Waterloo Region is known internationally for it’s leading-edge technology and advanced manufacturing industries, innovative educational institutions, vibrant agricultural communities, and the historically-significant Grand River. Waterloo region has earned its reputation as a forward-thinking community and as an attractive area to work, live, and play. Yet how do residents in Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge rate their Life Satisfaction and Quality of Life? The results listed in this article are based on data from 340,000 individual responses in the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) and the General Social Survey (GSS)*. This includes specific economic and social factors that contribute to life satisfaction and quality of life. Canada has been measuring Life Satisfaction for more than 30 years and was the first country to measure and collect data on life satisfaction.
Survey Results for Waterloo Region
CCHS and GSS respondents were asked: Using a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 means “Very dissatisfied” and 10 means “Very satisfied,” how do you feel about your life as a whole right now? On average, residents of Waterloo Region participating in these studies rated their life satisfaction at 8 out of 10. Most impressively, 38% percent of Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge respondents reported their life satisfaction as a 9 or 10! Only 15% of these survey participants ranked their life satisfaction as a “6 or less.”
Contributors to Life Satisfaction and Quality of Life
A report produced by The Region of Waterloo states that at the individual-level there are characteristics that are shown to be correlated with Life Satisfaction. These include age, employment status, and health status. On a community-level, the design of our neighbourhoods and their safety are factors that contribute to Quality of Life.
With regards to age, the majority of Waterloo Region’s population is fairly young – between the ages of 20 – 59, which means we have a significant number of residents in the workforce. In a two-year Quality of Life study conducted in Cambridge through Wilfrid Laurier University, Master’s student Annette A. Penney found that community residents reported that the number one contributor to Quality of Life was “family and friends.” The most recent census indicates that across Waterloo Region there are more married families than non-married families, further enhancing our perceived life satisfaction.
Community Safety and Neighbourhood Design
Although safety is not a variable that was measured in either the CCHS or the GSS, it is a factor that is considered to be a contributor to Quality of Life. Both violent and non-violent crimes have been on a downward trend here and across Canada for a number of years, however, our crime rates are below those of major Canadian communities. According to Statistics Canada, police-reported crime data that has been collected on non-violent crimes show that in the past 10 years the crime rate has been decreasing in Waterloo Region.
The design of neighbourhoods and physical characteristics of communities also contributes to Quality of Life in Waterloo Region. This includes: the location of buildings; road/street/sidewalk conditions; allocation of bike lanes; availability and placement of houses; and accessibility to neighbourhood parks. In Waterloo Region in 2014 the region spent more than $100 million in road construction ensuring that the condition of our streets and sidewalks is kept up-to-date and new roadways and bridges are developed to keep up with the pace of increasing traffic. The Rapid Transit system connecting Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge and the Light Rail Transit system between Kitchener and Waterloo also helps to transport residents between destinations in our region. There are literally hundreds of neighbourhood and public parks for families in Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge.
Employment Status and Income of Residents
In a Quality of Life study in Cambridge, community residents reported that “income” was the second most important contributing factor to their quality of life. We can assert that this would be the same for all residents of Waterloo Region. Our median family incomes are higher than in many communities across Ontario.
To summarize, residents of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge report a high level of Life Satisfaction and this region rates moderately high on community characteristics that contribute to improved levels of Quality of Life. Indeed, Waterloo Region IS a great place to live, work, and play! If you plan to move to our area and would like more information on what our cities have to offer, click here for About Kitchener, About Waterloo, and About Cambridge. Also feel free to peruse our category of blog posts about Living in Kitchener-Waterloo.
*Data for this article were taken from the five cycles of the GSS fielded from 2009 to 2013 and the four cycles of the CCHS fielded from 2009 to 2012 inclusive.