Old Listings Show Just How Unbelievably Cheap Homes Used To Be In Toronto

Maybe it's time to invest in a time machine.
Staff Writer
Toronto's Housing Market Used To Be Upsettingly Cheap 100 Years Ago

Toronto has changed a lot over the past 100 years, and the Toronto housing market is no exception.

Whether you were renting an apartment or buying a house, housing was a whole lot cheaper in 1920s Toronto, according to the November 17, 1920 edition of the Toronto Daily Star (which later became the Toronto Star). 

The classifieds section from a century ago today is available through the Toronto Public Library, and it really is a blast from the past.

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[rebelmouse-image 26001414 photo_credit="Toronto Public Library | Public Domain" expand=1 original_size="1032x1240"] Toronto Public Library | Public Domain

[rebelmouse-image 26001415 photo_credit="Toronto Public Library | Public Domain" expand=1 original_size="1212x634"] Toronto Public Library | Public Domain

The houses for sale on November 17, 1920, sat somewhere in the $4,000 to $5,000 range and came with a host of amenities.

One ad is for a property close to Bloor and Dovercourt, which offered a reception hall and three floors of newly decorated rooms for $5,600 ($700 cash down).

If you want a house in the same location now, it could cost you over $2 million

Of course, if buying is out of the question, there are plenty of rental options in 1920s Toronto.

An apartment on 554 Lansdowne Ave. cost a hefty $75 a month, but it does come with furniture, laundry, and a piano. 

But you could also try the three-room apartment on Dufferin Ave. for $18 a month or — if you were really rolling in it — the newly furnished five-room apartment in Parkdale for $100 a month (garage is extra).

While these costs sound ludicrously low to us now, that wasn't the case for 1920's Torontonians.

Back then, the average Canadian manufacturing salary was $1,811 a year, so a $5,000 house was a much bigger investment than it would be for people nowadays.

Allowing for inflation, $1,811 in 1920 would be worth just over $21,000 in 2020 dollars, and $5,000 would be worth close to $60,000, according to the Bank of Canada's inflation calculator

This means that a $5,000 house was more feasible for someone on an average 1920s manufacturing salary than the average fully detached house in Toronto (about $1.23 million) is for people on Toronto's average household income nowadays (about $98,000 a year).

As Toronto gets more and more expensive, it's fun (and slightly painful) to see just how much cheaper things used to be in the city.

Of course, they didn't have the Toronto Raptors or Instagram in 1920, so at least we can count ourselves a little bit lucky.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated.

Cormac O'Brien
Staff Writer
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