Home is where the haus is, ja?
One of Ontario’s tri-cities along with Waterloo and Cambridge, Kitchener is Canada’s German capital. The city was founded by the Pennsylvania Dutch – and holds tightly to its roots. There are a huge number of German traditions and events throughout the year, including Oktoberfest and Christkindlmarkt. While Kitchener buys heavily into its German roots, it isn’t all summer sausage and spoon carving. The area is popular for young families. There’s also a rough side to the town, with drinking and partying being popular amongst locals without families. While the city is generally safe, be a bit cautious if you’re in the club district when the bars are closing as there are some fights.
Kitchener is a great place to find a deal on housing, especially compared to other close-by cities. There are quaint homes and modern apartment and condo buildings to choose from. No matter what kind of housing you’re looking for though, you can find a deal with some searching. If you choose somewhere by the highway, it’s also easy to commute Toronto, Hamilton, or even London.
Typical housing type:
Single-family homes, as well as apartment and condo buildings
Kitchener is one of those cities that’s kind of what you make of it. If you want a haven for your young family, you’ll find it here. If you want to party all night and get into fights, you’ll find it here too. The only thing that you can’t avoid? The German cultural influence.
Avg. rent by housing size:
Avg. rent compared to other Canadian cities
Kitchener is 3% lower than the Canadian average
When it comes to apartment hunting, Kitchener is Waterloo’s cheaper sibling. Where Waterloo is all about tech, Kitchener is more blue-collar – and that’s mirrored in the rental properties. There are tons of options under $1,000, especially if you’re looking for studios and 1-bedrooms outside downtown.
These lower prices are reflected in the amenities though – as in, there aren’t many. A number of apartment buildings don’t even have laundry on the premises, let alone dishwashers in the units. That said, you can easily find pet-friendly rentals, including where dogs are allowed. Just make sure you double-check rentals’ locations on a map as there are some parts of Kitchener that get rough at night.
No surprise: German immigrants and descendants! Of course, there are other immigrant populations in the area, including British and Scottish communities. Recently, there’s also been an influx of Syrian refugees, who have been warmly welcomed. But, still, German culture dominates. Like Waterloo, there is a significant Mennonite population. There’s a glut of young people in Kitchener, including many young families. In terms of kids, most are elementary and pre-elementary age. While the education levels in the city are lower than average, the average income level is over $60,000.
Perfect for: Young families, especially those with a passion for German culture.
Not-so-perfect for: Anyone who hates sausage and opera cake.
Life & Style
Ziggy Zoggy Ziggy Zoggy Oye Oye Oye! German life and style rules in Kitchener. The food, the bars, the cultural and educational activities… even the bakeries are German inspired. There are even two museums – Joseph Schneider Haus and Doon Heritage Village – dedicated to showing the life of the early Pennsylvania Dutch settlers. There’s a lot of family-oriented activities for those with kids. Those without often tend to have less education and blue-collar jobs. Within this group of residents, there’s a more rough-and-tumble feel. Partying is common, as is heavy drinking. But, hey, that’s part of German culture too, right?
Kitchener has a bit of everything. Fairview is the largest mall in the area, while Cambridge offers a number of outlet stores. Head to Bingemans for family fun. Want more educational activities? There are a number of local historical sites, including Doon Heritage Village and Joseph Schneider Haus. For natural scenery, there are many parks, with Victoria Park being the most beautiful. Bars and restaurants abound, especially those with a European flare. Downtown has a club and bar area, which is hopping late into the night. The main branch of the library is popular amongst families – both for the books and the cafe in the basement. There are plenty of schools, as well as universities in Waterloo and Guelph. Hoping to commute? Kitchener offers easy access to the 401.
Doon Heritage Village
Chicopee Ski Club
Kitchener City Hall
Woodside National Historic Site
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church
Joseph Schneider Haus
Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery
Homer Watson Park