15 Pros and Cons of Living in Ottawa, Canada

A photo of the parliament building in Ottawa

There are numerous pros and cons of living in Ottawa. Whether you’re moving to Ottawa for work or education, you should consider both sides of the equation before deciding. 

Canada, as a country, is rising through the ranks of the best places to live. In the same vein, the capital Ottawa ranks as the 7th best place to live in Canada. 

The city is beautiful and exudes a great deal of history, with a rich green environment. However, it’s devoid of some things, which may be a necessity to you. As with any other place, there are pros and cons to living in Ottawa.

10 Benefits of Living in Ottawa – Pros

When choosing a place to live, there are several factors to consider. Ottawa checks most of these boxes. So let’s take a look at the vital advantages of living in Ottawa.

1. Safety

Irrespective of your gender, you need a safe place to lay your head at night. Ottawa has the reputation of being one of the safest places to live in Canada. In comparison with other areas, Ottawa’s crime rate falls on the lower end of the spectrum.

Residents of the city are confident and feel safe. There are almost non-existent records of pickpocketing on the streets. Also, it’s challenging to find gang-laden corners or alleys in the province. Unfortunately, though, there are areas with drug addicts with tendencies to brawl amidst themselves.

In recent years, reports have the crime rate in Ottawa to be 799 in every 100,000 people. Recent police reports indicate a constant decrease in the crime rate.

2. Economic Stability

Being the seat of the Canadian government, the economy of Ottawa is viable. Several establishments and departments of government have available jobs. There are also companies in need of several skills. The presence of jobs and businesses signifies a certain degree of economic stability.

While other cities may provide significant employment in resources, services, and manufacturing industries, Ottawa is different. The city mainly provides direct employment by the government that offers secure and stable income sources.

3. Ease of Transportation

One of the many plagues of big capital cities is traffic. In Ottawa, the opposite is the case. Despite being a city of one million people, Ottawa does not experience many traffic jams on its roads. Cities directly on the opposite end of the scale are Toronto and Vancouver. Commutes in the two cities can take between 90 minutes to 120 minutes.

In Ottawa, you can drive yourself to work in 15 minutes. You can get to any part of town as fast as possible. Unfortunately, though, there are a couple of rush hour periods during the week.

Beyond vehicles, Ottawa has several bike paths. The bike paths in Ottawa are efficient and provide incredible scenes of the city. The trails go through parks and along rivers. Whether you want to take a leisurely bike ride or need to get to work, you can enjoy these paths. 

4. Housing

One of the advantages of living in Ottawa is affordable housing. The cost of renting or buying a house in Ottawa is generally lower than in places like Toronto and Vancouver. Though, if you’re coming from a small town, the cost will feel higher.

The cost of housing in Ottawa also varies based on location in the city. Some areas are more affordable, while others can be on the high side. On average, housing in Ottawa is one of the most affordable in Canada.

5. Close to the US

Photo of the Canadian and US flags waving in the breeze

If you’re moving in from the US, Ottawa is a great place to settle in. You can easily keep up with friends and family since you live so close to the border. 

6. Museum and Recreational Centers

Ottawa is a city rich in history. This historical center offers great educational opportunities, especially if you are considering moving to the city with kids. You can find some of the best museums in the country right in Ottawa. If you like exploring the area where you live, Ottawa can provide you with some fresh perspectives.

Some of the museums you should visit include the following: 

Beyond the museums that house natural and war history, there are plenty of recreational centers to visit in Ottawa. So if you take your strides towards one at a time, there are plenty of places to get you excited about the city.  

There are also numerous parks in Ottawa. In almost every neighborhood, there’s a park where you can catch fun — the green is immersive. If you have young children, you don’t have to worry about where they can play. You can also easily opt for picnics and park games with your kids.

If you love being outside, Ottawa is the place for you. More than the artificial parks, there are natural greens to explore. Dense forests and beautiful lakes are just a short drive from wherever you live.

7. Excellent Work-Life Balance

The urban setting of Ottawa makes it one of the best places to work. With affordable housing, accessible transportation, and fantastic recreational locations, Ottawa has one of the world’s best work-life balances. The city ranks number one for work-life balance in Canada and 6th worldwide.

Hence, Ottawa is the answer if you need a city where you can earn well while getting everything you need to lead a happy life.

8. Exceptional Educational Opportunities

Ottawa has some of the best educational facilities in the country. For starters, the University of Ottawa ranks 145th in the world and 18th in the nation. With the numerous other educational institutions in the city, Ottawa is one of the best places to pursue further education.

The sheer number of educational facilities in Ottawa is responsible for the high education population. And since there are several job opportunities out there too, you’ll quickly earn and learn. 

9. Quality of Healthcare

The quality of the health sector is a significant indication of the standard of living. Ottawa has a high-quality health sector. If you have any issues, you can be confident of prompt emergency response. 

Citizens enjoy adequate health insurance coverage. If you’re new in town, it may be a tad complicated to set up insurance coverage. But while you’re doing that, the cost of getting healthcare is affordable in Ottawa.

10. Low Population Density

With a population of just around one million, Ottawa is a low-density area where life is easier. Hence, if you don’t like the fast-paced life in dense cities, this is the city to live in. 

Related: Pros and Cons of Living in Nunavut, Canada

5 Disadvantages of Living in Ottawa – Cons

The pros of living in Ottawa seem to cover all the factors to consider regarding moving to a new city. Ottawa may be a great place to live, but it’s not all good. 

So, let’s take a look at the trade-offs of living in Ottawa.

11. Less Job Diversity

In Ottawa, many of the available jobs are limited mainly to civil service and the IT industry. The Federal Government is the largest labor employer in Ottawa. In cities like Toronto and Vancouver, there is a vast array of job types available to job-seekers.

In Ottawa alone, over 100,000 people work for the government. In addition, 63,000 persons work in the IT industry. The various IT niches with ample jobs in Ottawa are telecommunications, environmental technology, and software development.

Though there are other industries with job openings in Ottawa, they aren’t commonplace. Hence, if you want more opportunities in different sectors, it’s best to settle in other cities.

12. Cold Winter and Hot Summers

A photo taken during a blizzard. We can see trees and a person in the distance. Everything else is hard to see because of all the white snow blowing

Ottawa has extreme temperatures. The province is one of the ten coldest worldwide. Some days, the temperature can drop to about -30 °C. On days with severe winds, the temperature can even drop to about -40 °C.

Snow is a significant characteristic of Ottawa. The winter season can be long. Sometimes, it can span between November and April. 

The low temperatures in Ottawa don’t last all year. During summer, the temperature can be as high as 40 degrees. If you live in Ottawa, be prepared for both extremes of temperatures.

13. Low Nighttime Social Activities

Many parties don’t occur in Ottawa. For party lovers and night walkers, Ottawa is the most boring place to live in. Beyond the absence of vibrant nightlife, there are scanty restaurants, bars, shopping malls, and cafes in Ottawa. 

Ottawa is that big city that goes to bed early. However, on some rare occasions, you can come across modest, minor parties.

The major entertainment area in Ottawa is the Byward market. The Byward market is the oldest part of the city, and here you can find bars open till way past midnight. If a tepid nightlife scene is a deal-breaker for you, it’s best to go live in another city.

14. You May Need to Learn a New Language

A person is using white chalk on a blackboard to write "Parlez-vous Francais?"

To get a decent job in Ottawa, you may need to be bilingual. Being bilingual is a plus in Ottawa, which is why kids take French classes. It’s safe to have another language up your sleeve if you’re from an Anglophone-only region.

15. Further Development of the Mass Transit System

While Ottawa has an astounding transport system, there are still some developments to achieve. For example, mass transit to and fro the downtown areas is efficient. But when going to other parts of the city, you may have problems with transport.

Since most jobs are concentrated in the downtown area, mass transit is focused there. But with the population spreading out to other areas, the current transportation system is largely inefficient.

The problem of mass transportation is, however, solvable with the development of light rail lines. In a city focused on community development, you can be sure that’ll happen in the next few years.

Related: Pros and Cons of Living in Kitchener

Final Thoughts

From the pros and cons of living in Ottawa, you can decipher that it’s not necessarily a city for youths in their twenties. 

The city is best for families with parents who will likely take up government jobs. Plus, if you and your family also love being outside, then Ottawa is a great place to live. 

Of course, no place is perfect. A few drawbacks of living in Ottawa revolve around reduced job diversity and temperature extremes. 

Do you see anything we missed? Let us know in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!

Related: 15 Benefits of Living in Canada