Ottawa is widely recognized as one of the best places to live in Canada and regularly appears on lists of the world’s top 100 cities. Home to a buoyant economy, diverse population, and outstanding education –combined with its rich Canadian history and charming grand Victorian architecture, Ottawa has been on the radar of immigrants and newcomers looking to purchase affordable Ontario real estate for years.
Though not as large or populated as other metropolitan areas in the province, Ottawa more than makes up for it in culture and character. With plenty of green spaces and waterways, museums, attractions, and events, there’s always something to enjoy if you reside in Canada’s capital city. Ready to experience life in an active metropolis but without the hectic pace (or the hefty real estate prices of cities like Toronto)? Ottawa might be right up your alley. To give you a hand, we have gathered these 10 reasons why Ottawa is a good place to live:
The Affordable Ottawa Real Estate Market
The Ottawa real estate market is dynamic and somewhat competitive, with an increase of 17.6% in average housing prices in the past couple of years. An average home for sale in Ottawa costs over $677K. The city boasts around three months of inventory in the market for condos and standalone homes in Ottawa.
Despite the increase, home prices in Ottawa continue to be hundreds of thousands lower than in Vancouver, Toronto, or even Hamilton (refer to the table below). For years this has been one of the top reasons why Ottawa is a good place to live.
If you’re moving to Ottawa from one of those high-value markets, that’s fantastic news, but if you come from a small town or rural area instead, your experience might be different. Ottawa real estate is considered to be slightly more pricey than Montreal and Calgary and more expensive than Edmonton and Winnipeg.
Take into account that, even with average home values in Ottawa being lower than $1M, a minimum down payment of 5% to 10% with CMHC insurance may still be required so more buyers can compete for the existing inventory.
Ottawa Is Close To Major Cities And Top Vacation Spots
Ottawa is located on the banks of the Ottawa River, in the Eastern portion of Southern Ontario and right on the Quebec border. From Toronto, the drive is about five hours, and Montreal is around two hours away. If you’re looking to cross the border into the United States, Prescott-Ogdensburg is your closest option; the drive should only take about an hour.
The city’s location makes it a fantastic base to plan for fun trips or weekend getaways with friends or family. You can easily reach other major cities and top-rated destinations by car, train, or bus. Here’s a quick list of places you can visit if you own a home for sale in Ottawa:
Major Cities Near Ottawa
Day Trip Areas You Can Visit
- Chelsea: Chelsea is a 30-minute trip from Ottawa, and you can explore its quaint main street and grab lunch or ice cream. Or maybe visit Nordik Spa for a day or weekend of total relaxation.
- Perth: Visit one of Ontario’s prettiest small towns and go see the Mammoth Cheese, stroll Stewart Park, and enjoy artisan chocolate at Perth Chocolate Works. Perth is only one hour away from Ottawa.
- Gatineau Park: An ideal spot to hike in the great outdoors, Gatineau Park is only 20 minutes outside Ottawa and offers hiking and cycling trails. You can also enjoy spending your day at the beach at Meech Lake.
- Bonnechere Caves: These caves make a unique day trip if you love fossils. Located around an hour and a half away from Ottawa, this site is open all summer, and guided tours are offered.
- Chutes de Plaisance: In the mood for a picnic with a view? Chutes de Plaisance is a huge waterfall just 40 minutes from Ottawa, surrounded by trails and observation points.
The High Quality Education
Ottawa provides excellent English and French education in public, Catholic and private schools. The city is unique because it comprises four distinct school boards: English, English-Catholic, French, and French-Catholic.
The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) is the largest and manages 147 schools. Not a fan of public education? Your children can attend top-rated private schools in Ottawa with tuition fees ranging from $7,000 to $64,000 per year. Academie de la Capitale and Ashbury College are among the best options.
For those interested in higher education, Ottawa is home to two universities and two colleges:
- The University Of Ottawa: This is one of the leading bilingual universities in North America, with over 300 programs and ten faculties.
- Carleton University: Carleton offers over 200 programs across 47 different departments. Undergraduate and graduate programs include public affairs, film studies, journalism, international studies, IT and engineering.
- Algonquin College: This publicly funded English-language college provides over 100 full-time programs.
- La Cité collégiale: This college offers 70 full-time college programs, including media and communications, administration, hospitality and tourism, health, technology, community services and trades.
Say Goodbye To Traffic Congestion
If you relocate to Ottawa, be aware that there is a rush hour here; however, it’s nowhere near as bad as the larger Canadian metropolitan areas. The 401, which runs east in the middle of downtown, used to be very congested but has recently undergone expansions that have alleviated some of the local traffic.
Other routes have their congested times, but according to locals, the only tough one is the Prince of Wales access to Barrhaven. This is a two-lane road and one of the primary routes to Ottawa’s centre and Barrhaven, a popular bedroom Ottawa suburb.
The Beautiful Weather
A huge part of living in Ottawa is learning to accept the local climate. The four seasons grace the capital city of Canada, but winter may seem much colder than what immigrants or newcomers are used to. Snow falls from December through March, with freezing temperatures lasting until April. The coldest month is January, with average minimum temperatures of -14.8°C (5.4°F).
One of the things that make Ottawa a good place to live is that every winter the Rideau Canal becomes the world’s longest skating rink! If you’re looking for more outdoor adventures, skiing and snowshoeing are both easily accessible from the city centre.
The spring season is usually short and mild, with some rain showers. It typically lasts from April to May. The days are long and hot when summer arrives, typically lasting from June to September. 30°C (86°F) or above is the norm for daytime temperatures, while humidity also takes a toll. The leaves begin to change colour and fall from September to November, creating breathtaking scenery.
Economic Stability And A Solid Job Market
Ottawa is a good place to live because it has a solid job market with the federal government being the largest employer. This means there are opportunities for positions in many departments that call for a diverse set of skills and provide great benefits. As a government town, Ottawa is economically stable because it has a buffer of job opportunities that aren’t necessarily affected by manufacturing, resources, or the service industries.
Aside from being a hub for governmental employment, many industries are experiencing rapid growth and expansion in Canada’s capital city. High-tech companies continue to set up shop in Ottawa, gaining the city the nickname “Silicon Valley North.” With major players like Shopify and Amazon opening offices in the city as well, it looks like this trend will continue for the foreseeable future.
Additionally, Ottawa is a destination city that relies heavily on the tourism and hospitality sectors. Let’s not forget about education, with Carleton University and the University of Ottawa offering numerous opportunities for both students and graduates. The unemployment rate in Ottawa is currently 4.1%, that’s below Alberta’s average of 5.2%.
Ottawans Love Celebrations
No matter the season, there’s always something to celebrate in Ottawa! The city is host to a wide variety of year-round festivals and events. Sometimes they’re just small street festivals, while others are city or nationwide events. Some of Ottawa’s most coveted festivals are:
- Bluesfest: A ten-day festival featuring music performances from various genres held at LeBreton Flats every July.
- Canada Day: On July 1st, Ottawans gather on Parliament Hill for a day of live music and entertainment.
- Winterlude: Get out and enjoy the winter weather at Winterlude! There are tons of fun outdoor activities to enjoy, like skating and admiring ice sculptures. Festivities happen in Ottawa and Jacques Cartier Park in Gatineau.
- Canadian Tulip Festival: Organizers claim this is the world’s largest tulip festival. The huge celebration of tulips occurs throughout Ottawa every May.
- The Fringe Festival: Every June, downtown venues host a variety of plays and theatrical performances.
And Bike Paths And Trails Are Plentiful
For avid cyclists, Ottawa is a veritable paradise. The city is criss-crossed by an extensive 800-kilometre network of bike paths and trails, making it easy to get around without having to share the road with cars. Not only do these bike trails cross bustling forests and fields of crops, but they also cut through the Greenbelt. Other scenic routes follow along the river bank offering riders some unforgettable views.
Something similar happens with the walking and hiking pathways; you’ll have plenty of alternatives to go for a peaceful stroll or a power hike, both inside and outside of the city. During the winter months, the bike and walking paths become popular winter trails for people to go skiing or snowshoeing.
Healthcare In Ottawa Is Top-Notch
One of the best reasons Ottawa is a good place to live is its world-class healthcare. The city is home to some of the best hospitals and clinics in the country, and the medical staff is second to none. In fact, over 5% of the residents are health professionals. Ottawa also enjoys an excellent doctor-to-patient ratio, with 2.64 doctors per 1,000 people. Ottawa boasts four major hospitals:
- The Ottawa Hospital
- Queensway-Carleton Hospital
- The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario
- Montfort Hospital
Recreation Is Big In Ottawa
Anytime is the right time for recreation in Ottawa. Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline-pumping adventure, exploring the fantastic local museums or just having a relaxing day in the park, you’ll be spoiled for choice here. Keep reading for some of the local’s favourite recreational activities:
As the nation’s capital, several of Canada’s most significant artifact collections are located in Ottawa. There are more than 40 museums in the city, but some of the fascinating ones are:
- The Canadian Museum of Nature
- The Canadian Museum of History
- The Canada Aviation and Space Museum
- The Canadian War Museum
- The Canadian Science and Technology Museum
- The Aviation and Space Museum
Parks & Outdoor Spaces