By Meredith MacLeod
Neil Poutney and his wife searched for a house in Toronto for two years, constantly widening the hunt for an affordable home with good schools for their future family.
“Then we decided if we were going to be commuting that long, why work in Toronto? Then we opened our eyes about leaving.”
When they decided to move to London, it took them just two weeks to find the perfect house, on a half acre near a great school.
“The couple is among an influx of young professionals, families and empty nesters heading to London for its job opportunities, quality of life and affordability”, says Kapil Lakhotia, president and CEO of London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC).
According to salaryexpert.com, the cost of living in London is 25.4 per cent lower than Toronto and 11 per cent lower than Hamilton.
“If it is affordability, charm and security of a mid-sized community combined with the business and career opportunities of a big city that you’re looking for, London is the perfect choice,” said Lakhotia.
“We were blown away with London and I came in expecting not to be,” said Poutney, 34, who cold-called strangers in the city who helped him find a job as a sales manager for human resources company HRdownloads.
“You have options when you’re here. London wouldn’t have appealed to 20-year-old me but it sure does now. For me, it’s a really good-sized city. It has all the amenities but there is green space everywhere and I have a 20-minute commute with a stop for a coffee.”
It’s also got plenty of available jobs.
Employment growth hit an 11-year high of 3.5 per cent in 2015 and continues to be strong. Job board Eluta has more than 1,500 postings for London. The technology sector alone added 2,000 jobs in the last two years, according to the LEDC and more than 50 companies have openings in 250 job titles posted to londontechjobs.ca.
The city has also become a food processing hub, has a strong advanced manufacturing sector and is home to the headquarters of London Life, TD, 3M and Labatt.
London’s educational institutions, extensive green space, and increasingly vibrant downtown means happier employees and lower turnover, says the LEDC.
Animator and director Kris Pearn grew up in London but his work took him to Los Angeles, England and Vancouver. Home always called. So Pearn pitched to come to London to direct a film he had written. He moved back in 2013, buying a farm with his wife and two teenagers in Wallacetown.
B.C.-based Bron Studios officially opened its Richmond Street location in October 2016. Pearn serves as director of animation. London is close enough to Toronto and Detroit to travel for business and to attract talent from the GTA, said Pearn. It also offers workers and their families a great life.
“London has a big part to play as a smaller place where you can thrive in the world.”