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Building a New Life in Perth-Huron

 

Two new comers
Employees at Vistech in Stratford

Making the move to Perth-Huron can be an exciting opportunity. But for anyone moving to an unfamiliar place, building a new life is a daunting task.

The main draw for newcomers to Perth-Huron is job opportunities. Over 20% of newcomers in one survey reported better employment opportunities as their reason for moving to the region1. Although employment is a major factor in creating a new life, it is just one necessary piece of successful integration into a new home.

In addition to a place to work, newcomers need a place to live. Even though housing was reported to be one of the top 3 challenges for newcomers to Perth-Huron1, the outlook for finding housing for newcomers in this region is better than for those in urban areas. Those looking for housing in rural areas such as Perth-Huron tend to have fewer challenges when finding housing as compared to Toronto and other large Canadian metropolitan areas, where the proportion of newcomers who have experienced challenges finding housing is an average of 4.8% higher2. Yet, finding a place to live is still a challenge for newcomers, given the low volume of available housing in the region. The advantage largely comes from the cost of housing in Perth-Huron, which is on average is about one third3 that of the average Toronto home4.

However, even the more affordable housing in the region is still sometimes more than newcomers can afford. The median income for Perth newcomers is $27,597, which is $8,519 less compared to non-immigrants (Figure 1 & 2).Unemployment rateUnemployment rate In Huron County, the difference is even larger, with the median newcomer income of $19,791, which is $14,405 below that of non-immigrants5. Considering that Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation guidelines suggest that affordable housing should cost no more than one third6 of pre-tax income, this leaves newcomers to Perth with only $689.93 to spend monthly on housing, and only $494.78 monthly for newcomers to Huron. With time, however, the income gap does begin to close between immigrants and non-immigrants. For long-term immigrants that arrived in Perth-Huron before 2006, the gap between their wages and those of non-immigrants fell to about a third of the original difference.

In addition to having a place to work and a place to live, newcomers also need a way of getting between the two, as well as anywhere else they need to go. The transportation needs in Perth-Huron are high, especially for those living on lower incomes, including newcomers7. Proportionally, 8.5% more newcomers than non-newcomers travel outside of Perth to get to work (Figure 3). This gap is slightly lower in Huron, where 3.6% more newcomers travel outside the county to their jobs (Figure 4). This poses a problem, because newcomers get to work by driving almost 10% less often than locals (Figure 5 & 6). The next most common method of transportation to work for newcomers is walking, with 10.1% of Perth newcomers and 22.2% of Huron newcomers walking to their jobs. This is almost 2.5 times higher than non-newcomers6.

% of People with Bachelor's Degree or Higher (2016) Of course, social integration and family life are invaluable for people to feel a sense of belonging in their homes. Family ties are strong among newcomer families to Perth and Huron. In fact, over a third of newcomers moved to the region to improve their family’s future, or to join family members or close friends1. Over half of these newcomers were accompanied to Canada by a spouse or extended family member1, and two-thirds had heard about Perth-Huron specifically from friends or family. Newcomers are also more likely to be married than non-immigrants. Newcomers to Perth and Huron Counties are about 10% more likely to be married than their local counterparts6 (Figures 7 & 8).

But branching out into the greater community is also key for feeling a part of one’s community. Almost a third of newcomers reported that they socialize primarily with others of their own culture or country of origin1. This statistic is high, considering the small numbers of newcomers in Perth and Huron that represent each cultural group. Only one third of newcomers reported that they felt they were a part of Perth and Huron1. The good news for newcomers in Perth is that they tend to experience far less social isolation than those living in the more populous neighbouring Oxford county8. Indeed, residents of Perth and Huron Counties have a higher sense of community belonging than the Ontario average9.

Moving to a new community is challenging for anyone, but immigrating from another country with a different language and culture can be especially isolating. Employment,

Teaching ESL
ESL Class at the Centre for Employment and Learning

housing, income, and social connection are all challenging for recent newcomers to secure. But thanks to the benefits of rural life, Perth and Huron Counties provide the right opportunities for newcomers to build a new life in their new home.

 

  • Story credit: Signum Insights
  • Photo credit: Scott Wishart

References

  1. (2015). The Newcomer Outreach and Needs Assessment (NONA) Project
  2. “Making Ontario Home”, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, 2012, https://www.ocasi.org/downloads/OCASI_MOH_ENGLISH.pdf
  3. The Canadian Real Estate Association, Huron Perth Association of REALTORS http://creastats.crea.ca/huro/
  4. Toronto Real Estate Trends, Housing Market Report for March 2018 https://www.zolo.ca/toronto-real-estate/trends
  5. Census Data, 2016, Perth and Huron Counties
  6. https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/inpr/afhoce/afhoce_021.cfm
  7. “The Road Ahead: A Study of Transportation Needs Across Huron and Perth Counties”, Social Research & Planning Council, 2012, http://perthhuron.unitedway.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Transportation-Report.pdf
  8. Labute, Brianne & Khan, Bakhtawar. Immigrant Attraction and Retention in Perth County, 2015. http://waynecaldwell.ca/Projects/workingwithimmigrants/Perth%20County%20Report.pdf
  9. http://www.myperthhuron.ca/Listings.php?ListType=CommunityVitality_Belonging&MenuItemID=121
 
 
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