1. It's a tech hub - and it just keeps getting techier.

Move over, Silicon Valley: you've got a northern competitor. Toronto is one of the world's fastest-growing technology hubs, with a thriving startup culture and major companies competing for office space downtown. 

Tech giant and innovator Cisco, for instance, is building a $100 million innovation centre in Toronto to study and develop technology around the "internet of everything". And the city's Economic Development and Culture department released a report not long ago that indicated that 30% of the entire country's IT and technology business is located in Toronto. That's worth over $52billion annually. We're the biggest tech hub in the country - and one of the bigger ones in North America.

2. It offers an exceptional quality of life.

Let's face it: Toronto's just an incredible place to live. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, in fact, it's the best place to live in the entire world. Toronto figures regularly in the top ten cities in the world to live in various city rankings all the time. It's a prosperous, beautiful economic centre that's nevertheless just a stone's throw - sometimes literally - from some of the best natural beauty Canada has to offer.

One of the surprising hallmarks of Toronto's quality of life? The city offers a lot for people at every stage of life and in almost every economic bracket. Unlike London, which is becoming more and more economically stratified (to the point where large sections of elite areas are becoming veritable "ghost towns" because of all the non-resident property owners), Toronto is a vibrant and diverse city full of residents who don't just want to own here, they want to live here, too. 

3. It has a healthy economy.

UK Business Insider ranks Toronto as one of the Top 10 most Economically Powerful Cities Worldwide.

Speaking of economic diversity: this is one of the major reasons why Toronto isn't just a great place to live, but it's a great place to invest in real estate, too. Despite the constant headlines about rising property prices - and they are rising - incomes are rising, too. TREB Director of Market Analysis Jason Mercer has spoken many times about the fact that the average Toronto home continues to be affordable for many Toronto and GTA families, particularly as carrying costs are currently low due to low mortgage rates.

Another benefit to economic diversity? Homes across the price spectrum are selling. The most people who prosper, the more people can afford to purchase a home, and Toronto's strong economy has helped put home ownership within the reach of many buyers who would be priced out of the market in a city like London. So whether someone is purchasing a $200,000 studio condo or a $2 million detached family home, they are making an excellent investment in their life and their future.

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Toronto Fashion Week: (March 23-27) 

World MasterCard Fashion Week is back in David Pecaut Square, as designers showcase their new collections. The media, industry, buyers, and consumers come together to view collections of some of the best of Canada’s fashion designers of the season.

Mirvish Presents: Once (from March 2) 

Based on the sleeper hit movie by John Carney, Once is the story of Dublin street musician Guy, who finds inspiration when he meets a young Czech woman who plays piano. Songs include the Academy Award-winner “Falling Slowly,” “Gold,” “The Moon” and “Say It to Me Now.”  In addition, the original cast recording won the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.

One of a Kind Spring Show and Sale (March 25-29) 

Spring brings the One of a Kind Show back to Toronto. Over 800 artisans and designers present their handcrafted goods to Toronto shoppers. 

This show started out as a humble trade show in the mid-seventies and exploded into one of Toronto’s largest exhibitions of original arts and crafts. Everything on sale at the One of a Kind show was made by artisans living in North America.

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Big news in Toronto real estate in February: according to TREB (and picked up by many of the major news outlets), the average price of a detached home in the city of Toronto topped the $1 million mark for February. This is a first in the history of the city, and it's reason to rejoice for homeowners.

One of the drivers of February's 7.8% average GTA price increase over February 2014, which includes the million-plus detached segment, has been a lack of supply of homes on the market. The year-over-year increase in transactions in February was even more marked than the price increase, at 11.3%: in short, buyers are hungry for homes and they are buying them for high prices.

“Even with the record low temperatures last month, we still saw an increase in the number of people purchasing homes in the GTA.  This speaks to the importance households place on home ownership and the fact that buyers continue to view ownership housing as a quality long-term investment in which they can live,” said TREB president Paul Etherington. 

Overall, the story is much the same as it's been the past several months: low supply and high demand makes for high prices. And the high demand has been driven by Toronto's status as one of the best cities in the world in which to live.

Side note - What I find really interesting is the continued divergence between single family home prices and other types of housing stock in both Toronto and Vancouver (more info from National Post here). As stated before, both cities have a lack of land that they can build detached houses on. This leads me to believe that a 'reversion to the mean' will have less effect on single family dwellings in these two cities than elsewhere. More on that in another post!

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In a previous post, we pointed out that prices in Toronto's real estate seem to be ever more correlated with good public school districts. Thats not too surprising - private schools command a hefty after tax dollar. Where do public schools fit in the drive to securing a great education for our kids? All schools are different, but one of the biggest advantages private schools have over public schools are their additional facilities and curricular activities. Public schools don't have the resources or expertise necessary to have facilities like robotics labs. Icewire Makerspace (1560 Bayview Ave) is a family run robotics lab that your kids will love. It's a fun, challenging, and creative way to engage your kids with tomorrow's technology. On a recent school trip, my kid's class learned how to program robots to perform basic tasks, find routes around obstacles, and even make music! There's a 4 player Pong game (made out of LEDs and the same computers that the kids will work on), and the kids can build a full 3 dimensional bust of themselves using a 3D scanner and printer.

Why are robotics important?According to the Globe and Mail 'A recent study from the Boston Consulting Group shows that investment in industrial robots will grow 10 per cent per year in the world’s 25-biggest export nations through 2025 – overshadowing the current growth of two to three per cent.' We went on a tour of a few of the mid-town private schools, and the 'Robotics lab' sign was never far from the entrance.

I am a self-professed geek. Prior to real estate, I co-founded and ran an IT consulting firm that eventually employed over 70 consultants and had 3 of the big 5 banks as clients, along with the Ontario Government and several other notable clients. I guess it's no surprise that I really enjoyed Icewire. The great part is...your kids can too! The owners are the instructors...they were great with the kids, and really captured their creativity and imagination. Go check it out...definitely worth the trip.

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