Archive for living in Waterloo region

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!


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!

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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.


Life Satisfaction and Quality of Life in Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge


Where is the best place to live in Waterloo Region?

Life Satisfaction of Residents in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge

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.

Community Demographics

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.