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North York vs. Markham – which GTA city is the right one for you?

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A woman looking at the maps and wondering whether she should settle in North York vs. Markham

While you may be eager to relocate quickly, you still need to carefully consider a place you’ll call home. If you’re moving to the GTA area, you should account for various factors, including housing options, transportation accessibility, available amenities, and the overall quality of life. To facilitate your decision-making process, movers Ontario decided to compare North York vs. Markham, two popular destinations in the area. Whether you are in search of a family-friendly environment or an urban community, this guide will help you choose the city according to your preferences and lifestyle.

Some basic facts you should keep in mind when deciding between North York vs. Markham

According to experienced GTA movers, North York and Markham have grown in popularity in the last couple of years. However, despite their proximity, there are some important differences between them. Even though North York has more than 660,000 inhabitants, it’s considered a suburb of Toronto rather than a city on its own. As such, North York has a strategic location just north of downtown Toronto. The subway system and major roads make commuting to Toronto’s bustling core a breeze for North York residents. This accessibility is a key draw for those who value the urban lifestyle but also seek the comfort of suburban living.

A woman researching the difference between North York vs. Markham
Inform yourself about the differences between North York and Markham before you commit to either option.

Meanwhile, with about 340,000 residents, Markham is one of the largest cities in the area. Situated farther northeast than North York, Markham provides a suburban escape from the urban hustle and bustle. While the commute to downtown Toronto may require a bit more time, Markham offers a quieter and more family-friendly atmosphere. Also, Markham is famous for its multiculturalism, with a particularly strong Chinese community. Believe it or not, but this city is one of the most diverse places in Canada. As such, here you can expect a wide range of cultural events, authentic cuisine, and celebrations that show the global influences within the community. Furthermore, Markham’s status as the “High-Tech Capital of Canada” has attracted a diverse and skilled workforce to the region, contributing to its economic vitality.

Compare the cost of living in North York and Markham

When determining where to settle down, it’s crucial to take the property market and cost of living into account. Due to its proximity to downtown Toronto, in North York housing costs tend to be on the higher side. However, Markham is not immune to the GTA’s overall housing market trends either, so moving there doesn’t have to mean finding a cheaper house. Also, while it might not be the first thing on your mind, property taxes can significantly impact the overall cost of living. Therefore, when you budget for your cost of living, lower property taxes are also something to look out for. In North York, property taxes may be relatively higher due to the assessed value of properties and the services provided in a densely populated urban area. Markham, being more suburban in nature, currently¬†has a property tax of about 0.645017%.

A woman making a budget for relocation
Make a budget before you move to either North York or Markham

When it comes to daily expenses such as groceries, transportation, and utilities, both North York and Markham offer a range of options. Grocery prices in North York may be slightly higher due to its proximity to the city center, but you can find a variety of stores to fit different budgets. Markham, benefiting from a mix of big-box retailers and local markets, may provide more cost-effective grocery options. Transportation costs are generally similar, with both areas connected to public transit systems. Utility costs may also be comparable, but differences may arise based on the type and size of the dwelling.

Housing options and prices you can expect in both places

The real estate market in North York offers different residential options, with prices reflecting the demand for convenient access to the city center. Condominiums and apartments are prevalent, especially in high-rise buildings. According to North York movers, that makes them ideal for single people or small families seeking urban living with easy access to amenities and public transportation. However, they tend to sell very quickly, and can cost around $1,000,000 CAD, depending on the unique features. Additionally, here you could find well-built single-family homes and townhouses in residential neighborhoods. These housing options are especially popular among families looking for more space and a quieter atmosphere.

Condominium in North York
For those who prefer condominiums, North York will be a more likely choice.

Meanwhile, single-family homes are prevalent in Markham, with various styles and sizes available in residential neighborhoods. These homes often come with larger lots and ample outdoor space, making them attractive to families. However, these homes are also pricier, with an average house price of $1,300,000 CAD. Townhouses and condominiums are also available, offering more affordable alternatives while still providing comfortable living spaces. Of course, when choosing between North York and Markham, you’ll have to consider your lifestyle, budget, and preferences. If you value easy access to an urban environment and are willing to invest in a condominium or apartment, North York may be your choice. On the other hand, if you prioritize a suburban lifestyle with larger homes and outdoor spaces, Markham would be a better option.

Educational opportunities in North York vs. Markham

For families with children or young people moving across the country for college, the choice of place to live also depends on the quality of its educational institutions. Luckily, North York has several high-quality institutions for those who are looking to pursue higher education. One notable example is York University, a major research university that offers a wide array of undergraduate and graduate programs. Its strong emphasis on research and innovation makes it an attractive choice for students pursuing various academic disciplines. Additionally, Seneca College, with multiple campuses in North York, provides practical and career-focused education, offering diploma and certificate programs in fields like business, healthcare, and technology. Another educational gem in North York is the Ontario Science Centre, which offers engaging and interactive science programs for students of all ages. As such, it serves as a valuable resource for families and schools interested in fostering scientific curiosity.

Students at university
When you’re a student, quality of education plays a big role in deciding between North York vs. Markham

However, you’d be happy to learn that Markham also offers diverse educational opportunities. The city is home to a number of public and separate school boards, providing quality K-12 education. As such, it’s no surprise that its elementary and secondary schools consistently achieve high academic standards. Meanwhile, Seneca College’s Markham Campus is a notable institution that caters to higher education needs. It offers a range of diploma, certificate, and degree programs, with a focus on applied arts, business, and technology. Furthermore, Markham’s commitment to fostering innovation is evident through its partnership with ventureLAB, a regional innovation center. This collaboration supports entrepreneurs, startups, and innovators by providing resources, mentorship, and access to a network of experts. So, if that’s what you’re looking for, make sure to check out their services!

Both North York and Markham have vibrant cultural and social scene

North York, being an integral part of Toronto, has a really rich and diverse cultural scene. One prominent cultural institution is the Toronto Centre for the Arts, a premier venue for performing arts and cultural events. It hosts a wide range of performances, including concerts, theater productions, and dance shows, attracting both local and international talent. Meanwhile, if you like museums, add a visit to the Aga Khan Museum to your list of things to do in North York. This unique museum explains Islamic art, culture, and history through its impressive exhibits and educational programs. So, not only will you learn something new, but you’ll also spend a few hours doing something fun!

Two women enjoying a drink
Both places have distinct cultural scenes, so choose one according to your preferences.

The community in North York also reflects the city’s multiculturalism, with plenty of cultural festivals and events taking place throughout the year. For example, the annual Taste of Lawrence festival celebrates the area’s diverse culinary scene. Meanwhile, Afrofest, which takes place in July, can bring you closer to African music and culture. Finally, cinema entusiasts will love the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), which brings world-class cinema to the neighborhood.

Entertainment options in Markham

Markham’s Chinese New Year celebrations, complete with dragon dances and cultural performances, highlight the city’s Chinese heritage and offer a glimpse into its multicultural identity. However, that’s far from being the only fun festival and event this city hosts! For example, the Markham World Music Festival is another popular choice among locals and tourists alike. As such, Markam also makes the list of the best Ontario places for art lovers

For those who want to feel the local vibe, Markham’s Main Street Unionville is a place to be. This historic district is a social and cultural hub known for its charming boutiques, cafes, art galleries, and community events, so be sure to check it out! Meanwhile, if you need to relax in nature, make sure to visit one of the city’s parks, including Milne Dam Conservation Park and Toogood Pond Park.

When deciding between North York vs. Markham, consider future growth and development as well

According to movers Markham ON, comparing upcoming development plans in both places can help you make an informed choice. Considering that North York is an integral part of Toronto’s ongoing urban development, the area’s growth is underpinned by several key initiatives and projects:

  1. Transit Expansion: The completion of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension (TYSSE) brought the subway network into North York, enhancing connectivity and transit options. Further transit projects, such as the Ontario Line, are planned to improve transportation within the city.
  2. Mixed-Use Development: North York’s city planners envision a more pedestrian-friendly environment with mixed-use developments, which combine residential, commercial, and recreational spaces. One such development is the Sheppard East Village, which creates a vibrant community around Sheppard Avenue East.
  3. Green Initiatives: The city’s growth plans also include sustainability initiatives like green infrastructure and park development, ensuring a balance between urban expansion and green spaces.
A woman cycling in North York
North York is becoming greener and more eco-friendly

Markham also has ambitious plans for continued growth and development

  1. High-Tech Hub: The city’s Markham Innovation Exchange (MIX) aims to establish Markham as a high-tech hub, attracting businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs. It seeks to create an ecosystem of innovation, similar to Silicon Valley.
  2. Transit Expansion: Markham is part of the York Region Transit (YRT) system and has plans for future transit expansion. That includes bus rapid transit (BRT) routes to improve regional connectivity.
  3. Sustainable Development: Markham prioritizes sustainable urban development with green building standards, cycling infrastructure, and parkland dedication to maintain a balance between growth and environmental preservation.
  4. Cultural and Recreational Facilities: Markham’s plans include cultural centers, sports facilities, and recreational spaces to enhance the quality of life for its residents. The Markham Pan Am Centre is an example of a world-class sports facility that serves both the community and international events.
  5. Diverse Residential Options: Markham intends to offer a variety of residential options, including affordable housing and mixed-use developments to cater to the needs of its growing population.

Whatever you decide between North York and Markham, you won’t make a mistake!

As you can see, North York offers an urban lifestyle with proximity to downtown Toronto. At the same time, Markham provides a suburban escape with a slightly longer commute. Both areas have experienced population growth, reflecting their appeal to a diverse range of residents, including newcomers seeking opportunities in the GTA. However, the choice between North York vs. Markham ultimately depends on individual preferences. So, consider your lifestyle, work location, and community atmosphere, and let these factors guide your decision-making process!