With a population of almost 3 million people, it's safe to say Toronto is a pretty big and diverse city.
So how are all the people inhabiting the city managing to afford to live here? With the cost of living skyrocketing, affording life in Canada's most populated city isn't easy.
blogTO got the chance to talk to Noor Wadhwa, who gave us a candid insight into her life in Toronto, including how much she makes and how she spends her money.
24 years old.
What she does:
Freelancer in marketing and co-founder of clothing brand High Definition Studios
“I do a lot of work in social media management, influencer management, graphic design, website design, just a bunch of different digital marketing services. And I work for a few really cool clients in the fashion industry and beauty industry, such as Van Cleef and Laneige.”
Wadhwa describes her Toronto-based clothing brand, HD Studio, as a “go-to stop for luxury essential basics that are inspired by more masculine silhouettes.”
“We really want to be a brand for women where it's like, oh, I stole this from my boyfriend's closet,” says Wadhwa. “It's everyday off-duty pieces. It's just perfect because we're based in Toronto and everyone's always on the go. It's functional pieces for your city life.”
What she makes:
She makes around $115,000-120,000 a year from her freelance marketing gigs and the clothing brand is just breaking even.
What and where she studied:
She studied Global Business Management with a minor in marketing and finance at Toronto Metropolitan University (when it was still called Ryerson University).
Where she lives:
A one-bedroom plus den condo unit with two bathrooms in Liberty Village.
“I've lived honestly everywhere. I used to live right downtown across from the Eaton Centre and then I lived in Yorkville for a little bit. Then I lived right on King Street and I'm finally now in Liberty Village and I love it and I don't want to leave.”
Cost of her apartment:
Roughly $4,000 a month, including utilities.
$800 a month.
Phone and internet:
$100 a month.
She doesn't own a car and rents out her parking spot to a friend for $70 a month.
She pays nothing for exercise since her building already has a gym for free and she gets free Pilates and tennis lessons from her friend who's an instructor.
About $1,000 a month.
$400 a month.
“I have like a million [subscriptions]. I have Apple Music, Netflix, Canva, Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator. I have website subscriptions for my own personal website.”
According to Wadhwa, this expense can have a wide range for her.
“So I'm a really big thrifter. So maybe like $50 to $80 on a good thrifting haul on a good day,” says Wadhwa.
“On actual clothes, I personally like to invest in good pieces. When I have an event coming up or a vacation coming up, then it kind of gets expensive… I'm going to New York soon and I spent $1,000 on clothes for that trip.”
$1,000 a month.
Around $8,000 a year.
“Every vacation I go on ends up being like $1000 or like $1,500 for the weekend trips or small trips,” Wadhwa shared. “The bigger vacations are maybe $2500 to 3k and I do maybe one of those a year. So it ends up being, maybe $8,000 a year.”
Around $1900 per month.
“Okay, so I get my hair done every month. That's about $200 a month. I get my nails done twice a month and that's $200 every time, so that's $400. I get a wax every month. That's probably around $80 for a full-body wax.”
“Then I also get laser as well on parts of my body, so that's also $60 a month. I do a facial once-a-month micro needling that's about $200. I get lip filler. That is about $500 twice a year. And I also have hair extensions. So that's about $600 twice a year.”
“I get my eyebrows done once a month and then I do lymphatic drainage as well, which is like $120 a month,” continued Wadhwa. “I pay for a red light sauna that I go to about 8 times a month and every session is about $80.”
“I feel like that's one of the biggest expenses of being a woman. This is really eye-opening to me because, like, holy shit, I spend a lot of money.”
Wadhwa opened up about the struggles of running a small business in Toronto and got candid about the difficulties that entrepreneurs in the city deal with. So much so, that it doesn't look like the future of her brand will be set in Toronto.
“I actually am looking to move to LA. I found that LA is just honestly cheaper. I have a friend who lives there, and I was just asking her about her rent, her expenses, Uber, the entertainment and living, and it's honestly way less than what I pay in Toronto,” shared Wadhwa.
“Like what am I doing in Toronto? So I'm actually planning on doing a test run in February. My business partner and I will move out there for a couple of months.”
“It's a heartbreaking side of Toronto. A lot of small businesses fail in Toronto. I don't know what it is. I know it's not the people,” continued Wadhwa.
“I feel like it's just more the expenses and the taxes, and just everything you have to pay for while you have a business in Canada. And honestly, it's just so much cheaper to operate a business in the States. There are more connections.”
Wadhwa has big plans for her future, and plans on continuing her career as a freelancer in marketing, with the hopes of one day shifting her focus full time on her clothing brand.