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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello GTA mommies!
I'm an ex-Torontonian who's going "back home", so I want to say "hi" to the GTA members and I since I've been away for a while I could use some advice too, from a "mothering"/A.P. perspective particularly.

My dd who just turned 6 left T.O. at age 18 months. I hadn't heard about the Mothering forums then and actually knew just a handle of new moms like me (not all A.P. friendly, but most were) from my workplace & my East end Toronto neighbourhood. So other than family and a couple of old friends I don't have any "contacts" left in T.O. My dh, dd & I have spent the last 5 years a little bit like traveling "gypsies", we moved to Cambridge, then K-W (lived in Kitchener...worked & shopped in Waterloo! :LOL ) and finally 1 yr ½ ago we moved here, to a little village near Stratford, pretty much near "nowhere" (but he worked in London). We loved the "country life", even though by local standards our property was small it allowed us to have a huge vegetable patch and grow most of our own foods and enjoy nature (down side, we live next to a big road! In the snowbelt! and feel quite isolated from friends & family) but my dh job evaporated and we're both finding it very hard to get work in this area. So back to T.O. we go, where we hope to get back on track financially and also back to school, something we can't do around here. To enter a new phase, so to speak.

That's my story.

We've been checking out rent around the GTA, mostly East End, North End and Downtown (the areas we know well). Does anyone know what a going rate is for a 2 bdrm with access to a yard in a decent place (not a run down one)? Dh will spend some time in T.O looking for work in person and checking out places, etc. But so far it looks like rents in this category run around $1200 or so, we were hoping for a little lower, more like $900. Anybody know if that's realistic? We hoped to avoid moving in with family (nobody has too much room to spare) but might not have a choice.

Also, we were not too much into AP and alternative lifestyles when we lived there a few years back (other than being vegetarians), but now this seems seem more important with a school age child around. Even if we are back in the city we'd like to have access and contribute to an "earth friendly"/spiritually liberal/family oriented community (kind of hard to describe!
) . Anyway, any ideas? Not just on specific areas in the city (I lived there since I was 11!) but more in places/organizations/groups/loose affiliations? We're interested in things like vegeteranism, earth based spirituality (I read there was a Pagan parade for the Winter Solstice, that sounded like fun!), alternative therapies, organic food & growing your food. Well, other stuff too, but that's 'nuff. We plan on spending maybe the next 5 to 7 years in T.O. then hopefully moving (maybe for the last time
: ) somewhere warmer (or at least less cold, like B.C...) and back to the countryside. But in the meantime, for our sake and dd's, we'd like to meet some like minded people in T.O. outside of work/family. So suggestions about your favourite "places"/groups are appreciated, I would check them out. We've been checking out rents in Riverdale/Beaches/The Danforth/Leaside/Uptown Yonge (way Uptown!) & Scarborough but we're not as familiar with the West End and other areas. We know our way around but the city does seem to have changed in the last 5 years (and we've probably changed too).

We're past the LLL meetings and Early Years Centres phase now. I've been meaning to check out the Unitarian Church, but never having been very church going I'm not sure what to expect. We've been TVA (Toronto Veg Association) members in the past, but I need to think of something more specific and "family friendly" too.

Well, this has dragged on long enough! If you've read this far, thanks! Hope it didn't drive you
!

AND


Diana
 

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Hi Diana... a quick reply (we're expecting guests momentarily). DH and I are expecting in June and just did the whole search for a 2 bedroom apt in Toronto. Having that experience, I think $900/month is low unless you are willing to live in a basement. DH and I now live in a rather large 2 bedroom in the Marlee/Eglinton area that goes for $1050/month plus parking. However, our building does have a daycare (which I will not be using), swimming pool, gym and grocery store attached. So I think if you can spend a little bit extra, you can get a lot.

As far as networking with likeminded people--you mentioned the Unitarians. DH and I occasionally make it to Quaker meeting. There are a lot of families that come on Sundays. There are many Christian families, but also Buddhist and pagans of various types. The Quakers are pretty open and I was really impressed with what they teach the kids in "First Day School"... all about the environment, living simply, sharing, etc. The children all seem really aware of the world that they live in and I think that's great. If you're interested, the Toronto Quaker House has a website: http://www.web.net/~tmm/

I did read that you're not too into the whole religion thing, so Quakers might not be for you despite their openness; but it's something to think about anyway.

I'll definately be checking back at this thread to see if anyone else has any ideas. I'd like to get our little family involved in some things too.


Have you thought about community gardening? I looked into this before too. I think FoodShare has a program that you can get involved in. Try googling it.


Selena
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hello Selena:
Congratulations! I hope everything goes well with your pregnancy & delivery. Are you going with midwives, OB, home-birth, hospital? There's so much to think about when you're expecting, isn't it? I know I had a hard time thinking about all those options and more - to cloth diaper or not to cloth diaper? Heh, heh, decisions, decisions...right? And I won't get into the daycare vs. babysitter thing, that comes later. But it seems you've got that one figured out already! Good! I gave birth in T.O. (East General, to me it'll always be East York General!), but not exactly by choice, I had midwives from the Beaches area too.
Well, thanks very much for the tips, you gave us something to think about, particularly about the Quaker connection. I'm familiar with the Mennonites, having lived in the K-W area, and know some in T.O.too. But the Quakers' philosophy sounds very interesting. Although, I understand what you said about the religion aspect. I friend (who attends a Unitarian Church in Frisco) told me the Unitarian congregation in T.O. is very nice, will probably check that out too. All in good time; housing, work and school must come first.
We were planning of looking into renting some sort of community garden plot (I know of one in Vic Park & Eglinton and another one by the Lakeshore, but I don't know the details, if there are waiting lists, etc). I heard about Foodshare. I'll look into it. We thought gardening with others, or around others at least, would give us some sense of community too. Kitchener seems to have some nice community gardens, but we had our own big one at home then, so I never inquired. Toronto backyards are usually pretty small, and gardening might be difficult, specially if you share the backyard with others.
My dh was in T.O this week, he found most places he phoned were rented and like you said, rents are high (were they ever "low" in T.O....I don't think so!). But, we'll keep looking. We lived in a condo for 3 years in Toronto, and we definitely prefer a house, even if it's only a small apt. within a house. I think I'd even prefer a basement to a highrise., but that's just me. I feel claustrophobic every time I visit my parents in their condo! I can't stand elevators! I'm pretty sure we'll have to spend some time with relatives,until we find something though.

I hope we can keep in touch!

One thing I plan on looking into is "simplicity circles". I'm sure there's some in Toronto, I'm pretty sure I saw some info on them a while back when I looked into the whole "living simply" movement. My intention was to join one after our last move, but the nearest one would have been in London and that's about 1 hr drive. Well, that's another story!
Would you be interested in info on those? Because once I find where they are in Toronto I can send you the info if you want.

Take care! Cheers,
Diana.
 

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Hi Diana!

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rikalexdi
Hello Selena:
Congratulations! I hope everything goes well with your pregnancy & delivery. Are you going with midwives, OB, home-birth, hospital? There's so much to think about when you're expecting, isn't it? I know I had a hard time thinking about all those options and more - to cloth diaper or not to cloth diaper? Heh, heh, decisions, decisions...right? And I won't get into the daycare vs. babysitter thing, that comes later. But it seems you've got that one figured out already! Good!
Thanks for your well wishes. So far the plan is that I'll be delivering at home with my midwife. If there are any complications then I believe I'll be going to Mount Sinai with my midwife. I'm really hoping for that homebirth as I am really set on a waterbirth and I don't think Mount Sinai has the facilities for that... but I really should look into it just in case.

This early I'm still feeling really idealistic about the whole thing and so far nothing (except my cynical and AP-ignorant family members) has burst my bubble. I'm planning to EC, actually, and use cloth diapers outside the house.

I'm really lucky as far as the daycare thing goes because DH works at home and I am a student. So we're pretty flexible... someone will always be home with the babe.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rikalexdi
I'm familiar with the Mennonites, having lived in the K-W area, and know some in T.O.too. But the Quakers' philosophy sounds very interesting.
I'm don't have *much* experience with Mennonites, but it is my impression that Quakers have generally the same sort of thoughts re: simplicity, peace, etc, but the Quakers are much less dogmatic. They're more open to different interpretations of God and religious experience whereas Mennonites are pretty standard Christians.

Quote:
I friend (who attends a Unitarian Church in Frisco) told me the Unitarian congregation in T.O. is very nice, will probably check that out too. All in good time; housing, work and school must come first.
The Unitarian church building is very interesting looking.
I used to live near it and took great pleasure in staring at their stained-glass windows. They looked like hell. Seriously... they looking like flames engulfing the front of the building. I think that's just hilarious.


Are you a student as well then?

Quote:
My dh was in T.O this week, he found most places he phoned were rented and like you said, rents are high (were they ever "low" in T.O....I don't think so!). But, we'll keep looking.
DH and I did a lot of research on the web before actually calling around to places. We used the viewit.ca site a lot, as well as the toronto star classifies online. With the toronto star classifies you can specify that you only want to view ads for "today" so you can be sure you're not looking at old ads.

Well, you can definitely find a decent basement for a decent price, probably within your $900/month limit... but you might have to look around a lot. It's good that you have family you can live with while you're finding something good.

Quote:
One thing I plan on looking into is "simplicity circles".
I've never heard of such a thing. Can you explain?

Selena
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi Selena:

That's interesting, I had planned a water birth at home too, 6 years ago. I made up my mind around month 8th, after I paid a visit to the local hospital, East General. I had never seen their maternity ward, I hated it!!!!Unfortunately, after 21 hrs of labour and no baby my midwives decided to move me to the hospital, where a very painful & uncomfortable 10 hrs later I had a c-section. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to "burst your bubble", but I sort of "skipped" the part about c-sections in the books, thinking it couldn't possibly happen to me...unfortunately, you just never know. If I had to do it again, I would still go the homebirth route with midwives (and the pool), as long as it was considered fairly safe. It was an awesome experience, while it lasted! So I wish you luck!
I did cloth diapers (I had 2 diff. diaper services, tell me if you need ref) and had no regrets; I loved it. We used them outside the home too, and even after we moved out of T.O. Unfortunately, once my dd moved into the "pull-ups" stage, and I didn't get her toilet trained until age 4 approx, I did end up using disposables (pull ups).
No, I'm not a student anymore, when I said "school", I meant my dd's. She's in grade 1 and I'll need to find her a school to finish her year. I'd like it to be just one school, not 2, even if we move a couple of months later. Not all schools in T.O. are the same either...
But, I do plan on going back to school at some point (my dh wants to take some courses too) and that's one of the long-term reasons that fuel our move back to T.O. Where we are now, that would be nearly impossible. We're too far from everything. I hope to study so I can teach ESL to adults, kind of strange because I'm a French major (from York, Glendon) and can teach FSL (French); which I've done on occasion. But, being an immigrant's daughter, I prefer working with immigrants. My line of work (when I do work) is something completely different!
I haven't attended a "simplicity circle" yet, but dh and I have been interested for a while, so I hope we'll conect with one now. It's hard to describe (harder since I haven't been in one yet
). I think the best way to describe it is, "Live simply so that others may simply live" (that's Ghandi's I think). In other words, try to find out what your real needs are (as opposed to those dictated to you by our consumer society) and then fill those needs only, and examine your life closely before you buy anything or fill your life with unwanted, unneeded stuff, that only creates "clutter". Well, easier said than done! Right?
If you're interested I can suggest a good book: Your Money or Your Life, by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. And also: Affluenza : the all consuming epidemic by John de Graff and Voluntary Simplicity by Duane Elgin (1981)

And some websites:

http://www.simpleliving.net

http://www.newroadmap.org

http://www.seedsofsimplicity.org

Well, I think your description of the Mennonites was pretty good! I knew almost nothing about them until we moved to the Waterloo region. Now, even if I don't agree with their dogma I must respect their beliefs; at least they "live what they preach", or most of them seem to. I believe they are call "the simple people", and that's really a great compliment! (see above, "voluntary simplicity"). Quakers, I guess are more "wordly". Although the Mennonites I know about in T.O. are the New Order ones I think and they don't "look"/sound traditional at all. I used to attend a playgroup in Waterloo at a Mennonite Church, it was just a regular church with regular people. We hope to go back to get our fresh farm eggs and veggies from our favourite Mennonite farm near St. Jacob's!

I'll take a look at those wild windows at the Unitarian Church when we visit!

I didn't know about the Star's website for rentals, I'll check it out! Thanks for the tip. I knew about the other one, and one other website we found (but that one doesn't have pics).

Yeah, it's good to have family when in need. Hopefully we won't have to bother them too long, it'll be tight quarters!

Well, take care! And take care of the little one!
Diana,
 

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i just moved to Christie Pits area this past fall and really like it. You might want to check out www.viewit.ca to find apartments with your specifications and there are pictures too. We found a small 1BR basement for $700/month with a backyard/garden area on there that we are living in now. Good luck! I like living here because we are so close to the library, grocery store, community centre and the park is awesome (swimming pool, ice rink, playground).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the "tips" on housing everyone. "newcanuck" ( I saw your other posting just now: welcome to Canada!), glad you like your neighbourhood in the West End, anyway, you're practically downtown! I always liked the Annex area too, technically I think that's a little East of yours. I spent a lot of time around there during University, but not sure if we'll include it in our housing search for now. Looks like our move will be sooner rather than later. I might be there in about 3 weeks and dh will stay behind to tie up loose ends if necessary. The sooner I'm working the sooner we'll get our new place. We'll have to stay with relatives first. So, we might end up paying more than $900, like you all suggested, as we'll really like a place within a house, rather than a basement if we can help it. And, having lived for years in a hi-rise, we're definitely trying to avoid those; they're just not for us.
We're trying to stick to what we know, the East End. We'll expand the search later if we have to. That way we'll still be close to our relatives.

Somebody suggested a bigger place (like a 3bdrm) and renting one out to foreign students through a host program. I looked into that idea a few years ago when we lived in Kitchener. It sounded good, but our house then was not quite suitable. But it's not a bad idea, we might look into that too.

Question:
Does anyone know of a group from Mothering that meets regularly (in person) in T.O. anywhere? I seem to remember seeing "playgroups" or something like that before for Toronto but don't see any now? Maybe a need to look a little further back or write up a new posting.

Thanks! Take care.

Toronto, here we come again!!!


Diana.
 

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Hi Diana!

Just have some advice for your search for accomodation.
Try Toronto Community Housing Corp.:
http://www.torontohousing.ca
They have a subsidized housing program (which takes a long time to get into/get a unit) but they also have market rent, which is still really affordable. We have a large 2 bdrm. appt with a backyard & parking and pay 1050/mo. It is right downtown (queen/spadina area), is well-maintained and it's a low-rise (I couldn't live in a highrise either). TCH has a large variety of housing - some units in houses & a lot of low-rises.
Good luck with your search!

Carly
 

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viewit.ca is pretty useful, and helps you weed out some real dogs - the one thing I noticed is that they take the photos from the absolutely most favourable angle possible - we saw sooo many places that looked palatial online when they were the size of a walk-in closet. I think they take them from the far corner, standing on a chair!

Re finding a school for your daughter - have you checked out the alternative public schools? They're definitely an option for us, having checked out the school district website (www.tdsb.on.ca). Some really interesting philosophies, more openness to involved parents and respect for the children, so far as I can tell.

I totally agree with concentrating on the east end - we just closed a deal on renting a 3 bedroom semi for $1300 that was about ten times nicer than anything we saw for $1500-$1700 elsewhere. Yay!
 

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Hey folks! I keep forgetting to check the tribal area, but every time I do I find pockets of cool local Mamas.


We live in the West end of the city and absolutely love it! I know there are buildings around here (Bloor/Islington) that are steps from the subway and were reasonably priced a couple years ago. Not sure about house rental prices though.

Playgroups... We have an AP/NFL type playgroup here that has weekly meetings in the east and west ends of the city. Our main/original focus is/was babywearing, but we certainly do talk about anything and everything at meetings and through our online mailing list. http://www.koalamamas.com for more information on meeting times etc. It's a fantastic group, and the meetings are the highlight of my week.

Schools... I hear the island school is amazing. A lot of outdoor/nature time and smaller classes than most public school settings.

UU... Been meaning to check it out one Sunday but never seem to get around to it! I'd love to hear more from anyone who attends?

Selena... Are you with Midwives Collective at Spadina & Dupont? Who's your midwife? (My primary is Sara, secondary is Tasha.)
 

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Hi Melanie! I am with the Midwife's Collective. My primary is Elizabeth Brandeis and my backup is Katrina. I haven't met Katrina yet, but will at my next appt at 24 weeks.

I think they're really great. Elizabeth is my kind of person... very low-key.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hello again: Thanks for all the replies & PM's and tips (will keep them all in mind). And it's true, it's great to check the local tribal area, 'cause you never know you might meet some great people!
Selena I hope everything's going great!
Melanie, I have seen the Islands school, from the outside only though (they have summer camps too I think), but I wonder how people get there in winter? I know about the ferries (the Islands are my favourite T.O. place) but it's awfully cold over that lake in the winter...brrr. Poor kids!
I already contacted the local alternative school in our East End neighbourhood and they're full this year, and apparently they have waiting lists all the time too. She suggested I check out others. We've finally decided we'll be living with my sister for a while and a friend's friend will have a house available for rent in a few months, we need to check it out.
In the meantime we'll look at other places too. I can't wait to be there next month, but I still have so much to do here.

We've just had a very bad week, our beautiful 9yr old dog was ill with cancer for a couple of months and we had to put him to sleep last Tuesday. The pain is over but we miss him a lot. Still, I'm glad he will not have to go through a move.

Thank-you all. Take care.
Diana.
 

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Hi! I just wanted to add:

1. Midwives Collective are awsome!! They assisted me with my first baby. They are all great!

2. I live at Bloor and Dovercourt. There are lots of affordable apartments here. We did not find a flat in a house but we are a stones throw from Dufferin Grove, Christie Pits, Gladstone library, the ttc, etc... Wallerace Emerson Community centre has a great homeschooling community that meets on Thursdays, a big gym, lots of programs, and friendly staff. We are also very close to McCormic and Abate community centers too

3. We are really near to Hawthorn Bilingual Alternative School at Dupont and Christie where my son now goes. Very child-centred, you should check it out.

Good luck and welcome home!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Greetings NorthernLight!
That does sound like an awesome neighbourhood you live in. An alternative bilingual school, that's a great concept; your son is lucky. I have been around the area, as a "visitor" only. I want to visit more often! It feels a little intimidating right now to change neighbourhoods though without a very good reason. All my family is in the same area of the East End. We've been away from family & friends for 5 years now and the last year & half in particular has been hard, as we live in the country & in the snowbelt. So I am looking forward to going back home even if I don't always like the city (crowds, traffic, polution) but it's awfully lonely out here...especially when things aren't going right.
That school sounds good. One of the things that bother me about my daughter's school here (there are a few...) is that all the kids (most of them) are bussed in from the farms, villages around here, so she has no friends at all near by and the next door kids go to a completely different (private/ religious) school. So she's looking forward to actually living close to the kids she goes to school with and meeting kids at the local park (no park here and the one in town is often deserted!). There is nothing for kids to do around here (unless it's organized sports, etc) and most "local" people have tons of family (really big families!). I don't want to send her across T.O. to a good school but one where she'll never have friends close by. Nothing's ever easy right?
All you guys have been great with all the suggestions. It's amazing, I'm not even in T.O. yet and already I have all this info. & support.
Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·

Hi: I'm finally here, back "home". DD and I have been here about a week, with nasty colds and no Internet connection! But we're finally settling down. She'll be starting school soon. Funny enough she was set to start the day after Valentine (to avoid all that confusion that day) and her teacher's son fell ill, so she won't start until her teacher gets back to work, to avoid getting a substitute on her return to school! I can't wait to have her back in school (and neither can the grandparents I think!)...I love her dearly but...I'm going nuts!
ha, ha...
Thanks for all the info. everything helped! You guys gave us some great ideas. And now we're more in tune with rental prices here. But I've just started to look for a job, no more SAHM for me!
Thanks very much & take care!
Diana.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks Jenn91. I hope that somebody else might find that uselful too. That's one site I wasn't aware of and might need again one day.
We eventually found a cozy little place in the neighbourhood we wanted, close to dd's school. We just walked around the neighbourhood and saw a sign. It's not perfect but it's good for now. We might try to move next spring again though so thanks for the info!
 

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Ohhhhhh...I don't envy anyone having to find an apartment in TO. I lived in at least 6 different buildings and areas over the past 10 years and I don't think I ever paid less than $800 and that was for a bachelor! I wish I had know about all these great sites when I was looking! I'm in Nova Scotia now, an the hardest thing I'm finding out here is finding somewhere I can bring my dog. I never had this problem in Toronto, but it's just been a nightmare out here! Well, back to the search...

Glad to hear you found a place, even if it is only temperary!
 

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We're further out of the city (in Whitby actually) - and just found a 3-bedroom for $999 inc. I can't imagine finding it cheaper in the city.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I just checked out those websites and there's some good tenant/landlord info in one of them. I didn't check out the rentals, because we won't move until the spring or later. There's a lot more rental stuff out there, as far as websites, than there used to be, but you still need to do your legwork to find a decent place, that part hasn't changed. I've been an owner more than a tenant, and a landlord briefly once, but tenants definitely need protection from many unscrupulous landlords. So it's good to keep that info handy. My place is small, but it is a 2 bdrm, by the subway & not far from downtown and $1000 + some utilities, but we've found those to be rather small, about $75 monthly, since heat is included and we have gas for the stove. So it's not bad, but it's still an apt. although very private, and the landlord is not great at making repairs. We had to get the fire dept involved because he just refused to give us new fire alarms and we almost had a fire in the unit below. It seems he's got a long list of repairs to make now, but we'll see how much they actually force him to do. Anyway, whether you rent or own I've learned if you're on a tight budget nothing is ever "perfect", you learn to make the best of it! But one of those websites gave me some ideas, I might just get the city building inspectors involved too. Although by some standards in TO today our place is practically perfect. Some of the stories you see in the media about certain neighbourhoods and buildings are awful! Landlords have all the rights!
Funny, I didn't think anybody was still reading this thread! :LOL
 
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