Nestled along the Thames River in southern Ontario, London is a hotbed of Canadian technology and education that’s a close cousin of its more well-known counterpart in England. The city is situated south of many points in the United States, so it’s a relatively short driving distance to many large cities including Toronto, Detroit and Buffalo, New York. The city grew over much of the 20th century, annexing local communities and neighbouring towns and eventually becoming one of the largest cities in Ontario. Today, thanks to the draw of its hot education and technology sectors, it has quite a bit of opportunity for the discerning real estate investor who knows what they’re looking for.
Table of Contents - The Benefits of Real Estate Investing in London, Ontario
A younger London
London’s usual name and association with a different Thames River is an interesting quirk, but it’s not all that uncommon. Hundreds, if not thousands, of places across North America, are named after European places that preceded them, and London is no different. It was first colonized in the late 1700s following around 10,000 years of indigenous settlement and grew rapidly over the following decades. As mentioned above, the city continued to annex neighbouring communities throughout the 1800s and into today, making it an interesting patchwork of neighbourhoods and architectural styles where virtually all real estate investors will be able to find something that suits their needs.
London Ontario Demographics
London is a young city–its average citizen is about two years younger than Canada’s average citizen. It’s also a diverse city–over 140 different languages are spoken within its limits, with Arabic being the most common after English and Chinese languages beginning to make a surge as well in recent years. Despite this diversity, the city does have fewer immigrants than Ontario as a whole, but this is hardly surprising when compared to emigration hotbed up the road that is Toronto. All of this suggests a stable local population base that will be interested in occupying one or more of your rental units for years to come.
A positive economic outlook
London’s economy is one that’s built for this current moment and for well into the future. The city has an industrial history like many urban centers around Canada but this sector took a horrendous beating during the 2009 financial crisis and it appears that many of those manufacturing jobs are gone for good. What has risen in their place is several jobs within technology and technology-adjacent fields–medical research, insurance and information technology are just some of the sectors where Londoners can find employment. Technology firms employ about 3% of the city’s labour force, so their presence is a real linchpin of the local economy. These firms have moved into older industrial buildings in many instances and repurposed them for their needs, suggesting an opportunity for a real estate investor to mimic. Buying and rehabbing these types of older properties to make them suitable for modern usage is a great way to be environmentally friendly and create both commercial and residential space where it might be rare.
The University of Western Ontario (usually called “Western University”) and Fanshawe College also provide a cornerstone to local communities. The presence of colleges and universities in cities can indicate several things – that the city will likely have a vibrant cultural scene driven by young people is one, but another is that many young students and recent graduates will be in the market for housing. This can prove to be a real opportunity for real estate investors who can fill this need in the form of acquiring rental properties that are located close to campuses around town.
The vibrant culture described above that can often come part and parcel with college towns is very much present in London as well. First of all, athletics maintains a solid presence here. The London Knights junior hockey team is one of the most successful Ontario Hockey League franchises in recent history, and the city boasts several other teams in sports including soccer, basketball, rugby and football. Catching a game in any sport is quite easy when you live in London, which is a big advantage for many residents.
London also hosts several festivals including SunFest, an enormous world music festival that’s one of the most popular of its kind in Canada. The city boasts some wonderful museums including Museum London, and its long musical history has produced dozens of famous singers and instrumentalists. The theatre is also a cultural factor here, anchored around the beautiful Grand Theatre that boasts community-minded programming geared towards helping high school students find a niche in the field. London’s culture creates a setting where the fine arts are appreciated–leading to a city that your renters will want to live and stay in so that they can be sure they never miss a thing.
Cost of living and the real estate market
London is relatively inexpensive, particularly when compared with other parts of southern Ontario like Toronto. Property values here are quite a bit lower than Hamilton or Kitchener-Waterloo, as well. This makes London an attractive opportunity for real estate investors who might not necessarily have deep pockets but are still interested in diversifying their portfolio or beginning their construction of one. London represents a real estate market where significant value can be found in a city with a strong economic outlook that bodes well for future appreciation.
All in all, the demographic profile and rich offerings of London combine to create a city built to last for years to come. A combination of a winning, growing economy and a low cost of living means that London could be a winning prospect for real estate investment. The city is likely to remain a destination for people drawn in by its affordable housing, fun and vibrant culture and plentiful jobs in forward-looking economic sectors. This creates opportunities for real estate investors who can capitalize on these lower property values to provide rental units to students and families alike, drawn to the city for their unique reasons.