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Complete Moving Guide to Hamilton

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A versatile industrial city, Hamilton is right in the centre of the busy “Golden Horseshoe” region that surrounds the western side of Lake Ontario.

Hamilton is a blue-collar city, with an industry built not only on its important location, but also on its famous steel production.

If you are interested in moving to the “Steeltown,” read on to find out if Hamilton is right for you.

Hamilton's Climate

Hamilton has a very variable humid continental climate. The city’s location on Lake Ontario can give parts of Hamilton milder temperatures, increased precipitation and breezier conditions. Meanwhile, the Niagara Escarpment bisects the city and can block one half of Hamilton from the weather of the other. 

Hamilton summer temperatures average about 22 degrees Celsius while the winters are around -5. Precipitation falls throughout the year with moderate frequency, but remember that the weather is rarely uniform throughout the city, so one half could experience rain while the other remains dry.

Hamilton Neighbourhoods

Hamilton’s neighbourhoods are both culturally and geographically diverse. You can live by the Hamilton Harbour or away from the water. Your home can be in the “Lower City” or “Mountain” area depending on which side of the escarpment it is. Some downtown neighbourhoods are quite urban and developed while others on the edge of the city are rural. There are over 200 distinct neighbourhoods in Hamilton.

Hamilton has a diverse population. Roughly one quarter of the city’s residents are not native to Canada. There are several cultural neighbourhoods where the city’s immigrant communities gather. You can expect to find substantial Italian, Polish, Indian, Portuguese and Chinese neighbourhoods throughout Hamilton. For example, the city’s central downtown core is shared between Italian and Portuguese populations.

Registering Your Car in Hamilton

If you’re planning to move to Hamilton from outside of the province, you need to register your car according to Southern Ontario regulations. Make sure your vehicle inspections are up to date, and that you have valid ID, proof of ownership and insurance. For more details, head to Service Ontario.

Hamilton Transportation

Hamilton’s central location in the Golden Horseshoe makes it an important transportation hub, especially in the industrial shipping sector. It also provides access to Lake Ontario via Hamilton Harbour.

Hamilton Street Railway is the bus service that caters to the city's commuters. Don’t be confused by the name-- this is a bus service rather than a train service. The name originated from the historic use of railed streetcars in the city many years ago. Hamilton Street Railway transports roughly 21 million passengers each year.

Hamilton Schools

Hamilton is home to a plethora of public and private institutions including primary, secondary and post-secondary schools.

Four public school districts operate within Hamilton:
  • The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board: The city’s largest district, it administers to secular English-speaking schools.
  • The Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board: Oversees the area’s Catholic English-speaking schools.
  • Conseil scolaire de district du Centre-Sud-Ouest: The French-speaking secular district only operates two schools in the area.
  • Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud: The French Catholic district oversees three schools.
 Hamilton also has many post-secondary institutions. McMaster University is the city’s biggest school, and regularly enrolls over 22,000 students. Mohawk College is also noteworthy as the city’s leading technical school. There are several other smaller private colleges within the city, as well.

Hamilton's Economy

Hamilton has historically been a major producer of steel, hence its “Steeltown” nickname. While there are less steel companies in the city than in days past, steel production and manufacturing remain the primary fuel for Hamilton’s economy. 

Stelco and Defasco were the two main steel producers in Hamilton, providing 60 percent of Canada’s steel. Stelco no longer operates in Canada after being bought out and sold off, but Defasco still remains profitable as the city’s biggest company.

Education is another thriving part of Hamilton’s economy. The city has many private and public schools from big Universities like McMaster, to a small private colleges like Redeemer University. These institutions employ many teachers, administrators and other staff who mostly live in the Hamilton area.

Hamilton Harbour’s port and the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport’s shipping sector also keep Hamilton busy as a hub for transporting manufactured goods.

Hamilton's Cost of Living

Hamilton has a relatively low cost of living thanks to low rent prices and reasonable public transportation and utility services. Taxis in the city can be expensive, however, and some groceries are more costly than they would be in cities like Toronto. Despite these anomalies, Hamilton’s low rent prices (a little over $800 a month for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre) keep the city’s overall living expenses low compared to similar Canadian cities. For a more detailed look at Hamilton’s cost of living, check out Numbeo’s profile on the city.

Hamilton Culture and Contemporary Life

Hamilton may be known for its hard-working steel manufacturers, but there are several ways to unwind in “the Hammer.”

Hamilton has a distinct artistic side to compliment its blue-collar economy:
  • The Art Gallery of Hamilton is one of Ontario’s biggest public galleries with a focus on historic and modern Canadian art.
  • The McMaster Museum of Art is located in the university and has a wide variety of pieces.
  • Hamilton has several theatre groups including Theatre Aquarius, Hamilton Theatre Inc and the Players’ guide of Hamilton
  • Various galleries and art installations are popping up in the city’s core including the Downtown Arts Centre on Rebecca Street.
Hamilton also has several historic locations to visit:
  • The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum is appropriately located in John C. Monro Hamilton International Airport.
  • The HMCS Haida National Historic Site is a museum ship permanently docked in Hamilton. It is the last remaining ship of its kind.
  • Dundurn Castle is a National Historic site of Canada and now serves as museum as it has been restored to how it appeared in 1855 when it was home to the Premier of Upper Canada.
Additionally, Hamilton has many attractions that don’t have to do with art or history, but are fun nonetheless:
  • FirstOntario Centre (the city's main arena)
  • African Lion Safari Park
  • The Canadian Football Hall of Fame
  • The Royal Botanical Gardens (shared with Burlington)

Hamilton Moving Resources

Have you decided to move to Hamilton? can help you with all your moving needs. Simply follow the links below to see a list of companies that can perform the indicated service in the Hamilton area. If you get at least three quotes from different moving companies, you can compare prices and be sure that you get a good deal.

Hamilton Relocation Tips

  • Just because the city is known for steel, doesn’t mean they’re handing out jobs in the industry. Most companies are unionized and Stelco is no more.
  • When getting weather forecasts, be sure they are specific to your neighbourhood. The weather is rarely uniform throughout the city due to the Hamilton Bay and the Niagara Escapement.
  • People who live in the city are called Hamiltonians.

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on April 2, 2015 - Moving Expert
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