Who are you?
I’m Mike, a consultant in my mid-30s. I work out of Oakville and Toronto. I bike around town sometimes and I know how to play the guitar and the piano. I moved to Hamilton by myself, although I had some friends in the city who could show me the ropes.
What brought you here?
I moved to Hamilton primarily because I saw a lot of value in being able to get a house for what would equal a small condo in other places. Ok… That’s part of it. Really it was because I had been living with my folks through and after university and I felt like I needed to grow up and fend for myself. Plus, Hamilton is a vibrant place with a lot of cool stuff happening. Seemed like a good fit.
Where do you live?
I live in Crown Point West, a really great neighbourhood in the eastern part of the lower city. Think Ottawa and Cannon. There were a few reasons I chose this area. I could get a lot of house for a competitive price. There are a bunch of amazing shops and restaurants along Ottawa Street, which is just a five-minute walk away. Lastly, despite some of the gruffness that exists along Barton Street, I feel safe in this neighbourhood. The people really are wonderful.
What resources helped you in making your decisions?
I have a few close friends who had moved here before me. They were kind enough to show me around and help dispel a lot of my preconceptions about Hamilton. The most helpful resource, though, was Jeannie. She provided a lot of great insight and evidence to why my neighbourhood is great and why it is a sound investment. I think providing both evidence and insight is probably common to good realtors, but what I thought set Jeannie apart was her enthusiasm and passion for the city. She really believes that Hamilton is a wonderful place to live and it is clearly a compelling argument as I now live in the city too.
What resources do you WISH you’d had access to that would have helped?
Well, it’d be nice to have a boatload of money or two. Beyond that, it would have been good to have had an idea of what the typical utility bills for similar sized houses look like. Also, it would have been interesting to see what some of the sales trends in various neighbourhoods or on specific streets look like.
What things surprised you the most about Hamilton?
Good & Bad The bad – why are like 70% of the smaller stores and shops closed on Sunday?! I’ve never seen this phenomenon anywhere else. Same goes for the big farmers market on James St. It closes at 5 PM. I get home from work at 6 PM. I guess they don’t want my business during the week? ☹
The good – the people. They’re actually nice. Working in and commuting to and from Toronto has gotten me use to people just being pleasant enough to not bother or offend others. In Hamilton, people say hello. I have conversations with strangers at coffee shops. This doesn’t really happen in other cities, from what I’ve seen. Also, Hamilton is surprisingly cyclist-friendly. We have dedicated bike lanes. We have the Sobi system. There are events like bike tours around the city and bike-in movies in parks. It’s awesome. Lastly, I am really digging how we’re right between Niagara’s beautiful wine country and hustle and bustle of Toronto. You don’t have to leave the city to experience a lot of great stuff (like our hiking paths and waterfalls), but if you want to, you’re in an awesome, central launching point.
What advice do you have for anyone considering a move to Hamilton?
Try to figure out what it is that you like to do and see how well the city can support that. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Also, if you’re like me and must commute out of the city for work, try it a few times before you commit. You might be okay with it or you might not be, but you probably want to figure that out before you decide to buy.
Spend a weekend here. Seriously. Even if you live in Mississauga or Oakville or St. Catharines, get an AirBnB (not a hotel) and stay for a weekend. Go out and explore. See what the city can offer. See if it aligns with the stuff you’re into.
Talk to Jeannie. She knows the city. She loves the city. She wants her clients to be happy.
What are your favourite places and things to do around the city?
Trivia at the Black Sheep Snack Bar – even though Matt went to Two Black Sheep (which is also great, to be fair), my friends and I try to make it a routine getting to Black Sheep for trivia every Monday. We get to meet fun people in our community, have some delicious food/drinks (their dark and stormy… you should try that) and have a good laugh at some of the horrible answers we give to most of the questions.
Walking around the neighbourhoods. This seems like a very strange favourite thing to do, but it’s not. Hamilton has a ton of character. It varies from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. I adore the notion that I can bike twenty minutes in any direction and go for a walk and feel like I’m in a different city. Westdale feels totally different than the mountain.
You know how you have that one bar no one seems to know about that makes the best kimchi nachos (I’m talking about you, Work) or that has the best atmosphere for a date night with your significant other (I’m talking about you, The Brain)? Those places exist all over the city. It’s just a matter of finding them.
Of all the things going on Hamilton these days – what are you most excited about?
I really think it’s that last point. That there are hidden gems (in terms of amazing experiences) all over the city. Other people are realizing this too, not only from the perspective of having those experiences but also realizing that they can express themselves here in a way that creates those experiences. Hamilton is an exciting place to be these days. People are flocking here from all over and places which house these new experiences keep popping up.
I’m not just saying this to appease. My brothers come to visit me from Toronto every so often. We go out and explore some of those hidden gems. I find it inspiring that every time they visit, despite being Toronto lifers, they seem to increasingly appreciate why I love this city so much and I think they’re starting to love it too.