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Looking for info on London, Ontario

Looking for info on London, Ontario

Old May 6th 2020, 10:30 pm
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Question Looking for info on London, Ontario

Hello everyone,

I'm new to this forum, read some of the wiki and hope I posted in the correct thread. I'm not British, but your forum is really informative and active so I figured I'd try here. Thanks in advance. I had some general info questions on what life is like in London, Ontario and Southwestern Ontario in general. More specifically: studying at Western University, looking for a job and working in London or in the surrounding region, working as a librarian in Canada in general. I've seen a lot of job related content but not a single librarian, as far as I can see.

My situation: 28 years old, Belgian citizen, working as a librarian at a Flemish University, I speak Dutch, English and some French. My wife is a Canadian citizen, we're married and live together in Antwerp but are planning to move back to Ontario at some point in the next two years. I'll post a seperate thread later with spousal sponsorship questions I might have. For now I'm just trying to get a sense from a local expat what life is like in London. We've kind of set our sights on it because it has a good balance of greenery, a big enough city services wise, not too high rent (compared to GTA), distance from the airport, close to University and Colleges etc. On paper at least. We had a recce trip all planned out this April but it got cancelled due to Covid-19. My wife is from Ontario as well but not from that specific region.

When I look at the reddit for London, it can give some wildly contradictory info, tho I guess cities can be like that. Nice craft pubs, homelessness problem, bad public transport, nice parks, too high rent, reasonable rent (?), not too many traffic jams etc. So I was hoping for a more coherent answer from somebody here with local experience.
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Old May 6th 2020, 11:44 pm
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Default Re: Looking for info on London, Ontario

We live in London and have done for nearly 2 years. Not you age demographic, but I will post from our own experience in the next few hours.
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Old May 7th 2020, 12:32 am
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Default Re: Looking for info on London, Ontario

OK, so we are a different demographic and just so you can frame my reply, here is a bit about ourselves. I am the Canuck, although I lived in the UK for 40-odd years. My wife is a Brit. We moved to Canada some 2.5 years ago when I took early retirement. If it were left to me, I would have been happy in a nice designer log home in the middle of nowhere (yes, maybe even Yukon) with a bunch of toys. My wife would be happiest in a condo in a big city - so somehow we had to square this. Initially we moved to Manotick, a small town 25 minutes or so south of Ottawa. I really liked it, but my wife definitely found it too small town and remote. After a year, we did a big road trip and I visited a cousin in London, ON. My wife immediately loved it.

Historically, London was a farming centre, but that was over 50 years ago. It is now mainly a university town (three at least I can think of), with a lot of medical (the guys that discovered Insulin lived here) and some industry (London makes armoured cars etc.). It is not constrained by any geographical feature, so can and is expanding in a 360 degree radius. It has a population of about 400,000. London generally runs from the Hwy 401 in the south to Sunningdale Road in the north, then to nearly Komoka in the west and the airport in the east. The east side is not particularly nice, but the older suburbs closer to town are starting to get 'gentrified'. The 'old south' is really nice, especially Wortley Village. The old north (near Western Uni) is also nice. Loads of really nice suburbs in the west. We are in Oakridge Park, some 4 / 5 km from the city centre - it is very established (1950 / 60) with good plots and leafy. Basically 6-7 km in any direction will get you out into open farmland. For property prices, check www.realtor.ca - but $400-600k will get you a decent detached house . The property market is pretty hot here so expect to pay the full asking price or maybe more.

Very little (i.e. no) French spoken here, but English / French bi-lingualism is useful for some Canadian jobs, especially those in local and federal government.

As regards jobs for librarians (or anyone else for that matter), I have no idea, we are retired! But several universities and hospitals.

As regards public transport, I guess it depends on what you are used to. We used to live in Cheltenham in the UK. My wife loves buses and we find the public transport excellent. Frequent, great app to track busses in real time, clean, air-conditioned, costs $2 flat fare to anywhere. We often bus into town for the night and get an Uber back. Excellent Via Rail service from London to Toronto (and beyond). Good luxury coach service from London to either Toronto or Detroit Airport (Google 'Robert Q').

We think the town centre is excellent with loads to do. Theatres, hockey (London Knights), concerts (saw Simple Minds there recently), eating out, parks, restaurants etc. Really love the city centre. Two big indoor shopping malls, one in the south and one in the north. White Oaks in the south and Masonville in the north. Pretty much every store you would expect.

London is easy reach to beaches in the south on Lake Erie (Port Stanley is nice) and on Lake Huron (Grand Bend etc.).

Toronto Airport is some 3 hours drive (highly variable depending on Toronto traffic on the 401) or Detroit the other way, also about 3 hours. There is a London airport, but this is mainly domestic or popular international holiday flights (DR, Cancun, Florida, Vegas etc.).

As regards traffic, again depends on what you are used to. There is a bit of a rush hour at key choke points from 3:30 to 5:00, but it is not at all bad, especially if you know the roads to route around. Outside those times it is a breeze.

Hope this helps.

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Old May 7th 2020, 6:52 pm
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Default Re: Looking for info on London, Ontario

Im not the librarian in our family (although I did some JISC/eLib stuff in a former working life), but we both moved from London (UK) nearly 12 years ago, and have worked at universities here. My wife is from Hamilton, and we had visited a few times before emigrating. From what you have posted, I would suggest looking a little further east along the 401/403. If you are looking for a library post at a Canadian university, and considering SW Ontario, my first thought is that London may be a little restricting (just Western/UWO and Fanshawe College).

From what you have posted, I would suggest looking at Hamilton or Kitchener-Waterloo (KW) as possible places to live. I moved from London to Hamilton nearly 12 years ago (we both work at McMaster) and if you search on here there are a few threads about Hamilton. The Hamilton subreddit has really gone downhill in the last few months, and I dont think would necessarily give you what you are looking for.

In terms of universities and colleges to work at, there are lots more potential employers: in K-W you have UW, SFU, Conestoga College; , Hamilton has McMaster University and Mohawk College; Guelph has its own university; Brantford has a few satellite campuses (e.g. UW, Conestoga, I think McMaster but that might just be health sciences... if you are a medical librarian, there are quite a few other possibilities).

If you have some more specific questions, feel free to ask me on here or via private message (as you say, I dont think there are many others in this field here and the conversation could get pretty niche very quickly!).

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Old May 7th 2020, 8:57 pm
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Default Re: Looking for info on London, Ontario

Originally Posted by bgpz View Post
Im not the librarian in our family (although I did some JISC/eLib stuff in a former working life), but we both moved from London (UK) nearly 12 years ago, and have worked at universities here. My wife is from Hamilton, and we had visited a few times before emigrating. From what you have posted, I would suggest looking a little further east along the 401/403. If you are looking for a library post at a Canadian university, and considering SW Ontario, my first thought is that London may be a little restricting (just Western/UWO and Fanshawe College).

From what you have posted, I would suggest looking at Hamilton or Kitchener-Waterloo (KW) as possible places to live. I moved from London to Hamilton nearly 12 years ago (we both work at McMaster) and if you search on here there are a few threads about Hamilton. The Hamilton subreddit has really gone downhill in the last few months, and I dont think would necessarily give you what you are looking for.

In terms of universities and colleges to work at, there are lots more potential employers: in K-W you have UW, SFU, Conestoga College; , Hamilton has McMaster University and Mohawk College; Guelph has its own university; Brantford has a few satellite campuses (e.g. UW, Conestoga, I think McMaster but that might just be health sciences... if you are a medical librarian, there are quite a few other possibilities).

If you have some more specific questions, feel free to ask me on here or via private message (as you say, I dont think there are many others in this field here and the conversation could get pretty niche very quickly!).
I used to live with a librarian. She found work at a county museum, that might be another option to consider. (Museums have little money but it is work.)
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Old May 8th 2020, 1:50 pm
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Default Re: Looking for info on London, Ontario

Thank you all for your responses so far! I can't read my private messages yet (three public post minimum apparently) but I'll get to that asap so I can read them. That would be very helpful indeed!

Thanks Hurlabrick for the info on the city of London, those small 'life things' are what I'm looking for. The reason we're looking at London is similar, my wife doesn't want to live in the big city anymore (she's lived in Toronto before) and I need somewhat of a city size to study Library Sciences and/or find a library/government job. London seems to offer a good compromise on that front.

Thanks bgpz, Yeah I was looking into Kitchener-Waterloo and Hamilton as well, but Hamilton is basically the greater GTA area, which we want to avoid, and I haven't read much great things about K-W tho I'm open to suggestions. My travel guide, online posts all say it's a gray city and that London is more vibrant? Haven't been to either ofc. I've only been to Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal and the Georgian Bay Area (Collingwood all the way up to Sudbury and back). I'll look at those threads.
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Old May 8th 2020, 2:12 pm
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Default Re: Looking for info on London, Ontario

Originally Posted by Antwerp_Belgian View Post
Thank you all for your responses so far! I can't read my private messages yet (three public post minimum apparently) but I'll get to that asap so I can read them. That would be very helpful indeed!

Thanks Hurlabrick for the info on the city of London, those small 'life things' are what I'm looking for. The reason we're looking at London is similar, my wife doesn't want to live in the big city anymore (she's lived in Toronto before) and I need somewhat of a city size to study Library Sciences and/or find a library/government job. London seems to offer a good compromise on that front.

Thanks bgpz, Yeah I was looking into Kitchener-Waterloo and Hamilton as well, but Hamilton is basically the greater GTA area, which we want to avoid, and I haven't read much great things about K-W tho I'm open to suggestions. My travel guide, online posts all say it's a gray city and that London is more vibrant? Haven't been to either ofc. I've only been to Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal and the Georgian Bay Area (Collingwood all the way up to Sudbury and back). I'll look at those threads.
I shall be travelling to K-W this afternoon. If pictures of the fish tank shop, the liquor store, a petrol station and a feed mill are of any value to you, please advise. I don't know London but gray and utilitarian are good words for K-W. Adverts for houses in K-W invariably claim proximity to the highway as a feature.
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Old May 8th 2020, 2:14 pm
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Default Re: Looking for info on London, Ontario

I also like Kingston. Again. no idea about Librarian stuff there (except that there is one of the best Uni's in Canada there). Not as big as London, but plenty there.

Anything else you want to know about London, ask away.

Loads on spousal sponsorship in the wiki section of this forum if you haven't found it yet, a few useful wiki links here:

https://britishexpats.com/wiki/Categ...n_Immigration_

https://britishexpats.com/wiki/Spous...sorship-Canada

https://britishexpats.com/wiki/Spous...lication_Forms

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Old May 9th 2020, 12:57 pm
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Default Re: Looking for info on London, Ontario

Yeah, we dropped by Kingston for a day or two while on our way from Toronto to Ottawa and it was very cosy. More of a university "bubble" town feel. I liked it, but wouldn't want to live there full time. Prices seemed higher too, at diners for example.

The most likely option for us right now is I go study at Western Uni. and get a Masters in Library and Information Scienes (if I get in). That's also why the number of locations is limited (i.e. near London, Toronto, Ottawa). If I don't get in, I could go to a college and get a Library Technician's degree. Then Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton etc also become viable options as a back-up plan. It also depends on my wife's employment chances. But we'd like to pick out a city to start and look around there yet remain flexible about the exact location. She's a Materials Science Engineer, minor in Bioengineering from the University of Toronto. So having manufacturing around would be a plus, as well as hospitals. She has experience in medical devices, food industry and the chemical industry. I hear K-W is all tech and IT so I think there wouldn't be many jobs for her there. Same for Toronto, mostly finance, IT jobs, basically nothing in engineering unless you're a software engineer so we have to take that balance into account.

She does love aquariums and fish, so a fish tank shop might be a hidden plus
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Old May 9th 2020, 1:07 pm
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Default Re: Looking for info on London, Ontario

Sounds like you have done some good scouting and thinking through your plan!

Originally Posted by Antwerp_Belgian View Post
She does love aquariums and fish, so a fish tank shop might be a hidden plus
She will love Big Al's in London then!

http://bigals.ca/store-locations/london

(to be fair, they are a chain, with store in KW and Hamilton as well as elsewhere).
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Old May 9th 2020, 1:43 pm
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Default Re: Looking for info on London, Ontario

Originally Posted by Hurlabrick View Post
Sounds like you have done some good scouting and thinking through your plan!



She will love Big Al's in London then!

http://bigals.ca/store-locations/london

(to be fair, they are a chain, with store in KW and Hamilton as well as elsewhere).
Franchised outlets and inconsistent in services and quality of goods as well as pricing. The one in K-W is further from me than two others but worth the trip.

But, jobs are more pressing than fish. Hamilton and Guelph have lots of manufacturing and engineering, it's not quite right to think the area all computers and finance.
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Old May 9th 2020, 4:38 pm
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Default Re: Looking for info on London, Ontario

I vote Hamilton. Lots of manufacturing and hospitals. You mentioned it was like the GTA but I disagree. I’ve lived here for three years. It has the amenities of a city but unless you’re downtown it’s more like living on the outskirts of a city without the feeling of suburbia.
Plus I’m here which is always a bonus. Lol
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Old May 9th 2020, 6:00 pm
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Default Re: Looking for info on London, Ontario

Originally Posted by DandNHill View Post
I vote Hamilton. Lots of manufacturing and hospitals. You mentioned it was like the GTA but I disagree. I’ve lived here for three years. It has the amenities of a city but unless you’re downtown it’s more like living on the outskirts of a city without the feeling of suburbia.
Plus I’m here which is always a bonus. Lol
+1

Having lived in Hamilton for 20 years I can assure you it's not like the GTA (i.e. Mississauga / Oakville).. it has lots of character, for a start! It's a city with a town feel to it.. neighbourhoods... tons of parks, festivals, take a look at this: https://britishexpats.com/wiki/Hamilton and there's a few posts from me over the years with videos you might like to watch or info. If you need a realtor I know some good Brit ones!
Tell me about your part of Ontario and why you Love it!
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I also like Burlington https://britishexpats.com/wiki/Burlington


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Old May 11th 2020, 7:58 pm
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Default Re: Looking for info on London, Ontario

Originally Posted by Antwerp_Belgian View Post
She's a Materials Science Engineer, minor in Bioengineering from the University of Toronto. So having manufacturing around would be a plus, as well as hospitals. She has experience in medical devices, food industry and the chemical industry.
Definitely shortlist Hamilton. Seriously.
The Fraunhofer Institute for biomedical/advanced manufacturing immediately springs to mind. Spin off companies like Fusion are attracting investments. Also, this is a strategic area for McMaster University. Strong track record when it comes to collaborative research with industry partners, and then spinoff companies to exploit the IP generated.
I think there are also some medical device companies in the area, but would have to check with colleagues about that.
Guelph also has a more food science/agricultural bias on its research, so there may be associated companies that have spun out of the university or have connections with it that could be worth trying to find out. Escarpment Labs (yeast bank for the brewing sector) immediately comes to mind.

While I understand that Hamilton itself might not be where she wants to live, Cambridge feels like somewhere that might be a good compromise. Brantford, maybe? I live in Hamilton, and love it here, and there are enough places on the outskirts that are more rural (but still close by), the green belt is very close by.



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Old May 12th 2020, 2:02 am
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Default Re: Looking for info on London, Ontario

Brantford housing is reasonably priced and there's a straight run from Brantford to Port Dover / Turkey point beaches.....Paris might also work if the OP were to be working in Guelph / Hamilton / KW areas.. supposed to be a nice little town

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