younge and steels is about 30-45 mins by train from downtown, since you have to take the bus to Finch station (on the younge subway line). Try Finch and younge instead (if you want something that up north). The high park area has nice condos and nice walking places (i.e. high park) at affordable prices (15 mins by subway from downtown). Don Mills and Shepherd is also a pretty cheap "ghetto-style" area in the sense that it has a lot of apartment builidngs and subway access, without being all that dangerous/rundown (like the jane/finch and east scarborough areas). It's a bit further from downtown, about 35-40 mins by subway.
Try to get a place from where you can walk to the subway. If you have to take a bus trip (however short) it will likely double your travel time, since busses are not dependable in TO and on many streets come at horendous time intervals.
The chinatown area is also nice, and it's inhabitted mostly by UofT students and hippies/artists/bohemians/whatever you wanna call them and has nice restaurants (you can also walk or bike to work from there, if you do work in downtown).