So you've got your hands on a set of really great house plans and you're looking for some real estate on which to build. You may be deciding if you should settle for a postage stamp sized lot in Toronto or weather 10 months of rain a year in Vancouver? Perhaps take your chances with your limited understanding of French and try Montreal? Did you know there's a city where you can get both great real estate and the typical Canadian experience without all the conditions? It's called London, Ontario, and if you would like to keep reading, you will learn so much more about what this great city has to offer.
London, Ontario: The Forest City
London is located halfway between Detroit and Toronto on the banks of the Thames River in Middlesex County, southwestern Ontario. It is part of the highly populated corridor that runs through the southernmost reaches of Canada from Quebec City to Windsor, Ontario. With a population over 350,000, London, ON is the tenth largest city in Canada. Its central location, Canada-standard demographics, and convenient size, has made it the Canadian test case for everything from new retail products to American chain stores looking to break into the Canadian market.
First settled by Europeans in 1801, the area that is now London, Ontario was occupied by aboriginal peoples from the Neutral and Ojibwa tribes for nearly 10,000 years. This history is now commemorated by the Museum of Ontario Archaeology and two recreations of early settlements: the Fanshawe Pioneer Village and the Neutral Nation Village. Sadly, though the London site was chosen and named for London, England it did not pan out as the site of our national capitol due to the fact that it was nearly inaccessible, nestled deep in a hardwood forest. The name London stuck though, as did the renaming of the river to "Thames," and the surrounding forest gave London its nickname: "Forest City."
The modern citizens of London, ON support themselves in a variety of different industries, including tourism, health care, education, and manufacturing. It is home to the University of Western Ontario, a top three school in Canada, which does a lot of biotechnology research and has an internationally ranked business program. There are factories in London which turn out cars, armored personnel carriers, locomotives, beer, and more. Labbatt's brewery even sponsors a number of recreational opportunities in London from the world's oldest ballpark to the London Knights minor league hockey team. Other must-sees in London are storybook gardens: a children's amusement park and zoo, and the rib festival.
Neighbourhoods and Home Styles in London, ON
Over the years London, Ontario has expanded outward into the surrounding farmland and forest, and has also annexed several smaller towns and villages. The result of this process is that there are dozens of neighbourhoods in a variety of configurations for you to choose from. Chances are, if you have a particular type of neighbourhood and home style in mind, such as suburban family-oriented, affordable college student, or downtown upscale condo, you'll be able to find it here in London.
London, ON also has a fair amount of older or historical buildings and home styles still standing despite the fires and floods of its early years. London West, for example, has a number of well-maintained 19th century Georgian cottages that used to be tradespeople's housing. For those looking for more modern subdivision housing, neighbourhoods such as White Oaks and Westmount on the outskirts of the urban sprawl surrounding London are among the newest. Student and affordable housing can be found in various neighbourhoods near the University of Western Ontario.
London, Ontario real estate prices are more affordable than other major Ontario cities like Kitchener, Waterloo, Ottawa, Durham, and of course Toronto. For a typical detached home in London, ON, you can expect to pay around $249,000. An average condo will run you $179,000. Rents are anywhere between $600 and $1100 depending on the size of the property and its location.
Special thanks to Shower Door Canada for providing sponsorship funding.