Worst Neighborhoods In Ottawa – Guide For Newcomers


Moving to Canada means starting a new life with new opportunities, and finding a great community to live in is a part of that. Doing some research beforehand on the neighborhoods in Ottawa is a good idea for those getting ready to move there.

Picking a bad area to live in could mean having to deal with rising crime rates, traffic, or lack of features. While you’ll find that there’s plenty of great neighborhoods to choose from in the province, here is a list of the worst neighborhoods in Ottawa that I’ve compiled and why you should avoid them.

1. Vanier

Why to Avoid

  • Crowded
  • High crime

Vanier used to be a lovely francophone city that wasn’t incorporated into Ottawa until later on.

Since it was added to the province, the region has a majority of English speakers and doesn’t boast all of the beautiful sights as it did before.

One reason is that living expenses remain quite cheap in Vanier, and its close location to downtown makes it great for city workers and families.

However, that means it’s crowded, and Vanier has a reputation of being more on the sketchy side. Still, it’s making steady improvements, which means it could be an option for later on down the road.

2. Heron

Why to Avoid

  • Gun violence
  • Less than stellar housing

Heron often comes at the top of the list when native Ottawans name the worst neighborhoods in the area.

Heron has been subjected to a high level of gun violence and activity in recent years and comes up often in the headlines.

If you live alone, you might not feel safe in this area, especially if you commute by foot.

The apartments and housing aren’t that great either unless you’re looking for something on the cheap side. If you’re moving to Canada for the first time, Heron’s not a good place to start, even if you’ve lived in the country for a long period of time.

Drugs are also a common occurrence here, so it’s probably best that you pick a residence elsewhere.

3. Walkley

Why to Avoid

  • Gang activity
  • Run down

Walkley is a road beside Heron, and usually, the two are lumped together.

Walkley gets its own mention for its inconsolable amount of crime and gang activity. But before you go thinking that Ottawa is packed with crime, there are hundreds of beautiful, safe communities with many great amenities that will make your transition to Canada worth it. The Walkley/Heron area though doesn’t have that.

The nearby schools aren’t so great, and even the stores and shopping are pretty run down. Picking a neighborhood means taking all the factors into consideration, including schools, shopping, traffic, roads, and location.

When it comes to Walkley, you’ll be disappointed in more areas than one, making it one of the worst neighborhoods in Ottawa.

4. Carling

Why to Avoid

  • Drab
  • Nothing to do

Carling makes its appearance on this list not necessarily because of crime, but because it’s blah. Carling is named for the National Defence Headquarters Carling, which is on Carling Avenue and Moodie Drive. That may sound exciting to some degree, but really the Avenue is home to some drab buildings and government workers.

There’s little to offer in the way of nightlife, restaurants, and shopping.

Carling could possibly be a good pick for seniors or settled down families, but you might get the most out of your move to Canada by opting for a different neighborhood instead.

5. Sandy Hill

Why to Avoid

  • College town
  • Big bar scene

Sandy Hill is the home to the bustling University of Ottawa.

That means that there’s plenty of college students and bars to go around. While Sandy Hill certainly does have its fair share of activity, it’s not an ideal place to live unless you’re a student or work nearby in the area.

The noise level is pretty high, and the nightlife means that you might be tossing and turning in your sleep. One small advantage is that housing is pretty cheap, but you’ll be living amongst students or even worse, in a dorm type setting.

Come and visit Sandy Hill to relive your college days, but take your money somewhere else.

6. LeBreton Flats

Why to Avoid

  • Needs improvements
  • Little to do

LeBreton is an area that no one really knows what to do with it.

Local lawmakers suggested a big “redevelopment” and overhaul of the city, promising billions of dollars to build an NHL arena and amenities that would make LeBreton a great place to live or holiday in.

They even drafted plans for adding new train lines that would make it even easier to get out and about.

Unfortunately, Ottawa senators couldn’t reach an agreement and the plan was thrown out.

They spent four million dollars trying to create a plan to revitalize the city, but it fell through.

These talks have been going on for years though, so the idea might come back up to the drawing board in the near future. As of now, LeBreton is an otherwise drab area with little do, and in need of some major improvements.

7. Orleans

Why to Avoid

Orleans is a stunning suburb of Ottawa with beautiful houses and a tight-knit community.

Canada is proud of its francophone population and French roots, and Orleans is a great preserver of that heritage.

While that makes Orleans a prized community, it might not be the best if you don’t have a good amount of French under your belt.

Still, the francophone population is a minority, meaning that you’ll be able to navigate the area without any issue.

On the other hand, if you’re coming from a francophone country, then Orleans might just be the dream neighborhood for you! It’s one of the premier francophone cities in Canada, and it has its charm.

The lovely houses and relaxed atmosphere make it a great place to settle down in for both individuals and families.

Otherwise, there’s not much to do there, so if you’re looking for a bustling city, you might look elsewhere.

8. Rockcliffe Park

Why to Avoid

  • Expensive housing
  • Few listings

You’ll be seeing stars when you see how high the housing is in Rockcliffe Park.

You can’t say it isn’t for good reason, because the area is absolutely beautiful. It’s nestled right on the water, and most if not all apartments have a waterfront view.

The old, historic homes are to die for, and the area really does have a park atmosphere.

There are plenty of shady trees and areas to relax, read, or drink a coffee. If you’re considering buying a house in Ottawa, be looking to pay well above $500k for one of the few listings available.

There are some apartments and rooms to rent as well, but even they run well above $2000. If you’re just starting off in Canada, paying an outrageous amount of rent can drain your savings and put you at serious risk in case of emergency.

Starting small will help you build up your funds and work towards what you want most.


Moving to a new country is a long process that entails lots of planning.

Aside from figuring out your working situation and how you’ll transition to your new home, it’s difficult to get a feel for the ins and outs of the different neighborhoods before you move there.

The best way to really get to know a community and avoid some of the worst neighborhoods in Ottawa is to see it yourself beforehand and sample the dining, shopping, and living options.

Overall, Ottawa is a very safe city, in the table below, you can see detailed crime rates in Ottawa:


Crime rates description
Crime Level
Crime increasing
Home broke
Very Low
Car Theft
Risk of being Attack
Very Low
Racial crime
Very Low
Drugs Issues
Property Vandalism and Theft
Violent Crimes

That way, you’ll know what to expect when you prepare for your big move and get ready to make that place your home.

However, that’s not always a possibility, and many people preparing to immigrate feel like their living situation is up to chance.

Keep your eyes and ears open to what native Ottawans have to say about their neighborhoods and which ones to avoid.

You’ll find that they have plenty of advice to share and do’s and don’ts when moving to the city.

Regardless of where you end up, it’s a safe bet that you’ll enjoy your time in Ottawa.

From the beautiful sights, whirring cyclists, abundance of coffee shops, and NHL stadiums, you’ll grow to be quite fond of this city.

Take time to visit a hockey game or venture out into new areas.

You might find yourself planting roots in a community before you’ll know it.

Picking a great community will help you establish friends and a social circle to make Canada feel more like your new home.

While it may be tempting to jump into the best that Ottawa has to offer and move to a place like Rockcliffe Park, it’s best to be sensible with your money.

You’ll find that there will be a lot of unexpected expenses along the way when moving to a new country, and Canada is no exception to that.

Be smart with your finances but pick a place that truly calls to you to get the best of both worlds. Being prepared for your new life is a big step in your journey to your new home.

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