Living in Niagara Falls Ontario
ナイアガラは落ちます - Niagara Falls
I wrote in Japanese that I live in Niagara Falls, because there is a surprisingly large population of Japanese that live in Niagara Falls. It's smaller than most other cultural populations in the area, but it's actually quite high for Eastern Canada.
Anyway, I don't blame them for wanting to live here! It's a fantastic place not only to visit, but also to live.
Good reasons to live in Niagara Falls/理由はナイアガラの滝に住んで:
1. Cheap to buy houses/家屋は安いです
2. Quiet town/静かな町
3. Lots to see and do/多くの活動
4. Beautiful scenery/美しい風景
5. Close to Toronto and the USA/トロントと米国の近隣にあります
6. Clean air and clean environment/きれいな空気と清潔な環境
Negatives of living in Niagara Falls/ナイアガラの滝の悪いです
1. Smaller job market/小さな雇用市場
観光エリア - Tourist Area
What Others Think
ナイアガラの滝に住んでいますか？ Would you live in Niagara Falls?
ナイアガラの地図 - Google Map of Niagara Falls
なぜ私はナイアガラを選びました - Why I Chose Niagara Falls
The main reason I chose Niagara Falls was the cheap price of houses. With a 20% downpayment on an older house here, my wife and I were able to bring our monthly housing costs down to about the same as rent in Hamilton and less than rent in Toronto. Moreover, we have a house with three bedrooms, a big kitchen, lots of storage and a backyard, as opposed to living in a cramped apartment in a bigger city.
Renting in Niagara Falls is comparable to renting in Hamilton, however. Both places are cheaper than Toronto.
The absolute best thing about having your own house and it not costing much is the freedom it gives you. First, lowering your monthly costs is a big thing - it means you don't have to work, work, work just to pay your monthly bills. If I worked for minimum wage (最低賃金), I could still survive, whereas in Toronto that would not cut it. Second, since I have so much space with my house, it makes the possibility of "doing your own thing" almost endless. I could fix old motorcycles in my backyard and sell them. I could have a studio and make sewn bags. I could rent out a part of the house to students or travelers. I could do woodworking in the basement or backyard. It's simply amazing what you can do with a little bit of space and land!
Another amazing thing about Niagara Falls is that just around the corner is one of the natural wonders of the world. Accompanying that amazing waterfall (two waterfalls, in fact) are three casinos, a plethora of restaurants and so many different places for entertainment. During the warm seasons, it gets really busy down here and you can feel the excitement. Quiet in the winter and exciting in the summer!
Since our house is not exactly beside the tourist area, it's quiet around our house no matter the season.
Because Niagara Falls is a bit of a tourist attraction, it means that some of the best restaurants are located nearby. My wife and I have had the pleasure of enjoying some of the most authentic international foods right here in Niagara Falls. You would think such restaurants would be located in Toronto... but they're right here!
Last but not least, the pace of life here is slower. Over 20% of the residents of Niagara Falls are retired, which means that they are living the slow life. It's nice to live in a place where people take their time, the streets are not busy and people say hi to each other.
ダウンタウン - Downtown Niagara Falls
場所を訪問します - Places to Visit
Aside from the touristy area centered around Clifton Hill, Fallsview Casino and Lundy's Lane, Niagara Falls actually has another place that you might like to visit. This place is downtown Niagara Falls on Queen St. near the VIA Rail and Greyhound Station. VIA Rail (列車) can take you to Toronto, where you could transfer and go on to Montreal or Quebec. Greyhound (コーチバス) can also take you to Toronto and other places.
In recent years, the city has invested money into Queen Street to make it more appealing to businesses, tourists and locals. It's not such a hot place to go at the moment, but it would still be a worthwhile street to take a stroll down and enjoy some nice weather. You could spend maybe a couple hours here and that's it!
Another really amazing place to visit is Niagara-on-the-Lake (湖のナイアガラ). Niagara-on-the-Lake has a historic downtown, which is extremely beautiful and there is lots to see and do there. There are also a lot of waterfront parks in the area of downtown. A lot of people visit Niagara-on-the-Lake to tour the wineries, however... and riding a bicycle through the bike trails in the area and stopping off at wineries to sample wine is a day well spent. Of course, you can drive a car to the various wineries, as well. There are 27 wineries in the area!
Don't forget to sample the wine that Southern Ontario is famous for: ice wine アイスワイン.
ワイナリー - Niagara-on-the-Lake Winery
仕事 - Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
A lot of people must have a job in order to survive, unfortunately; but fortunately, there are actually a lot of jobs available in the Niagara area. Unfortunately, they are probably not as high-paying as jobs in big cities; fortunately, you don't need as much money to get by here.
First, I'd like to mention that I don't make much money. I currently work as a teller at one of the banks in-branch. It's slightly better than minimum wage, but terribly higher. I would include myself in the pool of people that work at retail places, such as: banks, call centers, stores, shopping malls, restaurants, hotels, casinos, etc. In terms of customer service jobs like these, there's as a healthy job market as any other place.
If you're a teacher, or a professional, such as pharmacist, doctor, dentist, nurse, engineer, etc. - you won't have much of a problem finding work in the Niagara Region (ナイアガラ地域).
The Niagara Region also has decent job opportunities for those in the warehouse/transportation/trucking industries, since the area is actually on the way from Toronto to the US border.
Niagara Falls, specifically, has a huge tourism industry. So, it's quite easy to find low-level jobs in the tourism industry during the warm-weather months. St. Catharines and Niagara-on-the-Lake have a lot of farms and wineries, so it's easy to find a job as an agricultural worker in the warm months (although, a lot of Seasonal Agricultural Workers are brought in from the Caribbean and Mexico every spring to fill the shortage of available laborers).
The types of positions that I would say this region is light on are jobs such as civil service jobs (smaller cities, less employees needed), trades jobs (not a terrible amount of building and infrastructure going on here, but some), banking/finance jobs (aside from the retail aspect, all the corporate stuff is in Toronto), manufacturing (some factories here, but a lot are located closer to Toronto)... and I'm sure there are others that I've left out.
仕事を得ることはありません - You Don't Need a Job, Though!
The big reason that I wanted to live in Niagara Falls, though, is because the cheap cost of living here allows me to have more time for myself, to pursue my hobbies and my passions.
For example, my wife and I lived in a one-bedroom apartment in a suburb in North York for $980/month. We lived in a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Vancouver (mountain views and right near English Bay Beach) for $1325/month. We lived in a two-bedroom apartment in Calgary, just across the river from downtown, for $1200/month. And we lived just north of downtown Hamilton in a one-bedroom apartment for $715/month. The Hamilton apartment sounds like a good deal... but... our 3-bedroom house in Niagara Falls (with our own yard, a huge kitchen, private driveway, etc.) is only costing us $622/month - that's mortgage, land tax and insurances. Of course, we had to put down a $40,000 down payment (over 25%), but the monthly costs are extremely low. The down payment is quite low compared to what you'd need to buy even a condo in certain parts of Toronto!
Now, the beauty of having such low monthly living costs is that I don't need to work at a job all that much. Or, I can work full-time at an easy job with minimum wage and still be OK. At the same time, because of this reduced financial pressure and the increased amount of space I have, I am able to do my own projects, start my own creative business, etc. I can now start to earn money in ways that were not really possible while living in the cramped apartments of the cities I mentioned.
Having a house also enables you to rent out rooms to people, if that's what you want to do. You could simply rent out rooms to locals, students or to casino workers (many of whom actually live in other cities, but stay in Niagara Falls for the periods that they are working), or you can even run your own airbnb!
人々 - The People
If you're from a big metropolitan city or from an affluent suburb, you're going to notice a huge difference in the type of people you encounter, living in Niagara Falls.
I myself grew up in an affluent suburb and growing up only ever encountered people who were middle-class or beyond. Everyone dressed well, had good hygiene, was well-educated, spoke with a large vocabulary, traveled outside the country on a regular basis, enjoyed fine dining, etc. The suburb was extremely clean and people kept their distance - they weren't strike-up-a-conversation-on-the-street friendly and they kept their physical distance. If you live in a big metropolitan city, you surely have run into people not fitting the description I just wrote, but they were always in certain areas of the cities or would just be in the background... nothing to think about.
The vast majority of people living in Niagara Falls don't really fit that description, however. Firstly, over 20% of the people are retirees. So, you can extrapolate from that their pace of life and the services that are around to cater to them. I worked at a local bank branch down here in Niagara Falls and what would happen at the end of every month, like clockwork, was this: the various people on welfare, disability support and other forms of government support would come to the branch to take out all the money that the government just gave them. They'd take it out in cash, hang out at the branch, talk to each other... and when they were done there, they'd just spend the rest of their day outside on the street or at Tim Hortons, chatting it up with all the other people in the same boat. That's one type of person that you'll see everywhere in Niagara Falls.
The other common type of persons you'd see in Niagara Falls are those of the blue-collar employment type. If you grew up in a community where university education was a must, you'll notice a stark difference between that and the blue-collar-type communities. I'm sure you know what the differences might be, so I don't think I need to go into detail here.
And of course, there are certainly those outside of this description. There are lots of people in Niagara Falls that wouldn't be out of place downtown Toronto, going to work at one of the towers down there, or sitting back and sipping coffee at an organic fairtrade coffee shop all day. However, this type of person is noticeably lesser in Niagara region, but they do exist and, anecdotally at least, it feels like they are increasing in number. What is also increasing in number are immigrant populations - those whose first language is not English.