Living in Barrie, Ontario

Credit to Author: Canadian Immigrant| Date: Thu, 07 Feb 2019 22:37:04 +0000

New to Ontario and looking for a place to call home outside the GTA? Learn about Barrie, Ontario, in our “Find a City” series

Barrie is known as Central Ontario’s premier waterfront community, and is situated on the western shore of Lake Ontario within the Golden Horseshoe — an industrialized region that includes Hamilton, Toronto, Oshawa, Brantford, Kitchener-Waterloo and Peterborough.

Located in Simcoe County, the politically independent city has grown as a bedroom community of Toronto, which is located just 90 kilometre south of Barrie and an hour’s commute away. Many Barrie residents find employment in the city, however, with a large number of major corporations headquartered in Barrie, such as Coca Cola, Sun Media and IBM.

Barrie’s historic beginnings go back to the First Nations People who settled on the western shores of Kempenfelt Bay on route to Lake Huron along the portage that ran between Lake Simcoe and the Nottawasaga River. The War of 1812 increased the population to the area as Barrie became a place where British soldiers could bypass the Americans with supplies. Many of the city’s street names reflect the military presence of British troops; the city itself is named after Admiral Sir Robert Barrie.

With a low cost of living, decent employment prospects and a moderate climate, Barrie is an increasingly attractive city for newcomers to Canada.

City of  Barrie population statistics

Incorporated as a city: 1876

Population: 145,614 (2016 Census), a rise of 3.7% since 2011

Average age: 39

Number of citizens: 138,250

Number of non-immigrants: 123,095

Number of immigrants: 19,175

Number of non-permanent residents: 975


Number of immigrants from:

U.S.: 775

Americas (other than U.S.): 3440

Europe: 9985

Africa: 860

India: 630

Philippines: 785

Korea: 295


Mother tongue:

English: 124, 365

French: 2995

Non-official languages: 14,780


Total visible minority population: 14,410
Chinese: 1,715
South Asian: 3,060
Filipino: 1,215
Black: 3,725
Southeast Asian: 660
Latin American: 1,465
Arab: 420

Neighbourhoods in Barrie

Downtown Barrie is an attractive neighbourhood, just walking distance to the beach, playgrounds, nature trails and the city’s waterfront. Barrie has maintained its downtown historic buildings over the years, which exist alongside single-family homes and newer high rise condos. Dunlop Street East is home to a number of specialty shops, boutiques, pubs and restaurants.

Forest Hill is located in the westernmost part of Barrie, and still very accessible to all of the city’s amenities. Situated close to Wasaga Beach, schools and Highway 400, Forest Hill is a growing community popular with young families and commuters.

Barrie’s Sunnidale community is a home to beautiful Sunnidale Park, a 70-acre green space featuring the Dorian Parker Community Centre, Barrie Arboretum, nature trails and a playground. The neighbourhood draws a large number of families who enjoy living so close to the scenic park and recreation facilities.

Housing in Barrie

Barrie’s housing market enjoyed a recent boom with home sales close to an all-time high in 2014. The average sale price of a single-family home is $475,100 — very good value for home owners, well under what you’d pay for a similar home in Toronto.

The average cost of rental housing could come up to $1,330 per month for a one-bedroom apartment, and between $1,375 and $1,650 for a three-bedroom apartment in or around the city.

For more info on rental and housing options, visit:
Barrie Apartments
Rent Ontario

Economy in Barrie

Major industries in Barrie include construction, retail trade, professional, scientific and industrial. Health care, social services and tourism also play an important role in the local economy.

Barrie’s major employers include a number of big companies located within the city including Coca Cola Bottling Company, Sun Media, Hydro One, IBM Canada Leadership Data Centre, Scotiabank Regional Centre and TD Canada Trust Technology and Operations Centre. The Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, Georgina College, the City of Barrie and Simcoe Country District School Board are major employers.

Employment prospects are fairly good in Barrie with the unemployment rate at a stable 5.5 per cent.

The top five employment sectors (by industry) are:

  • Manufacturing
  • Security and &Cloud Services
  • Technology
  • Food & Bevarage
  • Life Sciences

Cost of living in Barrie

A low cost of living and steady employment for workers make Barrie an attractive place for newcomers. These two factors continue to draw a vibrant labour force to the city.

The average household income in Barrie is $81,486 with housing prices much lower than those in the Greater Toronto Area. Newcomers to the city also have a diverse range of affordable housing options to choose from, including waterfront condominiums and luxury homes.

Transportation in Barrie

For national and international flights, the closest international airport for Barrie residents is Toronto Pearson International (about an hour’s drive from the city).

Public transportation is provided by Barrie Transit, which operates numerous bus routes within the city. Monthly bus passes cost $85.

Barrie also runs daily GO Trains and Buses, connecting the city to the GTA via southbound trips during morning rush hour, and northbound trips back during evening rush hour.

A number of taxi companies operate in the city with taxi fares starting at $3.25. For an hour long ride around the city expect to pay about $30.

Climate/Weather in Barrie

Like the rest of the southern Ontario region, Barrie residents experience warm, humid summers and cold winters, with a humid continental climate. Heavy thunderstorm activity is common in the late spring and summer with nearly half of the area’s snowfall in winter due to Barrie’s proximity to Georgian Bay, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Barrie gets approximately 240 centimetres of snow fall each year.

Things to do in Barrie

Art lovers will appreciate Barrie’s active, vibrant performing and fine arts scene. Visit MacLaren Art Centre on Mulcaster Street for a taste of innovative art. The MAC was the inspiration behind Barrie’s “Art City” project, which installed a variety of large sculptures around the city in parks and along the waterfront.  Be sure to also catch a live theatre production, concert, comedy show, or dance performance at the Mady Centre for the Performing Arts.

Downtown Barrie hosts a number of annual festivals including Kempenfest, one of Ontario’s biggest outdoor arts and crafts events. The festival takes place each August long weekend with an antique show, children’s activities and live entertainment, including an indie-music stage. Other special events include the Barrie Waterfront Festival, Winterfest and the Barrie Film Festival.

Shoppers will want to take a stroll downtown to check out the city’s thriving boutiques, cafes, restaurants, and nightlife. While you’re strolling the downtown area, check out the Heritage Barrie Walking Tour, an hour-long self-guided trek into the city’s history. Or visit the Simcoe County Museum for a taste of the region’s rich history through its exhibits, special events, and kid-friendly activities.

In the warm months, locals flock to the city’s beautiful beaches which include Minet’s Point Beach, Johnsons Beach, The Gables, Tyndale Beach, and Centennial Beach. Boating is a popular summer activity in Kempenfelt Bay and Lake Simcoe. Skiing, tubing, snowboarding, and ice fishing are popular at nearby Horseshoe Resort, Snow Valley and Blue Mountain.

Helpful information

These useful resources will help you find your way around the city and the province:
Maps of Barrie
City of Barrie
Province of Ontario
Tourism Barrie