Living In Barrie, Ontario – Prepare For Canada

Barrie Waterfront
View of Barrie Waterfront

Are you moving to Canada? Thousands of immigrants come to the country every year. There are newcomers dispersed from coast to coast. One of the biggest decisions all newcomers must make is where they choose to live. While Barrie is lesser-known than a large city like Toronto, it’s a popular alternative to living in the Greater Toronto Area. 

Where you choose to live will have a direct impact on your career options, financial success, housing costs, and overall lifestyle. 

To find a lower cost of living and more affordable housing, many people are moving out of the city to more rural areas within the province of Ontario. Spending the time researching your options will help you choose the best city for you and your family. 

Are you interested in learning more about the city of Barrie, Ontario? Read our guide below with helpful information about living in Barrie.

About Barrie, Ontario

Barrie, Ontario is a beautiful waterfront city located on the shores of Kempenfelt Bay, the western side of Lake Simcoe. It is a growing area that has become a popular destination for new immigrants and people moving out of Toronto as part of a recent interprovincial migration trend.

Map of Barrie, Ontario
Barrie, Ontario on the shores of Lake Simcoe and 1 hour from Toronto

People are attracted to the region for several regions. It is a bedroom community of Toronto located about 90 km north of the city and about an hour’s commute. The lower housing prices and cost of living are appealing. There is large employment growth and it has a good transit system. The city is also ideal for people who love the outdoors because of the swimmable beaches and ski hills located nearby. There are many great hiking paths, great skiing, and many watersports. 

Over the past few decades, it has evolved from a small town to an up-and-coming city. Barrie was first settled during the War of 1812 as a supply depot for British soldiers. The city was named after Sir Robert Barrie, an officer in the British Navy. Over the years it has evolved from a village (1854) to a town (1870), and became a city in 1959.

How Many People Live in Barrie, Ontario?

The population of Barrie has grown rapidly over the past few years. The city has recently made the list of the top 5 most moved-to cities in Canada. As of 2020, there were about 155,000 residents in the city. And the government of Ontario projects the city population could double to 300,000 residents by 2051. This is based on increased immigration and intra-provincial migration.

How to Find a Job & Build a Career in Barrie

Barrie’s Local Economy

The economy in Barrie is in a growth phase. As more people move out of the big city, businesses are choosing to invest in Barrie. The projected 70% population growth by 2041 brings new jobs and opportunities. Estimates project more than 30,000 new jobs will be created over the next 20 years.

Some of the biggest growth sectors are arts, entertainment, and recreation, manufacturing, finance and insurance, healthcare, and construction. 

The top sectors in Barrie are:

  • Manufacturing
  • Security and cloud services
  • Technology
  • Food and beverage
  • Life sciences
  • Retail
  • Tourism.

Major Employers in Barrie

Barrie is home to several corporate headquarters. There is an opportunity to work for larger organizations. Some of the major employers in Barrie are:

  • Coca Cola
  • IBM Canada Leadership Data Centre
  • Sun Media
  • Hydro One
  • Scotiabank
  • The Source
  • The Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre
  • Georgian College
  • Napolean/Wolf Steel
  • Russell Security Services.
Major employers in Barrie, ON
Major employers in Barrie include Hydro One, Scotiabank, The Source, and IBM.

Career Pathways in Barrie

There are several ways you can explore career opportunities. You can search for employment opportunities on the City of Barrie website and the Government of Canada Job Bank. You can also use local recruitment agencies such as Randstad Canada, IS2 Workforce Solutions, TalentWorld, and AppleOne Employment Services.

For information, tools, free webinars, and more visit our Finding a Job in Canada resource page to get the help you need and achieve your career goals in Canada!

The Barrie Housing Market

It is important to assess where you want to live within the city. Ideally, you want to choose a neighbourhood that is close to work, schools, and other amenities. But this has become more challenging in recent years as the city is experiencing some growing pains.

The availability of housing is one of the issues. With more people moving to Barrie, there is a smaller supply of housing options. Fortunately, there are new housing developments underway, that will offer newcomers more options soon.

Is Housing Expensive in Barrie, Ontario?

The housing market is more affordable than other cities in the Greater Toronto Area, but with housing prices on the rise, the gap is shrinking. The lack of supply and not enough new builds are driving up the cost.

Finding a Place to Rent in Barrie 

There are a few ways you can look for rental units. You can search online, use realtor websites or you can use Rentals for Newcomers to search for available rental units in Barrie. Here, you can also find current rental prices in Barrie.

Rentals start at about $1,500 for a one-bedroom unit. The average rent for an apartment in Barrie is $1,842 for a 1 Bedroom and $2,199 for a 2 Bedroom. When renting, it’s a good idea to get renter’s insurance to protect your family, belongings, and finances.

Get more information about renting a home: Renting in Canada: What Newcomers Need to Know.

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Buying a Home in Barrie 

Buying a home in Barrie has become more expensive. For example, prices have increased by over 30% in the past year, and are predicted to increase by as much as 15% in 2022. The average price for a detached house in Barrie is $980,000. The average price for a townhome is $853,000 and the average cost for a condo is $626,000.

Group of homes in Barrie on a sunny, winter day
Group of homes in Barrie, Ontario neighbourhood

Find out more about buying your first home in Canada: First Time Home Buyer: Newcomer Tips

Driving & Public Transit in Barrie

Driving in Barrie, Ontario

Barrie is a commuter city. Many people drive to work within the city or to other locations across the Greater Toronto Area. Barrie is served by a strong road system. There are several highways in the area. Highway 400 is the major highway that goes between the city and Toronto. Highway 26 is the main highway that goes through the city and heads toward Collingwood. Other highways in the area include Highway 27, Highway 90, and Highway 93. 

All drivers must have an Ontario driver’s licence. To get a licence you will need to complete the graduated licencing process. For information on driving in Canada and how to get a licence, see:

Driving in Canada: 10 Essential Facts to Know.

Driving Test in Canada: A Full Guide

Tips for Winter Driving to Ensure Your Safety

Barrie Public Transit

Barrie Transit provides public transit and bus routes throughout the city. As well, you can take advantage of daily GO Train and Bus service to downtown Toronto and other cities in the region. And, using public transit is a convenient, affordable, and simple way to travel within Barrie and across the region. Get more information about Barrie Transit fares. 

Allandale GO Station
Allandale GO Station. Photo: City of Barrie

There are no major airports in the city. The closest is Lake Simcoe Regional Airport.

Barrie and Simcoe County offer support services to new immigrants who move to the community. You can get information about living and working in the community.

Some of the settlement agencies include the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka Immigrant Services, The Learning Centre, Georgian College, and Bradford Immigration & Community Services (BICS). 

For more information, tools, and free webinars about living in Canada visit our Settling in Canada resource page to help with your settlement needs.

Language Support in Barrie

Many community agencies offer free language classes. In Barrie, you can take courses at The Learning Centre, Georgian College, and through the YMCA Immigrant Services. Or, you can also take courses with the Simcoe County District School Board in the Adult English as a Second Language program.

Personal Finance & Banking

Having a strong financial management plan is important for new immigrants. Newcomers have access to banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions where you can open a bank account, get a credit card, line of credit, and apply for a mortgage. Most banks and financial institutions offer specific products and programs for new immigrants. Visit a local branch to open an account. You will need proof of residence and proper identification.

For more information about your financial first steps in Canada, visit our Banking in Canada resource page. 

Related Posts:

Top 10 Financial Steps to Take Before You Leave for Canada

Move to Canada | Transferring Cash & Valuables

Open a Bank Account Before Arriving in Canada

Barrie’s Education System

The Government of Ontario manages the school system, including elementary, high school, and post-secondary education.

Elementary and High School Education

Barrie offers residents several elementary and high school education options. You have the choice to attend the public or Catholic school board. It also has two French school boards and several private schools. You can enrol your children at a school with one of the following:

  • Simcoe County District School Board 
  • Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board 
  • Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir 
  • Conseil scolaire Viamonde.

Post Secondary Institutions

Located in Barrie is Georgian College of Applied Arts and Technology. It offers over 130 full-time career-focused programs. There are over 13,000 full-time students including 4,500 international students from over 85 countries.

Georgian College
Georgian College of Applied Arts and Technology

Related Posts:

Schooling in Canada | A Look at the Education System

Higher Education Offers Benefits to Newcomers

Where to Get Medical Care in Barrie, Ontario

Top-quality health care is something we value as Canadians. In Barrie, you can get urgent care through the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre. You can also go to walk-in clinics throughout the city to receive care for non-urgent needs.

In case of an emergency call 9-1-1. This number is the same no matter where you live in Canada. 

The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) provides residents with health care coverage. To learn how to apply for an OHIP card, check out Steps to Access Free Health Care in Canada.

You can also pay for additional health insurance plans to help cover the costs of prescription drugs and services that are not covered by OHIP. Some employers offer third-party health insurance through their employer benefits packages.

How to Find a Family Doctor in Barrie

Finding a family doctor is an important step to ensure you are caring for your health. You can search for a family doctor who is taking on new patients through Health Care Connect. You can call 1-800-445-1822 or visit to search online. 

What is Day to Day Life Like in Barrie?

Things to Do in Barrie

As a waterfront community, Barrie offers many year-round activities for residents. You can enjoy the beaches in the summer and head over to nearby ski clubs in the winter. And it is only a short drive to many other outdoor adventures. Downtown Barrie is at the heart of it all.

Public Spaces & Attractions

The city offers many local attractions including the Simcoe County Museum, Fort Willow, Centennial Park, and Bear Creek Eco Park. If you are into the arts and theatre, check out Five Points Theatre or Maclaren Art Centre. Be sure to check out the iconic Spirit Catcher sculpture.

Attractions in Barrie Ontario
Left: Blue Mountain, Top Right: Spirit Catcher Sculpture by the waterfront, Bottom Right: Horseshoe Resort

Restaurants & Nightlife

Downtown Barrie is the place to go to have dinner or enjoy entertainment and cultural activities. The city hosts many festivals such as Kempenfest, Barrie Waterfront Festival, Winterfest, and the Barrie Film Festival.

Nature & Natural Landscapes

Located on Lake Simcoe, Barrie provides residents with the opportunity to walk along the waterfront, go boating and enjoy the beach life in the summer months. Be sure to check out the beaches at Minet’s Point, The Gables, Tyndale, Centennial, and Johnson’s Beach.

Johnson's Beach
Johnson’s Beach. Photo: City of Barrie

In the winter, Horseshoe Resort, Snow Valley and Blue Mountain are great for skiing, snowboarding, and tubing. Or check out nature at Arboretum Sunnidale Park.

Sporting Events & Concerts

Barrie is home to the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League, and other minor sports teams. If you want to catch a concert, check out Sadlon Arena or Burl’s Creek Event Grounds, which is home to the popular country music festival Boots and Hearts.

Culture & Diversity in Barrie


Barrie is not traditionally known as a diverse city, but it is on the path to becoming more diverse. There are about 20,000 immigrants in the city. 7.6% of the population are minorities and 5% are Aboriginal. The city has a large francophone community with close to 10,000 residents being bilingual.

The largest minority groups are Black (2.7%), South Asian (2.2%), Chinese (1.2%) and Latin American (1.1%).


Barrie is mainly a Christian community. Around two-thirds of residents identify as Catholic, United, or Anglican. About 30% of the population has no religious affiliation. About 1-2% of the population identify with another religion.

The Weather in Barrie

Barrie has a climate like the rest of southern Ontario. They experience warm and humid summers and cold winters. It is a humid continental climate. The region experiences heavy thunderstorms in the spring and summer.

In the winter, the city gets significant snowfall, largely because it is close to Georgian Bay, Lake Ontario. The average temperature is -8.1 C in January and +21.0 C in July.

Common Questions Immigrants Ask About Living in Barrie

Is Barrie Ontario a Good Place to Live for Immigrants?

Barrie is a mid-sized city that offers a slower-paced lifestyle than living in a large city such as Toronto. Though Barrie is known for being more traditional, it is becoming a more diverse city. Barrie was named the safest city in Ontario to live in. If you are into the outdoors and cottage lifestyle, it’s a great place to consider.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Living in Barrie?

It’s vital to consider the pros and cons of a city before you choose where you want to live. On the plus side, Barrie is a great location, with a growing job market, a safe community and offers many great seasonal activities. On the downside, it’s less diverse than a city such as Toronto and other potential issues such as road congestion, challenging winters, and rising housing costs.

Is Barrie Ontario Expensive?

Barrie is more affordable than many cities in the Greater Toronto Area, but housing prices are rising as the city has become a prime location for interprovincial migration. As well, many Toronto residents are moving to Barrie. As a result, the cost of housing is rising.

For more information, tools, and free webinars about living in Canada visit our Settling in Canada resource page. We’ll help you to settle successfully!