Do your research before relocating to Kitchener-Waterloo
There is a great migration happening. In the past twenty years that I have lived in Kitchener-Waterloo, I have seen great changes to our local economy, our demographics and our local real estate market. Kitchener-Waterloo in the past 20 years essentially changed from being a large town to becoming a small city. And I relocated here at exactly the right time. The year 2000 — relocating to Kitchener-Waterloo just as it was finally leaving the industrial age and entering the information age. The old timers say that the 1990s were not a good time for us. That may or may not be true. I don’t know. I wasn’t here. But since 2000 I can attest that life has been pretty good.
When we moved here, it was from Taipei Taiwan. We came. We knew nothing and no-one. I suppose we were lucky that we choose blindly, luckily. Things could have turned out a lot worse. If I was going to do it again, I would probably do it the same way, but in a perfect world there are questions that I would hope to find the answer for before relocating half way around the world.
Advice I wish I would have, could have taken
How’s the job market?
Look up the unemployment rate and more importantly the make-up of the local industries. In Kitchener-Waterloo of course education, tech, insurance are three of our biggest industries.
How’s the real estate market?
Contact a local Realtor and ask about inventory, days on market, average prices…get on a list so you can see for yourself the pace of home sales.
Do you know anyone?
Go to LinkedIn and Facebook and look for your old colleagues and classmates and see if you know anyone here. You only need one friend.
How are you going to get around?
Living in Taipei, I used to get everywhere on the subway with the occasional bus or taxi ride. Kitchener-Waterloo is not yet as transportation friendly if you are used to commuting that way.
Will you find what you are looking for culturally?
The good news is that in the past twenty years, as Kitchener-Waterloo has become a small city, we have become much much more culturally diverse. There is a good variety of restaurants, supermarkets, cultural events and clubs.
How’s the weather?
Being originally from BC and then living in Asia for a decade, this is the toughest thing for me to get used to. I love the summers and hate the winters. As far as I’m concerned its ok to complain about one season. You’ll find a way through whatever season you don’t like. You can adapt.
What about the schools and the taxes and cost of living and things to do and shopping, and public amenities and services? Are there enough doctors? Are the parks safe? How’s the night life? There are dozens of things that you can consider and often find the answer to before you commit to relocating.
Relocating to Kitchener-Waterloo in the information age
Some of these things above I could not have done before moving here back in 2000. Those were early internet days. We had no facebook or LinkedIn. Real estate portals and websites had only the most basic of information, one photo of the front of the house and the sites were not interactive at all. Today there are lots of local portals, the cities have websites, there are blogs and entertainment sites, yelp reviews… I don’t don’t need to list them all. Do your research (and then relocate here).