Kitchener-Waterloo Market Prices
Kitchener-Waterloo is home to over 350,000 people (and counting). The population is currently growing due to people moving in for work or education (or seeking to escape the soaring prices of the GTA).
Because of this, the local real estate market has been seeing strong growth for many of the past years, with prices steadily increasing by 4-6% year over year.
There have been between 5000 to 6000 home sales every year for the past 3 years, and the local board has approximately 2000 active realtors moving the market forward.
Many market conditions, such as heavy investment into transportation and infrastructure, point toward KW continuing to grow and develop at a steady pace.
When a person is particularly talented or noteworthy – whether they be a magician, musician, or mime – we sometimes shine a spotlight on them (the better to appreciate their dazzling qualities). Kitchener-Waterloo has its fair share of talented, noteworthy people.
But we here at WRX Property Group think it’s time to shine a spotlight not just on the people of Kitchener-Waterloo, but on the neighbourhoods and local businesses that make it such a great place to live.
First, we’ll take a look at the cities themselves, and then we’ll move on to specific neighbourhoods and businesses (or you can click the links below if you’d like to jump to a specific section).
- Overviews of Kitchener and Waterloo
- Are Kitchener and Waterloo Different Cities?
- Is KW a Good Place to Live in?
- Spotlight on Central Frederick with Triad Office Interiors
- Spotlight on Cherry Hill with Redline Conditioning
- Spotlight on Downtown Kitchener with Le Prix Fashion & Consulting
- Spotlight on Eastwood with Grand River Rocks Kitchener
- Spotloight on Highland West with Apple Self Storage
- Spotlight on King East with Elite Training Facility
- Spotlight on Mill Courtland with Thrift on Kent
- Spotlight on Westmount with Contrabean Roasting Company
- Spotlight on the 401 with Dimensions in Dance
- Spotlight on Northfield with Waterloo Kung Fu Academy
- Spotlight on Uptown Waterloo with Twice is Nice & Twice The Man Clothing
- Spotlight on Westvale with Red River Early Learning Centre
The Waterloo Region is nearly 1,400 km2 in size (the Region shape roughly resembles the 2012 London Olympic logo), and more than half a million people live here. Most of the population lives in one of the ‘Tri-Cities’ (Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge).
Let’s take a quick peek at the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo before zooming in on several local businesses, and the neighbourhoods that they call home.
Kitchener – has a population of around 240 000. The Grand River runs along Kitchener’s eastern border, and to the west are fields and rolling hills, the tallest of which are called the Baden Hills (due to their height, these hills host the antennas for CTV Kitchener).
When you’re choosing where to live, you need to know that you’ll be able to make your livelihood. And in that regard, Kitchener (and indeed, the entire Waterloo Region) has plenty of opportunities.
Historically, Kitchener has been a prominent manufacturing centre, stretching back to the furniture factory and sawmills of its earliest days.
Manufacturing remains an important part of Kitchener’s economy (and a significant employer, with 20% of the work force), but the city has become increasingly economically diversified over the years.
Beyond manufacturing, Kitchener has a wide range of job opportunities – large health care facilities and three hospitals, Conestoga College, multiple elementary and secondary schools, tech companies, municipal jobs, and countless retail and service opportunities (including Fairview Park Mall, the largest mall in the region). Downtown Kitchener in particular is home to a robust, growing tech startup scene that is interconnected with Waterloo’s universities.
Another key benefit of Kitchener is its proximity to Toronto. Businesses are linked to Canada’s largest city, with all the opportunities that provides, as well as Toronto Pearson International Airport. The 401 can be accessed in the south of Kitchener, or very easily by Highway 8; it leads directly to northern Toronto. Click here to read more about the City of Kitchener.
Waterloo – Waterloo is the smallest of the three Tri-Cities, but it’s still got a fairly sizable population at just over 110 000. Kitchener borders Waterloo to the south, Wilmot, Wellesley, and Woolwich Townships surround it to the north and east (that’s a lot of ‘W’s), and the Grand River runs (or flows, to be more accurate) along the east.
One of the defining characteristics of Waterloo is its top tier educational opportunities. Put simply, Waterloo has excellent schools, for every age. Waterloo is served by both the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) and the Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB).
Both have schools throughout the Tri-Cities, and several in the surrounding areas, but there is a common theme amongst them. Typically, the schools in Waterloo (the City) are the highest performing in the entire region (and many of them are ranked among the best in all of Ontario).
Furthermore, Waterloo has two universities (Wilfrid Laurier University and University of Waterloo) and a new campus for Conestoga College – all situated within a walk of each other down University Avenue.
Indeed, for many parents, moving to a particular area of Waterloo in order to ensure their children are zoned for a specific school is a significant factor in choosing a new home.
The Laurelwood Neighbourhood (you can read about it in our ongoing series on Waterloo Neighbourhoods) specifically has excellent elementary schools, including Laurelwood Public School and St.Nicholas Catholic School, tied for top school in Waterloo according to the Fraser Institute in 2015-2016.
With an educated, motivated population, Waterloo has many technology and service-based job opportunities. Major employers in the city include both universities, the Catholic and public school boards (WCDSB and WRDSB), Manulife Financial and Sun Life Financial, many start-ups and tech companies, as well as several think tanks.
And of course, we would be remiss not to mention one of Waterloo’s most widely known exports, and one of the largest employers: BlackBerry. BlackBerry is nearly synonymous with Waterloo, with its ties to the University of Waterloo stretching back to the mid 1980s.
The legacy of Research in Motion (RIM), as it used to be called, looms large in the ‘Loo, and the company carried the torch (and continues to serve as a beacon of light) for the burgeoning tech movement in Waterloo. RIM co-founder Mike Lazaridis, for example, gave incredible financial support to the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, which opened near Waterloo Park in 2004.
Waterloo is served by Grand River Transit, which has bus routes running throughout the region. The LRT is up and running, and if you stand by the (conveniently-located) tracks, you can watch ION electric train cars running from Conestoga Mall in northern Waterloo past the universities, uptown Waterloo, downtown Kitchener, and all the way to Fairview Park Mall in central Kitchener. Click here to read more about the City of Waterloo.
With those brief overviews in mind, let’s take a look at several specific businesses, and the neighbourhoods and areas in Kitchener-Waterloo they represent. Starting with: Kitchener!
Quite a few of our Kitchener businesses operate in and around the Downtown Kitchener area, which is worth noting as the downtown core is in the midst of an ambitious project of revitalization, serious investment (over $1 billion in condo developments), and population growth.
Downtown Kitchener is divided into the central hub, with several neighbourhoods surrounding it; check out a map at the Downtown Neighbourhood Alliance.
Spotlight on Central Frederick with Triad Office Interiors
We had the chance to speak with Nitika, from Triad Office Interiors about what it’s like being a business in the downtown core.Triad Office Interiors specializes in office design and carries a range of office furniture.
Triad Office Interiors is in a great part of the city. The advantage in being downtown is all about proximity. You get to be near so many things, and as the city develops, you’re near that many more things.
Triad has been working alongside Manulife in developing the office space for their Innovation Hub, while also tackling creative eco-friendly furniture projects like the Generation Chair, an office chair made out of 100% recycled material.
Nitika says you can see that office culture is changing and in the process of modernizing itself. Companies are making a push to upgrade, and you can see workspaces from as far back as the 70s and 80s now being switched to a more modern setup.
It’s interesting to note how companies are using space differently now versus before. The trend is to opt for less space, but make better use of it. Squarefootage per person is reduced compared to previous decades, more than one person may use the same desk or spot, and access to power outlets is now more important than ever.
Triad Office Interiors is located at 40 Weber St E, near the intersection of Weber and Frederick. This is a fantastic area, falling in the Central Frederick neighbourhood: all within a block, you can find the downtown branch of the Kitchener Public Library (beautifully renovated recently, and host to a diverse array of events of the year); the precious Registry Theatre; the delightful Kitchener Market; and even the Cat Hospital of Kitchener-Waterloo for when your feline isn’t feelin’ fine.
If you want to read more about the Central Frederick area in Kitchener, you can see our in depth article here.
Spotlight on Cherry Hill with Redline Conditioning
Redline Conditioning is a training facility and fitness centre located near Downtown Kitchener, and it’s a great place for kids and adults alike. Training opportunities here include preparation for specific sports, including fantastic on- and off-ice training for hockey – their speciality.
Redline owner Brandon Merli is a former OHL Kitchener Rangers player and their current Director of Sports Science and Development Coach, and Vinny Merante, whom we interviewed, played as a goaltender for the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks and now serves as their Assistant Coach (Go Hawks Go!). There is also functional fitness: weightlifting, conditioning, and general exercises, with classes running 5 times a day.
In terms of range, there are plenty of options for youths (open to kids as young as 6) all the way up to professional athletes (even in full team sessions, one of Vinny’s favourite opportunities). Redline Conditioning is the place to go if you want to not only get better at your sport, but also lead a healthier and more active lifestyle, become more confident, and develop athletic and life skills with the support of Redline’s experienced and passionate trainers and coaches.
Redline Conditioning stands at 675 Queen St. S. #110, right across from Woodside Park. It’s a short way from several predominantly suburban-style neighbourhoods (Southdale, for example) and the various neighbourhoods of Downtown Kitchener (particularly the charming Cherry Hill).
Redline Conditioning values the diversity and growth of the surrounding area (and Kitchener in general), and Vinny notes that they have the best of both worlds in many ways: it’s a business in a fairly large city that’s not quite so large as to feel too large. The Waterloo Region – and, indeed, Redline Conditioning’s own location – offers thriving urban areas, suburban neighbourhoods, and beautiful green spaces (sometimes one after the other).
Redline Conditioning is also near one of the most beautiful parts of Kitchener: Victoria Park. What better way to cool down after a training session than a stroll around Victoria Park Lake. Furthermore, it’s an area with marked growth, rejuvenation and development, from the LRT to brand new condos and a plethora of new restaurants and shops.
Spotlight on Downtown Kitchener with Le Prix Fashion & Consulting
Le Prix Fashion & Consulting is a clothing store and fashion consulting service in Downtown Kitchener. It started in 2012, initially as an online store, and has grown to include a full downtown storefront, along with several popup shops around the city.
Robyn brings in clothing and accessories from all over the world to feature in her shop. It’s possible to order online from anywhere, however, she says the magic is when you get to see it in person.
Those who come to the store always have first dibs on the newest items. There is the benefit of being able to see and try on the clothing, and of course, Robyn is there to lend her expertise as a fashion consultant.
She is an advocate for style as well as sustainability. Le Prix features sustainably made clothing and zero waste products, while also encouraging environmentally conscious shopping.
Le Prix recently started taking on clothing donations, and has implemented a vintage bin that acts like an ongoing clothing swap.
Minimizing waste is an increasingly important aspect of any industry, and consumers are also turning toward more responsible shopping.
Indeed, downtown Kitchener itself has made great strides toward environmental friendliness. Localized amenities, pedestrian-centred designs, and community events are some of the primary examples.
Robyn is tuned into that, and as a proud member of the downtown community, she is here to create an excellent blend of elegance and sustainability.
You can read more about Downtown Kitchener here.
Spotlight on Eastwood with Grand River Rocks Kitchener
When you see the word “Grr” the tendency might be to imagine someone grumpy, but would you believe me if I said it could also mean something grand? Something, indeed, that rocks? GRR, in this instance, is an acronym referring to none other than Grand River Rocks, the grandest, greatest, and least grumpy rock climbing gym in the whole wide Waterloo Region.
In the 14,000 square feet of space of their Kitchener location (18,000 square feet of climbing), the opportunities are incredible.
They range from accessible to beginners and youths all the way up to competitions for seasoned veterans (styles range from lead-climbing to bouldering, with much more to choose from). There are classes for those looking to learn better technique, youth programs and female programming, and both come recommended from Grand River Rocks’ Taylor.
And for those looking to party… you can host a party here. In case GRR is looking for a birthday slogan: “A little older? Climb a boulder!” Not only is Grand River Rocks Kitchener a great facility for anyone looking for fitness or fun, but it also has a pretty great location within the city. Standing at 50 Borden Ave. S. (near the intersection of King St. E. and Ottawa St. S.), it’s quite close to Downtown Kitchener but not quite in Downtown Kitchener.
This means that it’s not quite in the hustle and bustle of the downtown core, but its centrality makes it easy to get and there’s plenty other places and things to see and do nearby. Indeed, after a climb, why not check out City Café Bakery, a mere minute away?
Grand River Rocks Kitchener stands near two major arterial roads, and there are on- and off-ramps to the Conestoga Parkway (Highways 7 and 8) nearby. There are many options to get here by bus, and for those who live in nearby neighbourhoods or downtown (with over $1 Billion in condos developments coming to Downtown Kitchener, this applies to many people), it’s a pleasant walk (walking is a nice warm-up for a climb, after all [though be sure to stretch, too]).
Perhaps most excitingly, though, is the fact that Grand River Rocks Kitchener is right on the LRT line: the Borden Station is just around the corner. Taylor noted that it’s a great development for the business, and even noticed that people tend to come in at 15-minute intervals, corresponding to the LRT schedule!
The Downtown Kitchener neighbourhoods continue to see development and growth, with new businesses popping up along with new homes and strengthening communities. South of Grand River Rocks, neighbourhoods like Eastwood and Rockway are great for those looking for a more suburban option while still maintaining access to both downtown and the Conestoga Parkway.
Spotlight on Highland West with Apple Self Storage
When it comes to moving to a new home, the moving itself might not be the apple of your eye… But fear not, because if you prepare ahead of time, it doesn’t need to be the pits. We spoke with April from Apple Self Storage in Kitchener, and she gave us some great tips for the moving process.
As a rule of thumb, when deciding on the size of storage unit to get, something like a 10×15 ft or 10×20 ft storage unit works for people who live in a medium-sized 3 bedroom home. For those living in a medium sized condo unit, a 10×10 ft storage unit should do the trick.
The most effective way to minimize the stress of packing is by making sure you plan ahead. Be kind to your future self, and allow at least one month of lead time before your moving date. You should` start by taking an inventory of what you have, so that you can plan where each item will go.
Once you’ve put items away in boxes, you should label them. It will make carrying, stacking, and ultimately unpacking, a lot easier. Last but not least, remember that decluttering and storing items away go hand in hand with staging and presenting your home in a good light. If you put unnecessary items away, it won’t just make moving easier on your end, it will also help the sale of your home.
Apple Self Storage stands at 1575 Highland Rd W, in the far northwest of Kitchener. It is in the Highland West neighbourhood, a great area that borders the Kitchener neighbourhood of Forest Heights to the South, and the City of Waterloo to the north (specifically, the Westvale neighbourhood).
This is a great place: access to both cities, close proximity to the useful Conestoga Parkway, direct connection to the Boardwalk, the Waterloo Region’s swanky new shopping, eating, and health care district, and elementary/secondary schools nearby.
Check out our article on Highland West if you’d like to know more!
Spotlight on King East with Elite Training Facility
Continuing our journey through Kitchener-Waterloo, we stopped to speak with Dorothy and Clint from Elite Training Facility. Their gym offers a range of training programs, including individual sessions, group classes, and massage therapy as well.
Elite Training Facility is located in a special part of Kitchener indeed.
While the Western stretch of King St. encompasses most of downtown for now, new developments are steadily moving eastward into King St. East.
The Eastern side of King St. is a fascinating cross-section of growing businesses, buildings being renovated or repurposed, and fresh construction, mixed with residential areas featuring charming old brick homes.
As both KW residents and business owners, Dorothy and Clint have seen this town change over the years and are excited for what the future brings.
You can read our full article on the eastern side of King St. here.
Spotlight on Mill Courtland with Thrift on Kent
Thrift on Kent is a chic, community-conscious thrift store located in downtown Kitchener. They opened in 2013 on Kent Ave, and have since grown to be a lovely boutique full of great finds.
Thrift on Kent is a non-profit organization. They are volunteer driven and work hard to fund poverty relief and restorative justice programs for the Mennonite Central Committee, both in Ontario and globally as well.
They feature a wide selection of unique items, from vintage fashion and jewelry you can find in store, to limited edition guitars or works of art you can get at silent auctions.Shopping at thrift stores means you can stumble upon interesting or rare items. It also means giving products a second life, which promotes waste-reduction and a more eco-friendly mindset.
Part of Thrift on Kent’s contribution to the community is promoting re-use of fabulous products who are looking for their next owner. This is especially important when it comes to clothing, which is an industry where a lot of avoidable waste occurs.
Their green initiatives don’t stop there, however. The entire building at 50 Kent Ave was designed and equipped to be highly efficient and environmentally friendly. The most notable features are the rainwater collection system and the 200-kilowatt solar panel array.
You can catch them at the intersection of Charles and Kent, in the bright, slick turquoise building, right across from the LRT track.
As do several of Kitchener-Waterloo’s neighbourhoods, the Mill-Courtland neighbourhood has an active Neighbourhood Association that brings the community together through events and shared goals. You can read our article about them here.
Spotlight on Westmount with Contrabean Roasting Company
Taking a closer look at the Old Westmount neighbourhood, we spoke with Ron from Contrabean Roasting Company. Contrabean sources and roasts beans from around the world, searching for the highest quality, while also ensuring they were produced ethically and sustainably.
Ron is an advocate for fair wages and ethical production practices in coffee communities. He has built his business on this model, striving to support production that has a positive social and environmental impact.
What’s also interesting is the fact that it’s based out of Ron’s home in Kitchener. The home-based approach helps him lower overhead substantially. This, in turn, allows him to invest more into the quality of his product, as well as into the vetting process for the coffee suppliers he works with. This all helped shape Contrabean’s unique story within the coffee industry.
Ron knew exactly what he was looking for when he built his home in the Westmount area, and was attracted by the lifestyle it could offer. A home at the meeting point of Kitchener and Waterloo, with solar panels and ample studio space was the perfect fit for Ron and a company like Contrabean.
You can read more about the Westmount neighbourhood here.
Spotlight on the 401 with Dimensions in Dance
One of the advantages of Kitchener-Waterloo is its positioning along the 401.Easy access to the GTA has not only helped Kitchener-Waterloo grow, but it has also given it the best of both worlds. It’s a big city with a small town feel, combining the advantages of large urban centres with the community spirit of smaller towns.
We spoke with Kimberly from Dimensions in Dance, who has been teaching dance for over 3 decades in the area. Dimensions in Dance takes on all ages and all skill levels, featuring both casual programs as well as an internationally recognized competitive program.
Kimberly’s goal is not only to teach dance, but to nurture a long lasting appreciation for the performing arts. Her students have gone to have careers on television and on stages across Canada and beyond.
Kimberly told us about how her business has grown along with KW. Her studio is strategically located in the Fairview area, which is close to multiple on- and off-ramps to the Conestoga Parkway (Highway 8). The Conestoga Parkway binds Kitchener and Waterloo together, stretching from the far north to the far south, in addition to east and west.
Highway 8 in fact turns into the 401, and it has recently seen its number of lanes expanded, making the trip to and from the GTA (or, if you’re heading west, London) even easier. Access to the 401 not only made Kimberly’s business more accessible within town, but also allowed her to branch out and attract students as far as Hailton, Burlington and the GTA.
You can read more about local highway routes (and see listings with great highway access) by reading our article here.
That’s it for our selection of fabulous Kitchener-based businesses (for now) – let’s turn our eyes north to Waterloo!
Spotlight on Northfield with Waterloo Kung Fu Academy
We spoke with David from Waterloo Kung Fu Academy about his story in the Northfield area in Waterloo.
Waterloo Kung Fu Academy is a fulltime school that teaches the art of Shaolin Kung Fu. They have programs for kids, teens, and adults, focused on training as well as instilling the discipline and mindset of Kung Fu.They also have a competitive team and a Chinese lion dance team that perform at various events in the community.
The school moved to its current location in 1997, and has seen great changes happen to the region since.
The Northfield area used to be mostly fields back then. Over time, as Waterloo expanded, and especially with the appearance of Research in Motion, the Northfield area became heavily developed.
Northfield now has great access to both universities, the Conestoga Mall Shopping Centre, RIM Park, as well as the David Johnston Research and Technology Park.
You can check out homes currently for sale in the Northfield area here.
Spotlight on Uptown Waterloo with Twice is Nice & Twice The Man Clothing
Twice the Man, Twice is Nice Clothing, and Fab Favourite Boutique can all be found inside the Atrium in Uptown Waterloo.
Together, they form a store that fuses a clothing shop, consignment shop, and accessory boutique all into one.
We spoke with Debra, owner and serial entrepreneur. She has built this business and developed it for 26 years and counting.
Her favourite part of the store is the fact that you never know what’s going to come in next. Their consignor database boasts over 10000 entries, and bringing in a fascinating variety of high quality items.
Having been a part of Uptown for years and also working as part of the Uptown Business Association’s marketing committee, Debra has seen the changes Waterloo has been through.
She mentions an interesting parallel, having seen the implementation of a light rail transit system while working in Calgary. It’s the kind of development that can make a city more international, more diverse, and overall more refined.
Indeed, it looks like Waterloo is becoming more cosmopolitan as well. There are items being brought into consignment from all around the world, with brands of higher and higher quality.
There is an increase in younger consumers seeking out unique items, as well as an increase in environmentally conscious shopping as opposed to fast fashion.
If you’re in Waterloo, you can stop to enjoy either of the three flavours of Twice is Nice, or you can take a tour of the Atrium and see some great local shops that the Uptown core has to offer.
Spotlight on Westvale with Red River Early Learning Centre
- See The Full Interview with Red River Early Learning Centre
- Check Out Red River Early Learning Centre
We spoke with Natasha, Waterloo resident and owner of Red River Early Learning Centre, about her thoughts on Westvale as a neighbourhood families can consider.
Red River Early Learning Centre started in 2013, based out of Natasha’s home in Westvale. They feature early learning programs for kids 1-3 years old, as well as school age programs for kids between 3 and 8.
Natasha’s programs are child-centred, focusing on providing resources and guiding children’s inner drive to pursue what they find captivating. She jokingly (and fittingly) calls it “unschool.”
Natasha talks about how everything just clicked when she first saw her current home. The neighbourhood strikes a great balance, featuring a peaceful and green suburban setting, while also being close to amenities.
Westvale has Red River Park, West Wind Park, Westvale Park, and the Hydrocut Trail all within reach. The Boardwalk stretches along Ira Needles Boulevard as the area’s main centre for shopping and entertainment.
This is complemented by community resources and family-oriented events offered by the Westvale Community Centre, along with proximity to elementary schools from both Waterloo and Catholic school boards (Westvale Public School and Holy Rosary Catholic Elementary School respectively)
For a more in-depth look at Westvale, you can read our full article here.
We think each of these local businesses shines very brightly indeed in the constellation that is Kitchener-Waterloo! But now, let’s turn the spotlight off for the time being – we don’t want it to overheat – and turn, instead, back to the city itself.
Are Kitchener and Waterloo Different Cities?
The short answer is: yes, they are. But the long answer shows the situation’s a little more nuanced than that. They may be separate cities in fact, but in practice, Kitchener and Waterloo (and Cambridge, too) are quite interconnected.
You’ll often see this stretch of cities referred to as Kitchener-Waterloo, or the Tri-Cities, and sometimes even Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge (though that name’s a bit more cumbersome). As time marches on, the cities have begun to form one contiguous unit.
They are still individual cities, certainly, but they are connected in many ways. True amalgamation of the TriCities, and the Region of Waterloo, has come up in the past.
The model for this process is Toronto: in 1954, Ontario’s provincial government merged Toronto with its 12 surrounding communities into a two-tiered metropolitan government (similarly, five municipalities surrounding Toronto were dissolved and amalgamated into the City of Toronto in 1998).
This hasn’t happened in the Waterloo Region, and there are many voices opposed to official amalgamation – different areas have different needs, for example – but the TriCities are nonetheless bound in numerous ways.
Since 1997, the Waterloo Region has been governed by a 16 member Waterloo Regional Council, consisting of the Mayors of each city (Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge) and Township (North Dumfries, Wellesley, Wilmot, and Woolwich), a Regional Chair, and additional councillors from each of the Tri-Cities.
Additionally, public transit between Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge was combined in 2000.
The Tri-Cities are interconnected by roadways, the Grand River, the Conestoga Parkway (Highway 7/8/85), the WRDSB and WCDSB school boards, cooperation within the tech industry, and their shared public transit service. To start with the first, Kitchener-Waterloo shares numerous arterial roads, and getting from one city to the other is incredibly easy.
Indeed, sometimes you won’t even notice when you’ve crossed the dividing line between them. Cambridge is a bit more geographically separate from its fellow Tri-Cities, but it’s still incredibly close and easy to get to.
Just to give you an idea, you can start taking King Street East in northwest Cambridge (specifically, downtown Preston) into Kitchener, passing through the bustling Sportsworld Crossing area and beyond without ever needing to change lanes.
The Tri-Cities really feel interconnected, and this connection is bolstered in no small part by the Conestoga Parkway. The Conestoga Parkway encompasses three connected highways: Highway 8 runs northwest from Cambridge into Kitchener and serves the lower part of the city; Highway 7 runs from Kitchener up to Waterloo (and east toward Guelph); and Highway 85 runs from southern Waterloo up to Woolwich Township beyond.
The Conestoga Parkway makes navigating between the disparate parts of the Tri-Cities quick and easy.
Another major way the TriCities are connected is through their forward-thinking public transit operator. Grand River Transit (GRT) serves all of the Tri-Cities, with lines running from north of Waterloo (including service up to the famous St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market) down to southern Galt (the southernmost part of Cambridge).
You can take a bus from anywhere in the Tri-Cities, get a transfer, and head anywhere else within the Tri-Cities easily with just one fare. If you’re in Kitchener-Waterloo, you can hop on the LRT (it’s called iON) to quickly and seamlessly – it runs quite smoothly – travel between the two cities’ hotspots, including the two major malls, Downtown Kitchener, Uptown Waterloo, and the area between Wilfrid Laurier University and University of Waterloo (not to mention numerous residential areas).
There are direct routes between Kitchener and Cambridge, and Kitchener and Waterloo, and a variety of iXpress Routes that provide rapid service between some of the Tri-Cities’ most popular spots. Furthermore, the LRT is planned to continue down into Cambridge, with 17 kilometers of additional coverage (serving some of Cambridge’s major locales) to come.
To reiterate: the Tri-Cities are connected!
As of the 2016 Census, the Tri-Cities have a cumulative population of 468,128 (Kitchener with 233,222, Cambridge with 129,920, and Waterloo with 104,986).
The figure you’ll often see for the area, however, is 535,154; this number is in reference to the broader Regional Municipality of Waterloo.
Included in the Regional Municipality of Waterloo are the Tri-Cities along with the Townships of North Dumfries, Wellesley, Wilmot, and Woolwich (and their various, constituent communities). In any case, one thing is clear: there are a lot of people living together in this one region.
In fact, the Regional Municipality of Waterloo is presently the tenth largest Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) in all of Canada (the TriCities on their own would be the twelfth largest).
And on top of this, the Waterloo Region (and especially the Tri-Cities) has consistently ranked as one of the most rapidly growing areas in all of Southern Ontario.
By 2030, the region is projected to have over 700,000 people living within it! So there are the facts and figures… Now let’s look into what they mean.
Is Kitchener-Waterloo a Good Place to Live In?
No. It’s a great place to live! And we’re not making light of the question: choosing where you live is one of the most important, and sometimes most difficult, decisions you’ll have to make in your life. And everybody’s different: one person’s dream house is another person’s nightmare (and we always prioritize the former; in fact, we have a strict no-nightmare-house policy).
What one may consider a positive trait, another may consider a deterrent. What one person adds to the ‘pros’ column, another may add to the ‘cons’ column. When it comes down to it, it’s about figuring out what sorts of things you’re looking for and finding homes that meet your criteria. This is why we value open and direct communication.
To go back to our initial question – “Is Kitchener-Waterloo a Good (excuse me, Great) Place to Live?” – let’s work through some of the stats, shall we? The more you know, the more confident you’ll be able to decide if Kitchener-Waterloo would suit your needs.to live.
Strong and Diverse Economy
One of the main things Kitchener-Waterloo is known for in terms of economy is our tech sector. While being the Silicon Valley of the north is definitely one of the region’s strong points, part of what makes Kitchener-Waterloo’s economy so strong is how diverse it is.
Our economy boasts several industry clusters including education and knowledge creation, industrial parks, traditional downtown small businesses, and of course the high-tech enterprises and startups.
The diverse economy is the reason the region continued to thrive even after one of the biggest employers, BlackBerry, failed, and makes Kitchener-Waterloo a great place for both investors and those seeking employment.
As a result Kitchener-Waterloo enjoys an extremely low unemployment rate of 5.1%, and a median income of $80,278. For those looking at settling down in the region there is no shortage of opportunities or resources.
- It’s quite close to the Greater Toronto Area
- It’s a major hub of technological innovation
- It’s got great educational opportunities
Let’s dissect these points a little further. In terms of proximity to Toronto, each of the Tri-Cities is around an hour and a half’s drive away from downtown Toronto (of course, traffic can vary during rush hour).
There are also public transportation options like weekday GO Train service and Mega Bus routes. The fastest commute time is provided by FlyGTA’s service from the Region of Waterloo International Airport – less than 20 minutes from take-off to touchdown!
So commuters, businesses with ties to Toronto, and people who love to visit the big city but not live there can all benefit from settling in the TriCities, while still having access to the GTA.
In terms of tech, the Tri-Cities have a well-earned reputation as Canada’s leading light in the tech industry. Truly, if you’d like to know more about this, take a look at our in-depth article on Downtown Kitchener’s Tech Industry. There’s a reason Google is expanding their office space here!
The overall reputation is driven by several factors: downtown Kitchener’s transformation into an innovation hub (Google has a bustling headquarters here, as well as the massive Communitech presence in the converted Tannery building), the overall startup and entrepreneurial culture pervading the Tri-Cities, the proliferation of brand new neighbourhoods to support new residents and expanding families (Hespeler, in Cambridge, and southwest Kitchener are two examples of rapid growth), and the University of Waterloo (UW). Check out our article on UW and tech in the region here!
Speaking of UW… The Tri-Cities abound with opportunities in education. As a growing region, the two major school boards have a lot of resources to work with, in order to provide a great educational environment.
Both the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) and the Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) have many fantastic elementary and secondary schools spread throughout the TriCities, making this area a great place for families.
And as a rapidly growing school board, it’s also a great place for jobs in education (teachers, support staff, and beyond). There’s even some overlap with the tech aspect: the WRDSB recently launched the Chromebook 1:1 Initiative, in which students entering Grade 9 will be given their very own Chromebook until graduation.
Chromebooks are small, highly portable, battery-efficient laptops that run Google’s Chrome OS, and make use of the various Google applications (such as Google Docs) and cloud storage (Google Drive).
Kitchener-Waterloo offers a broad range of Catholic, public, and private schools. The schools range from new-build modern and contemporary to unique historic buildings.There are a total of 9 Public Secondary Schools in Kitchener-Waterloo:
- Bluevale C.I.
- Cameron Heights C.I.
- Eastwood C.I.
- Forest Heights C.I.
- Grand River C.I.
- Huron Heights S.S.
- Kitchener-Waterloo C. & V.S.
- Sir John A Macdonald S.S.
- Waterloo C.I.
In the region there are also three main post-secondary institutions, all recognized worldwide for their top-notch training and they are all accessible from anywhere in Kitchener-Waterloo:
Each of these institutions has a sterling reputation, and each excels in specific fields – they also serve the entire Region (for example, Conestoga has major campuses in Kitchener, Cambridge, and Waterloo). You can find out more in our articles about them!
As Canadians, we are quite proud of our free health care system, and Kitchener-Waterloo does not fall short of those expectations.
We have two major city hospitals (Grand River Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital) that provide top-notch medical care for the city. Included in the Grand River facilities are a major cancer treatment centre, and a cardiac care centre. There are also many other medical facility spread throughout Kitchener-Waterloo, from labs to the brand new medical facilities at the Boardwalk in the far west.
Not that any of us particularly want to spend time at the hospital, it’s important to know that they are there in times of need. Given the current state of some health care centres across Canada, we are happy to have such great service in our region.
The great thing about Kitchener-Waterloo is that they have access to each of these benefits, yet they’re distinct enough that you can pick the one that suits you best.
There you have it – you know everything there is to know about Kitchener-Waterloo! Well, perhaps not quite everything, but more than before reading this article, I hope.
This is but an introduction – an appetiser before the feast of life in Kitchener-Waterloo – and perhaps the next time you’re looking up homes for sale in Kitchener-Waterloo, you’ll have a better sense of the area!
Written by Will Kummer