Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, is located in the Ontario region and is the home of 1.4 million people. Known for beautiful scenery, national museums, and a rich multicultural environment, Ottawa is quickly emerging as a dynamic city to visit.
Should you be considering making Ottawa your permanent home, or even residing for a while due to work or school obligations, it helps to know everything you can learn about the cost of living.
The Cost-of-Living Index
The cost of living index is a numerical figure that gives you a weighted average for the price differences of goods and services in various regions across the world.
The cost of living index for Ottawa, Canada, is 69.75.
Food & Dining in Ottawa, Canada
What makes Ottawa so unique with regard to the cuisine is the cultural diversity within the city.
You’ll find specialty food stores, local markets, and various restaurants that offer international dishes from China, the Middle East, Africa, France, India, and many other places worldwide.
There are so many great food choices in Ottawa, and the diversity isn’t lacking. A nice meal in the Little Italy section of Ottawa will cost about 55 C$ (41.86 USD) for two, while casual takeout in Chinatown can be as little as 20 C$ (15.22 USD).
Of course, it depends on where you’re going, if you want a steak for 30 C$ (22.83 USD) or a tasty burger for 10 C$ (7.61 USD); nonetheless, there’s something to satisfy everyone’s taste buds.
Cost of Groceries in Ottawa, Canada
Basic food items:
- Milk (regular, 1 liter) 2.50 C$ (1.90 USD)
- A loaf of White Bread (500g) 3.07 C$ (2.34 USD)
- Rice (white, 1kg) 3.81 C$ (2.90 USD)
- Eggs (dozen) 3.22 C$ (2.45 USD)
- Cheese (1kg) 11.62 C$ (8.85 USD)
- Chicken Breast Fillets (1kg) 12.20 C$ (9.29 USD)
- Beef Round (1kg) 17.74 C$ (13.51 USD)
- Potato (1kg) 2.30 C$ (1.75 USD)
- Onion (1kg) 1.95 C$ (1.48 USD)
- Water (1.5-liter bottle) 1.70 C$ (1.29 USD)
- Bottle of Wine (Affordable, mid-range) 15.00 C$ (11.42 USD)
- Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) 2.71 C$ (2.06 USD)
- Domestic Beer (0.5-liter bottle) 2.65 C$ (2.02 USD)
- Cigarettes 20pk (Marlboro or other popular brands) 15.50 C$ (11.80 USD)
- Coke or Pepsi (0.33-liter bottle) 2.17 C$ (1.65 USD)
Transportation in Ottawa, Canada
It’s important to know how much you can expect to spend to get around the city, whether with your own vehicle or public transportation. Here’s the breakdown of car prices for some popular brands and also the city transportation services.
Purchasing a Vehicle
Ottawa has a high rate of car ownership, and they have many dealerships that offer affordable prices for both new and used cars.
For a new car, such as a Toyota Corolla Sedan, the average price is 22,880.64 C$ (17,419.03 USD).
Expect to spend anywhere between 500 C$ to over 90,000 C$ (380.65 USD to 68,517 USD) for a vehicle at the full asking price.
Using Public Transportation to Get Around Ottawa, Canada
Public transportation can be a supremely affordable way to get around Ottawa.
- One-way Ticket (Bus, Local) 3.60 C$ (2.74 USD)
- Monthly Pass (Bus, Regular Price) 119.50 C$ (90.98 USD)
- Taxi (Normal Tariff) 3.85 C$ (2.93 USD)
- Taxi (1 km, Normal Tariff) 1.86 C$ (1.42 USD)
- Taxi (1-hour waiting, Normal Tariff) 22.00 C$ (16.75 USD)
*Gas prices in Ottawa are 1.09 C$ (0.83 USD) for 1 liter of gas.
Housing & Utilities in Ottawa, Canada
Understanding the prices for homes and apartments will help you to plan your budget more accurately.
*Located in Ottawa’s City Center (expensive)
- Apartment (1 bedroom): 1,596.59 C$ (1,215.49 USD)
- Apartment (3 bedrooms): 2,711.54 C$ (2,064.30 USD)
*Located outside of Ottawa’s City Center (modest)
- Apartment (1 bedroom): 1,234.65 C$ (939.94 USD)
- Apartment (3 bedrooms): 2,005.88 C$ (1,526.85 USD)
Home mortgages vary, depending on your area of residence. There are typically 2-4 bedrooms with 1250-2400 sq ft.
An average two-story detached home in Ottawa costs: 515,531 C$- 599,900 C$ (608,790.56 USD to 456,703.87 USD)
The average mortgage payment is 2,953 C$ (2,248.12 USD)
Basic Amenities (Apartment)
- Electricity, Water, Cooling, Heating, and Garbage (85m²)
145.30 C$- 220.00 C$ (110.62 USD to 167.49 USD)
- Internet (with a speed of 60+ Mbps and Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL)
65.06 C$ (49.53 USD)
*The average price can vary depending on whether you live in an apartment or a home; also, consider if you want to live in a modest or expensive part of the city.
Employment & Income in Ottawa, Canada
Ottawa has many job opportunities, specifically in the tourism sector, manufacturing, healthcare, business, and technology.
The average net salary (after taxes have been deducted) is 3,955.58 C$
*The minimum wage in Canada is 11.06 C$ per hour (442.40 C$ per week).
Childcare Expenses in Ottawa, Canada
Many residents and visitors describe Ottawa as family-friendly, offering top-tier education from young ages until collegiate careers are established.
Here are the most recent rates of their childcare facilities:
- Full-day Preschool or Kindergarten
(Private program for one child, per month)
1134.38 C$ (863.60 USD)
- International Primary School Program
(Yearly rate for one child)
15,142.86 C$ (11,528.26 USD)
Healthcare & Medical Expenses in Ottawa, Canada
Canada has a universal healthcare system that is funded through public taxes. As a permanent resident, you can apply for public health insurance, which will cover nearly all health care services.
Private health insurance costs about 756 C$ (757.54 USD) on average for a Canadian.
The monthly rates are slightly different between men and women; single males pay 63 C$ (48 USD) on average, and single females pay closer to 80 C$ (60.90 USD).
A typical Canadian family pays about 1884 C$ (1,434.29 USD) per year, which equates to 157 C$ (119.52 USD) per month.
Out-of-pocket health expenses cost 902 C$ (686.69 USD) on average per year for Canadians.
Clothing & Shoes in Ottawa, Canada
Ottawa is much smaller than other major cities in Canada, but they are beginning to expand their fashion influences. These are the prices for your average boutique and department store for casual and business formal clothing.
- 1 Pair of Jeans (Levis 501 Or Similar) 62.19 C$ (47.35 USD)
- 1 Summer Skirt or Dress (in a chain store such as H&M) 46.75 C$ (35.59 USD)
- 1 Business Suit 350.00 C$ – 500.00 C$ (266.46 USD to 380.65 USD)
- 1 Pair of Nike or Adidas Running Shoes 98.92 C$ (75.31 USD)
- 1 Pair of Men Leather Business Shoes 131.55 C$ (100.15 USD)
Taxes & Legal Information in Ottawa, Canada
Canada’s tax system has different rates based on the province, and they operate differently than what you may be accustomed to. These are the federal tax rates for 2020, per the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency)
You’ll be taxed 15% on the first $48,535 of your taxable income and 20.5% on your income after that marker, up to $97,069.
The tax rates are as follows for anything beyond $97,069:
- 26% for an income over $97,069 and up to $150,473
- 29% for an income over $150,473 and up to $214,368
- 33% for an income over $214,368
*All figures presented in CAD based on the currency you would receive the wages jn
The VAT (Value-Added Tax) in Canada is known as the Canadian Federal GST (Goods and Services Tax).
For the province of Ottawa, the tax rates are outlined below:
- Goods and services tax (GST): 5%
- Provincial sales tax (PST): 8%
- Harmonized Sales tax (HST): 13%
*GST+PST=HST (final tax amount)
Real Estate and Property Tax
The rates of property taxes are currently rising in Ottawa, possibly calling off at 3 percent for some homes.
The current rate of property tax: 1.1 %
So your annual property tax payment for an average-priced home in Ottawa would be about 5342 C$ (4066.86 USD)
For those looking to retire in Ottawa, it is a taxable income. This includes the CPP (Canada Pension Plan), the OAS (Old Age Security, and company-funded pension payments. The maximum rate you can be taxed is 15% based on how much you receive.
Inheritance Laws in Ottawa, Canada
Through a written or oral will, a person can designate the beneficiaries of their possessions.
An individual has the right to leave their belongings to whom they wish, outside of the requirement to provide for dependent and spousal support. However, the spouse that is still living may have certain rights following the provincial family law.
If someone were to pass away without a will, the provincial law would decide on asset distribution. Typically, children, siblings, the spouse, and possibly even parents will receive a specific percentage of the deceased’s estate.
Entertainment in Ottawa, Canada
There are tons of fun things to do in Ottawa; outdoor and recreational activities are easily accessible.
- To join a fitness club, you can expect a monthly fee of 57.16 C$ (43.52 USD).
- A ticket to the movies costs 14 C$ (10.66 USD)
- With the best available seats, a ticket to the theater costs 156 C$ (118.76 USD), which would be nice for a special event such as an anniversary or birthday.
- One cocktail at a club located downtown will cost around 12 C$ (9.14 USD).
Since Ottawa is surrounded by water in many areas, water sports are abundant like kayaking, canoeing, swimming, and more in the Ottawa River, many of which are free!
What to Expect Before Arrival
Before entering Canada, there are some things that you should be aware of concerning customs regulations and immigration fees to properly prepare for your stay.
Immigrating to Canada is a fairly easy process. Foreigners can feel confident that they’ll be welcomed into a city that boasts such a huge community of immigrants and loves to showcase its ethnic diversity.
The fee for an adult applicant to procure a visa for entry is 630 C$ (479 USD) and also a right of citizenship fee of 100 C$ (76 USD).
A study permit and a work permit cost 150 C$ (114 USD) and 155 C$ (118 USD) respectively.
Can I Use USD in Canada?
Though you may find many large retail sites, hotels, and tourist attractions accept USD, other more rural areas may not.
How Much Cash Can I Bring into Canada?
You are allowed to bring up to $10,000 (Canadian or foreign) in currency and other monetary instruments without the need to report it to customs.
How Much Does it Cost to Live Comfortably in Canada?
Based on the average prices for major expenses such as housing, food, entertainment, transportation, between 1900 C$ and 2700 C$ will provide you with a comfortable life in Ottawa, Canada.
A salary of 28,718 C$ per year has been reported as sufficient for a modest lifestyle.
How Much Do You Need to Retire in Canada?
When living in Canada, you can use the “4% rule” to calculate how much you’d need to save for your retirement. So if you wanted to maintain a luxurious spending level of 40,000 C$ per year, you’d need to save around 1,000,000 C$.
The general rule of thumb for a frugal lifestyle is 500,000 C$ and 750,000 C$ for an above-average lifestyle.
Sample Monthly Budget
- Housing: $1148 C$
- Groceries: $212.36 C$
- Fitness: $72.50 C$
- Entertainment: $325 C$
- Phone and Internet: $134.30 C$
- Transportation: $154.75 C$
Monthly Expenses: 2046.91 C$
Ottawa is a wonderful city to make your home, with lots of activities and events to partake in. Based on the cost-of-living index, Ottawa is not too pricey and is a beautiful destination to lead a comfortable lifestyle.
Related: Cost of Living in Belize
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3 Immigration, R. (2020). Immigration and citizenship – Canada.ca. Canada.ca. Retrieved 12 November 2020, from https://www.canada.ca/en/services/immigration-citizenship.html.
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