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Settling in Canada Waterloo Region PROFILE

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Waterloo Region is a vital, prosperous place to live and work. The Region is a unique blend of three cities – Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo, and four rural townships –North Dumfries, Wellesley, Wilmot and Woolwich.


Waterloo Facts

Waterloo Region website

Population: 507,095 (2011)

Location – Central Canada
In Southern Ontario, one hour drive west of Toronto.

Warm summers, cold (but not extreme) snowy winters.

Waterloo Region is a vital, prosperous place to live and work. The Region is a unique blend of three cities – Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo, and four rural townships –North Dumfries, Wellesley, Wilmot and Woolwich.

Waterloo Region is one of the fastest growing areas in Ontario. Its proximity to major North American markets and transportation networks, its diverse ethnic makeup, and its excellent education, health, cultural and recreational facilities make this a great home for families and businesses.

Waterloo Region features:

  • Known as Canada’s Technology Triangle
  • The fifth highest per capita immigrant population in Canada
  • A strong local economy with one of the lowest unemployment rates in Ontario
  • Two premier universities and Ontario’s top-ranked college for the past 8 years
  • A wide range of affordable housing options
  • A full range of services for immigrants



Waterloo Region is a diverse and welcoming multicultural community. The area has the fifth highest per capita immigrant population of all Canadian urban areas, and over ten per cent of the Region’s residents are visible minorities. There are several flourishing ethnic groups in Waterloo Region and many cultural festivals and events that add to the international feel of the Region

As of the 2011 National Household Survey, there were 111,495 immigrants living in Waterloo – 22.3 per cent of the total population. Of these, 13.9 per cent – 15,465 people in all – arrived between 2006 and 2011.

Countries of origin
United Kingdom, Portugal, India, Other places of birth in Asia, China, Germany, Romania, Poland, United States, Other places of birth in Europe.

First languages spoken
English, German, Portuguese, Spanish, French.

Catholic, No religious affiliation, Other Christian, United Church, Lutheran, Anglican.

Countries of origin

These are the 30 most common birthplaces of immigrants to Waterloo Region.

Country of Origin Total Immigrant Population (2011) Immigrants Arriving 2006 – 2011
United Kingdom 12,220 470
Portugal 7,895
India 6,700 1,475
Other places of birth in Asia 5,860
China 5,520 1,395
Germany 5,020 100
Romania 4,770 585
Poland 4,610 180
United States 4,310 855
Other places of birth in Europe 4,270
Bosnia and Herzegovina 3,225
Pakistan 3,195 810
Other places of birth in Africa 3,180
Other places of birth in Americas 3,050
Viet Nam 2,665 205
Croatia 2,405
Guyana 2,400 120
Serbia 2,280
El Salvador 2,240
Netherlands 2,050
Philippines 1,890 480
Jamaica 1,395 90
Iran 1,370 500
Iraq 1,360 795
Colombia 1,195 605
Korea, South 1,135
Italy 1,110
Mexico 1,060 405
Afghanistan 985 180
Russian Federation 960 245

‡ Statistics Canada did not publish data for some countries of origin for recent immigrants.
Source: Statistics Canada (2011 National Household Survey)

First languages

These are the top ten “first languages” – the mother tongue spoken by people who live in the Region.

Mother Tongue Number (2011) % of Population (2011)
English 382,985 76.3%
German 17,130 3.4%
Portuguese 10,675 2.1%
Spanish 8,460 1.7%
French 7,505 1.5%
Romanian 5,720 1.1%
Polish 5,705 1.1%
Serbian 5,215 1.0%
Chinese, n.o.s.* 4,960 1.0%
Arabic 4,830 1.0%

* Not otherwise specified.
Source: Statistics Canada (2011 Census of Canada)


These are the religions with the most adherents in Waterloo Region.

Religion # of Adherents (2011)
Catholic 142,700
No religious affiliation 122,490
Other Christian 64,670
United Church 30,570
Lutheran 24,950
Anglican 24,105
Muslim 18,990
Presbyterian 17,565
Christian Orthodox 12,835
Baptist 12,745
Pentecostal 9,050
Hindu 6,310

Source: Statistics Canada (2011 National Household Survey)

Housing Information


Waterloo Region has a wide range of housing types and tenures to meet the needs of various household sizes, characteristics and income ranges. House prices in the Region are relatively affordable, lower than in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area, but higher than some other southern Ontario communities.

Waterloo Region is considered a national leader in the creation of affordable housing and the creation of safe and affordable communities is a key priority. The Region also has a full range of resources to help newcomers find a rental home.

The housing data below is for Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo.

Average rents
The average monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment in April 2013 was $787 and a two bedroom apartment was $936. The average monthly rent for a three bedroom apartment was $1,060.

Vacancy rate and availability
In Waterloo, the vacancy rate for one bedroom rental apartments was 3.2 per cent and for two bedroom apartments was 3.5 per cent. The vacancy rate of three bedroom rental apartments was 2.4 per cent. This was the proportion of rental apartments that are vacant and ready for move-in in April 2013.

The proportion, in April 2013, of apartments that are vacant or for which the present occupant has given notice to move-out was 4.6 per cent for one bedroom apartments, 5.5 per cent for two bedroom apartments, and 3.2 per cent for three bedroom apartments.

Home purchase prices
In Waterloo, the average house price, in 2012, was $312,419.

For more up-to-date information, see CMHC's Housing Market Information website, and the Canadian Housing Observer.

Housing help

Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation – Housing information for Newcomers

These agencies can help you find an apartment:

The Working Centre – Housing Desk

Region of Waterloo - Community Housing Access Centre

Central Ontario Co-operative Housing Federation

Lutherwood Housing Action Centre – Kitchener-Waterloo

Lutherwood Housing Action Centre - Cambridge



Waterloo Region, known as Canada’s Technology Triangle, is one of the most dynamic and diverse economies in North America. This diversity is reflected in the major industries in the Region: automotive parts and production, advanced manufacturing, education, environmental science, financial and business services, and many others.

Several supports are available to help people find jobs or start their own businesses.

Job search help

These web sites list jobs in Waterloo Region:

Region of Waterloo - Job Opportunities

Service Canada – National Job Bank Ontario
(select “Kitchener & Area” in step 2 for local jobs)

Private employment service may all so available.

Business start-ups

These organizations offer advice and support to people starting small businesses in Waterloo Region:

Canada-Ontario Business Service Centre

Government of Canada – Invest In Canada

Kitchener Service Canada Office

Waterloo Region Small Business Centre

Entering the workforce

This organization helps immigrants evaluate foreign credentials

World Education Services Canada

These organizations help immigrants enter the Waterloo Region workforce:

Focus for Ethnic Women

Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre

The Working Centre – Job Search Resource Centre

YMCA Immigrant Services



Waterloo Region is home to exceptional universities and colleges. The University of Waterloo is known world-wide for its computer science, mathematics and engineering programs. Conestoga College has been ranked Ontario’s number one college for the past eight years.

The Region is also the home of two international research bodies – the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and The Centre for International Governance Innovation.

Waterloo Region also has schools for children and youth in two systems: a public system, and a separate (Roman Catholic) system. Schools in both systems are free of charge. Some offer instruction in English and French.

Some Waterloo Region schools also offer English as a Second Language classes. There are also special education programs for children with disabilities.

Universities and Colleges in Waterloo Region

University of Waterloo
Ranked Canada’s #1 “Best Overall” “Highest Quality” and “Most Innovative” comprehensive university in a national magazine. Home of the world’s largest co-operative education program and mathematics facility.

Wilfrid Laurier University
Known for excellence in business, economics and music programs, and has recently opened a state of the art science building with programs specializing in biochemistry and biotechnology.

Conestoga College
Ranked #1 Ontario college for the last eight years. Strong links to business and industry, with many specialized technology courses.

Renison College

St. Jerome’s University

St. Paul’s United College

Waterloo Lutheran Seminary

Elementary and secondary schools (for children and youth)

Waterloo Region District School Board

Waterloo Catholic District School Board

Private schools may also be available

Community Services


Waterloo Region welcomes new immigrants, and works to ensure they find the job, home and services they need.

There are many agencies providing immigrant services located in Waterloo Region which you will find listed below. You can also visit www.immigrationwaterlooregion.ca for additional information.

The Community Information Centre provides detailed, up-to-date, information on all local services. http://waterlooregion.org

Language training

These organizations provide English language training:

Project Read

St. Louis Adult Learning & Continuing Education Centres

Waterloo and District School Board, Continuing Education

Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre

Kitchener-Waterloo YMCA Cross Cultural and Community Services, Language Assessment Centre

The Working Centre, Job Search Resource Centre, Specialized English Language Training


Settlement help

These organizations provide all kinds of support to immigrants:

Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge YMCA- Immigrant Services

Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre

Kitchener-Waterloo YMCA – Immigration Settlement Services

Listing of Ethno-cultural groups in Kitchener-Waterloo and Area

Citizen and Immigration Canada
Provides information on coming to Canada to immigrate, study, work and live. On this website you will find forms, policies and regulations, research, services, publications and visa offices.

These websites provide information on public transit, child care and community services:

Public Transit

Region of Waterloo International Airport

Region of Waterloo – Child Care Services

Region of Waterloo – Employment and Income Support

Region of Waterloo Public Health

Community Information Centre of Waterloo Region - Basic Needs Guide

Immigrants’ stories


Sachi’s story

Sachi Varad*, who is from India, lived in Italy and the Netherlands before settling with her husband and two children in Canada. Eight years ago, they moved to Kitchener-Waterloo. Sachi explains why they chose this area:

“We chose to live in the Kitchener-Waterloo area because it offered many advantages — close to the metropolitan Greater Toronto Area, affordable housing, low crime rate, academic institutions that attract diverse populations and a pace of life that is slow and peaceful. It has the benefits and comforts of a metropolitan area and a small town. This is the family town where we want our children to grow up. When the children are older, they will be able to pursue higher studies in town, or an hour or two away in London or Toronto. The public amenities are easily accessible and the employment market is healthy. There are ample manufacturing, service, professional and technical job opportunities. The Kitchener-Waterloo area has growth potential for growing families. There are many settlement agencies in town that are funded by community, Provincial or Federal programs to work with new immigrants and support them in their initial settling which, for some, can be very stressful.”

Sachi has been involved in the community as an executive member of the East Indian Ladies Group, a Social Coordinator of Homes Association, and as a Council member at elementary and high schools.  She currently works as a counsellor for the YMCA - Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program. Her husband is a professor at the University of Waterloo; her son is in Grade 12 and her daughter in Grade 7.

*Name has been changed

Avtar’s story

Avtar Khan* is from Lahore, Pakistan. He obtained his master’s degree in hydrogeology from a university in small-town Laramie, Wyoming, and had a dream to live in Canada which, he felt, was a developed and advanced country that could offer him professional growth. His dream came true in 2001 when he landed at Pearson Airport in Toronto.

Avtar knew the problems and disadvantages of living in big cities, such as Lahore or Toronto. He had really enjoyed living and studying in Laramie, and was hoping to find something just as calm and peaceful in Canada. Avtar was introduced to Kitchener-Waterloo through a friend who was studying at the University of Waterloo, and was invited to come here to do his job search. In 2002, he joined the New Canadian Program for a two-month period.

“It’s a very helpful and great program for new professional immigrants. Staff at the New Canadian Program is highly trained and dedicated. I was provided with a good platform to update myself in preparation for my job search and received a lot of help to adapt to the Canadian environment. In July 2002, the New Canadian Program arranged an interview for me with Frontline Environmental Management Inc. in Kitchener. I joined Frontline in August 2002, and was offered a permanent position of Hydrogeologist in January 2003. I am still working at Frontline, where I enjoy working with highly professional, team-oriented and caring friends, and where I have good learning and professional growth opportunities.”

Avtar’s wife, Mehri Saadi*, joined him in Kitchener-Waterloo. She has a master’s degree in fine arts, and enjoys living in Kitchener-Waterloo where she has easy access to beautiful, scenic landscapes for her paintings.

Avtar would like to continue living in a mid-sized city, such as Kitchener-Waterloo, where he can “…play a more useful and positive role for the community and can enjoy peace of mind, a smaller population and less traffic.”

Avtar advises new immigrants to explore smaller cities, such as Kitchener-Waterloo, when searching for jobs and considering areas in which to settle, because he feels “…they can get better opportunities and better living.”

*Names have been changed.






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