Bienvenue au Kitchener-Waterloo! So, you've decided to move to Ontario.
Many have, with its numerous economic opportunities, Ontario and its communities are the fastest growing in Canada. If you're looking at Waterloo Region, it means you may have already looked at Toronto and decided the cost of living probably isn’t the most attractive.
The biggest and fastest growing region in Ontario outside the GTA. It's south of Toronto along the highway in whats called the tri-city region. There's about half a million people living in the area, spread across an impressive thousand square kilometres.
The population density in Kitchener-Waterloo is very low. The downtown cores have skyscrapers but they transition fairly quickly into detached housing and suburbs.
Kitchener-Waterloo is the archetype of Ontario mid to small city. It was settled by European immigrants, mostly from Germany. These immigrants along with British colonists would establish the foundational economy and culture of K-W, whose architecture and industry is still around today.
Est-ce que tu parles Francais?
One of the biggest differences between Quebec city and Kitchener-Waterloo is that there aren’t many French speakers.
There is a Quebecois – organized cultural community here called Franco-Ontario but it is a fairly small group. There are sometimes meet-ups and hangouts organized by Franco-Ontario, but you will not hear casual French being spoken in the streets.
Aside from that, there is still a healthy French language community, mostly students, who are interested in learning.
The cultural differences continue.
Ontario differs from the European traditions or charm that exist in Quebec. Ontario is USA inspired, there are gigantic malls, drive-thrus, a multitude of chain-stores. There is much more emphasis on independence; people in Ontario insist on driving more, in most of K-W, you will notice a high degree of car infrastructure, and may even be surprised by the ample amount of parking space. There is public transit in Kitchener and a train the runs twice a day toward Toronto. However, its public transit system and light rail is centred around employment centres and generally unreliable outside a 9 to 5 schedule.
If you enjoyed QCs tight streets and transit system, or aren't used to driving, there might be a bit of a learning curve. However, if you enjoy cars, you will definitely appreciate the wide streets and car-centric infrastructure.
The housing is mostly detached, people opt for larger plots of land and distance from neighbours. Nice condos exist but apartments aren't as popular yet.
On a physical level, transitioning from QC to KW is very easy. One train route, or one highway, its a straight drive. Ontarios wide streets and garages make moving here easier, and theres less housing regulation than Quebec.
C'est quoi Cambridge?
Cambridge is a community between Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto. It’s strategically placed for commuting and many of its residents take advantage of the lower housing prices and easy access to the highway so they can work in Toronto, KW, or any of the other cities surrounding Waterloo Region. Also popular with truckers due to highway access and transportation businesses.
Downtown Cambridge is very pretty, known for gardens, older architecture, and the legendary Cambridge mill which looks over a little water dam.
Ma terre est l'hiver
What does KW have going for it? The winter is a lot milder than QC. There’s still a lot of snow but it doesn't dip to the drastic lows Quebec is known for. There are ski slopes here, and generally winter activities are readily available and very enjoyable. Quebecois describe K-W winter as “ mild “ and “ spring-like” but the water still freezes, you just wont find an opportunity to ski to work, and less likely to climb a frozen waterfall.
Hows the summer? It’s great, Kitchener-Waterloo is surrounded by natural areas and is close to the great lakes. Camping recreation and cottaging a regular summer activity.
Ontario's motto is “ Open for business “. It's definitely easy to make money here.
You also pay less taxes in Ontario. They aren't as low as Alberta but they’re definitely lower than Quebec.
Ontarios economy is very strong and diverse. Within and around Kitchener are headquarters and branches of several tech companies (with Google as the centrepiece downtown).
There are two large insurance companies here, Tel-com, Toyota and other manufacturing, ample colleges and Universities within a short drive.
Outside of Kitchener-Waterloo you will find a thriving and cutting edge agricultural industry. The highway network here also easily connects you to other cities and access to the USA, as a result there are many logistics and transportation centres. Because of the road layout, upgrading to fibre internet has been easy, even some small towns have fibre internet. Working from home is also easy. Online business? No problem.
There is more privatization in Ontario, much more than Quebec. Expect to pay a lot more in electricity and insurance, the trade-off is that there’s less regulation.
Ontario real-estate can be wild, and along with Colombia-Britanique, it has one of the fastest growing and volatile markets, which is great for making money. Some laws have recently been added to discourage housing speculation, but it was largely aimed at foreign investment.
Development of housing primarily focuses on large, expensive, detached homes. There's not much appetite for density in Kitchener-Waterloo and the cultural desire for space is fuelling the rise in price. Condos aren't particularly desirable, and many like to garden here, host in big back yards, and own a pool.
For investment properties, there has been de-regulation. Landlords in Ontario have more flexibility than in Quebec. If you own a newer property, you have even more control over what price you can charge rent at.
Investing in Ontario real-estate is extremely profitable if you can get over the initial financial hurdle of a down-payment. Even single-bedroom condos are much more expensive than their equivalent in Quebec. Some say thats a concern, some might call it an opportunity.
If you have a taste for great employment options, investment prospects, or a thriving business environment, and want an opportunity to build wealth, Kitchener-Waterloo is definitely where you should be.
To find out more about KW real-estate, our team would be happy to assist, so feel free to reach out.