Renter's Guide to Kingston, ON
Located on the eastern end of Lake Ontario and at the beginning of the St. Lawrence River, Kingston has been a historic trading hub for centuries. Starting in the 17th century, the French built a trading post and military fort on the site to establish a closer presence with the Natives in the region. Gradually, more and more people settled there and when the British took over, it was officially named Kingston.
Another interesting fact about Kingston is that it was named the first capital of the United Province of Canada in 1841.
Due to its proximity of Lake Ontario, the weather in Kingston is moderately humid. Summers and winters here are colder than the rest of Southern Ontario as well with the lake doing a good job of moderating the climate and keeping it low throughout most of the year. The highest temperature ever recorded here is a meager 96 °F. If you can’t stand the heat, then Kingston might be the city for you. The bad news is that the lake also makes Kingston one of the windiest cities in Canada.
Cost of Living in Kingston, ON
If you're planning on moving to Kingston, you'll be happy to know that the cost of living in Kingston is one of the lowest in Ontario. While many in Kingston choose to drive, public transportation is a great affordable option. Monthly transit passes for adults from Kingston's transit operator Kingston Transit costs just $65 - a steal compared to what you would pay in other cities.
For cellphones, expect to pay up to $60 per month for a voice and data plan. For internet, $60 per month is the average as well but can go up to $100 per month for higher speed services. For other basic utilities, like electricity and gas, a Kingstonian is expected to pay $127 per month on average.
Dining and entertainment are an important part of life in Kingston and it’s also relatively inexpensive. Movie tickets are around $10 with theatre and concert tickets running anywhere from $10 to $60. The cost of dining options varies as well, but meals can be had for anywhere from $7 to $45 per person.
Living in Kingston, ON
Living in Kingston has its pros and cons. On the plus side, quality of life and healthcare here are considered high. The city also boasts very low pollution, low crime rates, and a high walkability score.
With census data showing that 93% of the population identified as Caucasian, it’s not a very ethnically diverse city. That said, it’s also very welcoming, so don’t be surprised if a total stranger tries to strike up a conversation with you in the checkout line. Kingston is also home to more seniors than the rest of Canada, making it one of the most popular places for retirement.
Depending on your point of view, all these pros could be cons as well. The city has a reputation of being slow paced, especially when you compare it to some of the more dynamic and faster growing cities in Ontario. But with 3 major universities located in the city, there’s plenty of excitement if you know where to look.
Things to Do in Kingston, ON
There are numerous things going on in the city every day, from free live music performances to ticketed events at the Kingston Grand Theatre, and the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. Festivals are also a regular occurrence in Kingston celebrating everything from music and art to craft beers.
Also nicknamed the “Limestone City”, Kingston is home to many beautiful heritage buildings built from local limestone. For those interested in history, simply taking a stroll through the streets filled with historic buildings, is one of the many fun things to do for free in Kingston.
The area is also dominated by trees and abundant water, creating plenty of opportunities for locals to enjoy nature all year round. Popular hiking trails in Kingston include the Cat trial, KP trail, and the Rideau trail.
For the foodies, you’ll be happy and surprised to hear that Kingston has the highest number of restaurants per capita in Canada so you’re spoiled for choice. If you’re not sure where to go, you can always find cheap eats and trendier food items near one of the city’s many post-secondary institutions.
Employment & Economy in Kingston, ON
While it's not the same economic powerhouse as Mississauga or Toronto, Kingston is no slouch. Much of the employment in Kingston is in the public sector related to healthcare, education, military, and correctional services, but the tourism sector is growing steadily. Due to its central location between the major cities of Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Syracuse, NY, trucking and logistics is a growing industry here.
The top 3 employers in Kingston are the Canadian Forces Base Kingston, Queen's University, and Kingston General Hospital.
Education in Kingston, ON
One of the biggest factors drawing people to the city is access to great schools. Top universities in Kingston include the Royal Military College of Canada, which provides academic and leadership training to officer cadets and Queen’s University, one of the oldest in Canada serving a variety of degree programs to 25,000 students.
For more trades-oriented students, St. Lawrence College is also a great choice offering job-related training in behavioral psychology, trades, nursing, and business administration among other things.
The Limestone District School Board is responsible for administering primary and secondary-school education in Kingston. Like in other Canadian cities, students are assigned to the public schools in their catchment area so parents should choose their areas wisely if they plan on attending a public school.
Top public schools in Kingston, according to the Fraser Institute include Lord Strathcona, Rideau Heights, John Graves Simcoe and Kingston Collegiate Vocational Institute. The top private schools in Kingston include St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School, St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Catholic School, and John XXIII Catholic School.
For younger families, top elementary schools in Kingston include the Ecole Elementaire Catholique Monseigneur Remi-Gaulin and Winston Churchill Public School.
Tips for Renting in Kingston, ON
When renting in Kingston, the biggest tip is to pick an area that best fits your lifestyle. If you’re renting near the university areas, there will be more trendy restaurants and shops and it will be more walkable as well. Living on the outskirts will support a quieter lifestyle but will require you to drive more.
If you have school-aged children and plan to send them to a public school, you should also consider which schools are in your catchment area as those will be the ones you’re assigned to subject to availability and special needs.
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