Living in Ottawa: Culture, Cost, and Lifestyle

Published on: April 10th, 2024
Last updated: April 12th, 2024

This Canadian city is a busy place where cultural diversity and government matters come together. Today we will talk about many things that make life quality good in Ottawa.

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Ottawa is the capital city of Canada and also it is the sixth-biggest city. This city is situated near the Ottawa River, it has more than just cold winters and famous BeaverTails snacks. Ottawa is important for its mix of culture and government activities.

Exploring Ottawa

Ottawa stands at the forefront of Canada’s political scene, being the capital city. It’s more than a hub for political decisions; it’s a rich blend of historical and cultural elements. The city is home to significant government establishments – Parliament Hill is a notable example. Here, the intricate Gothic architecture isn’t just for show; it’s where vital national policies and decisions are made.

Embassies from various countries line Ottawa’s streets, contributing to its international ambiance. These embassies play a key role in diplomacy and also bring a taste of their cultures to the city, especially during national celebrations.

The National Arts Centre in Ottawa, located in the heart of the city, is a top spot for theater, music, and dance, offering a variety of world-class performances. It’s a key place for cultural events, attracting people from all over Canada and other countries.

Outdoor Activities

Parliament Buildings, Rideau Canal and Chateau Laurier Hotel

Ottawa is not just a hub of political and cultural activities; it’s also a paradise for lovers of the outdoors and green spaces. The city is renowned for its plentiful parks, extensive bike paths, and myriad recreational areas, offering residents and visitors alike a chance to immerse themselves in nature and outdoor activities.

One of the most iconic outdoor attractions in Ottawa is the Rideau Canal. In winter, this canal transforms into the world’s largest skating rink, offering a unique and exhilarating skating experience. During spring, the city bursts into colour with the famous Canadian Tulip Festival, where the vibrant tulips paint a picturesque scene, drawing visitors from all over.

Gatineau Park, with its sprawling natural landscapes, is a haven for hikers, especially in the fall when the foliage turns into a spectacular display of autumn colours.

The Ottawa River also presents a playground for various activities, ranging from tranquil kayaking trips to thrilling white-water rafting.

And the ByWard Market, one of the oldest public markets in Canada, shows off Ottawa’s historical side. These places are bustling with life, connecting the past with the present.

City Festivals

Aside from the natural attractions, Ottawa hosts several major events throughout the year that bring the community together in these green spaces. The Canada Day celebrations are a particular highlight, where the city’s parks and outdoor spaces become stages for concerts, fireworks, and festivities, showcasing a spirit of national pride and unity.

The city’s cultural scene is highlighted through its annual festivals. The Canadian Tulip Festival brightens up the city every spring with colourful flowers, a reminder of the city’s historical connections. Winterlude transforms Ottawa into a wonderland with ice sculptures and skating opportunities on the Rideau Canal.

Whether it’s gliding on the icy expanse of the Rideau Canal, strolling amidst the tulip blooms, hiking through autumnal forests in Gatineau Park, or celebrating Canada Day, Ottawa’s outdoor scene offers something for everyone, making it an integral part of the city’s charm and appeal.

Cost of living in Ottawa

When considering the cost of living in Ottawa, it’s essential to look at how it stacks up against other major Canadian cities.

Cost of rental in Ottawa

Housing in Ottawa offers a range of options, catering to different preferences and budgets. From high-rise apartments in the downtown core to suburban townhouses and single-family homes, the city’s housing market is diverse.

The average rental prices in Ottawa are somewhat competitive when compared to cities like Toronto and Vancouver. However, they tend to be more affordable than these major hubs, offering a relatively better cost-to-living ratio.

Based on information from Zumper, the average price for 2-bedroom rental properties in Ottawa, ON, stands at $2,399 as of March 2024. This figure is 23% above the national average.

The rental market in Ottawa has seen trends similar to other Canadian cities, with fluctuations influenced by various economic factors. Yet, it remains an attractive option for those seeking a balance between urban living and affordability. Ottawa’s rental market offers something for everyone, whether it’s luxurious downtown apartments or more budget-friendly options in the suburbs.

Cost of public transportation in Ottawa

OC Transpo in Ottawa

Public transport in Ottawa is managed by OC Transpo, which offers bus and light rail services. Monthly transit passes and pay-per-use fares are available, making it a cost-effective and convenient option for daily commuting.

The cost of public transport is higher, especially when compared to cities like Montreal, Calgary or Vancouver.


Monthly transit pass per city

City - SystemMontlhy Fares
Toronto - TTC$156
Brampton Transit $141.25
Mississauga - MiWay $131
Ottawa - OC Transpo $128.75
Hamilton Transit $118.80
Calgary Transit$112
Longueuil's - RTL$108
Winnipeg Transit$107.80
Gatineau STO$110
Vancouver - Translink$104.90
Edmonton Transit $100
Montreal - STM $97
Quebec City - RTC$94.50
(Kitchener-Waterloo) - Grand River Transit $92
Regina Transit$88



The city’s investment in expanding its LRT (Light Rail Transit) network further enhances the value and ease of using public transport in Ottawa. This commitment to efficient and affordable transportation is a significant aspect of the city’s appeal, especially for those looking to balance the costs of urban living.

Ottawa Housing Costs

For newcomers looking to settle in Ottawa, understanding the recent housing market trends is crucial. As of March 2024, the housing market in Ottawa has seen significant price increases. The average home sale price stands at $682,078, reflecting a 7.1% increase from the previous year. If you’re considering different types of homes, the composite benchmark price is around $636,700. Specifically, single-family homes average $847,394, while townhouses and apartments are somewhat more affordable at $556,135 and $448,218, respectively. It’s important to note that these prices have been steadily climbing, both on a yearly and monthly basis. The high real estate prices have changed the types of preferred home types in the market.

Average Home Prices

Before deciding to buy a property in Ottawa, it’s advisable to research the market trends thoroughly and consider future projections. Always factor in additional costs like property taxes, utilities, and maintenance, which can add up. Consulting with a local real estate agent can provide valuable insights specific to different neighbourhoods. It’s also crucial to compare mortgage rates, which as of April 9, 2024, were as low as 4.64% for a 5-Year Fixed mortgage in Ottawa. This will help in understanding the long-term financial commitments and choosing a mortgage plan that suits your financial situation. Remember, buying a house is a significant investment, and being well-informed can lead to a more satisfying and financially sound decision.

Average costs for food

In Ottawa, the cost of groceries can vary depending on shopping habits and where you shop, but on average, residents can expect to spend a moderate amount compared to other major Canadian cities. Essentials like bread, milk, and eggs typically have stable prices, falling within a reasonable range. Fresh produce, meat, and dairy products may see some fluctuations based on seasonality and the store you choose.

We’ve compiled a list of average grocery costs in Ottawa, utilizing data from Numbeo, which holds the distinction of being the world’s largest crowd-sourced database for cost of living information. This platform gathers data from actual residents of Ottawa, who regularly update the prices based on their daily shopping experiences.

ItemPrice in CAD
Milk (regular), (1 liter)3.11 $
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g)3.91 C$
Rice (white), (1kg)5.47 C$
Eggs (regular) (12)4.34 C$
Local Cheese (1kg)19.58 C$
Chicken Fillets (1kg)16.92 C$
Beef Round (1kg) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat)18.94 C$
Apples (1kg)5.72 C$
Banana (1kg)1.75 C$
Oranges (1kg)4.15 C$
Tomato (1kg)5.55 C$
Potato (1kg)3.76 C$
Onion (1kg)3.64 C$
Lettuce (1 head)3.20 C$
Water (1.5 liter bottle)2.23 C$
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range)20.00 C$
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle)3.51 C$
Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle)3.48 C$
Cigarettes 20 Pack (Marlboro)17.50 C$




Discount supermarkets offer more budget-friendly options, while organic and specialty stores might charge a premium. Overall, the average monthly grocery bill for a family in Ottawa is considered affordable, especially when compared to cities like Toronto or Vancouver, offering a balanced cost of living for its residents. You can also compare the supermarkets that offer the best deals in Ottawa.


Ottawa offers a unique blend of cultural richness, political significance, and a high quality of life, all set against a backdrop of stunning natural beauty and vibrant urban spaces. From its cost of living and diverse housing market to its abundant green spaces and robust cultural scene, Canada’s capital city is one of the best places to live in Canada, for both temporary and permanent residents.

If you’re intrigued by what Ottawa has to offer and want to know your chances to become a permanent resident, start by filling out our online assessment.

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