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【Driving Series EP 04】 Kitchener and Waterloo

In the past few years, the Kitchener and Waterloo areas have become quite popular for condo investors.

The last time I visited Waterloo was around 10 years ago and I didn’t have a great impression.

It was just a university town with nothing much happening around.

Since then, there have been talks about Kitchener being the silicon valley of Canada.

University of Waterloo trains all the high tech talents and once they graduate, they can just go next door to work in Kitchener.

It’s been a decade and I’m really curious to find out what these 2 cities look like today.

So I’m going to take you onto a road trip.

We’re going 100 kilometres west from downtown Toronto to Kitchener and Waterloo.

We have just exited the highway into the City of Kitchener.

And we’re now going northwest on King Street.

King Street is a major road that goes from Kitchener all the way to Waterloo.

On our right hand side, the Kitchener Market is one of the oldest operating farmers’ markets in Canada.

It’s a gathering place for food.

See that glass clock tower in front of us?

That was the original Kitchener City Hall back in the 70s.

It is now the Market Square Shopping Centre.

The train with the blue top in front of us is the ION light rail.

It just started operating on June 21, 2019.

And it currently has 19 stations connecting the south end of Kitchener to the north end of Waterloo.

We’re now entering the core downtown area of Kitchener.

Yup, it looks dramatically different than downtown Toronto.

This is the Walper Hotel, a very stylish boutique hotel for weddings and events.

Coming up on our right hand side is the Kitchener City Hall.

It’s undergoing a $2.2 Million dollar renovation.

This is the downtown office area, with some major banks and law firms.

Now, we’re turning into the Innovation District of Kitchener.

This is the site for the TEK Tower, a 44 storey condo that was launched for pre-construction sales just a few days ago.

It’s going to be the most luxurious in Kitchener by far and it’s actually going to look like one of those downtown Toronto condos.

We’re going to make a U-turn here so we can get back onto King Street and you’ll see why this is called the Innovation District.

That’s the light rail train turning into King Street and it’s going to go along King all the way into Waterloo.

There’s a condo here called the One Victoria.

One bedroom units are selling at low $500,000s.

And two bedroom units are selling at mid $700,000s.

That’s probably not as cheap as you might have thought because they have appreciated roughly 35% over the past 5 years.

And the reason is from across the street.

The Google headquarters.

This office is Google’s biggest R&D office in Canada, currently with around 1000 employees.

See that crane behind the current office?

Google is adding another 11-storey building and that will more than triple the size of its Canadian engineering headquarters here in Kitchener.

We’re expecting to see roughly 3,000 Google employees here.

Imagine what kind of housing demand these well-paid engineers are going to bring to the region.

The Station Park condos are under construction over there.

We’re now heading out of the core districts of Kitchener towards the Waterloo direction.

This building with a very classic architecture is actually a public secondary school.

In front of us on the left hand side is the main hospital in Kitchener, the Grand River Hospital.

Here’s the light rail station right in front of the hospital.

And we have now entered the City of Waterloo.

You can see the light rail trains going along King Street in both directions.

This condo in front of us on the left at 101 King Street is a luxury style condo.

It’s slightly cheaper than Kitchener, with one bedroom units at around $500,000 and two bedroom units at around $700,000.

We’re now entering the most vibrant district in Waterloo.

You’ll see many major banks and accounting firms on both sides of the street.

The Waterloo Public Square.

It’s the gathering place for concerts and events.

There’s also an ice skating rink here, but the nice weather is too warm for that today.

You can see the BMO Tower standing over there.

More banks and restaurants along the street.

I would say this modernized part of Waterloo is a nice surprise for me.

We’re now heading towards the university district.

I’m going to take a small detour because King Street is blocked in front.

Back onto King Street again.

And we have the campus of the Wilfrid Laurier University right in front of us.

There are quite a few buildings coming up in this section of King Street.

Just from the look of the buildings, you can tell that they are built for students.

Some are rental buildings, some are market condos.

These condos are of course very different from the ones we looked at.

They are very basic inside out.

With around $600,000, you can get a 4 bedroom unit.

And you can rent it out to 4 different students with around $800 each.

So you can get a very attractive 6.4% rental return, compared to only around 3.8% at the condo across from the Google headquarters.

But appreciation could be a concern because they didn’t appreciate much at all over the past 5 years.

We’re going to make a left here and head towards the second university, the University of Waterloo.

You can see another batch of student housing here as we’re getting close to the campus.

And here we are, at the University of Waterloo.

It’s most famous for training engineers.

You can totally see how Kitchener gets the name of the silicon valley of Canada because the companies in Kitchener have such an easy access to great tech talents here at the University of Waterloo.

Most of the students have already adapted to the small town lifestyle here and it’s very natural for them to work in Kitchener if there are good job opportunities readily available.

So what do you think about Kitchener and Waterloo?

Would you consider investing here?

Comment below and let me know.

What do I think?

I would recommend investing here if you have already owned properties in Toronto and you’re looking to diversify your portfolio.

And if you do invest here, make sure you have an 8 to 10 years time frame in mind.

Kitchener is equipped with all the potentials to become the silicon valley, but it’s going to take time for things to develop, it’s not going to happen right away.

We’re going to end our tour here at the University of Waterloo bus and light rail stations.

I hope you enjoyed exploring cities outside of Toronto with me today.

Make sure you subscribe and hit the bell so you won’t miss our next tour.


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