Vaughan, Ontario, which includes the communities of Woodbridge, Kleinburg, Maple, Concord, and Thornhill, received its city designation in 1991. Also known as “the city above Toronto,” as an old advertising jingle suggests, it shares its southern border with the largest city in Canada.
Although it’s a smaller city, don’t be fooled; there’s a lot of variety packed into it. Yes, you may have heard about the highways that create the rough borders to the south, east, and west, as well as the complaints of traffic congestion — but have you heard about Vaughan’s upscale neighbourhoods, the new downtown with a transit stop connecting Toronto, the incredible conservation areas, and some of Canada’s top tourist attractions?
Join us as we learn more about what makes the city of Vaughan so intriguing.
The city of Vaughan is now the 17th largest city in the country with a population of just over 323,000. Vaughan’s demographics closely align with the Canadian average with about 20% of the population of Vaughan made up of millennials, but indexes are about 3% higher for the 40-64 age group and equally lower for those in the 65+ cohort.
Vaughan weather is pretty much the same as Toronto’s, with about 3.5 months worth of warm summer weather and an equal period of cold and snowy winters. The city is bisected by the always humming Highway 400, which carries travellers from Toronto to parts of the province’s coveted cottage country until it merges with the Trans-Canada highway. Just slightly north of Vaughan’s southern border, the 407 is a free-moving toll highway that traverses an expansive east and west section of southwestern Ontario. The upshot of all this? Residents of Vaughan have ready and speedy access to many provincial locations.
Despite its industrial core and over 19,000 businesses (with employees), Vaughan has the feel of a laid-back suburban city with a variety of residential neighbourhoods spread out among the five communities.
Is Vaughan a good place to live?
As always, it depends on what you are looking for. Vaughan is first and foremost a family-friendly city. So if you’re looking for a city with plenty of large homes, green space, kid-friendly attractions, and good schools to raise a family, moving to Vaughan may be a smart choice.
However, if you are single, an empty-nester, or a young couple just starting out, Vaughan offers some vibrant downtown options with condominiums, shopping, and restaurants that will appeal to you, as well. And the best part? No matter where you choose to live, Vaughan provides several transit options to get you around the city or for a quick commute to downtown Toronto.
Living in Vaughan puts you close to many of the province’s prime attractions, including Canada’s Wonderland, the McMichael Art Gallery, Boyd Conservation Park, and LEGOland Discovery Centre in the Vaughan Mills Shopping Centre. And if golf is your game, Vaughan has two of the best golf courses in Canada: the exclusive National Golf Club and the public-access Copper Creek golf course.
Vaughan was once one of the largest cities in Canada without a hospital, but as of June 2021, the first “smart” hospital in Canada was bestowed upon the city. The Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital features fully integrated smart technology systems and medical devices to ensure Vaughan residents have state-of-the-art healthcare.
There are plenty of employment opportunities in the city of Vaughan, particularly in the areas of manufacturing, retail, and construction. Vaughan residents also have easy access to positions in downtown Toronto and another burgeoning industrial centre in the city of Brampton.
The city of Vaughan has some of the highest-rated public and private elementary and secondary schools in the province that are nicely spaced out across Vaughan neighbourhoods. Stephen Lewis, Maple, and Westmount are some of the secondary schools that fall within the highest rating category as judged by the Fraser Institute.
There’s one not-so-fabulous aspect of living in Vaughan that must be highlighted — the busy traffic. Because many of the neighbourhoods are somewhat bordered without a lot of cross streets, traffic can be heavy on the major thoroughfares, especially during morning and afternoon rush hours. Vaughan’s saving grace? All those transit options!
Is Vaughan expensive?
There is no getting around the fact that Vaughan is a fairly expensive city to live in. In fact, it’s roughly 16% more expensive to live in Vaughan than in a similar-sized city like Gatineau in the province of Quebec. Because of its proximity to Toronto, the cost of living in Vaughan, Ontario, is very much on par with TO.
The composite price of Vaughan homes in June 2022 was $1,491,900. This compares to Toronto’s average of $1,184,500. The primary reason for this disparity is that single detached homes represent close to 63% of all dwelling types in Vaughan compared to only 23% in Toronto. For prospective home buyers, the good news is home prices appear to be softening in Ontario and across Canada as the Bank of Canada has raised its benchmark lending rate in an attempt to quell rising inflation.
But while apartment and condo rents have soared in many of Canada’s larger cities, the average rental cost for a one-bedroom apartment in Vaughan was 21% lower than in Toronto, and the two-bedroom average was even more of a deal, indexing at close to 30% less than in the Big Smoke.
Where should I live in Vaughan, Ontario?
If you are interested in a large family home in an affluent neighbourhood, there are several to choose from. East Woodbridge is a serene, family-friendly community with a range of single-family detached homes to large estates. These are all set against lovely greenspace, ravines, and hiking trails.
On the west side of Vaughan, Sonoma Heights has a more distinct community feel and is populated largely with young families. It’s also an outdoor activity mecca, as it’s close to both the Kortright Centre for Conservation and the Boyd Conservation Park.
In the northwestern section of Vaughan sits idyllic Kleinburg. If budget is not an issue and you prefer a more tranquil environment, this neighbourhood should be high on your list. This community boasts a collection of heritage homes and newer private estates. It has a small town feel with a main street with shops and restaurants. It’s also home to the McMichael Art Gallery, which houses a large collection of Canadian Art, including those of the famous “Group of Seven.” Other higher-end neighbourhoods to consider include Weston Downs and Mackenzie Ridge Ambassador Hills.
For first-time buyers or those looking for a family home at more reasonable prices, consider Columbus Trail. This neighbourhood features detached, semi-detached, and townhomes and has a decidedly family-friendly vibe. And to make things even more attractive for your kids, Canada’s Wonderland is nearby.
Finally, if you are single or empty-nesters or just not quite ready for a full-size family home, check out Downtown Woodbridge or Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC). Both areas provide a variety of living options, including newer condominiums and more of a city feel. The newer VMC neighbourhood was built to become Vaughan’s downtown and has the great advantage of being connected to Toronto’s transit system (TTC).
Should I move to Vaughan?
Vaughan is one of those cities that provides its residents with the best of both worlds. If you’re looking for a quick commute to a big city (Toronto) with a home in a much less congested community, Vaughan is certainly worth checking out. Your living options — while still pricey — give you more bang for your buck in terms of house and lot size. The recreation options are endless, and its location provides a big head start when the weekend rolls around and you want to take off for your cottage or recreation areas to the north, east, or west.
To make that move to Vaughan a reality, let’s discuss the various ways to get there. Yes, moving can be a complicated process and always includes an element of stress. But there are ways to avoid the hassles. If you just give yourself enough time, get properly organized, and plan well, chances are you can safely transfer your life and belongings to your new home safely and efficiently.
When money is no object and you want to limit your time and effort, a full-service mover is your best bet. They can provide as little or as much service as you want to pay for. Full-service Vaughan movers can even pack and unpack your house for you. It’s your priciest option, but if you have the financial means, it will also be your path of least resistance. The key is to do plenty of research first and make sure all important details are documented between you and the mover, so there are no loose ends or surprises along the way.
If you decide to do the move as inexpensively as possible, you can always rent a truck and do the heavy lifting on your own. It can work if you have a strong back and a few helping hands. But when you consider all the additional expenses you will incur, like fuel costs, insurance, food, and lodging along the way, this approach could end up being more than you bargained for.
Portable Moving Containers
If you’re looking for a more flexible and less stressful way to make your move to Vaughan, consider moving with PODS portable moving and storage containers. PODS delivers a container right to you and offers three different container sizes. The beauty of this is that you can keep your container for as long as you need and take your time packing and loading at your own pace. When you are all loaded up, give them a call, and PODS will pick up the container and deliver it to your new home in Vaughan. If things change and you need the container to be stored for any length of time, there’s a secure and convenient PODS Storage Centre nearby.
Tony Caradonna is a freelance writer who lives with his wife in Toronto, ON. A more recent PODS Blog contributor, Tony loves exploring the world and immersing himself in exciting locales with his travel guitar and Michelin guide in hand. When not travelling, he is either golfing or writing about this most addictive pastime on his blog, TheGolfingLife.ca.