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Toronto vs. Chicago: Which Great Lakes City is Right for You?

Toronto vs. Chicago

Toronto vs. Chicago: Which Great Lakes City is Right for You?

Toronto and Chicago are two of the largest and most important cities in North America. They've got a few things in common, like their magnetic energy and bustling vibes. 

But let's be real, living in Chi-Town and The 6ix is like comparing two flavours of ice cream: both sweet, but each with its own unique deliciousness. So, how do you which city is the best for you?

Toronto is for those who seek a bustling, cosmopolitan, and globally diverse city with a vast array of ethnic neighbourhoods and international cuisines. 

On the other hand, Chicago appeals to individuals who enjoy a balance between urban exploration and a sense of community.

Here’s how we came up with that conclusion:

Toronto vs. Chicago: Which Great Lakes City is Right for You?

Cost of Living in Chicago vs. Toronto

Cost of Living in Chicago vs. Toronto
(Image: https://www.axios.com/)

The cost of living in Chicago is 1.42% more affordable than Toronto’s. The average monthly living cost in Toronto is $2,460, while it’s $2,425 in Chicago. 

This estimate considers basic necessities like the price of goods, housing, utilities, transportation, and childcare.

We broke this data down to make it easier to absorb. Check the table below to statistics from LivingCost.org:

Expenses Paris Cost Toronto Cost 
Housing (Average Rent per Month)
1-bedroom apartment (downtown) $1718 $1536
1-bedroom apartment (outside the city centre) $1096 $1326
3-bedroom apartment (downtown)$3063$2640
3-bedroom apartment (outside the city centre)$2143$2177
Utilities (Average Monthly Bill)
Utility bill for one person $131 $78.9
Utility bill for a family $201 $119
Internet plan $64 $52.9
Transportation (Fare)
1-way ticket (local transport ticket)$2.51$2.5
Monthly pass (local transport ticket)$80.6$117
Taxi start (normal tariff)$17.6$15.6
Gasoline (1 litre)$1.2$1.2
Childcare (Tuition Fee)
Private Preschool/Kindergarten (full day)$1873$1114
International Primary School $25812 $20297

Chicago and Toronto, two bustling urban giants, share a common trait: a reputation for a somewhat hefty cost of living. While the gap in living expenses isn’t all that staggering, it’s still worth noting, especially if you’re looking to save a few bucks.

Real Estate Prices in Chicago vs. Toronto

Real Estate Prices in Chicago vs. Toronto
(Image: https://www.chicagomag.com/)

The average price of a single-family home in Toronto is 223.94% more expensive than in Chicago. 

Meanwhile, a condo apartment is 40.75% more affordable in Chicago.

When it comes to buying real estate, choosing Chicago is the obvious move. Why?

The table below shows the comparison between the average price of single-family homes in the suburbs and condo apartments in Chicago and Toronto.

Property Type Chicago Toronto
Single-Family Home  $364,900 $1,182,120
Condo Apartment$438,000$739,395

Diversity and Demographics in Chicago vs. Toronto

Diversity and Demographics in Chicago vs. Toronto
(Image: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/)

Toronto is more culturally and demographically diverse than Chicago. Only about 20.2% of Chicago’s population is foreign-born while 54.6% of Toronto’s inhabitants are non-natives. 

Chicago and Toronto are pretty much similar when it comes to land area and population count. While Toronto is slightly bigger, the difference between the two cities’ population counts is minimal.

Chicago has a lower median age and a higher life expectancy at birth, though.

Chicago Toronto
Geographic LocationUnited StatesOntario
Size (Area)600 square kilometres630.2 square kilometres
Population 2,746,392 2,938,390
Female Population 1,381,886 1,479,213
Male Population 1,364,506 1,459,177
Median Age 33.4 years 39.3 years
Life Expectancy at Birth 78.7 years 82.1 years

But you don’t really get to see the diversity of the two cities’ demographics just by looking at the population number, do you?

It’s a lot easier to observe demographic diversity when you look at a place’s respective populations’ racial composition. Here are statistics gathered from World Population Review to break it down:

Racial Composition  Chicago Racial Composition  Toronto
White32.9%White50.2%
Black30.2%Black8.5%
East Asian (Chinese, Korean, Japanese)5.3%East Asian (Chinese, Korean, Japanese)12.7%
South Asian5.1%South Asian12.3%
Arab2.4%Arab1.1%
South-east Asian 2.2% South-east Asian 7.0%
Latin American 21.8% Latin American 2.8%
West Asian 1.3% West Asian 2.0%
Other Visible Minorities 2.0% Other Visible Minorities 1.5%
Aboriginal 0.1% Aboriginal 0.7%

Despite Toronto having a bigger non-native population, you’ll see that Chicago’s community is racially-varied too. In fact, it has one of the most diverse cities in the United States.

Career Opportunities in Chicago vs. Toronto

Career Opportunities in Chicago vs. Toronto
(Image: https://chicookworks.org/)

Chicago’s job market is approximately 32.81% better than Toronto’s. As of July 2023, the unemployment rate in Chicago is 4.3%, while it’s 6.4% in Toronto. 

The average annual salary in Chicago is $58,506, while it’s $42,584 in Toronto.

As we mentioned earlier, average living costs in Chicago are slightly higher than Toronto’s. At the same time, Chicagoan workers also receive bigger annual wages.

The good news is, a lower unemployment rate means there are better career opportunities in Chicago too.

Crime and Safety in Chicago vs. Toronto

Crime and Safety in Chicago vs. Toronto
(Image: https://www.ajc.com/)

Based on the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program and the cities’ safety indexes in 2022, Toronto is generally safer than Chicago in terms of violent and property crimes reported by approximately 86.84%.

Below is a comparison of Chicago’s and Toronto’s violent crime rate, property crime rate, and safety index according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program in 2022.

Chicago Toronto
Violent Crime Rate870 per 100,000 residents434 per 100,000 residents
Property Crime Rate2382 per 100,000 residents2,045 per 100,000 residents
Safety Index33.9963.5

High crime rates are one of the major concerns of residents in Chicago. The good news is, the city of Chicago is working to reduce crime rates by investing in social programs, such as job training and education programs. 

On top of that, they’re also working to improve relations between the police and the community.

Lifestyle in Chicago vs. Toronto

Lifestyle in Chicago vs. Toronto
(Image: https://chem.uic.edu/)

If you prefer a cheaper, safer, bustling, and multicultural city, then Toronto is the place for you. However, if you’re looking for a place with a strong working-class culture that’s a little less crowded, you’ll fit in better in Chicago.

We also compared Toronto and Chicago based on the weather, recreational opportunities, and healthcare services to get a better glimpse of the kind of lifestyle each city offers.

Weather in Chicago vs. Toronto

Weather in Chicago and Toronto are very similar. Both have a humid continental climate, with hot summers and cold winters. 

However, Chicago is known for its harsh winters due to its location near Lake Michigan.

If you prefer a milder winter climate, Toronto might be more appealing, but if you enjoy the charm of snowy landscapes, then you’ll find Chicago cozy.

In Chicago, January tends to be the coldest month, but also the snowiest month of the year. The temperatures reach between 26 °F and 36°F (-3 – 2 °C), with an average high of 31 °F (-1 °C).

Summers in Chicago are also a bit cooler than Toronto’s, with an average daily high temperature of 73°F (22.8°C),

On the other hand, the average temperature in Toronto in January is 26°F (-3°C), and the average temperature during summer is 77°F (25°C). 

Things to Do in Chicago vs. Toronto

Both Chicago and Toronto have a thriving sports community, a vibrant nightlife scene, and a lot of opportunities for outdoor activities.

Both cities also have a variety of parks and green spaces.

However, if you’re looking for a plethora of cultural institutions, museums, theatres, and festivals, catering to a diverse range of interests, heading over to Toronto is the best move.

Meanwhile, Chicago is renowned for its architecture, deep-rooted sports culture, and world-class museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago.

Healthcare in Chicago vs. Toronto

Chicago and Toronto have different healthcare systems because they are in different countries and under different administrations.

Toronto has universal healthcare, which allows everyone access to basic healthcare, regardless of how much money they make or if they have a job at all. 

Meanwhile, Chicago operates under private healthcare, which puts the burden of paying healthcare bills on the individual.

Obviously, if we’re talking support, Toronto’s got the upper hand with its more inclusive system. Nonetheless, both cities have high-quality health institutions and thousands of qualified experts.

So, the best option for you will still depend on your individual preferences and needs.

Chicago and Toronto: Which City is Right for You?

The best city for you will depend on your individual preferences and priorities. Both Chicago and Toronto have their own unique pros and cons, so it’s important to weigh these factors carefully before making a decision.

Here’s a little summary to help you out:

Factors  The Better City  Why 
Cost of Living  Chicago Chicago is 1.42% more expensive than in Toronto.
Real Estate Chicago The average prices for real estate properties in Chicago are significantly cheaper.
Diversity and DemographicsTorontoCultural diversity is celebrated in both Toronto and Chicago. However, Toronto's diversity is more pronounced.
Career Opportunities Chicago Chicago has a stronger working economy and a lower unemployment rate.
Crime IndexTorontoToronto has a higher safety index than Chicago.
Lifestyle Tied (depends on what kind of lifestyle you prefer)

Both cities experience humid continental climates.


Both Chicago and Toronto have rich culture, history, and music and arts scenes, and offer plenty of green spaces for outdoor activities.


Toronto's universal healthcare system makes healthcare services more accessible and affordable for its residents than Chicago's private healthcare system.