Sitting on the shores of Kempenfelt Bay, Barrie is in the northern part of the Greater Golden Horseshoe region in Central Ontario. It is one of Canada’s largest cities, with much of its growth being quite recent. In fact, it has grown into a bedroom community for Toronto, which has brought on an influx of housing and commercial developments. In the past, Barrie was inhabited mainly by part-time residents who had summer getaways here. Today, Barrie is a lively city with a strong economy that is made up of distribution centres, bottling centres and financial operation centres, although summer tourism still plays a big part in the city’s economy.
In terms of living, Barrie is a dynamic city with beach-lined walkways, parks, cultural sights and community centres. The city also hosts a plethora of annual festivals, including Winterfest, Ecofest, the New Music Festival and the Barrie Film Festival. When a festival is not going on, downtown Barrie is the liveliest, trendiest area of the city and where any Barrie city guide will tell you to go if you want to shop in funky boutiques, admire local art, listen to live music or have a great meal. As well, Georgian College is not too far away, meaning the downtown area is popular amongst students.
Barrie is substantially cheaper than Toronto and on par with the national average. This is another reason why it is such a great place to live, especially of you want to live a more laid-back lifestyle, but still want to be close to the ‘big city’. Go Transit links Barrie to Union Station by both train and bus, while commuter buses also connect the city to other areas of Toronto and the GTA. There are also 11 bus routes that traverse the city, some of which go to the GO stations, Georgian College and Park Place, which is large shopping mall in the south end of the city. If you would prefer to cycle or walk, there are hundreds of kilometres of trails and paths in Barrie.
Barrie is very family-friendly, which is another great thing about living here. There are more than enough schools for everyone, some of which are public, some catholic and a few that are French. On top of that, it is one of the safest cities in the country! This, together with its summer festivals and beaches, attracts numerous tourists, as well as a few summer residents. Any Barrie guide will put the waterfront at Kempenfelt Bay at the top of the list of things to do, as it is home to 3 beaches, a beautiful trail, waterfront parks and numerous fantastic restaurants. If you do come for a visit, you will also want to walk around the historic heart of downtown Barrie.