Using data to find better apartments in Toronto

Posted by Local Logic on Mar 23, 2017 10:31:54 AM

Frustrated with exaggerated listings and neighbourhood stereotypes, we built a tool that cuts through the marketing BS to find better listings. Life is guaranteed to be miserable sometimes. Whether it’s exam season, tax season, or I-gotta-start-actually-going-to-the-gym-because-damn-it’s-almost-beach season, there are a few select times of the year that you should avoid at all costs.

The worst though? That’s indisputable: apartment hunting season. Moving day is filled with sweaty appliance schlepping, ridiculous traffic, and pizza-and-beer housewarming celebrations.

In a weird way, it’s kind of romantic. And yet the weeks and months prior are filled with mayhem: classifieds sites are filled with eager landlords, Airbnb arbitragers, renters nervously vying to fill their newly vacated rooms, and hopeful tenants desperate to find a good deal.

The steep competition leads to ahem… “inventive” claims about apartments and their respective neighbourhoods.

  • Five minutes from a subway station” — when the closest subway station is five minutes away… by jet.
  • “Incredibly safe neighbourhood” — when the apartment has only suffered a couple recent break-ins (because which apartment hasn’t?!?)
  • “Near lots of nightlife, restaurants and grocery stores” — when the closest Loblaws is a half-hour away, and the only restaurant within walking distance is a Mac’s with a rotating hot dog spindle.

We built Local Logic as a way to get instant insights about neighbourhoods. Whether you’re looking for a house, condo, apartment, or a storefront for your burgeoning wienerschnitzel empire, Local Logic can tell you all the things about a prospective address that normally would take weeks/months to figure out.

  • How accessible is a location by car, bike, walking, and public transit?
  • Are there schools nearby? Daycares?
  • How about public parks and greenspace? Are there lots of trees?
  • What is the nightlife/food scene like? Are there grocery stores within walking distance? Places to go shopping?

In addition to giving neighbourhoods a grade on each of these criteria, we also make broader judgements on qualities such as “vibrancy” or “quietness” that help you make quick, reliable decisions about the attractiveness of a neighbourhood — based on your personal preferences.

Back in 2015, Toronto Life partnered up with the Martin Prosperity Institute in order to rank all of Toronto’s neighbourhoods. We thought it was a great idea so we decided to see if our scores could complement those rankings by adding more nuance, at the street level.

Let’s try some addresses:

11 Goldfinch Ct, Westminster-Branson, Toronto (North York)

According to Toronto Life’s neighbourhood rankings, Westminster-Branson places last (#140), with a very low transit ranking (13.4/100) and a moderate school ranking (49.3/100).

Toronto Life’s ranking of Westminster-Branson

However, not all parts of Westminster-Branson are cut from the same cloth.

Near the West Don Parkland, you’ll find 11 Goldfinch Ct. Technically it’s “Westminster-Branson”, but it’s also next to and Finch Avenue W, i.e. within walking distance of a subway and frequent bus lines. Not exactly a transit wasteland, based on its Local Logic score:

Local Logic’s transit-friendly score for Westminster-Branson — the greener, the better the transit accessibility!

Let’s now take a look at neighbourhood #139: West Hill.

Toronto Life’s ranking of West Hill

If you look at the picture and the overall ranking (2.1/100 for transit!), it sure doesn’t look too inviting, but is this a fair assessment of the entire neighbourhood? Let’s check.

200 Ling Rd, West Hill, Toronto

Pumping this address into Local Logic, we can see that while it has great access to elementary and high schools as well as daycares, and it’s doing pretty well as far as public transit is concerned — all characteristics that a family who’d rather do without buying a second car would really appreciate! Alright, it could be quieter, and the nightlife could definitely be better, but eh! nothing’s perfect in life.

Transit-friendliness in and around West Hill

It’s also true that shopping in West Hill doesn’t look that exciting, but if you take a closer look, you’ll notice that this location scores 4.5/5 for groceries. It seems to us that this kind of information would be useful to most people if they were looking to move into a new area.


Neighbourhood stereotypes are unreliable. Your prospective apartment might be a diamond in a neglected neighbourhood. Or a dive in an otherwise celebrated neighbourhood. There is no way to know.

Making any real estate decisions — whether it’s buying/renting or even just visiting — ought to be informed by data, not stereotypes. Sure, neighbourhood stereotypes are a much easier fallback than having to visit (and “test drive”) a neighbourhood before moving in. Yet with Local Logic, we’ve eliminated the need for stereotypes. No street corner is the same — even if they happen to fall within the same neighbourhood boundaries.

After all, what if you’re on the border of 2 neighbourhoods? Do you get the cool vibe of the artsy area, the community feeling of the first-ring suburb, or a mix of both? By typing in an address on Local Logic (or one of our partners’ websites), you can instantly assess the qualities that matter to you: transit-friendliness, nightlife, and so much more.

Our hope is to make it easier for you to make informed decisions when you’re moving. We know how stressful it can be. A hundred tabs open at all times, tirelessly searching.

Well guess what. We’re (hopefully) the last tab that you’ll have to open.

Good luck with the hunt.

Local Logic is currently available in Canada’s 10 largest metropolitan areas. To get Local Logic added by default to your local listings site — or Airbnb — request it on our wishlist (the button’s in the top right corner ;)

Topics: All Cities, Canada, Ontario

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