The Hammer ain’t so bad
For years, Hamilton had a bad reputation, basically being seen as Canada’s Detroit. The city was dubbed “the armpit of Canada” and there was even a Buzzfeed list titled “28 Reasons Absolutely Everyone Hates Hamilton, Ontario”... Seriously, people came for The Hammer! But in the last couple of years, Hamilton has gone from Ontario’s ugly duckling to the golden goose, becoming the top city for cool, young creative types looking to buy a home and unable to afford one in Toronto. The city is funding and promoting the arts, as well as arts-based education programs for kids. The restaurant scene has exploded. There’s even a state-of-the-art cancer centre. So where does Hamilton stand now? While, real talk, it’s a city on the rise – and it does have a lot to offer. At the same time, there are still some significant issues with crime and drug use. If you are going to move to The Hammer, we suggest doing a bit of research first, so you know which neighbourhoods are safe and which… aren’t. Pick somewhere you feel comfortable and always keep your wits about you, especially at night.
Hamilton’s housing market has been on fire for a couple of years, so it should come as no surprise that it’s recently taken a small dip. Lucky for you, that means there are more availabilities now! There are always deals to be found here, but just look into where these deals are. Often you’ll find they’re in or next to the less savoury parts of the city. For those who feel comfortable there, awesome – you’ve found a steal! But for those who are more cautious, it may be worth paying a bit more for the peace of mind of being in a low-crime neighbourhood.
Typical housing type:
Single-family, detached homes.
Hamilton’s a great city with a lot going for it. But go in with your eyes open about the issues in the city. Ladies, there have been some issues with guys masturbating at women, even in the middle of the day. We don’t want to turn you off Hamilton – and it is certainly becoming safer and safer. At the same time, please be careful and spend some time in the city before moving there to make sure you feel comfortable there.
Avg. rent by housing size:
Avg. rent compared to other Canadian cities
Hamilton is 8% higher than the Canadian average
If variety is the spice of life, then Hamilton is well-seasoned! Even a quick apartment search will turn up a glut of listings for studios, 1-bedrooms, 2-bedrooms, and 3-bedrooms.
Hamilton’s housing market is on fire though, so prices aren’t as cheap as they were even just a year ago. If you’re hunting for a rental under $1,000, you’re probably now looking at a basement apartment or living in the roughest parts of town. But if you’ve got a bit of money to play with, you can get a chic downtown apartment or condo with plenty of amenities.
Are you a Toronto commuter? If so, focus on rentals by the bus station. Just make sure you stay on top of the listings in this area as rentals get snapped up quickly!
Hamilton is in the middle of a huge population shift, so there are two distinct groups: lifers and the new blood. The lifers tend to be older and have lived in The Hammer for years – if not their entire lives. They are more likely to be single or single parents. More often than not, Hamiltonians struggling with homelessness, mental health issue, or addiction come from this community. The new blood comes from young folks who tend to be from other urban centres – mainly Toronto. They are well-educated, often working in creative fields. Most are planning to start families in the not too distant future and are looking to settle into a house before popping out a baby.
Perfect for: Hip, creative types hoping to start a family in the next few years.
Not-so-perfect for: Those who make safety their top priority in a city.
Life & Style
There are almost two worlds in Hamilton right now. One part of the population is focused on work and family. These locals work hard during the week, but take time for family outings on the weekends. They tend to support the local arts and culture scene, enjoying all the theatre, art, and music Hamilton has to offer… and there’s a lot on offer. At the same time, there’s a rougher world that exists in Hamilton. There are locals who are tend to be more blue-collar who are single or coupled up but don’t have kids. They work their jobs – or are unable to find work. Then, at night, they head over to one of the areas older, more rough-and-ready bars, where fights and drug use are not uncommon. Others in this world are struggling with mental health or addiction issues, while still more are involved in Hamilton’s criminal underbelly, pimping out prostitutes and peddling drugs. Often Hamilton’s two worlds don’t overlap much as they are confined to different parts of the city. But the stark difference between the two Hamiltons is why it’s important to know your neighbourhoods and to be cautious in certain parts of the city, especially at night.
There are a great variety of restaurants in Hamilton – everything from fancy Italian to hole-in-the-wall pub. A number of places have even been featured on shows like You Gotta Eat Here! The arts and culture scene is amazing, being led by places like the Art Gallery of Hamilton. You can find live music somewhere in the downtown core basically any night of the week. There are also strong theatre companies in the area. One of the other main cultural sites in Hamilton is the Royal Botanical Gardens, which is well worth a visit. For those more into sports, there are plenty of places to grab a drink and catch a game. Into racing? Head down to the Flamboro Speedway to watch – or on some days, dive – the race cars. There are schools, though the town isn’t considered the strongest school district. In terms of programming for children and youth, though, there’s a lot on offer – and many of them are free or subsidized. Outdoor lovers will enjoy the nearby Bruce Trail. For shopping, head over to Lime Ridge mall.
Art Gallery of Hamilton
Royal Botanical Gardens
Waterfalls of Hamilton
HMCS Haida National Historic Site
Cathedral Basilica of Christ the King
Whitehern Historic House and Garden
Stoney Creek Recreation Centre
Hamilton City Hall
Earls Court Gallery