Many Jamaicans are considering moving to Toronto due to its diverse cultures, visa programs, and economic opportunities. Toronto is Canada’s largest city, with six million people, and is home to many different nationalities, more than 200 languages are spoken in Toronto.
Many Caribbean migrants decide to settle in Canada, and Jamaicans are amongst the highest group. Over 21,000 Jamaicans have legally moved to Canada in the past seven years and Canada has many visa opportunities for Jamaicans and other immigrants looking for permanent residency.
What should you consider before moving to Toronto?
Even though Toronto is a beautiful place to live, there are many items to consider before choosing Toronto as your new home. Here are some of the primary considerations you will want to consider before moving.
One of the many reasons to move to Toronto is for the good weather. Canadian winters are known to be harsh, but Toronto’s winters are relatively mild in comparison, hanging around 30°F (-1C) in the peak of chilly January. The winters are milder than in many parts of Canada because of the heat island effect due to the temperatures from Lake Ontario. Even though Toronto still gets snow, it’s not nearly as cold or harsh compared to the northern cities but it is still much colder than what you may be used to in Jamaica. Torontonians are lucky to experience all four seasons: beautiful autumns, snowy winters, flowery springs, and hot summers.
Cost of Living/Housing in Toronto
Toronto’s booming economy has many different sectors of industries to work in. Between opportunities in tech, artificial intelligence (AI), education, finance, and even filmmaking, there are many opportunities to find work.
However, Toronto is known as one of the more expensive cities in Canada. Housing is costly, and it can be costly to purchase a home in the city. Buying a single-family home costs, on average, around $1.35 million. Renting is less expensive, but a three-bedroom apartment may cost a minimum of $2200 in the city.
If you purchase a house or apartment in Toronto, you’ll have to pay a provincial land transfer tax and municipal land transfer tax based on your housing area and property size. The government instituted this tax to halt the rising housing prices.
Also, there are everyday taxes to consider. In Canada, you pay the Federal Tax on your income plus the Provincial Tax, ranging from 5.05% to 13.16%*, which is applied to the goods and services you purchase.
Overall, living in Toronto can be expensive, and an average family of four may have expenses of around $3,600* per month before rent.
You’ll be happy to know that Toronto is one of the safest big cities in the world, with a low crime rate. It’s actually the safest large city in North America, with a crime rate better than Washington D.C. (the only other North American city to make the top 10) and New York City, where the crime rate has been on the rise in the past year. That being said, you should still exercise caution within any major city or town you’re unfamiliar with.
Toronto is unique for several reasons; marijuana is legal, there are several cultural festivals throughout the year, and the food is diverse and impressive, especially for Jamaicans moving to Toronto.
Toronto is known for its festivals, especially ones that celebrate Caribbean culture, like the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, Jerkfest in Toronto, and the Caribbean Tales International Film Festival in Toronto. Many cultural events also occur during Canadian Black History month in February.
After you move to Toronto, plan to visit the Entertainment District downtown to watch big concerts and sports teams, like the Toronto Raptors. Many Torontonians are huge fans of this basketball team, so join in the fun and grab tickets to a game after moving to the city.
Toronto has a legendary food scene and you’re almost always guaranteed a good meal in Toronto. If you’re moving from Jamaica to Toronto, there are many Caribbean restaurants that will make you feel like you’re right back at home. If you’re craving some delicious oxtail, then you should head to Pat’s Homestyle. This late-night restaurant comes highly recommended by fellow Caribbeans in Toronto.
Toronto public transportation is very popular because city traffic can be a headache. People who live in Toronto have an average commute time for work of 65 minutes, so many residents prefer using public transportation. The TTC or Toronto Transit Commission has subways, streetcars, rails, ferries, and buses.
To travel by airplane, Billy Bishop/Toronto Island Airport is a more stress-free airport with easy access to downtown Toronto. It also provides access to many major cities along the eastern seaboard of North America. This airport offers access to major cities like Montreal, New York, and Chicago, where it can be easy to grab connecting flights.
The major international airport is the Toronto Pearson International Airport, which services many airlines around the world. However, this airport is a bit busier, so give yourself plenty of extra time before your flight and try to avoid any tight connections.
The Canadian federal government has a few different visa programs, making it easy for immigrants to move to Canada and gain citizenship.
The Federal Skilled Worker Program targets professionals with college degree. Registered nurses, IT professionals, workers in the finance industry, and teachers are just a few of the workers included in this visa program.
There’s also the Federal Skilled Trades Program, which can be an excellent option for Jamaicans hoping to become Canadian permanent residents. This program is for workers in more hands-on trades, like carpenters, electricians, and transportation officers.
Jamaican Community in Toronto
One of the great reasons to move to Toronto is that it’s a very diverse city, so you’ll find many different nationalities living together. In the west end of Toronto is Little Jamaica, which has the largest Jamaican community. The Vaughan-Oakwood area also has a high number of Jamaican residents.
The Toronto City Council voted in 2021 to designate Little Jamaica as a “heritage conservation district understudy.” So, the neighborhood is preserved and protected from future development and gentrification. However, some ongoing construction in the transit subway line on Eglinton Avenue West has disrupted some of the access to traditional Jamaican businesses. The good news is that the line is being actively worked on and is expected to finish by the fall of 2023.
Sending money abroad from Toronto
If you’d like to send money to Jamaica from Canada, you can easily send a money transfer through Western Union’s app. Our money transfer app can help you conveniently send money to friends and loved ones, and you can even track your transfer in real time in the app. So, even if you’re far from home, you can easily send financial assistance and a little love back home to friends and family.