Life in Waterloo, Ontario
Waterloo Region is an active, thriving place to live, work, study and invest. Immigrants come from all over the world to make Waterloo their home in Canada. An hour’s drive from Toronto, the area offers a mix of modern cities and beautiful countryside.
500,000 people live in Waterloo Region which is made up of the three bustling cities of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo, plus four scenic predominantly rural townships of North Dumfries, Wellesley, Wilmot and Woolwich.
Waterloo’s climate is termed humid continental. The area enjoys four distinct seasons, with predictable weather patterns, warm summer months and moderate winters.
Winters usually last from mid-December to mid-April and snowfall is not over abundant, with sunny skies being common. The average high in January is -3.1°C and in July rises to 25.9°C.
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Waterloo Region is home to world class employment and the employment rate is one of the highest in Ontario. With a strong manufacturing base and other industries to provide meaningful employment, it is also a fast growing hub for:
- Knowledge sectors
The Grand River Transit public transportation system within the Waterloo Region relies on a bus system. For maps, routes and schedules, click here.
The cost of taking public transportation varies depending on the route, method and distance. Click here for a list of fare prices.
There is access to Toronto with GO Bus and Train services.
For information on driving in Waterloo and how to get a licence, see Driving.
Places of worship
Waterloo Region is home to many places of worship, providing faith communities across the city with reflective spaces.
For a list of churches and other places of worship in Waterloo Region, click here.
Pre-arrival settlement and employment services in Waterloo Region
Settlement services are available in locations across Waterloo Region to help you learn about your new community, as well as other services.
City Size and Population (Society)
The population of Waterloo sits at about 98,780, but the Waterloo region as a whole is one of Canada’s fastest growing communities, with a population of 543,700 people that is expected to reach 729,000 people by 2031. About 24 percent of the population is made up of immigrants.
According to the 2016 Statistics Canada census, approximately 23 per cent of Waterloo Region residents are immigrants. The majority live in the three cities of Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge. The majority of immigrants were born in the United Kingdom, followed by India and Portugal.
In recent years (2011 to 2016), newcomers have come from:
- India (13.1%)
- China (10%)
- Syria (7.5%)
- Iraq (6.1%)
- Pakistan (4.5%)
Waterloo Region has a very diverse economy covering a wide range sectors from manufacturing to high-tech industries. The area historically has also one of the lowest unemployment rates in Ontario.
The city of Waterloo has significant insurance and high-tech sectors as well as two universities. The city’s largest employers are Sun Life Financial, the University of Waterloo, Manulife Financial, Sandvine and Wilfrid Laurier University.
The city is also home to three well-known think tanks: the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, the Institute for Quantum Computing and the Centre for International Governance Innovation.
Together with Kitchener and Cambridge, Waterloo is part of Canada’s Technology Triangle (CTT), a joint economic development initiative that markets the region internationally.
Finding a Home
Waterloo has a wide range of housing types to meet the needs of various housing sizes, characteristics and income ranges. Prices are relatively affordable, lower than in Toronto and the surrounding area, but higher than some other southern Ontario communities located away from Toronto.
Average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $824 per month. Average home sale prices are $237,913, making buying a home an affordable option.
To find a rental apartment, you can check your local newspaper classifieds or online sites like Craigslist.
To purchase a home, contact a realtor in the area, who will guide you through the home-buying process.
Medical and Health Care
The hospitals serving Waterloo are all located in neighbouring Kitchener. There is Grand River Hospital, which includes the K-W and Freeport health centres (formerly independent hospitals that amalgamated in April 1995), and St. Mary’s General Hospital.
Note that Waterloo Region, like many other areas in Ontario, has a shortage of doctors, so finding one can be difficult.
For more information about health care in Waterloo region, click here.
There are many learning opportunities for your children in Waterloo Region. As of 2007 there are four high schools based in Waterloo. The Waterloo Region District School Board operates three of them, while one is operated by the Waterloo Catholic District School Board.
The Region is home to two universities and one technical college:
University of Waterloo – well known for its computer science, mathematics and engineering programs – and
Wilfrid Laurier University – known for its business and economic programs.
Conestoga College – consistently rated as one of the best colleges in Ontario.
For more on schools, universities and language classes in Waterloo Region, click here.
Waterloo Region has many parks and trails along the Grand River for residents and visitors to explore.
Larger parks, like Waterloo Park and RIM Park, offer a wide range of recreational facilities such as ball diamonds and sports fields. They include picnic shelters, public washrooms and access to transit and parking.
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Today’s a beautiful day! ☀️ Take a stroll through Waterloo Park 🚶. Admire the greenery, see the Animal Farm, and catch a sight of some baby ducks and geese! 💕🐑🦆 See what parks and trails are near you on ExploreWR.ca! 😊 #ExploreWR #WaterlooPark #WatReg #waterlooregion 📸: @victoriaxsong
As well, the region has historic landmarks, a broad selection of excellent restaurants, thriving farmers’ markets, art galleries, museums, antique shops and factory outlets.
The entertainment scene offers a wealth of live theatre, concerts by local and visiting artists, and performances by the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony.