For recently graduated professionals, there are opportunities open around the globe. Choosing which city to move to when there are so many options is a daunting prospect, especially when each city had plenty of facts and statistics proving that they offer the best opportunities. But choosing a place to live isn’t just about which city earns the most in a year or which companies have the best statistical job opportunities available. It’s also about planting roots, buying a home, starting a family, and living a full life. If Kitchener-Waterloo is on your list of places to consider, here’s an idea of what life here is like.
Although the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo each have their own municipal governments, one flows so neatly into the other that it was only natural for them to join forces to improve their collective well being. Mennonites and German immigrants originally settled them both on lands purchased from the Six Nations. Though they started out as small farming villages, today Kitchener and Waterloo are at the center of the eleventh largest Census Metropolitan area in Canada. The metro area population is around 450,000, with Kitchener accounting for about 200,000 people and Waterloo for about 120,000.
Despite their common farming heritage, for much of their post-industrial history, Kitchener and Waterloo have had polar opposite economies. Many people from Waterloo have white-collar jobs working for technology companies, universities, and insurance firms while their counterparts in Kitchener focus on more blue-collar pursuits. Although many of Kitchener’s factories have been relocated overseas in the last two decades, nearly a quarter of the people in Kitchener still work in the manufacturing industry. Being part of Canada’s Technology Triangle is changing things in Kitchener, as are the new satellite medical campuses from the University of Waterloo and Wilfred Laurier University, which are both headquartered in Waterloo.
People who live in the Kitchener-Waterloo area see their cities as part of one big area. It’s easy to see why. Instead of having two downtowns, Kitchener-Waterloo has a downtown (downtown Kitchener) and an uptown (downtown Waterloo). Streets continue uninterrupted without name changes between the two cities. The two cities also share their public transportation system, their police force, their health care infrastructure, and their economic development initiatives. There is, of course, still some good natured ribbing between the two cities, but the combination of relatively low crime rates and affordable housing prices keeps most people happy.
In addition to infrastructure, Kitchener and Waterloo share a love of the art and recreation. Both cities have several large scenic parks, including a water park, an off-leash park, and a scenic garden, and Kitchener has an extensive system of trails. There are plenty of attractions to see year round, such as the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery in Waterloo, and dozens of annual festivals devoted to art, music, theater, and culture. The most popular include Kitchener’s Oktoberfest, which is the largest Bavarian festival outside of Germany, and the Uptown Waterloo Jazz Festival.