What Are Pros and Cons of Living in Ottawa?

Canada is such a huge place that it can seem like an impossible task to even know where to start looking if you are thinking of moving and want to know where is the best place for you to move to. Like all places in the world, there will be good points, and bad points, but as long as you are fully informed of both, it means that making the right choice for you becomes a whole lot easier. In view of this, I have compiled a list of the pros and cons of living in Ottawa, to help you make an informed decision.

Let’s first take a look at the pros;

Pros of Living in Ottawa

1. It is a Safe City

Ottawa is consistently ranked as one of the safest cities in the whole country based on annual crime figures; violent crimes, robberies, and assaults are continually registered as happening infrequently, along with minor crimes such as car theft and vandalism.

Ottawa is also perceived as the safest city in Canada, with Canadians saying they feel safer when visiting the city than they do in other cities, and the majority of residents saying they are happy to walk alone at night without worrying. Safety is a huge factor when it comes to living anywhere, especially in a city, but Ottawa has a great reputation for safety.

2. Low Unemployment

Ottawa is located in the province of Ontario, overall Ontario has a lower unemployment rate compared to Canada as a whole, which is largely due to the even lower unemployment rate in Ottawa.

It might be a smaller city than other cities in Canada, but since Ottawa is the capital of the country and a government city, jobs are much easier to come by. You have a greater chance of finding a job here than in the vast majority of other cities in Canada, with there being a lot of focus placed on getting people back into work and lowering the unemployment rate as much as possible.

While the number of jobs available is, on average, decreasing across the country, the opposite is true for Ottawa, with the unemployment rate being the lowest and most stable it has been for several years.

3. It is Beautiful

A quick Google image search will show you just how beautiful this city is; with a combination of the Ottawa River, the lush greenery that wraps itself around the city lines, and the delightful Gothic architecture, it is certainly a beautiful place to live!

To make it even better, and accentuate its true beauty, keeping the city clean is important to both the residents and the government officials, so rarely will you find a corner of the city that is strewn in rubbish or leaves a bad taste in your mouth; it is a real positive to live in a place where you feel like people actually care about the upkeep of the city.

4. Activities

Due to the abundance of varying nature and different landscapes in Ottawa, there are a whole host of different activities you can experience while living there. If you like hiking then around the city there are about 90 miles worth of hiking trails for you to get stuck into, the landscape that goes around the city is extremely diverse in its topography and animals, meaning you get the city life while always being close to nature.

Ottawa also has several parks that you can enjoy such as Omega Park and Gatineau Park, where no matter what the season is, the lakes, the cliff faces and the spectrum of color contained within them will always give you something to take your breath away.

If you also like to practice water activities, then Ottawa certainly isn’t lacking in this respect; with the Ottawa River, Rideau River, and Rideau Canal, there are plenty of places where you can experience paddle-boarding, kayaking, rafting, and canoeing.

As a bonus, there are parkways that are intended for cyclists only, whether you are a serious biker or a family, there are enough trails available to suit everyone.

Finally, Ottawa has caves that you can explore, and high adrenaline activities such a bungee jumping and skydiving – for a small city, they certainly pack as much fun in as possible.

5. Education

If you are wanting to move to a new place in order to study, then the quality of the city’s universities are no doubt important.

Fortunately, Ottawa has some of the best university education available in the country, with the highest number of residents per capita who have completed a PhD., and the largest number of scientists and engineers.

Given the statistics, it is undeniable that Ottawa takes education very seriously, and the high graduation rates from the two universities and both colleges, show that it is a fantastic place to be to get a good quality education.

6. Food

Ottawa does food really well, and you will find an abundance of coffee shops, restaurants, and bakeries all serving the traditional Canadian food that everyone knows and loves, and you will be hard-pressed to find an eatery in Ottawa that is less than top quality.

Breakfast, especially, is always wonderful experience, and you can pop in any place to show a huge selection of foods to choose from, whether you are in the mood for pancake battered bacon, maple syrup donuts, maple bacon french toast, or stuffed croissants, Ottawa has it all. Additionally, with the slight French influence in the city, you can also find some real good quality French-Canadian restaurants that will taste just as good as anything you will find in France.

It is nice to read about all the pros of Ottawa, but along with the positives, unfortunately, come some negatives;

Cons of Living in Ottawa

1. Quiet City Life

You would imagine that living in a city would mean city life and a city vibe comes with it, but with Ottawa, it doesn’t.

It is a city, but compared to a lot of other cities in Canada, it is small and quiet. It is especially surprising that it is so quiet given its capital status, but the focus in Ottawa is more on government business rather than creating a bustling place for tourists or residents. Of course, this negative point could easily be another person’s positive; you get a city without the stress of everyone having a thousand things going on, or everyone rushing at a hundred miles per hour to get to their next destination, but if you are wanting to move to a city to get the full city experience, you won’t find it in Ottawa.

However, one thing to note is that Montreal is only a two-hour drive away, where you can have a more enhanced city feel when you want, without living among it all day long.

2. Jobs

There is a slight downside to the job market in Ottawa, while it is true that they have a very low unemployment rate, a lot of the jobs available are related to government jobs, or specialist fields such as engineers; if you are qualified for these types of jobs then you won’t have much of a problem finding one suitable for you, but lower scale jobs are definitely harder to come by.

3. The Cost

It is not surprising that Ottawa has a higher than average cost of living, however, it is only by a small margin. House prices for renting or buying are only slightly above the national average, but the also slightly higher than average salaries can help to offset that cost. Your salary might not be able to off-set every cost though, as dining out, and alcohol also comes at a higher price, so being able to treat yourself might be a less frequent occasion than you would like.

One way to help with the cost of living is by living close to one of the two universities, where the rental prices are lower, but of course, in return, you will be living among a community of students.

4. Weather

A lot of the time when you are living in Ottawa, the weather can feel like it alternates between being cold and being really cold. In fact, Ottawa gets so cold in the winter that it always finds itself in the top ten of coldest capital cities in the world, with the winter in early 2019 seeing days where it was ranked number one, meaning that it was colder than the likes of Russia and Iceland.

Sure, snow is beautiful, and it means there are great ski resorts nearby, but it is not a place for the faint-hearted, you will need a coat for most of the year, and brace yourself for some harsh winters.


Overall, Ottawa is a fairly stable city to live in, and a con on our list might not be a pro for you, and vice versa, but either way, moving to a new city is not a decision that can be made overnight, and it is important to weigh up all the positives and negatives to ensure you make the right choice for yourself.

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