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, Active Elgin, Relish Elgin, Savour 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 Active Elgin, 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, or entrepreneur, you are welcome to contact local organizations to find out about volunteering opportunities. Contact information for organizations that accept volunteers can be found at Volunteer Elgin.
Is child care available in the area?
Yes. There are many licensed childcare providers in St. Thomas-Elgin. More information can be found on the 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 St. Thomas child care subsidy 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 the Elgin Children’s Network portal for upcoming events and activities.
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?
Yes, free conversational English language classes are offered to Permanent Residents through the LINC program. Other individuals and those who wish to study at the high school level can attend adult English classes through the 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 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 of 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 are assigned a family doctor.
Where can I find rental property listings?
Local rental properties may be advertised online, 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?
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 Citizenship and Immigration 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 Citizenship and Immigration 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 visible minorities is low as many immigrants come from largely Caucasian countries of origin, although we expect this to change over time as more immigrants of all backgrounds discover the benefits of our region. Due to the large Mennonite communities in the rural areas, German and Dutch are the two most commonly spoken languages other than English and French.
What cultural events are organized in the area?
Youth and adults organize cultural events. St. Joseph’s Secondary School in St. Thomas has a Cultural Diversity Club that organizes events for local students and the Cultural Diversity Committee plans community events. Check the Facebook page for news and information.
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, Port Stanley
- East Elgin – Aylmer, Belmont
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 website.
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).