What a cool thread.
I didn't move nearly as far (from Toronto to Hamilton), but I can give you an immigrant's perspective on the Hammer.
There are very few local employment options for city-centre type jobs (finance, IT, etc). I moved my office to Hamilton when I came here five years ago, but that's an eternity in my field, and I've switched jobs twice since then. Both have come with a long commute.
We first moved to the south east, in the little pocket of homes between Ottawa st and Gage park, south of King. The immediate neighbourhood was fantastic, the people are the salt of the earth and the housing is great. Unfortunately it is surrounded by run-down crap. We moved because we were sick of having to drive everywhere, even to get a (non-timmie's) cup of coffee. I know Ottawa st. has it's defenders, but it is pretty well useless as a neighbourhood high street.
We moved to the southwest, near the top of Locke. Housing costs are about double what it would cost in the southeast for a comparable home. The neighbourhood is simply fantastic. At the local playground, I have yet to run into a young family that hasn't moved from Toronto (though that might be a negative to some people on this board
), which I think demonstrates a very real measure of the bright prospects for the lower city.
We explored the idea of moving back to Toronto, but after a year in the southwest, we can't think of a reason why we'd bother. We love it.
Hamilton wasn't supposed to be the end of the line for us, we were planning on moving on to London (the original one
) and Vancouver eventually. But the value here is real, and we are making the Hammer our home-base, even when we do some overseas stints.
Good luck and Welcome!