Life in Barrie for Immigrants – Guide for Newcomers

If you have made the decision to immigrate to Barrie, Ontario, here are all you need to know for a smooth transition.

Barrie is one of the 147 cities in the Province of Ontario. It is a politically independent city located just 90 kilometers away from Toronto, the nation’s capital. It is known as Central Ontario’s first waterfront community because it is situated on the western shore of Lake Simcoe, within the Golden Horseshoe. Its sprawling waterfront, beautiful downtown, and stunning landscape are a tourist wonder. This article will discuss about life in Barrie for immigrants.

Barrie was named after Sir Robert Barrie – the British Admiral who led the British troop that settled on its shores during the famous war of 1812.

The city has grown from its humble beginnings of First Nations settlers to a current population of over 156,130, and a mix of people from different cultures and with different preferences. Barrie probably owes this rise in population, to its proximity with Toronto, Ontario’s capital.

Barrie is fondly known as a bedroom community because it is close enough to Toronto, for people who work there to be able to commute. People can live in Barrie and easily go to work in Toronto, which is an hour’s commute away. In fact, Barrie is approximately 10 minutes from Highway 400.

Cost of living in Barrie

Despite being the 3rd largest city in the province of Ontario, Barrie is one of the cheapest cities in Canada.

If you are immigrating to the city of Barrie as a student, it is advisable to live in the northern part of Barrie where the famous Georgian College is located. This will help you save on transportation to school. The following is your expected monthly budget as a student immigrating to the city of Barrie:

  • Room rent (this includes utilities): $500-$600
  • Phone: $50-$60
  • Groceries: $150-$200
  • Transportation: $100-$150 (may be way lower if you live within walking distance to campus)
  • Miscellaneous: $50
  • Overall, you will need at least $850 per month to live modestly

If you plan to work in Barrie, the average household income is $81,486 annually. Housing prices are much lower than in neighboring cities. You will have assorted ranges of affordable housing options to choose from, and if you can afford waterfront apartments and luxury homes, that’s just great!

If you plan to own a house in Barrie, you can purchase a single-family home at $475,100

If you plan to rent a house, the rent for a one-bedroom apartment is about $1,330 per month, and for a three-bedroom apartment, it is between $1,375 and $1,650. This is in or around the city of Barrie.

Public transportation is provided by Barrie Transit, which operates numerous bus routes within the city. Monthly bus passes cost $85.

Barrie also runs daily GO Trains and Buses, connecting the city to the Greater Toronto Area during morning and evening rush hours.

A number of taxi companies operate in the city with taxi fares starting at $3.25. For an hour-long ride around the city, expect to pay about $30.

Weather in Barrie

Every city in Canada has its own weather.

Summer in Barrie is warm and humid. You may need to buy a can of bug repelant spray because mosquitoes are common. However, mosquito bites can be treated quickly with a little paste of baking soda and cheap wine vinegar.

Heavy thunderstorms characterize the springs of Barrie and some of its summers.

Barrie has its winters, what with being close to Georgian Bay, Lake Ontario, and Lake Erie. Barrie gets approximately 240 centimeters of snowfall each year.

Here are a few tips in preparation for winter in Barrie:

  • Buy warm clothes
  • Spend money on new Goretex boots and woolen or cotton socks.
  • Buy wool hats
  • You can buy second-hand winter wears at Goodwill or Salvation Army store
  • Don’t wear jeans and definitely not polyester material. Not only will they not keep you warm, but they are also a waste of money.
  • Dress in layers. Although it’s annoying, it’s critical to your survival during winter.

The good thing about living in Barrie is that it is a place where you can afford a block heater, trickle charger, battery blanket, and the rest.

How multicultural is Barrie?

In Barrie, there is an obvious cultural diversity. This is evident in their schools, cuisines, and cultural festivals. There is also a great influx of international students in Barrie

An estimated number of 61,605 immigrants speaking 112 different languages, reside in Simcoe County communities.

In view of the growing population of immigrants in the city, Barrie has established the Ethnic Mosaic Alliance whose goal is to enrich Simcoe County communities by embracing, promoting, and celebrating cultural diversity, and to work toward the creation of a Multicultural Centre in Simcoe County.

Schools in Barrie

  • The Georgian College was established in 1967 and ranks 2nd among all Canadian colleges and universities, and 3rd in the world, as of 2013. It is a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) with the number O19395677361. It is known for the quality of its education, and its tolerance for international students. The Georgian College received the highest score among colleges in Ontario, in the International Student Barometer (ISB) survey.
  • The Laurentian University works in close partnership with Georgian College, delivering programs in Barrie since 2001. It counts close to 3,000 alumni in Barrie and its environs and offers good employment for the Barrie community.

Other schools are

  • Blyth Academy Barrie
  • Thor College
  • Seven Oaks Academy

There are also religion-based Schools like

And private schools like

  • Kempenfelt Bay School
  • Barrie Montessori & Private Elementary School

The popular Prince of Wales Public School, built in 1876, was officially closed on June 30, 2011. The students were transferred to Hillcrest Public School.

The list is not exhaustive.

The two main School Boards that service Barrie and the surrounding area are the Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) and the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board (SMCDSB). Both boards provide instruction in English and French.

Life in Vancouver for Immigrants

Major Employers in Barrie Include:

  • Coca Cola Bottling Company
  • Sun Media
  • Hydro One
  • IBM Canada Leadership Data Centre
  • Scotiabank Regional Centre
  • TD Canada Trust Technology and Operations Centre
  • Barrie-Muskoka Health Region
  • Barrie-Muskoka Board of Education
  • Shaw Communications Inc
  • Nova Chemicals Corporation
  • Telus Communications
  • Mark’s Work Warehouse
  • Barrie-Muskoka Roman Catholic Separate School Division

The list is not exhaustive

Fun things to do in Barrie

  • Entertainment in Barrie is an all-year-round affair, with major festivals like the Barrie Waterfront Festival of Music, the Barrie Film Festival, the Winterfest, and the Barrie Festival of Lights. Barrie’s KempenFest is Ontario’s biggest and best waterfront arts and craft festival which takes place every August.
  • If you are an art lover, you should visit MacLaren Art Centre on Mulcaster Street for a taste of fine art. You can also catch a live theatre production, concert, comedy show, or dance performance at the Mady Centre for the Performing Arts.
  •  Try a bit of shopping. Take a stroll downtown, to the cities boutiques and restaurants.
  • Barrie is full of history. You can take a tour through the history of Barrie, on the Heritage Barrie Walking Tour, an hour-long self-guided trek. You can also visit the Simcoe County Museum to see the city’s rich history.
  • Barrie has beautiful beaches. During the summer, you cannot resist the temptation of visiting Minet’s Point Beach, Johnsons Beach, The Gables, Tyndale Beach, and Centennial Beach.
  • Enrich your boating experience at the Kempenfelt Bay and Lake Simcoe.
  • For other activities like skiing, tubing, snowboarding, and ice fishing, the popular Horseshoe Resort, Snow Valley and Blue Mountain are available.

However, if you would like indoor entertainment, test your English skill with the television show – Letterkenny. It is a popular TV show in Barrie, but more than that, it is a challenge. You may not understand it, but try it out.

Immigration Pathway to Barrie

The best pathway for immigration to Barrie is the Ontario Provincial Nominee Program.

Through the express entry system, provinces have the opportunity to nominate candidates who will gain permanent residence with them. these immigrants will have to live and work in the provinces for a minimum of 2 years, after which they can move to another province.

Simply sign up for an express entry profile at the Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and join the express entry pool.

Additional tips for the new immigrant in Barrie

  • If you find accommodation with elderly house owners, it is a courtesy in Barrie, to shovel the snow of your landlord or any elderly neighbors. Please do not ask for money for this service.
  • Do not walk on ice except you are in the company of an experienced Canadian. You could fall through, and may not be rescued early enough.
  • Changing cultures can affect people in different ways. Keep some basic medication for diarrhea, headaches and colds.
  • You can save on drinking water, by drinking Barriean water off the tap. The water is clean and pure.


Life in Barrie is better experienced than told. For the lover of nature, Barrie is the place to be. Its proximity to Toronto is a huge advantage to the newcomer, as well as the various job opportunities created by major companies in the city.

Just know this – if you want to live a stress-free life, all you need is a warm parka and snow boots, and you are set for the life of your dreams in Barrie. Don’t worry, you will certainly need them!