Most people who move to Toronto are forced to make a trade off - the more money they save on their home purchase the longer their commute to work will be. If you don't have a limited budget, however, you don't have to make a trade. You can have your single family detached home and still be within a few minutes' commute to downtown. With Toronto's high population density, there are only a few central Toronto neighborhoods where you can find houses that have not been turned into apartments. They include Moore Park, Rosedale, Lawrence Park, Cabbagetown, and the Annex. If you want to buy into any one of these, we recommend that you get a real estate agent's help.
Each of Toronto's neighborhoods has a unique feel to it which is influenced by its history, the type of architecture prevalent in the area, and the people who now make their homes there. A search for Cabbagetown Toronto real estate will reveal that many of the homes in this area are brick row houses formerly owned by blue collar Irish immigrant workers in the early days of industrialized Toronto while the homes in the Annex tend to be large, stately Victorians once owned (and still owned) by college professors who work at the nearby University of Toronto as well as famous Canadian artists and television personalities.
If you want to live in these areas without renting, you will have to have a very large budget indeed. A two storey house in Cabbagetown will cost at least $650,000 while the homes in more upscale neighborhoods like Forest Hill, High Park, Lawrence Park, Moore Park, and the Annex are even more expensive. The average price for two storey homes in Moore Park is the highest in Toronto at $1,100,000. Lawrence Park is a close second at $1,000,000 and Forest Hill comes it at an average of $959,000. Compared to these other areas, the Annex has a comparatively reasonable $880,000 average. Keep in mind, though, that many of the homes in these areas are not small. They were designed as mansions for the rich and to accommodate guests and servants they may have four, five, even six or more bedrooms with costs to match.
Realtors in Toronto typically work for commission, which means they take about 5% of the sale price of the home to be shared among both the selling and the buying agent. If you're buying a multi-million dollar home in a neighborhood like Rosedale, however, you could end up paying your realtor $50,000 or more to do the same amount of work they would be doing to help a buyer find a cheaper home, so you may want to pre-negotiate the realtor's fees before you sign a contract with them.