13 Pros and Cons of Living In Kitchener

Situated in the beautiful province of Ontario, Kitchener is one of the three cities making up the regional municipality of Waterloo. The city is home to a population of about 240,000 people and covers an area of 136.86 km2

Its large population and modern amenities, such as the rail intercity transit give Kitchener an exciting big-city atmosphere. Even so, the abundance of stunning historic buildings, museums, and rich cultural heritage give the town a friendly small-town charm.

Kitchener’s German origin is another unique feature of this city. This is especially apparent during the many festivals and celebrations, such as the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest. The city was named Berlin until 1916. 

With its rich history, the wide array of parks and recreational activities, and cultural diversity, it is no surprise that this town has caught the attention of many people who are looking for a nice place to either visit for the holidays or even make their new permanent residence.

If you happen to be one of these people, we have prepared a list of 13 pros and cons of living in Kitchener to help you make up your mind.

The Pros

A photo of old City Hall clock tower in Victoria Park in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. The new City Hall building is visible in the background

Some of the pros include:

1. Close Proximity to Other Cities

Kitchener is situated in Southwestern Ontario between Waterloo and Cambridge, the other two cities making up the Regional Municipality of waterloo. It is a one-hour drive away from Toronto, which is the capital of Ontario. If you use the train or bus, you’ll need just under three hours since the two cities are roughly 100 km apart.

Kitchener also has the advantage of being located close to the border with the USA. To get to states like New York or Michigan, you can simply hop in your car, and within three hours of driving, you’ll have arrived in Detroit, Michigan. How amazing is that?

2. Breathtaking Landscape and Nature

This city has abundant beautiful landscapes and nature to take in, such as its green, luscious forests and the glacier-made Kames Baden Hills. 

There are also plenty of parks for picnics and relaxing or even take the kids to play and have fun. Kitchener has over 200 parks, with Victoria Park being the oldest and most popular of the lot due to its serene environment and range of activities on offer.

Apart from parks, the city also has 35 community gardens that provide a place to build lasting relationships with neighbors and residents and get a sense of belonging. The gardens allow people to grow vegetables, fruits, and flowers in designated plots, all without leaving the city.

3. Fun Festivals and Events

Kitchener celebrates and honors its history by hosting several festival events annually. The most significant event is the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest which is a nine-day festival held every October since 1969. It is based on the original German Oktoberfest and reflects the city’s deep German roots. 

The event is packed with lots of fun activities such as a keg-rolling barrel race, Miss Oktoberfest competition, and a 5-kilometer run. The biggest activity of the event is the Oktoberfest Thanksgiving Day Parade held on Thanksgiving and televised nationwide.

Another notable event is the Kitchener Blues Festival that is a four-day festival held in august to celebrate blues music. This event has been running since 2000 and attracts up to 150,000 people every year. Other festivals held annually include the KOI Music festival, the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Festival, and the Kultrun World Music Festival.

4. Humid Continental Climate

This city has a humid continental climate of the warm summer subtype. It has an average annual rainfall of 929 millimeters and a temperature of 6.6 degrees Celsius. If you plan on visiting Kitchener on vacation, July is probably the best time since it is the hottest month with an average temperature of 19.7 degrees Celsius.

It hardly gets too cold here compared to other cities in Ontario, with the coldest temperature being -7.0 degrees Celsius. This makes Kitchener the best place in the province to experience the different seasons of the year.

5. High-Quality Education

Kitchener has plenty of good schools from the elementary level up to the university level. The schools offer lessons in English and French. They have a strong curriculum that incorporates extra-curricular activities allowing the students to gain knowledge and useful skills such as communication and teamwork. 

The city boasts some of the best colleges and universities in the country, such as Conestoga College, University of Waterloo, and Wilfrid Laurier University.

6. Wonderful Art Galleries and Museums

You can also experience the rich cultural heritage of Kitchener by visiting its museums and galleries. The museum, previously called the Waterloo Regional Children’s Museum, offers a wide variety of permanent interactive exhibits and rotating temporary exhibits designed for a wide audience.

Another great museum that we highly recommend is the Doon Heritage Village. This museum gives the visitors a glimpse into how life was like in the Waterloo region back in 1914.

Other than museums, the city is also home to galleries such as the Homer Watson House and Gallery as well as the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery. Here, visitors can experience art exhibitions of paintings, sculptures, drawings, photography, prints, and videos.

7. Lovely Farmers Market

An image of Kitchener Memorial Audiotorium Ontario. It shows a large beige building with a tree in front of it

Kitchener has quite a long growing season due to its climate. This means that its farmer’s markets are always packed with locally grown produce and fresh meat from the local farmers. 

One of the most popular farmer’s markets is the Kitchener Market. This is a vibrant, urban market with both local and international vendors offering ethnically diverse produce throughout the week.

8. Home of Theatre

The city is no stranger to the field of theatre either. It is home to the Centre in The Square that is the largest and most active performing arts center in the region. This theatre has a capacity of over 2000 people and has been offering comedy, music, and captivating shows to its visitors since 1980 when it opened. 

Its design offers an unobstructed view of the stage from any seating position. It also has one of the largest orchestra pits, capable of seating 110 musicians. Apart from the Centre In The Square, Kitchener also has the Kitchener-Waterloo Little Theatre and Green Lights Arts Theatre.

9. Strong Economy

Kitchener has a very diverse economy making it one of the strongest economies in the province and relatively resistant to economic recessions. The city has a good education sector with plenty of top-ranked schools, colleges, and universities that provide teachers, professors, and researchers with job opportunities.

Being home to some of the biggest insurance companies in the country, such as SunLife, Manulife, and OTIP, the insurance sector also plays a big role in providing jobs for locals.

The Cons

There are some drawbacks to living in Kitchener. Some of the cons include:

10. High Rent Prices

An image of a beautiful old home in Kitchener Ontario. It shows a two storey home made from light brown bricks. It features ornate windows and rails

Possibly the biggest drawback of living in Kitchener, and one that is most likely to be a deal-breaker for most people, is the upward trend of rent prices from year to year. This is a heavy blow for those looking to make this city their permanent place of residence.

According to financial reports, the city has seen more than a 20 % increase in rent prices from 2012. This worrying trend is attributed to the high demand for houses caused by an influx of people from surrounding cities such as Toronto, where the rent prices are even higher.

11. Absence of Large Water Bodies

Unlike other cities in Ontario that boast lakes and other open water bodies within their borders, Kitchener lacks any great lakes or spectacular waterfalls to explore. If you’re into activities involving water bodies such as surfing, kayaking, fishing, and sailing, then this may not be the proper city for you. 

That is unless you are willing to put up with a one-hour drive to the nearest lake (Lake Ontario) every time you want to go fishing.

12. Minimal Nightlife

The nightlife experience in Kitchener is close to non-existent. While there are a few clubs and restaurants across the city, their numbers are far too low for a city the size of Kitchener. Moreover, most of these restaurants are usually closed early, further limiting the options available to night-time explorers.

If you are the type of person who enjoys spending the night out with friends or loved ones and going to trendy nightclubs, then Kitchener may not be the right place for you. You’d likely be better off in surrounding cities like Toronto, offering a more vibrant and eclectic nightlife.

13. Large Student Population

The presence of two large universities in Kitchener, the University of Waterloo and Wilfried Laurier University, and Conestoga College enable the city to draw in countless learners from all over the world.

As a result, the population of students in Kitchener is about 60,000. That is about 25% of the total population. While most of the time they are busy in school, during their free time and holidays they tend to throw parties which more often than not are loud and rowdy. This is a nuisance to most people, especially those who prefer a peaceful and quiet environment.

Conclusion

Despite a few minor snags such as the lackluster nightlife and lack of lakes, Kitchener is an amazing place to make your home or even just visit with your family, be it for vacation or a weekend getaway. The city has a lot to offer. From fulfilling trips to museums to being part of exciting cultural festivals, Kitchener has it all.

Is there any other feature of Kitchener you feel has not been included in our list? If so, feel free to let us know in the comments section. Otherwise, we hope this article has helped you get to know this city better.