Living in Ottawa

Moving to a new country can be daunting — even more so when you relocate to a big city like Ottawa, Ontario. Canada’s capital city, Ottawa shares a border with Quebec and has a rich, family-friendly culture with plenty of fun things to do after the sun goes down.

Making the adjustment to living in this larger-than-life city can be a process — but it doesn’t have to be a hard one. 

Today, we’re diving into various aspects of living in Ottawa. 

Ottawa, Ontario: The Newbie’s Ultimate Guide 

Is Ottawa Family-Friendly?

Canada’s capital is a wonderful place to start and raise a family. Ottawa is known to be one of the safest cities in the country and has been ranked as the best place to live based on car ownership, employment rates, income, weather, lifestyle, and general cost of living.

Ottawa is a large city that consists of a number of neighbourhoods, and although there are no truly “bad” neighbourhoods for families, there are some that are more ideal for growing and established families than others.

Ottawa Neighbourhoods

One of the best neighbourhoods for families is, by far, Westboro. It is a small urban village that’s close to Ottawa city centre and has more than 200 shops and restaurants to offer. There are hamburger joints and health-conscious cafes, outdoor recreation stores, and the ever-stylish Wellington Strip, where you can find upscale boutiques and retail shops.

Alta Vista is another excellent urban neighbourhood. Founded in the 1960s, Alta Vista was first designed for families and has stayed that way ever since. The neighbourhood is close to Ottawa city centre but still boasts affordable housing. In addition, it’s chalked full of public spaces like parks and walking trails and offers a generous number of schools and churches, as well as a community centre for special events and gatherings.


Whether you’re moving to Ottawa as a student or as an adult looking to upgrade your skills, you’ll find that education is incredibly important. In fact, this beautiful city is home to a number of notable universities and colleges including the University of Ottawa and Algonquin College, both of which offer an array of programs, classes, and educational services.

Ottawa’s various universities and higher education facilities are known for their populations of international students and lower-than-average tuition rates. Some universities, such as Carleton University Rideau River, have up to 3,500 post-graduate students, making them some of the largest in the province.

Public Transit and Transportation 

As one of Canada’s major cities, Ottawa has an extensive public transportation system. There are actually two main operational systems, one which operates on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River and another, the OC Transpo, which operates on the Ontario side of the river.

The OC Transpo is a company that runs both public buses and the city’s light rail train, which is called the O-Train. Tickets and day passes can be purchased on the OC Transpo buses with cash, or at any of the O-Train stations with a credit card or cash. They can also be found at certain pharmacies and grocery stores.

Job Market 

The job market in Ottawa is generous and ever-expanding, with the unemployment rate of the city standing at just 5.2% in April 2022. As Ottawa is a government town and home to Canada’s Federal Government, there are always opportunities for residents to land a government job with generous pay and benefits.

That being said, however, there are more everyday jobs available than there are those with the government. In Ottawa, there are a ton of vacancies in the customer service, child care, and food service industries, as well as in the environmental technology sector.

The minimum wage for all workers is $15.00/hour.


In a safe city such as Ottawa, the opportunities for recreation are endless. Ottawa is home to the historical Parliament Hill, which offers guided tours and is

a must-see location for every new resident. 

There are various museums and art galleries, seasonal cultural tours and outdoor expeditions via bike, boat, and bus, general city, food, and wine tours, and public parks with lush green space and walking paths around seemingly every corner.

A few of the most popular and family-friendly museums include the Canadian Museum of Nature, the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, and the National Gallery of Canada.


In Ottawa, most families rent their homes. Single-family, apartment, and duplex rentals are available all across the city.  In the downtown area, rent is a bit higher, while on the outskirts of the city, it is a little lower.

Here, you can find a range of price points, starting at fairly modest and moving to more expensive. In 2021, the cost of a one-bedroom apartment within the downtown core of the city was just over $1,600, with two bedrooms going for roughly $2,000.

 Is Ottawa A French-Speaking City? 

Ottawa has a large francophone population but is not a primarily French-speaking city. Most residents are at least semi-fluent in English, and nearly all products found on store shelves contain both English and French descriptions.

How Much Money Do You Need To Live In Ottawa?

How much of an income you need to live in the city is dependent on a number of factors including your lifestyle and habits, the area of town you want to live in, your personal expenses, goals, and preferences.

In general, Ottawa is more expensive than 75% of Canadian cities and the rule of thumb is to be bringing in at least $28,000 per year minimum in order to live comfortably. Those with lower salaries can get by in the city, but there are more struggles when you make less than the recommended $28,000.

Is Ottawa Cheaper Than Toronto?

Both large, urban cities, Ottawa and Toronto are known for their expenses as much as they are their amenities and lifestyle. That being said, in certain areas, such as housing, Ottawa is cheaper than Toronto. In fact, Ottawa is 17-20% cheaper than Toronto. This is clearly demonstrated when you consider that the one-bedroom apartment in Ottawa that we talked about above could cost you upwards of $2,200 in Toronto.

Choose Canada Magazine

Each member of our team at Choose Canada Magazine has been in Canada for over five years, and has helped dozens of people worldwide find their life in Canada.

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