Lead image via Flickr user allen

How Much It Really Costs for Young People to Have a Fun Life in Toronto

You aren’t going to like the answer.

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Apr 4 2017, 6:35pm

Lead image via Flickr user allen

Toronto is expensive. This is a sentiment young people who live in the city are constantly reminded of, yet all we get is advice on how to scrounge and save—not live.

Our colleagues at VICE Money recently published a story about how the base amount of cash you need to bring in annually in Toronto to survive is $45,000. But what if you're a 20-something and want to live your life? Go out to dinner with your friends, go see DJs or bands play frequently, take Ubers everywhere? What about vices: cigarettes, alcohol, weed, etc.? And while doing all this fun stuff, save up for the future?

READ MORE: Toronto's housing affordability crisis reaches new heights

Shannon Lee Simmons, a financial planner in Toronto, said that for her 20-something clients who want to go out and have fun, $100 per week on entertainment is standard. On top of that, she said, for those of us who order food for delivery (despite deleting the UberEats app off our phones in an attempt to cut back) and have a latte habit, she'd budget in $100 per week on top of that. And that's normal.

"If you're young and live in the city, you're likely going to go out. That's why you live in a city. So pretending like you're not going to take a cab or go out for dinner with a friend is completely ridiculous," Simmons told VICE.

VICE put together our own (entirely subjective on what our idea of 'fun' is) budget for a 20-something archetype who, despite partying a lot and being lazy with the Ubers and Foodora, sees themselves buying a condo and paying off their student loans completely in five years. Keep in mind we didn't include the possibility of children (gods, no) or even owning/leasing a car.

Here's how that breaks down.

$600/month for going out to clubs, bars, concerts, etc. (including overpriced drinks)
$200/month for other vices (cigarettes, booze, weed, etc.)
$400/month on delivery, restaurants, lattes, etc.
$100/month for clothing (based on yearly average amount a Torontonian spends)
$100/month on Ubers/cabs
$65/month on grooming (haircut, etc.)
$50/month on toiletries
$10/month Spotify/Apple Music
$15/month Netflix subscription
$60/month gym membership
$100/month on pet
$145/month metropass
$40/month average for electricity
$120/month average phone and internet
$1,800/month rent (average in Toronto for a one-bedroom condo)
$300/groceries
$200/month toward a yearly vacation
$200/month to go in a TFSA and/or to pay off credit card debt
Student loans: average is $26,819 in Canada= $544/month will pay off that debt in five years

Total cost of living for a month = $5,049 = roughly $78K annual salary before tax (according to Simple Tax)

Now if you'd like to be saving up for your own place:

Average cost of a condo in the City of Toronto (according to stats provided by Urbanation): $560,000

  • 5% down would be $28,000 = $467/month = $5,516 per year = $66,192 after tax annually = roughly $88K annual income before tax
  • 20% down (to avoid CMHC Mortgage Loan Insurance) would be $112,000 = $1,867/month = $82,922 after tax annually = roughly $115K annual income before tax

So there you have it. In order to live a fairly fun, condo-saving life in Toronto, you need to make between $88,000 and $115,000. Easy peasy, right?

Here's some examples of jobs that pay more than $90,000 annually: physician, IT manager, marketing manager, art director, software developer. Those aren't exactly the kind of job opportunities many people in their 20s have.

Simmons said common starting annual salaries she sees in Toronto for 20-somethings are usually between $30,000-$40,000. "Unfortunately," she said, "I saw those same starting salaries about seven years ago too—there hasn't been the wage increase to keep up with the cost of living." She said she often sees young clients supplementing with side hustles, such as renting out their place on Airbnb or bike couriering for Foodora.

One piece of advice Simmons said she'd give young people who are looking to have fun but also better their situation is this: "Try not to incur more debt." But if you're not gonna chill on partying hard twice a weekend, every weekend and don't have the salary to match, good luck, fam.

Follow Allison Tierney on Twitter .

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