Are you considering moving to Ontario in Canada but want to avoid the high cost of living associated with the Greater Toronto Area and other larger cities? If this is the case, you may consider living in Sarnia.
Sarnia is a relatively small city in southern Ontario with an attractive lakeside location. It is considered a safe place to live and benefits from mild winters and low housing costs.
In the article below we have tried to give you the main facts about living in Sarnia, as well as describe the city from the viewpoint of people that have lived there.
Sarnia – The Facts
|Population Growth 2016/2021||0.60%|
|Population Born in UK 2016 Census||Unknown|
|Time Zones||EST (UTC -5)|
|Ave Cost Real Estate Jan ’22||$539,377|
|Sales Tax||13% HST|
|Prov Income Tax Low Band*||5.05%|
|Prov Income Tax High Band*||13.16%|
|Crime Severity Index 2020||76.92|
|Violent Crime Severity Index 2020||89.25|
*Note: Provincial Income Tax is Paid in Addition to Federal Income Tax
** Canadian Averages 73.4 & 87.0 (Lower is Better)
Where Is Sarnia Ontario?
Sarnia is a natural deep-water port at the southernmost point of Lake Huron. It lies at the mouth of the St Clair River, on the shore of the busiest section of the St Lawrence Seaway System.
It is a border town linked to Port Huron in the US by the Blue Water Bridge. It lies around a one-hour drive west of London, Ontario, and one-hour drive north of Detroit, Michigan (in the US).
It has a beautiful waterfront and is known for its spectacular blue water. Geographically its surrounding areas are flat and agricultural.
What Is The Population Of Sarnia Ontario?
In 2022 the population of Sarnia was 72047
The population in Sarnia is of primarily European descent, with less than 10% being visible minorities and under 5% of indigenous descent. It has a slightly older population than average, with the population’s median age standing at 4-5 years higher than Canada as a whole.
What Is The Weather Like In Sarnia Ontario?
Sarnia’s weather is mild compared to most of Canada. It benefits from being one of Canada’s southernmost communities and the moderating effect of the lake on its climate.
Winters are relatively mild, apart from occasional blasts of cold weather that move down from the Arctic. Summers are warm/hot with high levels of humidity. Thunderstorms are common from April to September and can be severe, although destructive weather (such as tornadoes) is very rare.
|Annual Rainfall (mm)||770|
|Annual Snowfall (mm)||112|
|Ave Hrs Sunshine/Day||5.6|
|Ave Jan Temp (DegC)||-5|
|Ave July Temp (DegC)||21|
What Is The Cost Of Living In Sarnia Ontario?
The low cost of living in Sarnia is one of the main attractions for people moving to Sarnia. Housing is very affordable, with house prices almost 30% lower than the Canadian average. Compared to London Ontario house prices are around 25% cheaper.
Affordable living costs are often cited as a reason for moving from some of the major cities such as Toronto or Ottawa to Sarnia.
What Is Sarnia’s Economy Based On?
Sarnia’s primary industries are agriculture and petrochemicals. The area south of the city is known as Chemical Valley and is home to more than 50 facilities and refineries, with direct pipelines bringing oil from Alberta for refining.
The area also has emerging biochemical and clean energy economies, with one of the largest photovoltaic plants (converting light to electricity) in Canada.
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Does Sarnia Have Good Transport Connections?
Sarnia Transit operates bus services within the city, with a total of around 15 routes. There are also several buses to and from London each day.
Biking is popular with people living in Sarnia, helped by the mild climate and lack of hills. There is also a good network of bike lanes on the city’s roads.
Viarail operates daily passenger rail services to Toronto, where you can connect with trains to other Canadian and US cities. There is also a shuttle connection to Toronto International Airport.
If you want to travel internationally, then Detroit’s Metro Airport is Sarnia’s closest international airport. It will take around 80 minutes to drive there, versus a drive of close to 3 hours to Toronto’s international airport at Mississauga.
What Outdoor Activities Can I Enjoy Living In Sarnia Ontario?
Sarnia has more than 100 parks, including some with waterfront access and public beaches. Canatara Park is one of the biggest, with close to a kilometre of waterfront. Also popular is Waterfront Park, north of the downtown area, which runs under the Blue Water Bridge.
Summer is when living in Sarnia becomes most attractive. Summer activities include swimming, sailing, kayaking and other water sports.
There are numerous woodland trails that are great for walking and biking in the summer and snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter. One of the most popular is the 16km Howard Watson Trail.
For sports, Germain Park in the south of the city is home to five baseball diamonds, four soccer pitches and an outdoor pool. There are also a number of golf courses in the city.
Entertainment And Nightlife In Sarnia
Sarnia has numerous bars and some very good restaurants, but it isn’t known for its lively nightlife. If you are looking to party then, a better option would be to travel an hour east to London. Or alternatively, head south to downtown Detroit for clubs and a range of live shows and entertainment.
There is a downtown riverfront shopping area for shopping, or you can head to Lambton Mall, which houses around 72 stores. If you are looking for something more, you can head to either London or Detroit.
If you are interested in the arts, then living in Sarnia provides access to a world-class art gallery. The Imperial Theatre offers live shows throughout the year as well as performances from Sarnia’s International Symphony Orchestra.
What Sports Teams Does Sarnia Have?
If you are a hockey fan, then you can watch the Sarnia Sting. The team plays major junior in the Ontario hockey league. For football, you can head to watch the Sarnia Imperials, a semi-pro team competing in the Northern Football Conference league.
The best option is to head south to Detroit for serious sports fans. Within the city, Detroit has teams competing in the National Football League (NFL), National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Baseball (MLB), and the National Basketball Association (NBA).
What Are The Best Neighbourhoods In Sarnia?
Locals suggest that there aren’t any particularly bad neighbourhoods in Sarnia. The area you choose will really depend on your interests.
Generally, property prices are cheaper on the south side of the highway than on the north of the city. If you are looking for lively areas with more bars and restaurants, the downtown area is the obvious choice or the city’s south end.
If you prefer somewhere quiet, then head for the north of the city, and for beach access, try Bright Grove or Point Edward.
For a livability comparison of the different neighbourhoods in Sarnia, look at the Areavibes website. Areavibe has assessed all of the Sarnia districts according to a number of factors, including amenities, crime rates, education and healthcare. Their eight most liveable neighbourhoods in Sarnia are:
- Twin Lakes
- Heritage Park
- College Park
- Oak Acres
- Brights Grove
- Rapids Parkway
Is Sarnia A Safe Place To Live?
Crime rates in Sarnia are very close to Canadian national averages (see data table above), and people generally feel safe living there. There don’t seem to be any areas that have particular reputations for being unsafe.
Is The Air Quality Bad In Sarnia Ontario?
Sarnia has long had a reputation for poor air quality. This is partly due to pollution from its own Chemical Valley and pollution from the US.
Historically Sarnia had some of the worst air pollution in Canada, but a lot has been done to improve air quality in recent years.
In the week before writing this article, I checked Sarnia’s air quality index several times. This is measured on a scale of 1-10, with 10 indicating the highest risk to health. Readings ranged from 2 (low risk) to 5 (moderate risk), with 3 being the most common reading.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Living In Sarnia?
One of the main advantages of living in Sarnia is lakeside living at an affordable cost. I have identified some of the other pros and cons below.
Living In Sarnia Pros
- Affordable housing
- Attractive lakeside location
- Wide range of outdoor activities
- Mild climate
- Close proximity to Detroit
- Access to Canatara Park
- Many public beaches on Lake Huron
Living In Sarnia Cons
- Poor air quality
- Little nightlife
- Humid summers
Conclusion: Is Living In Sarnia The Right Choice For You?
So, you’ve read through the ins and outs of living in Sarnia, Ontario. From its affordable housing and attractive lakeside location to its mild climate and range of outdoor activities, Sarnia offers a unique blend of small-town charm and natural beauty. However, it’s essential to weigh these pros against the cons, such as the city’s poor air quality and limited nightlife options.
If you’re looking for a quieter life away from the hustle and bustle of larger cities like Toronto, Sarnia could be an excellent fit for you. Its proximity to Detroit also offers the best of both worlds—peaceful Canadian living with easy access to American amenities.
In summary, Sarnia presents a compelling option for newcomers to Canada, especially those who value affordability and outdoor activities. It’s a place where you can enjoy the beauty of Lake Huron, engage in various sports, and still have the comfort of a safe and welcoming community.
So, is Sarnia the right choice for you? Only you can answer that, but hopefully, this guide has provided you with the information you need to make an informed decision.
FAQ – Pros And Cons Of Living In Sarnia
Sources of data Statistics Canada & Canadian Real Estate Association