I’ve recently moved once again! I think this is move 26 in my life (I keep losing track honestly). So, where am I now? Kitchener-Waterloo! I’ve been living here for about 3 months now and figured it’s about time to write my first impressions of my new home.
For those of you who have never heard of this place before, here are some fast facts:
- Location: Southwestern Ontario
- Technically 2 cities but often referred to as 1 and really, you can’t tell the difference when travelling between the 2.
- Population: Kitchener – 219,153 & Waterloo – 98,780 (according to Stats Canada Website for 2011)
- Known as “Canada’s Tech Hub” (thanks to being the hometown of Blackberry and quite a few tech startups)
- Hosts the world’s largest Oktoberfest outside of Germany
A lot of bloggers when visiting and writing about Canada tend to skip the smaller towns like Kitchener-Waterloo. They focus on big cities Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver or smaller resort towns like Banff and Whistler. I’m excited to be making KW my home base for now and share with you other lesser reported towns.
So, without any further adieu, my first impressions:
Everything is so far apart
In Toronto, everything I could possibly need was located in a single block. Hell, I had 3 grocery stores within a 3 minute walk from my apartment. Here, there is no proper grocery stores within easy walking distance from my apartment. I’m looking for a dollar store and the closest one is a 8 minute drive. Everything is so far apart from each other. Which leads really well into my next point…
Cars are practical
This is the first time in my adult life where I actually have a use for a car. Living in Toronto, cars are pointless. Not only would it cost a stupid amount of money in parking, but everything is so close you don’t need to drive. It was the same thing in Singapore. The Singaporean transit system would have made a car unnecessary even if I had the option to drive. But living in KW, cars, I see your value now.
Roads are confusing
Part of me feels that Kitchener-Waterloo was gunning for the “most confusing streets” award when designing their town. While looking for an apartment, I got lost, made 1 right turn and ended up back where I was… how does that happen? What ever happened to organized grids? When giving directions, I usually say something like “head north of this street then west on that one”. I don’t know which way is up in Kitchener-Waterloo.
Stores aren’t 24-hours
What is this nonsense of a store closing at 5?! The only thing I expect to close before 9 is a bank. I’m still not use to this small town store hours thing. Especially in winter, it sucks going to a store and having it close at frickin 5!
So, those are the first things I’ve noticed about my new town over the last few months. It’s been a little difficult to really see much since we’ve had such a harsh winter. Maybe things will get better once everything unthaws a bit and I could do more than go to a bar or play Rock Band with friends.