I have lived in Georgetown for around five months now, and I wanted to give a quick update on my thoughts regarding the town.
Warning, this is a bit of a rant.
First off, I want to say how dumb it is for a town that has so much sprawl to not have any public transit system. There should at least be a bus from Georgetown South to Downtown and a bus from Downtown to the Georgetown Marketplace Mall. The entire town takes as much as half an hour to circumnavigate and is home to over 40,000 residents.
There should be a public transportation system in Georgetown, even if it started out with two or three of the smaller busses like Brockville has. To give a comparison, Brockville has a public transportation system with three small busses running an hourly schedule, and its population is one thousand residents less than Georgetown, and it’s also three square kilometers smaller.
The biggest frustration I have living here is looking at the cost of housing in Georgetown. Who the heck can afford an average of $400,000 for a three bedroom home? In St. Thomas, I owned a three bedroom, one and a half bathroom home for under $185,000. I know it wasn’t as close to Toronto, but the prices here are still super-inflated.
A quick search in Georgetown for houses between $100,000 and $500,000 brings up a whopping 62 properties, while in Kingston, the same search brings up 245 properties. The cheapest in Georgetown starting at $250,000, while the cheapest in Kingston starting at $160,000 or a difference of $90,000 at the lower end of the market. Usually, when guessing house prices in Georgetown, I take what I know from St. Thomas, and Kingston and add $70,000, and I end up getting pretty close. That means there is between a $70,000 and $90,000 bubble in Georgetown due to its proximity to Toronto.
For apartments, a comparison that I always make is how I lived in Ottawa, our nation’s capital, in an one bedroom apartment, only ten minutes walking from the Parliament buildings for $825 per month inclusive with a parking spot. I now live in Georgetown, on Main street, above a convenience store, in a bachelor apartment for $800 per month without a parking spot.
I have never lived in a town that has so little going on during the summer. Each weekend in Brockville, there was at least one large community event being held. In Kingston and Ottawa, multiple events were competing for attention each weekend. Even when I lived in Walkerton, there were a few things here and there within the small town to keep you busy. Georgetown is larger than both Walkerton and Brockville, but has very little to do each weekend.
Then of course, there are the activity centers. Georgetown does have a bowling alley, but it is in a poor state of repair. It doesn’t have a movie theatre, something that Hanover, a town approximately a fifth the size of Georgetown had. The other activity centers are the arena near the Georgetown Marketplace Mall, and the community center with pool, deep in Georgetown south where it’s inaccessible to people without vehicles.
The biggest saving graces for me have been the Farmer’s market on Main street which is a reasonable size for a community like Georgetown and the Library, which was recently updated, and is both useful and comfortable.
Go Busses and Trains
One nicest features of Georgetown is that it does have access to the GO network, a series of trains and busses that ferry people to Toronto and back every day. It isn’t too expensive, and runs fairly constantly. While this service is neat, and I haven’t take advantage of it yet, I am also a bit frustrated at how the timings are set-up and how it is a hub and spoke system that only brings people from various communities into Toronto and back out again. It doesn’t directly connect most outlying communities. This service could be far more useful to me if I could go from Georgetown to Milton or even just increased service between Georgetown and Guelph (which would be going away from Toronto, and who would ever want to do that?)
The people in Georgetown are nice, for the most part. You do run into more than the odd snobby rich person in Georgetown. I feel like they could quickly ruin the family friendly atmosphere that you experience outside of Georgetown South. When I go to the St. George, the waitress already knows what drink I want, and brings it to table soon after I sit down. Going into the nearby pharmacy, I am greeted by the staff there, and they ask me questions about how I’m doing and remember things about me. There is definitely some small town interactions that I enjoy.
I haven’t joined any clubs or organizations yet as there aren’t many options, but they do have a photography club that I’ll investigate further when they start back up after their summer break. I feel much more isolated here in Georgetown than I have in a long time. I would say in some respects it is a difficult place to live because it has the small community feel. Most small communities are set-up in such a way where everyone knows everyone and if you aren’t known, then you are an outsider. That isn’t the case in every town and city I’ve lived in, but some are just less inviting when it comes to new people.
In many ways, living in Georgetown has been difficult for me. The town itself offers very little that would interest me. It is overly expensive, and requires a vehicle to do anything, especially since all of the interesting things to do are not within the town limits. Annie and I end up leaving Georgetown to do most of our shopping, most of our dining out, and all of our entertainment. I would say that, in a word, Georgetown is broken.
If it wasn’t for Annie and her wonderful family and friends, I don’t think I would want to live here. While I can’t currently afford to purchase a vehicle, I am definitely going to have to re-get my license sooner rather than later and figure out transportation so I don’t feel so isolated.