If you currently live in Toronto but are considering a move to nearby Hamilton, you likely have questions about the pros and cons of such a move. As Canada’s 8th largest city, Hamilton has seen significant growth and revitalization in recent years. But how does it compare to Toronto when it comes to the cost of living, things to do, transportation, schools, and which neighbourhoods to live in? This comprehensive moving from Toronto to Hamilton guide will explore all of these key factors to help you determine if relocating is the right decision for you.
Key Takeaways: Moving From Toronto To Hamilton, Ontario
- Housing costs 65% less on average in Hamilton offering excellent value for families
- New dining and shops breathing life into Hamilton neighbourhoods
- Easy highway, rail and trail access provides connectivity around the GTHA
- Highly rated schools from McMaster to the Hamilton District School Board
- Slower pace of life in Hamilton compared to Toronto
- Weigh personal priorities like affordability, amenities and lifestyle fit
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Moving From Toronto To Hamilton?
First, let’s examine some of the key advantages and potential drawbacks of moving from Toronto to Hamilton:
Pros of Moving from Toronto to Hamilton
- Significantly lower cost of living and real estate prices
- Easy access to Toronto via commuter rail and major highways
- Excellent healthcare facilities including internationally-renowned hospitals
- An up-and-coming food scene with trendy new restaurants
- Close proximity to beautiful nature areas like Cootes Paradise and the Niagara Escarpment
- Quieter pace of life compared to Toronto
Cons of Moving from Toronto to Hamilton
- Public transit is not as extensive as Toronto
- Entertainment and cultural offerings less than Toronto
- Certain neighbourhoods have issues with vacant and neglected buildings
- Perception by some that Hamilton is an “ugly” industrial city
As you can see, Hamilton offers affordability and easy access to Toronto balanced by some downsides in terms of amenities. But how do the two cities specifically compare across key categories?
What Are The Differences Between Toronto And Hamilton, Ontario?
While Toronto and Hamilton share similarities as diverse, historic Ontario cities on Lake Ontario, they have distinct differences when it comes to lifestyle, housing options, job markets and more.
As Canada’s largest metro, Toronto has an unparalleled urban energy – world-class dining, entertainment, diversity, job opportunities and more. However, the abundance comes with higher costs, congestion, and competitiveness. In contrast, Hamilton offers a more relaxed pace and community feel. As a mid-sized city, Hamilton provides a nice balance – urban conveniences like great restaurants and career options combined with plentiful green space, recreational opportunities, and waterfalls.
Housing costs also differ greatly – prepare for major sticker shock house hunting in Toronto, where the average detached home price exceeds $1.5 million! In Hamilton, it’s still possible to purchase a nice family home for under $750,000. Rentals rates are almost half the price per square foot in Hamilton compared to Toronto.
When choosing a city, it helps to outline your lifestyle priorities. Big city lovers who thrive on constant excitement may prefer Toronto despite higher costs. Others find Hamilton provides the ideal blend of culture, nature, and affordability. Hamilton’s proximity to Toronto also allows the chance to enjoy big city amenities when desired. Ultimately, Hamilton suits those seeking balance, community and value.
Toronto vs Hamilton
In many ways, Toronto and Hamilton are a study in contrasts when it comes to population, economy, amenities, neighbourhoods, and pace of life:
- Toronto has 2.9 million residents compared to Hamilton’s 563,000
- Toronto has a $400 billion GDP dominated by finance and technology while Hamilton has a $46 billion economy centered on healthcare, education, and manufacturing
- Toronto draws over 30 million tourists per year compared to 7.5 million in Hamilton
- Toronto has over 200 neighbourhoods ranging from quiet residential to bustling downtown districts while Hamilton has a much smaller number of mostly residential areas plus a revitalizing core
- Toronto’s frantic pace of life stands in stark contrast to the slower pace in Hamilton
Overall, Toronto is an alpha global city and major economic hub while Hamilton is very much a mid-sized Canadian city dealing with post-industrial redevelopment and renewal. But what about cost of living and affordability?
Is It Cheaper To Live In Hamilton Or Toronto?
When it comes to affordability, Hamilton offers a clear advantage over Toronto in terms of cost of living, especially for housing and real estate:
– The average price for a home in Toronto is over $1 million compared to $835,000 in Hamilton
– Condos average $825,000 in Toronto versus $520,000 in Hamilton
– Rent for a 1 bedroom apartment averages $2,500 per month in Toronto versus $1,800 in Hamilton
– Childcare costs can be 25% less in Hamilton
– Groceries, dining, transit, and utilities all cost notably less
So while Toronto jobs tend to pay more, Hamilton offers a much lower cost of living which means your paycheck will go much further when covering living expenses.
How Much Income Do You Need To Live Comfortably In Hamilton?
A recent study found Hamilton households need an average annual income of $102,000 to live comfortably covering necessities, some extras, and retirement savings. By comparison, Toronto came in at $123,000 annually. This indicates Hamilton offers a level of affordability unmatched in Toronto and is perfect for young couples and families. Even singles should find Hamilton very livable if earning $40-50k per year.
What Is The Nicest Part of Hamilton Ontario?
Within Hamilton, the picturesque Westdale Village emerges as one of the city’s most desirable neighbourhoods to live in. Nestled between McMaster University and the RBG Royal Botanical Gardens, Westdale charms with quiet, tree-lined streets full of character homes and a true small-town vibe.
The central Westdale Village shopping area is a favourite with locals, cultivating true small-town feel away from Hamilton’s downtown. Westdale is a good starting point if you are looking to rent or share a house, as the large student population means there may be more renting options than other areas.
In addition to quaint shops and eateries, Westdale offers excellent green spaces like Churchill Park, easy access to transit, amenities, bike lanes to explore Cootes Paradise nature sanctuary, and proximity to McMaster University. The location provides the best of both worlds – a friendly little community within a thriving mid-sized city.
Some Hamilton Neighbourhoods and Top Locations
While beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, several Hamilton neighbourhoods stand out for their housing stock, amenities, walkability, and overall appeal. Top locations include:
– Durand: Central location with Victorian homes near Parks Canada and General Hospital
– Kirkendall North: Friendly village vibe and restored 1910-1940 homes
– Strathcona: Charming homes bordering York Blvd close to boutique shops and cafes
– Locke Street: Trendy area with indie shops/dining and colorful row houses
– Dundas: Beautiful valley town with waterfalls, trails, fine dining, and unique shops
– Westdale Village: Thriving strip with McMaster university vibes
With home prices averaging $700k-$900k, these premium Hamilton areas offer great quality of life somewhat akin to Toronto neighbourhoods. Those with budgets under $500k can also find very nice Hamilton areas in Stinson, Crown Point East, North End East, Gibson/Landsdale, and Gage Park.
Why Do People Want To Live In Hamilton?
From a welcoming community to plentiful jobs, arts and culture, natural beauty, historic architecture, recreational opportunities and great value for your dollar, Hamilton offers many compelling reasons to move here!
Once considered a blue-collar steel town, Hamilton has transformed into a vibrant, creative city with small-town charm and big city amenities. Flourishing neighbourhoods full of character like Locke Street, Concession Street, Westdale Village and Ottawa Street serve as hubs for the growing local food, arts and culture scene, while abundant green space and waterfalls bring plenty of recreational options.
The economy is diversifying with growing healthcare, education, technology and finance sectors alongside advanced manufacturing. McMaster University and colleges feed talent and innovation. New business parks and the Hamilton Port Authority provide jobs. Between urban luxuries, plentiful nature and strong communities, balanced Hamilton combines the best of both worlds.
Additionally, Hamilton provides fantastic value compared to Toronto and other cities. Enjoy big city arts, culture, dining and shopping with more affordable housing options and cost of living – mean household income is nearly $100k. Good work opportunities combine with great recreation and lifestyle perks for a rewarding, reasonably-priced place to call home! The reasons to join Hamilton’s rise keep growing.
Reasons Why People Choose Hamilton over Toronto
Hamilton offers a range of compelling reasons for Torontonians seeking a new place to call home:
- Housing 65% cheaper than Toronto on average
- An up-and-coming food scene with hip new eateries and cafes
- Easy access to nature areas like Cootes Paradise, Dundas Valley, and Bruce Trail
- Family-friendly neighbourhoods and excellent private/public school options
- A kind community feel and slower pace of life
- Major hospitals, two universities, plus entertainment and sports
- Convenient commuting via GO train and highways to job opportunities in Toronto
If you desire the quieter pleasures of steel town turned university city offering great bang for your buck on housing, Hamilton delivers on many fronts.
What Is There To Do In Hamilton, Ontario?
While less bustling than Toronto for entertainment, Hamilton offers plenty of things to do such as:
- Over 100 scenic waterfalls throughout the city
- Ongoing revitalization efforts with new restaurants, cafes and indie shops
- Excellent network of conservation trails for hiking and mountain biking
- Historic Dundurn Castle and Battlefield Park War Museum
- Interesting attractions like the Royal Botanical Gardens and Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum
- Professional sports including hockey, football and lacrosse franchises
- Trendy James Street North and Locke Street strips with boutique shopping/dining
- Growing arts community plus venues like FirstOntario Centre and Hamilton Place
When seeking urban diversions, locals also take advantage of Hamilton’s proximity to Toronto amenities just a GO train or short drive away.
What Are The Schools Like In Hamilton, Ontario?
Hamilton, Ontario, offers a diverse range of schools, both public and private. The public school system is managed by the Hamilton and Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB), which oversees 104 schools in Hamilton and the surrounding area. These schools cater to almost 50,000 K-12 students. The HWDSB welcomes international students, offering education at 13 high schools (Grades 9 – 12) and 80 elementary schools (Grades 1 – 8).
In addition to public schools, there are private schools in Hamilton, including options in Hamilton and Burlington. Tuition fees for private schools in the area range from $6,950 to $44,800 per year, with an average tuition of $20,445 per year. The city boasts a strong public school system, emphasizing government-funded free education.
For those interested in school rankings, various sources provide insights into the best schools in Hamilton. Lechool’s 2024 ranking lists Westdale Secondary School, Hillfield Strathallan College, Ancaster High School, Westmount Secondary School, and Saltfleet District as some of the best schools in the city. SUSI Rankings highlight Tiffany Hills, Allan A Greenleaf, and Greensville among the top Hamilton public schools. Other sources, such as Urban Group Realty and CBC, also offer school ranking lists based on different criteria.
Hamilton School Options
In terms of education, Hamilton offers high quality public and private schooling options including:
- Renowned McMaster University and smaller Redeemer University College
- Consistently top-rated Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board
- Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board with French immersion offerings
- A range of established private schools like Columbia International College and Hillfield Strathallan College
- Quick access to many additional quality GTA schools
Hamilton provides excellent education at the primary, secondary and post-secondary levels making it very appealing for families relocating from Toronto.
What Is Transportation Like In Hamilton, Ontario?
Situated almost equidistantly between Canada’s two largest cities lies Hamilton International Airport, providing convenient air travel access just 47 kilometers from downtown Hamilton. Major airlines offer service across Canada and into the United States, or travelers can connect through Toronto Pearson International just 90 minutes east.
Hamilton makes getting around easy once arrived – and affordable. Residents can traverse the city without a car comfortably thanks to comprehensive public transit, bikeshare stations and very walkable density downtown. Hamilton ranks high for Ontario cities in terms of walkability, transit access and bike infrastructure, allowing car-free mobility.
The HSR bus system reaches all corners of town with monthly passes costing just $118.80. Light rail transit has been approved along the city’s Main/King corridor by 2026 to speed cross-town trips and link downtown with eastern suburbs. Drivers appreciate quick highway connections circumscribing Hamilton.
Those residing downtown find most conveniences no more than a 15-minute walk away. But Hamilton’s real magic unfolds traveling on foot into the vast network of conservation trails spread across the Niagara Escarpment winding through town – enjoy a stroll between generational homes into the wilderness in just minutes!
With budget air and ground transportation connectivity supplemented by density supporting active mobility, Hamilton continues providing ever-improving regional access paired with local wanderlust adventures. Reach the city with ease to match its pace.
While public transit is less extensive than Toronto, Hamilton transportation offers reasonable options plus easy highway and rail access to Toronto:
- GO Transit rail and bus service to downtown Toronto in 30-60 minutes
- Centrally located Via Rail station with services to Niagara and points west
- HSR bus network serving most areas of Hamilton
- Easy highway access to Toronto, the U.S. border, Niagara Region and points around the GTHA
- A popular network of walking and biking trails
So while many Hamiltonians rely primarily on cars for transportation, public transit and commuting options to Toronto abound for those willing to take advantage.
Which Is Better – Toronto Or Hamilton?
Deciding if Toronto or Hamilton is the right fit comes down to aligning your priorities around housing costs, amenities, transportation, career opportunities, and preferred lifestyle. While Toronto offers big city excitement and jobs, many people relocate an hour west to Hamilton for its affordability, friendly spirit, and beauty. Hamilton makes an excellent choice for young couples and families but also appeals to Toronto commuters willing to travel for work. So reflect deeply on the lifestyle you hope to achieve and whether Hamilton checks the right boxes on community feel, natural spaces, dining/entertainment and access to Toronto perks now just a GO train away. The right destination comes down to personal factors but often overlooked Hamilton proves an appealing locale.
Moving From Toronto To Hamilton? Call Hamilton’s Best Realtor Steve Augustine
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