hand, expect to move away from Toronto.

But is moving away what Torontonians want to do?

A strong majority (70%) of Torontonians would prefer to be living in Toronto in five years’ time, with the remaining 30% saying they’d prefer to live somewhere else. But those who expect to live in Toronto and those who want to live here aren’t exactly the same group of people. Fully 10% of Torontonians would rather stay, but think they’ll have to leave.

We asked Torontonians what the factors would be that might make them leave.

Far and away, the number-one reason Torontonians say they might leave Toronto is high cost-of-living. 87% of those who say they want to move cite cost-of-living. After cost-of-living, those who want to move away from Toronto cite overcrowding (53%) and crime (48%).

Among Torontonians who want to stay but think they’ll have to move, cost-of-living is their top reason (77%), followed by a lack of housing (42%).

Methodological note: This survey was conducted online from October 13 to 16, 2023, with a sample size of 675 adults (18+) residing in Toronto (postal codes beginning with “M”).  Respondents were recruited from a blend of online panel providers to maximize representativeness. Sample imbalances were minimized through the use of quota sampling on age and gender, and post-stratification survey weights were applied to correct for any remaining observable sample imbalance. The margin-of-error for an equivalently sized probability sample is +/- 3.8% (19 times out of 20). Margins-of-error for subgroups are larger commensurate with their share of the population. Reported percentages may not always add to 100 due to rounding. This survey was paid for by Pluriel.