A Guide to Moving to Windsor

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Complete Moving Guide to Windsor

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Windsor is Canada’s southernmost city and therefore one of the warmest. The City of Roses is known for its automotive industry and exceptionally low crime rate--surprising since it is just across the Detroit River from the notoriously high-crime US city of the same name.

If you’re considering relocating to Windsor, this guide can give you the information you need to have an informed and successful move.

Windsor Climate

Windsor's relatively warm climate may be one of its biggest draws. Windsor experiences all four seasons every year, but its southern location makes summers hotter than other Canadian cities. Vancouver and other Pacific Coast cities may have higher average temperatures, but that is because they have mild winters. Windsor’s winters are not especially mild, but summers are considerably warmer.

Windsor July's have an average temperature of 23 degrees Celsius, while January tends to be around -4. Windsor averages the most days over 30 degrees of any city in Canada and leads the country in other warm climate characteristics--like haze and lightning.

The heat and humidity not only give Windsor its share of thunderstorms in the summer, but also make it vulnerable to the occasional tornado. A tornado hits the area about once every 10 years, including a deadly 1974 F3 that killed nine Windsorites.

Fact: Air pollution is a major concern in Windsor. The city’s proximity to US coal factories causes smog and can compromise public health. Windsor leads the nation in pollution-caused respiratory illness and is considered the “smog capital of Canada.”

Windsor Neighbourhoods

Windsor’s 10 wards house a variety of unique neighbourhoods. Ouellette Avenue is the main commercial district in downtown Windsor. There aren’t too many residences in this neighbourhood, but the few that are available will be pricey. Housing gets cheaper as you go farther from the city core.

Between the city centre, the riverfront and the 3,000 acres of greenspace, Windsor has a neighbourhood that will suit the needs and desires of just about anyone.
Windsor’s diverse population lives harmoniously. Historically, Windsor has had some of the lowest crime rates in Canada. During a 27-month stretch from 2009 to 2011, there was not a single homicide in the city. This is in stark contrast to Detroit, the US city just across the river, which has a reputation as one of the most dangerous cities in America.

Registering Your Car in Windsor

Windsor is located in Southern Ontario, so if you are moving from outside the province, you will need to register your vehicle as per Southern Ontario regulations. Keep in mind that Southern Ontario requires different fees than Northern Ontario. Prepare to spend some money on those fees and make sure you have documented insurance, proof of ownership and up to date inspections. For more information about registering your car, head to Service Ontario.

Windsor Transportation

Windsor has a lot of traffic--not just because it is a bustling city, but because it borders the US with one of the most heavily trafficked international border crossings in the world. Windsor is connected to the US and Detroit by The Ambassador Bridge, the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and the Michigan Central Railway tunnel. The Ambassador Bridge is the busiest of these crossings and is North America’s number one border crossing for transported goods.

Windsor is at the edge of the country, so it is the terminus of Highway 401, Canada’s busiest highway, and the end of the Quebec-Windsor Corridor on Via Rail’s train route.

Within the city, Transit Windsor provides public transportation via its fleet of 100 buses which travel on 11 routes. You can even take a bus through the tunnel to Detroit. Because of these public transit services, you could live in Windsor and work in Detroit, or visa-versa.

Many Windsor air travellers depend on crossing the border to get flights. Windsor International Airport serves the city, but has limited flights and destinations. If you travel into Michigan, the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport is only about a half hour away. This airport is a major international hub rather than a regional airport, so it has a much greater variety of flights, airlines and destinations.

Windsor Education

The Greater Essex County District School Board is Windsor’s primary public board of education. The Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board, Conseil scolaire catholique Providence and Conseil scolaire Viamonde round out Windsor’s other public school options with English Catholic, French Catholic and French secular schools, respectively. There are also a handful of smaller private schools within the city.

Windsor is also home to several post-secondary institutions. The University of Windsor is the biggest school in the area and typically has 16,000 full-time students attending its campus. St. Claire College also has a satellite campus in Windsor and continues to grow. Meanwhile, Collège Boréal operates small-scale French schooling and assistance programs for Francophone citizens.

Windsor Economy

Windsor is known for its automotive industry, but tourism, education and government work also fuel the local economy.
Chrysler Canada (officially FCA Canada) is headquartered in Windsor and also has vehicle assembly plants in the city. Ford Motor Company also has multiple auto manufacturing facilities in Windsor. 

Windsor’s tourism industry is headlined by Caesar’s Windsor, one of Canada’s largest casinos. It has been a big draw for both American tourists coming from Detroit and Canadians traveling down the highly populated Quebec-Windsor Corridor. The tourism industry is further bolstered by Windsor’s fine dining options and its expansive riverfront park system.

Detroit’s automotive crash and subsequent bankruptcy has not hit Windsor quite as hard, but the city is still feeling its effects. As of February 2015, Windsor’s unemployment rate is the highest in the country at 9.6 percent. Manufacturing jobs are down, but there are some gains in the research, education and tourism sectors.

Windsor’s Cost of Living

Windsor has a very low cost of living according to Numbeo, an online calculator that compiles user-submitted prices. Housing, most groceries, public transportation (except for taxis) and utilities are all cheaper in Windsor than in similar cities like Oshawa. Rent prices outside of the city centre are particularly low: a one-bedroom apartment can cost as little as $620 a month.

Windsor's Culture and Contemporary Life

Windsor built its strong tourism industry with a variety of sights and sound that can entertain visitors and residents alike.

Caesars Windsor brings the city all the gambling, nightlife and entertainment that a casino hotel offers. Windsor’s downtown area supplements the nightlife with several clubs and restaurants--especially along Ouellette Avenue.

Windsor’s many parks offer a calmer diversion. The Ojibway Prairie Complex is a huge preserve that includes several types of natural parkland on the city’s west side.

If you're interested in the arts, there's venues for you. The Windsor Sculpture Park is an outdoor area near the river that showcases its sculptures in a natural setting. The Art Gallery of Windsor is the city’s biggest museum and has an impressive amount of historic Canadian artwork.

Windsor’s unique relationship with Detroit has made it possible for the two cities to jointly host several international seasonal festivals. Nothing exemplifies this unity quite like the Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival. This two-week event culminates in a large fireworks display over the Detroit River. It serves as a combined celebration of Canada Day and The US’s Independence Day (Fourth of July).
The Detroit Windsor International Film Festival is also shared between the cities each year.

Windsor Moving Resources

Have you decided that Windsor is right for you? Topmoving.ca has a database of trusted moving companies that can provide you with whatever service you need to move to Windsor. Remember to get at least three different quotes from multiple companies, so you can be sure that you’re getting a fair price for your move.

Windsor Relocation Tips

  • Windsor has bike paths, so try to find a good bike route for your commute to avoid the city’s notorious traffic.
  • Despite the city’s automotive reputation, the economy dictates that you seek employment in a different field. Consider education or tourism.
  • Windsor can get hot in the summer. Remember to pack light clothing in addition to winter coats if you plan on living there year-round.
  • If you do travel across the river to Detroit, remember that you will need a passport.
  • If you visit Detroit from Windsor, keep the higher crime rate in mind while you travel. 

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on March 27, 2015

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