Frequently Asked Questions

Many newcomers wonder about similar issues when deciding when and where to move. Select a category below to read some of most common questions we are asked by newcomers and their answers. If you are not able to find the answer to a particular question you have, contact us and we'll get back to you.

I'm used to a large city. What will a smaller community be like?

Many urban dwellers have moved to our area in recent years due to lower home prices and overall cost of living, and access to both water and land activities.

Before moving, many individuals wonder how they will adjust to smaller community and are surprised to find the same types of social and recreational activities as a bigger city, including sports leagues, cultural events, and festivals. Check local websites to see what events and activities we plan each year: Railway City Tourism, Elgin Tourist, and Relish Elgin.

What is there to do for seniors?

Many seniors enjoy living in the region because of the numerous social activities specifically catering to their needs and interests. Take a look at Elgin Free and Low Cost Guide, St. Thomas Public Library, and Elgin Public Libraries for program details.

How can I get involved in the community?

Whether you are an artist, accountant, entrepreneur or anything else, you are welcome to contact local organizations to find out about volunteering opportunities.

Is child care available in the area?

Yes. There are many licensed child care providers in St. Thomas-Elgin. More information can be found in the Children's Services/Child Care section of the City of St. Thomas website.

How much does child care cost?

Child care rates are not fixed and are determined by each facility based on the number of days of care and number of children in care per family. Contact each provider to learn about rates. Government subsidies are available to low income families. Visit the Child Care Fee Subsidy Program page on the City of St. Thomas website for more information. 

What activities are there for children and families in St. Thomas-Elgin?

There is always something happening for children and families in St. Thomas-Elgin. Check out your local EarlyON Centre, local community centres and parks, sports organizations, or other community organizations. 

Where will my child go to school?

School assignments are based on the school system you choose (refer to the Education page for more information) and your address. Contact school boards directly for up-to-date information about school boundaries.

Do you have French Immersion schools?

Yes. French immersion education is available through the Thames Valley District School Board and the London District Catholic School Board. In French immersion, children are taught the majority of their courses in French, although school communications are in English. There are no publicly funded French-only schools in which all school communications and courses are offered only in French. To see French immersion schools on a map, see Explore the Area.

Are English language classes for adults available?

There are a variety of English classes offered for adults in St. Thomas and Elgin County. There are classes offered for different skill levels, locations, and eligibility. Programs are free for people who qualify, including permanent residents who qualify for the LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers) program. Major providers of English classes include the YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin and local school boards. See the Education page for more information.

What colleges and universities are nearby?

World-renowned Western University is the closest university, conveniently located in London, Ontario. Other nearby universities include the University of Waterloo, Wilfred Laurier University, McMaster University, and University of Windsor.

Fanshawe College - St. Thomas-Elgin Campus is conveniently located in St. Thomas, offering many full-time and part-time programs. Other nearby colleges include Fanshawe College (Main Campus), Ontario Agricultural College, Conestoga College and Mohawk College.

Is healthcare free in Canada?

Free health services are available to citizens and permanent residents through the Ontario Health Insurance Program (OHIP) after a three-month waiting period. Refer to the OHIP Waiting Period webpage for eligibility information.

Where do I go if I am sick?

In an emergency, proceed directly to a hospital emergency department, such as St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital. If it is not a medical emergency, make an appointment with your family doctor or visit the Southwest Healthline website to find a walk-in clinic near you.

How do I find a family doctor?

Like many parts of southwestern Ontario, St. Thomas-Elgin is currently experiencing a family doctor shortage. You may need to seek medical help from a walk-in clinic until you find a family doctor.

Where can I find rental property listings?

Local rental properties may be advertised online on sites like Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace, through newspaper ads, word of mouth, or simply by placing a sign on the lawn or in the window. For a list of local newspapers, see the Shops & Services page. Landlords may send you pictures or information online but never send money before viewing a rental property in person.

Where can I find short term housing?

In addition to newspaper ads and online listings, check with local hotels and motels about lower rates to consecutive stays, such as those listed on Railway City Tourism and Elgin Tourist. Short-term housing may also be advertised through dedicated short-term accommodation companies like Airbnb. 

How can I buy a home?

For information on the local housing market and to find a local realtor, contact the London St. Thomas Association of Realtors.

How can I immigrate to Canada?

Unfortunately, because processes and procedures to immigrate to Canada can change at any time, we cannot provide specific information about pathways to immigration. Refer to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website for the latest information.

Can you sponsor me to come to Canada?

No, we are not able to sponsor individuals to come to St. Thomas-Elgin. Refer to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website for pathways to citizenship, including how to obtain sponsorship.

I need help with my Permanent Residency or work permit. Can you help me?

There are two government-funded settlement agencies in St. Thomas-Elgin that offer free help with various steps in the immigration process. See the Immigration & Settlement page for contact details.

How diverse is St. Thomas-Elgin?

Our region has a unique variety of cultural groups, including immigrants from all over the world. Approximately 28% of all residents are either first or second generation immigrants; however, the percentage of racialized community members is fairly low. Many immigrants are of European origin. There is a very large Low German Speaking Mennonite community, who have arrived from Mexico and other Latin American countries. There is also a significant population of Dutch immigrants. Low German, Spanish, and Dutch are the most commonly spoken languages other than English and French.

What are the main areas for shopping and services?

The widest vareity of services and amenities are located in the city of St. Thomas. Additionally, the main shopping and service areas in each region of the county are:

  • West Elgin – West Lorne, Rodney, Dutton
  • Central Elgin – Shedden, Belmont, Port Stanley
  • East Elgin – Aylmer, Straffordville Port Burwell

How can I start a business providing products or services?

For help with business plans and local market information, contact the organizations listed on the I am Starting/Growing a Business page.

What is the closest international airport?

For many regions of St. Thomas-Elgin, London International Airport is the closest airport, located only a 30-minute drive away. Toronto Pearson International Airport is also a popular choice for international travel, located two hours from the area by car.

Is public transportation available?

Public bus transportation operates in St. Thomas. For updated schedules, routes and fares, visit the St. Thomas Transit System website. There is no public transportation in the rest of the Elgin County area; residents can use their own transportation or take a taxi. 

How cold does it get in the winter?

Winter temperatures in St. Thomas-Elgin are usually milder than other parts of the country due to the proximity to Lake Erie and the southerly location. Winter temperatures range between -5°C to -15°C (23 °F to 5°F), rarely dropping below -25°C (-13°F).

How hot does it get in the summer?

Summers are hot and dry, allowing residents to take advantage of the close proximity to Lake Erie. Temperatures usually range between 25°C to 30°C (77°F to 86°F).

Community + Kids

Racism + Acceptance


Elgin County
City of St.Thomas
YW St.Thomas
Province of Ontario