Archive for About Kitchener-Waterloo

Waterloo Region Receives a Check-up!

 

Find out how Kitchener-Waterloo is doing on levels of community well-being

Find out how Kitchener-Waterloo is doing on levels of community well-being

Kitchener-Waterloo and surrounding areas just received a community health check! Since 2007, The Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation has strived to inspire civic engagement, provide focus for public debate and connect philanthropic activity with the areas of greatest need. This year marks the beginning of a new three-year cycle where all 11 indicator areas are reviewed, and where four priority areas are selected for deeper analysis over the coming two years.

Focus groups consisting of community members along with an Expert Review Panel identified the priority areas in our communities as:

• Belonging & Leadership
• Arts & Culture
• Getting Started
• Health & Wellness

You may find some of the findings interesting. For instance, the number of people who give to charities has gone down over the last few years, as has involvement in volunteer work. We are strong on many indicators of health, sense of belonging and more. To download a copy of the 2016 Vital Signs report, click here.

Vital Signs® is a community checkup conducted by community foundations across Canada that measures the vitality of our communities and identifies significant trends in a range of areas critical to quality of life. Vital Signs is coordinated nationally by Community Foundations of Canada and with special thanks to the Toronto Foundation
for developing and sharing the Vital Signs concept.

How to Find the Best Oktoberfest Events to Attend in 2016

Kitchener/Waterloo has a long history of German heritage. A large portion of the community is of German heritage, and many

still speak German. The Great Bavarian festival to celebrate our German heritage is called Oktoberfest! This is the second largest Oktoberfest next to the original celebrations held in Munich, Germany. We have been holding Oktoberfest here in Waterloo Region for 30+ years. Formerly known as “Canada’s Great Bavarian Beer Festival,” it has become so much more! Here’s how you can make the most out of Oktoberfest in Kitchener-Waterloo.

Oktoberfest is officially kicked off …..

Find out how to get the most out of Oktoberfest by watching my video below:

Find out how I’ve helped more than 2,000 families buy and sell homes in Kitchener-Waterloo by downloading my free eBook here: http://bit.ly/MMSellers. Also for more great real estate videos you won’t find anywhere else, subscribe to my YouTube channel. I love to share my expert knowledge so if you have any real estate questions feel free to call me at 310-SOLD or email me at mark@maurerteam.com.

Living in Waterloo, Ontario: The Great Outdoors and So Much More

Living in Waterloo, Ontario

Sunrise over Laurel Creek Reservoir in Waterloo, Ontario. Photo credit: Fred Widall

Life in a smaller city can be just as sophisticated and entertaining as a metropolitan area. You just have to choose the right small city. Waterloo, Ontario has the amenities of a bigger city but none of the hassle. The Tri-Cities area of Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge has quite a bit to offer!

Waterloo, Ontario is studded with parks, bordered by the beautiful Grand River and anchored by the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University. Living in Waterloo gives its residents the advantages of an active lifestyle and an interesting, diverse community. It has the cultural flair of a much larger area with an energetic city center fueled by students and educators. This is complemented by plenty of quiet neighborhoods and an interesting history. In case you need more convincing, the climate is considered moderate compared to the rest of the country (sweet!).

Residents of Waterloo get to experience the beauty of all four seasons. Our climate is officially called “humid continental of the warm summer subtype.” This basically means we get a distinct difference between each season. Winters are cold but not as severe as some parts of the country (Waterloo averages 140 frost-free days a year) and summers are gloriously warm.

Waterloo’s Wonderful History

The pleasant environs are just one of the factors that originally drew settlers to the lands we now call Waterloo. The land was given to the people of the Six Nations as a gift and a reward for their assistance to the British during the American Revolution. Almost immediately (and somewhat controversially), the Six Nations people began to sell off parcels of the gifted lands. A man by the name of Richard Beasley purchased many of the plots through a Crown Grant while the Six Nations held the mortgage.

Settlers from Pennsylvania, USA slowly began to purchase land from Beasley in the first year. The following year, a deluge of 26 families combined their resources and bought the remainder of Beasley’s “inventory.” With these land sales he was able to completely clear his mortgage!

The families that flocked to Waterloo were almost entirely Mennonite farmers. The rich soil and moist climate was and still is, perfect for farming. They hoped to be able to practice their religion without fear of persecution in their new home. The area later became a popular destination for German immigrants (immigrants continue to arrive in this welcoming haven even today). They named their new home Waterloo after the battle that ended the Napoleonic Wars in Europe.

At that time, , the central core of Waterloo was comprised of two lots owned by a man named Abraham Erb. His grist mill and saw mill were the hotspots of Waterloo. These days, the city’s center is on the street named after him. The intersection of Erb and King Streets houses the Waterloo Town Square shopping center that is widely considered the heart of Uptown Waterloo.

“Uptown Waterloo” is the term typically used by residents to describe this revitalized section of the city (locals refer to the city center of nearby Kitchener as “downtown Kitchener”). In 2006, a shopping mall was torn down and street-facing storefront businesses sprouted up to take its place, creating a more interesting and engaging city-center feeling.

The Great Outdoors Living in Waterloo

One of the ways we can engage in life in Waterloo is by getting active outdoors in the nice climate. The township is dotted with parks making it easy to spend time outside. There are five major parks located within city limits or within a short drive of the city center.

  • RIM Park. With 200 hectares, RIM Park has no shortage of green space. It is home to the heritage Martin Farm House and an 18-hole golf course as well as a variety of indoor and outdoor sporting facilities.
  • Laurel Creek Conservation Area. Another 300 hectares is devoted to this green space northwest of the city. Swimming, bird watching, hiking and windsurfing top the list of favorite summer activities in this open space. It features a beach and picnic areas for more relaxing endeavors. In the winter, cross-country skiing and show-shoeing make for seasonal fun.
  • Waterloo Park. At 45 hectares, it may seem small in comparison to the big guys above but it’s still a huge green space in the town. It houses a bandshell for outdoor concerts, a waterpark called Lions’ Lagoon, historical displays for educational opportunities and animal displays. During the holiday season, the Wonders of Winter light display draws locals and tourists alike to its twinkling glory.
  • Betchel Park. Occupying 44 hectares, Betchel Park features fun for your four-legged friends. An off-leash dog park neighbors two well-lit baseball diamonds, wetlands, a hardwood forest with a groomed trail, and a city-operated cemetery.
  • Lexington Park. If ball games are your thing, Lexington Park holds a soccer pitch and baseball diamond on the site of a former municipal airport.
  • The Grand River. If these parks aren’t enough to get you outside, the Grand River is one of the world’s best-managed waterways. And it runs right through Waterloo!

Outdoor activities aren’t the only fun to be had in Waterloo. Residents can enjoy good food, plenty of festivals and fairs, plus some quieter endeavors too. The city has plenty of options for housing in neighborhoods from lively urban to subdued suburban. With a wide variety of ages and architectural styles, the homes are varied and affordable.

Living in this smaller city sure doesn’t seem small. The roads are uncongested and easy to navigate due to the expressways; it feels as big and wide as the many parks that surround it. Life in Waterloo promises the great outdoors and so much more!

Find out how I’ve helped more than 2,000 families buy and sell homes in Kitchener-Waterloo by getting a copy of my free eBook here. Also for great real estate videos you won’t find anywhere else, subscribe to my YouTube channel. I love to share my expert knowledge so if you have any real estate questions feel free to call me at 310-SOLD or email me at mark@maurerteam.com.

Living in Kitchener-Waterloo: Best Places for Foodies

buying a home in Waterloo Ontario

Restaurant Recommendations in Waterloo

 

Think the big city is the only place to get a really good meal? Don’t be fooled by the urban centers’ reputation. A smaller city can be just as gourmet as any metropolitan area. Kitchener-Waterloo has some fantastic spots that will satisfy even the most discerning foodie’s sensibilities. If you want to find out about Kitchener-Waterloo restaurants, this is a good place to find out!

Festivals

If you love an innovative food truck or fun food festival, Waterloo is a great place to eat on the street. There are numerous fairs featuring food of many ethnicities and origins. Each one offers an opportunity to try a new treat. The Annual Waterloo Food Festival is one of the best you can find anywhere.

The Waterloo Food Festival hosts outdoor events like the Evening Food Fair, the Outdoor Cocktail event and the Waterloo Family Fete, among others. There are also opportunities to have a seat at some of the trendiest eateries and enjoy the fair in air-conditioned comfort. You can try something new at a tasting or experience a masterclass and learn a new cooking technique. Don’t forget the competitions and live entertainment! This four-day event is a foodie’s gastronomic dream-come-true.

The Waterloo town calendar is packed with festivals, street fairs and cultural events. Just about any of these events will have a host of tempting delicacies for the discriminating food-lover. Culture Fest, Art Fest and the Big Music Festival are just a few of the annual opportunities to try a new food truck or sample a street cart. In 2015, the region even hosted the second Food Truck Fare in support of the Independent Living Centre of Waterloo Region.

UpTown Waterloo

UpTown Waterloo is the urban heart of the city. It is home to over 400 businesses including some incredible restaurants. This thriving city-center is a popular lunch and dinner-time destination and for lots of good reasons. Here are just a few to tempt your taste buds.

Beertown – Waterloo Town Square

Part old-school pub, part modern beer emporium and all great food – that’s Beertown in the Waterloo Town Square. The concept for Beertown is one of the powerful Charcoal Groups’ newest and it’s getting rave reviews from all types of customers. It features a “chef-driven” menu focused on all-natural ingredients and creative combinations.

This pub is constantly looking for ways to make beer more inventive and your dining experience more exciting. The menu ranges from traditional poutine to pork belly tacos, Beertown pad thai and a raw salad. There’s something for just about any taste here.

Nick & Nat’s Uptown 21

If you want the full foodie experience, try getting a seat at the chef’s table at Nick & Nat’s Uptown 21. This local spot emphasizes local fare. They’ve been listed in the prestigious “Where to Eat in Canada” guide for 5 consecutive years. This husband and wife team keeps the menu interesting by changing it up depending on what’s freshest right now. You could see a house cured pancetta on the menu or perhaps a hand-stretched mozzarella. For a treat on a budget, take a look at their 3 and 4 course prix fixe options.

King Street Trio Uptown

The ultimate in casual-but-cool, this eatery with an attitude lives in a 100-year-old historic building. You get the charm of a tin ceiling with the modern edge of an open-concept kitchen. Try the cozy dining room or the more intimate semi-private, 14 seat dining area. Fresh food and great value dominate the menu and the service is strong. They will even accommodate allergies issues and dietary preferences.

The Bauer Kitchen

Part of the powerhouse Charcoal Group, The Bauer Kitchen is a SoHo-inspired, up-market bistro. A trendy décor mix of industrial and reclaimed elements gives home to a strong menu of hearty dishes. Any restaurant that puts grilled salmon on the kids’ menu is really thinking about modern foodies and foodies-in-training!

For a decadent indulgence that touches on several current food trends, try the confit duck wings or the roasted bone marrow. A terrific array of burgers and sandwiches are available for lunch and dinner has some heavy-hitting dishes like short rib gnocchi and some lighter notes like an arugula salad with shaved beets, pickled peppers and Granny Smith apples.

Hillcrest House

If you’re craving something a little different, an experience instead of a mere meal, head over to the historic Hillcrest House Bed & Breakfast. Resting on a quiet street in the heart of Waterloo, close to all the attractions, this little gem hides a juicy little secret. It’s called “Trust the Fat Guy at Hillcrest House”.

It’s a ton of fun and you’ll learn a few things you can try at home too. This experience is an incredible opportunity to delve into the mind of Chef Stef, ask questions and take a few recipes home as a bonus. He’ll prepare several dishes right in front of you. The event runs about 3 hours and price will vary depending on your choice of menu items. (If you’d like to stay the night, you’ll get a discount on your room!).

There’s no shortage of foodie havens in Waterloo. Bring your appetite and try a few of our favorite spots. You’re sure to find something to impress your taste buds in the vibrant, exciting community of Waterloo. Have a favourite restaurant you want added to this list? Email me at mark@maurerteam.com!

Find out how I’ve helped more than 2,000 families buy and sell homes in Kitchener-Waterloo by getting a copy of my free eBook here. Also for great real estate videos you won’t find anywhere else, subscribe to my YouTube channel. I love to share my expert knowledge so if you have any real estate questions feel free to call me at 310-SOLD or email me at mark@maurerteam.com.

Relocating to Kitchener-Waterloo? Resources To Help (Part 2)

Moving to Kitchener or Waterloo? We Can Help!

Moving to Kitchener or Waterloo? We Can Help!

The Kitchener-Waterloo area has a history that dates back to 1784, and this rich background means great things for its residents. With a regional population of nearly half a million people that’s growing fast, a variety of different industries, and an historically low unemployment rate, this is one area that is ideal for families, young professionals, and seniors alike. If you plan to move here,  it might be helpful to have some resources at your fingertips. Part 1 of our post took a look at moving companies you can use, how to get around the area, changing your address, the utility companies you may need to contact, and healthcare options while you’re here. Once you’ve moved, though, you’ll need more resources at your fingertips outside of the nuts and bolts of your daily life. Take a look at our continued list below.

Houses of Worship

As you look for the right place to fit into the Kitchener-Waterloo community, you may want to take a closer look at the many houses of worship in the area. With options that encompass all of the major faiths, you’re certain to find a place of worship that meets your needs here. This, however, is just an overview of the many worship options in the area, as exploring each would take far more than the confines of this blog post. For a more complete listing, please click here.

  1. Area Catholic Churches: With a number of Catholic congregations around the region, you’re certain to find services that meet your needs. Many also have associated schools for young children.
  2. George’s of Forest Hill: An Anglican church, this congregation offers a variety of worship services on Sunday and during the week as well as a church school for children. They also have book clubs, study groups, and family nights.
  3. Unity Centre: A non-denominational congregation, the Unity Centre offers fellowship for those of all faiths as well as a number of other programs.
  4. Stanley Park Community Church: A very welcoming church, Stanley Park is located right on the Route 8 line of the Grand River Transit, making it convenient for members and visitors alike.
  5. The Lutheran Churches of Kitchener-Waterloo: Our community has nine different Lutheran congregations to help meet your needs. Located across the area, there’s one near almost anywhere you decide to settle.
  6. Kitchener Gospel Temple: A community of faith that was initially founded in 1909, this church has a rich history and a wonderful congregation.
  7. Grandview Baptist Church: Easy to reach, this church offers Sunday services and much more. Perfect for worshipers of all ages, they offer great activities and a wonderful chance to connect with others.
  8. Waterloo Masjid: The Muslim Society of Waterloo & Wellington Counties offers services, events, and regular prayer times.
  9. Kitchener Masjid: Undergoing great renovations to help better meet the needs of Muslims in the area, this is a wonderful facility with a regular prayer schedule as well as other activities and events.
  10. Beth Jacob Congregation: Serving the local Jewish community since 1908, Beth Jacob offers modern Orthodox services as well as a number of other program options.
  11. The Rohr Chabad Centre: With services, classes, and even meals, Chabad is the best place to join the local Jewish community. Initially launched in December 2008, they serve a wide population, and can help you better connect once you’re here.
  12. Temple Shalom: A reform congregation, Temple Shalom draws members from across the area, including young Jewish families. They also have a growing religious school that combines study in Judacia with Hebrew training.

Schools in Waterloo Region

If you’re moving here with a family or you expect to have children while you’re here, never fear. This is a family-friendly community with lots of resources to help you settle in. Below is a listing of schools and care options to help you find the right resources for your family.

  1. Waterloo Region District: If you want your child to attend public schools, this is the place they’ll likely go. Encompassing nearly a hundred elementary schools and a number of secondary schools, you’ll find excellent staff and programs throughout the district.
  2. Waterloo Catholic Schools: Looking for a solid Catholic education for your child? With 47 different Catholic elementary schools and five secondary schools, this area offers an excellent selection to choose from for your child.
  3. Colleges and Universities: If you’re looking to further your own education or you have a student headed for college, you have several choices in the area. Conestoga College, Emmanuel Bible College, Heritage College & Seminary, University of Waterloo, and Wilfrid Laurier University all make their homes in this area.

Things to Do!

Worried you might not find anything to do while you’re here? That will never be an issue. There are so many great options you may have trouble keeping up. It’s possible you may even discover spots you haven’t had time to visit even if you’ve lived here for years.

  1. Kitchener Market: Looking for a feast your senses will love? This is the place to be. With food and wares that represent things from an international perspective it’s one spot you’ll want to visit regularly.
  2. Victoria Park: A prize spot in the heart of downtown, here you’ll find a playground, splash pad, and great walkways. There are winter rinks, a boathouse restaurant, and special events throughout the year.
  3. Doon Heritage Village: A beautiful living history village, there are more than 60 acres that show life in Waterloo in 1914. Every visit comes complete with interpreters dressed in 1914 clothing as well as animals and activities for the family.
  4. Waterloo Region Museum: This museum features two galleries, a main one that tells the story of the Waterloo region and a changing showcase gallery that has new exhibits on a regular basis. It’s worth a visit for you or the kids.
  5. Woodside National Historic Site: The boyhood home of William Lyon Mackenzie King, this house has been fully restored to the way it might have looked in the 1890s. A national treasure, it’s a must-see while you’re here.
  6. Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery: A destination for those who love contemporary art, this fine craft gallery showcases the best of Canadian ceramics and glass and offers numerous educational programs for children and adults alike.
  7. Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery: Emphasizing contemporary art throughout, here you’ll find frequently changing exhibitions and a 4,000 work permanent collection designed to feed your artistic side.
  8. Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony: Phenomenal performances dominate when you catch any of the shows in the symphony season. Consider a customized ticket package to catch the concerts you want to see most.
  9. The Registry Theatre: From great movie series to fantastic concerts and shoes, keep an eye on the schedule here to catch as much as you can.
  10. The Aud: A great place for ice and floor rentals, hall rentals, corporate meetings, and other special events, this complex is one you’ll want to visit on a regular basis.
  11. Chicopee Resort: In the winter, this is a great place to ski and snowboard. In the summer, they offer summer camps, disc golf, beach volleyball, and more. It’s the perfect place for some activity with the whole family.
  12. Iron Horse Trail: Need a place to walk, roller blade, or bike? This is it. Part of the Trans Canada Trail, it runs 5.5 kilometres and connects downtown Kitchener to uptown Waterloo.
  13. McLennan Park: Once a former landfill, this is a wonderful destination for everyone. It offers an accessible play-structure and splash pad, beach volleyball and basketball courts, a skate park, a BMX bike park, a leash-free dog park, pedestrian trails, a toboggan hill, and gazebo you can rent for any event.
  14. Centre in the Square: Looking for fantastic shows and events? This is the venue to visit. There’s not a bad seat in the house, so check the schedule regularly.
  15. The Museum: With five floors of interactive exhibits, this is a great place for you and the family alike. Lots of everything is packed inside, and imagination is the key word here.
  16. Joseph Schneider Haus: If you want to step back in time, this is the place to do it. A dynamic museum, this local landmark is Kitchener’s oldest home. Take the family and take a closer look at the history behind this amazing area.

Find out how I’ve helped more than 2,000 families buy and sell homes in Kitchener-Waterloo by getting a copy of my free eBook here. Also for more great real estate videos you won’t find anywhere else, subscribe to my YouTube channel. I love to share my expert knowledge so if you have any real estate questions feel free to call me at 310-SOLD or email me at mark@maurerteam.com.

Where to Golf in Waterloo Region

Golf Courses in Waterloo Region

Golf Courses in Waterloo Region</center)

It’s a way to spend that perfect Saturday afternoon. The ideal way to connect with your prospective or existing clients. A level of stress relief you can’t find anywhere else. When the course is right, the feel of near perfection is at hand. The wrong course can result in a sense of unsettling frustration. Every area has great golf courses – some leave you wanting something a little more. Kitchener-Waterloo is a little different in that regard. We have golf courses for every skill and enjoyment level. Are you searching for the course that will leave you with a feeling of elation that lasts for days? We have compiled a list of the more popular ones you may want to try.

Brookfield Golf and Country Club

Although a much smaller option, Brookfield remains one of the most gorgeous golf courses in Waterloo Region. With nine holes available, there are a number of different options if you’re looking to play a full round of 18 holes. You may think this would prove to be a drawback for some golfers, but there is real appeal for this course. With the beautiful rolling terrain, each hole offers some real challenges. Add in the wide, tree-lined fairways to the mix, and throw in twenty-three possible water hazards, and you have the ideal spot for both novice and advanced golfers alike. Brookfield golf course was established in 1965 and is suitable for golfers of all skill levels.

Deer Ridge Golf Club

As you search for a course that can challenge golfers at a variety of skill levels simultaneously, you may want to try Deer Ridge. Thomas McBroom designed this golf course as a par 72 course with 72 strategically-placed bunkers and generous greens. A private club, members here enjoy guaranteed walk-on times and the challenge of a well-maintained course. It’s an exclusive atmosphere few other clubs in Waterloo Region can match.

Doon Valley and Rockway Golf Clubs

One of the oldest courses in Waterloo Region, the Rockway Golf Course was established and designed in 1935 by architect Stan Sharpe. A now mature course, Rockway proves a challenge to golfers at almost any level. This golf course is fully public; the only trouble you’ll have here on any given day is getting a tee-time. Almost always there are large numbers of golf enthusiasts who want to play on this course.

Dundee Golf and Country Club

This course was established more than four decades ago by architect Tony Matlock and remains more challenging than ever. A beautiful setting with a total yardage of 6,357 yards, Dundee is a championship- level course. Large and beautiful trees dot the course, and a number of ponds throughout the course raise the level of play up a bit. Like Rockway, it too is a public golf club designed for golfers at all levels, but just a little more challenging, making it just right for advanced players.

Grey Silo Golf Course

Located in Waterloo, Grey Silo is a scenic beauty that is long and challenging, making for the perfect full-day golf outing. With the Grand River in the background and serious play in front of you, it’s a circuit you won’t soon forget. Established in 2001 and crafted by architect Steve Young, the view from any spot on the course is absolutely stunning, and amenities and service abound back at the clubhouse. This is an exceptionally long course, so a cart is probably essential unless you’re also there for the hike. Endlessly well-manicured, the course at Grey Silo is smooth and gorgeous.

Merry Hill Golf Club

If executive length golf is your style, this is the ideal spot to meet your needs. A 27-hole course surrounded by the quiet of the countryside, this is a great course that has proven popular since it opened in 1967. Perfect for beginners or those looking for a great place to take clients, the Merry Hill course maintenance here is outstanding and the setting is beautiful.

Mystic Golf Club

According to their management, Mystic Golf Course in Ancaster is different from the rest in Waterloo Region and they brag that it is also quite special. Mystic offers a unique experience for the more serious and passionate golfer. According to their website, “The par-3s and par-5s at Mystic offer contrasting risks and rewards. And while nearly every par-4 is a dogleg and most involve elevation changes, no two holes are even remotely similar in distance or design, offering an unlimited assortment of shot-making decisions. There are no blind tee shots, no tricked-up holes. A lot of dirt was moved to make sure the layout was straight-forward, 3-thousand tons of Pro-Angle bunker sand was brought in from Ohio, and an expansive drainage and irrigation system ensures an extremely challenging round whenever you’re ready to be tested.” If that’s not enough to entice you then maybe the fact that Mystic presents 18 individual trials of ball striking and strategy will stir your curiosity.

Westmount Golf and Country Club

With a #12 ranking in the SCOREGolf Top 100 list of courses in the country, expectations have to be high walking into this course. Fortunately, it will go well beyond meeting your expectations. Designed by Stanley Thompson, championship level play combined with beauty and a higher level of maintenance shapes Westmount, which is one of the best private courses in Waterloo Region. A trial golf membership is available for those interested in the facilities for dining and socializing.

For golfers wishing to improve their golfing skills, we recommend checking out Golf Without Limits in Waterloo. At this practice facility, which is open each year from November to April, you can improve your golf game by playing on the Simulator (a big projector screen with a variety of courses played online). The simulation system at Golf Without Limits allows you to adjust external forces that occur in real life such as how fast/strong the wind is blowing. All of your games are registered electronically so that each time you return to play, you will know how your performance compares and improves over time.

Golfing opportunities in the Kitchener-Waterloo area are robust and extensive. With nearly a hundred courses throughout the Western Ontario region in both public and private settings, there are few places in Canada where so many choices are this widely available.

Whether you’re simply visiting Waterloo Region or home shopping and you want to make sure the best golfing amenities are nearby, we’ve got you covered!

Find out how I’ve helped more than 2,000 families buy and sell homes in Kitchener-Waterloo by getting a copy of my free eBook here. Also for more great real estate videos you won’t find anywhere else, subscribe to my YouTube channel. I love to share my expert knowledge so if you have any real estate questions feel free to call me at 310-SOLD or email me at mark@maurerteam.com.

 

Canada’s Technology Triangle: Waterloo Region

Waterloo Region: A Great Place for Techies

Waterloo Region: A Great Place for Techies

The right place to live means finding one with an economy that can support your skills and your family, and that’s one big reason the Kitchener-Waterloo has been such a big attraction for so many people these days.

Historic Attraction

The area is strongly rooted in a tradition of good manufacturing. Throughout our cities, you’ll find many tributes to the history of manufacturing, and it remains an important part of the economy today. In fact, estimates suggest as much as 36% of the population here relies on manufacturing jobs, and a number of different products are made in the area. From seat manufacturers to various furniture components, the draw here for manufacturing companies appears to remain steady.

A New Economy

While some areas have remained extremely focused on one economic sector that it has the potential to become the downfall of the entire region, that’s just not the case here. Instead, Waterloo Region has spent the last several years diversifying enough to attract the high-value world of technology to its borders, spelling real success for the cities as a whole. Often considered part of Canada’s technology triangle, more tech companies are moving here and …. fast! By the way – have you noticed construction of the new Google building in Kitchener?

A quick look back suggests our story starts with Blackberry, a tech giant that is now slowly losing ground, but it goes much deeper than that. In fact, it started at the University of Waterloo and a commitment to building a curriculum that focused on early technology as far back as the 1960s. Thanks to the continued evolution there, Research in Motion (Blackberry’s forerunner) was able to find its legs quickly, and that development led to many more. In fact, some experts suggest the continued changes at the University of Waterloo have led to more than 250 technology companies popping up in Kitchener-Waterloo.

Today, The University of Waterloo has one of the heaviest concentrations of mathematical and computer science talent in the world. They offer an inventor-owned IP policy to help spur the continued growth in the area. This dedication to the education necessary for continued tech growth appears throughout the area too. Wilfrid Laurier University has the first 12 month MBA program in the world, and Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning is also located here. Conestoga has one of the highest rated schools of engineering in the country. There are also a number of research centers that contribute to the landscape including the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, the Institute for Quantum Computing, the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology, and the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy – to name a few!

The Landscape Today

Blackberry may no longer serve as the tech powerhouse it once was, but thanks to the hold this essential piece of the market has built right here, Kitchener-Waterloo continues to attract major technology companies. Well established names like Open Text, Google, EA, and Christie Digital are all right here. What’s more, though, is there are currently nearly a thousand tech start-ups in the area. Desire2Learn is a case in point. An online education software company, their staff grew from 200 to 700 in less than two years.

Creating a Space for Innovation

Part of the reason Waterloo Region is so successful at attracting these growing businesses is the fact that the entire area is doing everything they can to keep them there. Starting in 2004, Kitchener alone began launching initiatives to help keep tech companies flocking to the area. They’ve made a number of investments in the downtown area to help make more hospitable places for companies and residents alike, and just a few years ago, they began work on King Street, the downtown core of the city to help further beautify the area. With new lighting, wider sidewalks, lowered curbs, and even a space for street events and festivals, people are drawn to the area easily, making it a natural choice for tech companies.

External investment into our area doesn’t hurt either. The former Lang Tannery was purchased by a real estate company in 2007, then promptly converted to space for commercial firms and digital tech companies. It’s become the hub in the area, hosting some of the biggest names in the world of high-tech, including Google. With no sign of slowing despite the failure of some bigger tech companies, the Kitchener-Waterloo area is still at the forefront of this big industry sector.

Add that to other perks like the fact that Canada is the most tax competitive country among the G-7 nations, our workforce is one of the most educated, we have the lowest R & D costs among G-7 nations, and we also have a AAA credit rating, and you have options many companies really want to consider.

This area is poised to support not only those already in the tech sector, but those wishing to join it. Accessible, beautiful, and ideal for companies and employees alike, the Kitchener-Waterloo area is clearly going to remain a draw for many industries in the near future.

Thanks to the massive growth of these companies, new residential areas have popped up too. With upscale lofts, homes, condos, and more appearing in and around the city, there are plenty of real estate options perfectly designed for those interested in becoming part of Canada’s Technology Triangle.

If you are planning to move to the Kitchener-Waterloo area, let me help you find the perfect home by calling 310-SOLD or email me at mark@maurerteam.com.

Moving to Kitchener-Waterloo? Resources To Help (Part 1)

Moving to Kitchener or Waterloo? We Can Help!

Moving to Kitchener or Waterloo? We Can Help!

 

Moving is never an easy task, but if you’re moving to Kitchener-Waterloo the area is exceptional when it comes to options once you’re here. With a number of great single family homes, condos, and apartments, you’re going to find the perfect place to live in the area, and we’d love to help. As you work to get settled in, you may want to use some or many of these area resources. This is the first part of a list of 50 that may help you make this area your home. Stay with us for part 2.

Moving and Storage Companies To Contact

Before you can even begin to think about anything else, you’re going to have to focus on getting your belongings and furniture here, or at the very minimum  moving it from one location to another in the area. Fortunately, there are a number of moving companies here that can help you do just that.

  1. Public Storage Kitchener – Public Storage Canada offers the widest range of unit sizes. Storage for small stuff. Storage for large stuff. Storage for everything in between! To help you figure out the size of storage unit you would require, this storage company even has a handy dandy storage calculator.
  2. Atlas Van Lines – A choice with the power of a long standing brand name behind it, this is the way to move, especially if you’re coming in from across the country. With 150 offices throughout Canada, Atlas Van Lines will get you and your belongings here in one piece, with peace of mind to spare.
  3. United Van Lines – Easily as powerful as the Atlas name, there are 200 locations throughout Canada here to make your move as smooth as possible.
  4. Westmount Moving – A local company, this group has been working in the area for more than 75 years. They’re the local Van Lines agent, and their level of experience means an outstanding move.
  5. Baird Moving – Located in Kitchener-Waterloo, this is another local United Van Lines agent, so whether you work with them or the bigger brand, you know you’re going to have an excellent experience.
  6. Elite Moving Services – If you’re looking for something a bit more local, you can’t do better than this team. Perfect for shorter distance moves or those over the long haul, they’re ready to help ensure you get into your new home safely.

Getting Around

Once you’re here, getting from place to place is fairly easy. Whether you rely on public transit, you prefer to walk or bike to work or you’ll be driving, this is an easy place to navigate.

  1. Grand River Transit: This is the public transportation system throughout Kitchener-Waterloo, and they provide daily bus service throughout the area. They also offer specialized transit for those with disabilities.
  2. BikeKitchener: Many cities are working to make it safer to bike, and the Kitchener-Waterloo area is no exception. This organization not only provides maps and routes of local bike trails, but also a festival dedicated to biking and more.

Changing Your Address

When you’ve moved here, you’ll certainly want to update your address and it’s easier than you think to do so.

  1. Canada Post: You can either visit your local post office or simply visit their online portal to officially change your address in Canada. Keep in mind, though, that this will only change your address with the postal service. It won’t do so with the ministry responsible for health or the Employment Insurance Program, so you’ll need to take care of all of that after you move.

Utilities

Ensuring you have power, heat, and water after you move is a must, so contacting the responsible companies for all of those before you move is essential. In most cases, a notification of at least 5 days prior to your move-in date is required.

  1. Kitchener Utilities: If you’re looking for natural gas hookups or water service for Kitchener, this is the group to contact. A deposit is typically required for new accounts.
  2. Kitchener Wilmot Hydro: More than 90,000 homes across the area are served by Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro, and to ensure you have the power you need. You will need to complete their new account application package.
  3. Union Gas: If you are moving to Waterloo, this is the natural gas company you will need to contact. You have to notify them at least three days before your moving day, and there is a connection fee of $35 on your first bill.
  4. Information Gateway Services: If you’re looking for an internet service provider, this is a good, localized solution to meet your needs.
  5. Netflash Internet Solutions: Many of the plans available through NetFlash for internet service include unlimited data, which can be a huge plus for those who work from home.
  6. Bell: Offering TV, home phone, internet, and bundles that encompass all of them, this is great provider. Depending on where you’re moving from, you may already even have an account with them.
  7. Rogers: Like Bell, you can get a number of bundles here that encompass your mobile phone, TV, home phone, and internet. They also offer concierge moving services to help make certain all of your needs are met.

Healthcare Options

Taking care of yourself is important, and the area offers plenty of access to the best doctors, dentists, and healthcare professionals to make certain that your health is in good hands.

  1. Ambulance Services: If you require emergency transportation to one of the area hospitals, contact 9-1-1 services immediately to be attended to by professional right away. To learn more about whether to call EMS, click on the link above.
  2. Saint Mary’s General Hospital: One of the best facilities in the province, St. Mary’s has 2000 staff, physicians, and volunteers who treat thousands of patients every year.
  3. Grand River Hospital: The Waterloo region’s largest hospital, Grand River offers 14 different clinical programs and services to help take care of you when you need it most.
  4. We Care Home Health Services: Should you need in home services, this is one great option. With a variety of services, and some of the best trained professionals in the area, this group should certainly be high on your list.

There are a number of other hospitals and services located outside of Kitchener-Waterloo that also provide services to those who live here including Cambridge Memorial Hospital, McMaster Children’s Hospital, London Health Science Centre and Hamilton Health Sciences.

For more home selling tips you won’t find anywhere else, subscribe to my YouTube channel.

If you or someone you know is buying or selling a home in Kitchener, Waterloo or the surrounding area give me a call at 310-SOLD. Or click here for a FREE Market Evaluation of your home.

Mark

About Waterloo: Waterloo Ranks #16 in “Canada’s Best Places to Live”

 

buying a house in Waterloo

Waterloo: A Great Place to Live, Work, and Play!

If you’re one of the fortunate residents of the Waterloo, Ontario area you already know – this is the best place to live! If you aren’t, then you should know what you’re missing. Canada’s Personal finance magazine, MoneySense, voted Waterloo one of Canada’s Best Places to Live. If our area isn’t on your short list of homeownership prospects, it’s time to add it!

A great community is more than just the average rainfall, the bricks and mortar, the streets and government offices. There’s so much that goes into a truly great place to buy a home, raise a family and live your life. Arts, culture, how you work and play all have roles in creating a hometown of stellar quality. The quality of your life is largely dictated by where you choose to spend your time so you have to be careful in choosing a place to live. This is not something you want to leave to chance.

Residents of Waterloo and the surrounding communities all have their own favourite thing about this smaller city with its “big city” features and country panache. It might be their friendly neighbours, an incredible farmers market, that quirky bistro on the corner, an art gallery or a quiet residential street. The folks at MoneySense can’t quantify those things that make Waterloo feel like home. They can, however, explain statistically some of what makes Waterloo a great place to live. Here’s an explanation of what they found when the numbers were crunched.

City Size

MoneySense ranks towns and cities by size from small to large. Waterloo is ranked in the category of medium. It’s not too big and it’s not too small. That means you can get a lot of amenities that the bigger metropolitan areas boast, like cultural events and nightlife, without so many of the big city challenges like traffic and pollution. You get the quiet, country feeling without being so isolated and removed from the conveniences of the city. As Goldilocks would say, “it’s just right!”

Low Unemployment

One of the key metrics for MoneySense’s estimation of a great place to live is the unemployment rate. Our area’s estimated unemployment rate is barely 5%. This is considered to be low in their rankings.

It’s always important to know that the place you live or might choose to move to is thriving economically. However, unemployment is also reflected in a lot of other areas. When unemployment is high, home ownership typically drops and property values may suffer. Studies show that in areas with higher unemployment rates, neighborhood upkeep tends to also suffer and crime rates tend to skew upwards. Having a high rate of employment is a good sign that a town is healthy and thriving.

Median Income

Income levels are also thriving in Waterloo. MoneySense rates us as having high household incomes with a median income of $83,595. The median discretionary income is listed as being just over $53,594. This is quite good compared to many other areas of the country of a similar size.

Walking, Biking and Using Public Transportation to Work

This might not seem that significant to some but it’s a telling number. About 5.6% of our regional population report regularly walking to work. The number for biking is 2.1% and public transportation usage comes in at 5.4%.

If you’re comparing these numbers to a densely populated metropolitan area, they might look a little puny side-by-side. Yet, if you take into consideration the fact that our area is much less densely populated and it is spread over a large rural community, the numbers start looking a little more impressive.

Strong Arts and Sports Community

The arts and outdoor activities are what add color and depth to our lives. Work needs to be balanced with play and ambition should be countered with culture. Waterloo is ranked very well in this area.

Just over 2% of our population is employed in the arts and recreation field in some way so you can tell that residents support their endeavours. MoneySense gives us a checkmark in the column for a strong arts & sports community.

Waterloo is an excellent choice for your hometown. If you don’t believe those of us who already live here, take a look at MoneySense’s rankings and see what they’ve got to say. When you see how Waterloo stacks up in this national ranking, you’ll come around to our way of thinking too.

 

Affordable Homes In Kitchener-Waterloo for Home Buyers? Absolutely!

cheap houses in Kitchener

Does Kitchener-Waterloo Have Reasonably-Priced Houses?

In recent months you have probably seen the headlines (because they’re everywhere) – parts of Canada are facing a housing affordability crisis like never before. In cities across the country, housing has become so expensive that middle income individuals just can’t afford to become home buyers. While that may be absolutely true in other cities across the nation, it’s not always the case in Kitchener-Waterloo. Instead, this area remains more affordable than many nearby cities.

A Bigger Problem

The rapid increase in housing prices is a big cause for concern due to two main problems. First, job growth remains fairly stagnant. Private sector growth is hitting numbers like 10%. Public sector growth is a bit higher, but there’s one other problem to go with those job growth numbers – median incomes. For most families, the median income has remained the same, even in the face of the housing costs increasing across the country. Fortunately, Kitchener-Waterloo seems to have an edge. Our job growth numbers look amazing with a recently released Ontario Chamber of Commerce report suggesting that economic growth in the area will continue to gain momentum thanks to exports and investment spending in manufacturing and the tech sector. This helps to shield our area from stagnation of job growth.

What Defines “Affordable?”

The Canadian Real Estate Association regularly ranks cities and townships as affordable by comparing the average prices of residential dwellings in and around the area. The lower the numbers, the more affordable the general area. In these studies, Kitchener-Waterloo almost always ranks as one of the more affordable places to live. In May of 2015, the average price of a home in this area was just about $350,000. In greater Toronto, it was hitting $650,000. Moving to the West Coast certainly isn’t going to save you any cash either. Vancouver was recently ranked as the most expensive city with average home prices coming in at $748,651.

What Keeps Housing Prices Lower in Kitchener-Waterloo?

Wondering why this area remains so affordable? There are a few reasons. One of the most likely reasons is the fact that there’s a consistent level of housing inventory in the area. In May of 2015 alone, there were 1,200 new listings. Sellers have to stay competitive in this environment to keep in line with market conditions.

There are also a number of incentives to buy a home in the area at the moment. Waterloo launched their Affordable Home Ownership Program, offering individuals and families a loan to help cover the down payment of a home. Buyers can receive up to five percent of the purchase price as long as: the home is located in the Waterloo Region; has a purchase price of $243,300 or less; and is approved by the region itself. There are guidelines for eligibility, but it’s certainly a helping hand for many buyers.

The other likely reason for the lower prices in this area is the fact that historically low interest rates mean there’s a stronger pool of potential buyers. As the interest rates go up, the chances are good that the number of buyers will go back down, as may the total number of sellers.

Home Prices Aren’t the Only Reason to Consider Kitchener-Waterloo

Besides the fantastic deal you could get on a house here, there are a number of other reasons to consider this area. Kitchener has a long list of things to see and do. It’s close enough to metropolitan areas like Toronto, and there is easy access to Highway 401. Once you’re here, though, you probably won’t want to leave! There’s a highly diversified economy attracting people from a wide range of cultures who have made this area nothing short of amazing. The diversity here, along with great schools, an invested infrastructure that just keeps getting better, and robust arts and culture environment make this the best place to live if you’re considering the Waterloo Region.