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Is Moving to Ottawa Right for You? Complete Guide

Moving to Ottawa, Ontario, can be an exciting step in your life as you are about to explore Canada's beautiful capital city. Known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant cultural scene, Ottawa offers you a unique blend of urban living and easy access to nature. As the center of politics in Canada, the city also provides numerous opportunities for both professional and personal growth.

Before making the move, it's important to learn about the different neighborhoods, housing options, and services in Ottawa. You'll find that the city boasts a diverse range of communities, each with its distinct character and charm. From the bustling downtown core to serene suburban areas, there's something to suit everyone's preferences and lifestyle needs.

While relocating to a new city can be overwhelming, having a plan and knowing what to expect in Ottawa will make the transition smoother. And, as you settle in, don't forget to explore the city's numerous attractions, festivals, and green spaces, which will undoubtedly help you fall in love with your new Canadian home.

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Reasons to Move to Ottawa

If you're thinking about moving to Ottawa, you'll find plenty of reasons why it's such a fantastic destination for both individuals and families.. The city offers a high quality of life that is supported by a stable economy and a variety of recreational activities.

In Ottawa, you'll find a focus on the environment, as it is known as a green city. The numerous parks, green spaces, and cycling paths contribute to a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle. This, combined with the city's commitment to environmental initiatives, makes Ottawa an ideal home for eco-conscious residents.

The quality of life in Ottawa is further enhanced by its reputation as one of the best places to live in Canada. The city boasts a low crime rate, excellent education and healthcare systems, and a strong sense of community. The city's relatively low cost of living and high average salaries also contribute to its desirability as a place to call home.

Diversity is another strong point for Ottawa. As the capital city of Canada, it houses embassies from around the world and welcomes immigrants and visitors from various backgrounds. This gives residents the opportunity to experience a rich mix of cultures, languages, and cuisines.

By moving to Ottawa, you'll have the chance to enjoy the benefits of both city living and a small-town atmosphere. You can immerse yourself in the vibrant arts scene, explore the extensive network of trails and parks, or take part in various outdoor activities during challenging winter months. Furthermore, you'll have access to the unique experience of living at the crossroads between French and English Canada due to its proximity to the Quebec border.

Ottawa offers a well-rounded lifestyle with a focus on environmental stewardship, diverse cultural experiences, and a high quality of life for its residents.

Understanding Ottawa's Geography

When moving to Ottawa, get acquainted with the city's geography. Ottawa, the capital city of Canada, is situated in the eastern part of the Ontario province along the Ottawa River. Gatineau, located in the Quebec province, lies directly across the river, making the Ottawa-Gatineau region a unique blend of two provinces and cultures.

Ottawa's landscape consists of rolling terrain, which leads to the highest point of about 166 meters (545 ft) above sea level. The abundant waterways, including the Ottawa River and Rideau Canal, play significant roles in shaping the city's geography. The Ottawa River, the lowest point in the city, lies at 44 meters (144 ft) above sea level. The Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage site, meanders through the city and connects Ottawa to Kingston, providing a beautiful backdrop for recreation and sightseeing.

In the city's core, you will find the historic ByWard Market. Established in 1826, this vibrant area comprises cafes, restaurants, boutiques, and various attractions. The ByWard Market serves as a cultural touchstone for residents and visitors alike, capturing the essence of Ottawa's diverse history and contemporary life.

Gatineau Park, a vast wooded conservation area, is also within a short driving distance from Ottawa. This park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering ample opportunities for hiking, biking, skiing, and wildlife spotting. Throughout its 361 square kilometers, you will find picturesque lakes, trails, and scenic viewpoints providing a tranquil escape from the bustling city.

As you familiarize yourself with Ottawa's geography, you'll come to appreciate the balance between city life and nature's beauty. The combination of historical landmarks, waterways, and parkland creates an inviting environment, fostering a sense of belonging and well-being for you as a new resident.

Cultural and Lifestyle Overview

Local Culture and Festivals

Ottawa, being the capital of Canada, boasts a rich cultural scene that will keep you engaged year-round. One of the most famous annual events is Winterlude, which takes place in February and celebrates the beauty of winter with outdoor activities, ice sculptures, and skating on the Rideau Canal. In May, the city comes alive with vibrant colors during the Canadian Tulip Festival, showcasing millions of tulips in bloom and paying homage to Canada's historical connection with the Netherlands.

Outdoor Pursuits

Ottawa's landscape offers you a wide range of outdoor adventures. It is surrounded by parks, mountains, and rivers that provide exceptional opportunities for white water rafting, skiing, mountain biking, and more. The vast and stunning beaches are also within close reach of the city.

Food Scene

The culinary scene in Ottawa is diverse, with an impressive array of restaurants offering international cuisine. You will find a multitude of dining options, from chic bistros to food trucks and everything in between. As for nightlife, there's a vibrant selection of bars, clubs, and pubs where you can enjoy live music, dance, or simply relax with friends.

Art and Museums

As a culturally rich city, Ottawa is home to a variety of museums and art galleries. The Canadian War Museum is a must-visit, providing a comprehensive look at the country's military history. In addition, the city hosts numerous concerts, music festivals, and dynamic exhibitions that will allow you to immerse yourself in Ottawa's thriving arts scene.

Neighborhoods in Ottawa

When you're pondering a move to Ottawa, take some time to explore the different neighborhoods. You'll discover a wide range of options to pick from, each with its own special vibe and amenities. Find the one that perfectly fits your needs and lifestyle!

Downtown Core and Centretown: For those who prefer a more urban lifestyle, the downtown core and Centretown areas of Ottawa might be the perfect fit. These areas are bustling with commercial and residential properties, including high-rise buildings, condominiums, townhouses, and single-family homes. Living here means you'll have easy access to shopping, dining, entertainment, and public transit, making it an ideal location for young professionals and families alike.

The Glebe: One of Ottawa's most affluent neighborhoods, The Glebe offers a mix of housing options, such as condos, apartments, single-family homes, and townhouses. This neighborhood is known for its excellent schools and family-friendly atmosphere, attracting families with children and providing a safe, community-oriented environment.

Kanata: Located in Ottawa's western region, Kanata is a suburban community that has grown rapidly in recent years. With modern housing developments, excellent schools, ample green spaces, and numerous amenities like shopping centers, sports complexes, and parks, Kanata is an attractive option for families looking for a suburban lifestyle within a short commute to the city center.

Barrhaven: As one of Ottawa's fastest-growing neighborhoods, Barrhaven offers various housing options, from single-family homes to townhouses and condos. With an average housing price of $668,932 and a 20-25 minutes drive to downtown Ottawa, this area provides a balanced suburban life with accessibility to the city's amenities.

When choosing your neighborhood in Ottawa, take the time to explore each area's unique offerings and weigh the pros and cons to find the perfect spot for you and your family.

Moving to Ottawa: A Step-by-step Guide

Administrative Steps

Before you move to Ottawa, you'll need to take care of a few administrative tasks:

  1. Visas and permits: Ensure you have the necessary visas or permits for living and working in Ottawa. Check the Canadian government's immigration website for more information.
  2. Driver's license: If you plan to drive in Ottawa, you may need to obtain a local driver's license. Check the Ontario Ministry of Transportation website for details on the process.
  3. Taxes: Familiarize yourself with the Canadian tax system and your obligations. The Canada Revenue Agency provides resources to help newcomers understand taxation in Canada.

Finding Accommodation

When searching for accommodation in Ottawa, consider the following steps:

  1. Set a budget: Determine your budget for rent or mortgage payments, remembering to factor in utilities and other expenses.
  2. Choose a neighborhood: Research neighborhoods in Ottawa, considering factors such as proximity to work, schools, public transportation, and recreational activities.
  3. Start your search: Use online real estate portals, such as, and speak with local real estate agents to find suitable properties.
  4. Schedule viewings: Arrange to visit properties that meet your criteria.
  5. Prepare documentation: When applying for a rental or mortgage, have your financial documents, proof of identity, and references ready.


Ottawa has a comprehensive healthcare system. Follow these steps to ensure you're covered:

  1. Apply for a health card: To access the province of Ontario's healthcare system, you must have an Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) card. Apply for one as soon as you arrive. The Ministry of Health has more information on eligibility and the application process.
  2. Find a family doctor: Look for a primary care physician to manage your ongoing healthcare needs. Websites like Health Care Connect can help you find a family doctor.
  3. Understand your coverage: Familiarize yourself with the scope of healthcare provided under OHIP to know what services are covered and which ones are not.
  4. Consider additional insurance: Private health insurance plans can supplement public coverage, covering expenses such as dental care, prescription drugs, and vision care. Research options and choose the coverage that suits your needs.

Employment Opportunities in Ottawa

Ottawa, as the capital city of Canada, offers a diverse range of job opportunities. The city's job market is thriving, with many sectors experiencing growth and expansion. You can confidently explore various employment options in this vibrant and dynamic city.

One of the main employers in Ottawa is the federal government. If you're looking for a stable and rewarding career, working for the government could be your best bet. As the political center of Canada, Ottawa provides countless opportunities for those interested in public service roles. Many government departments and agencies have their headquarters in the city, offering positions in administrative, policy analysis, research, communications, and other fields.

Besides the government sector, Ottawa is also home to a thriving technology industry. The city has a booming tech hub, with numerous tech companies calling Ottawa home. Jobs in this sector range from software development, IT support, and network administration to top-level executive roles. As the tech industry grows, so do the opportunities for lucrative and exciting careers.

Ottawa plays host to a strong healthcare sector due in part to the presence of several world-class hospitals and research centers. Medical professionals, researchers, and health administrators can find rewarding careers in this field.

The city's tourism and cultural sectors are constantly in need of skilled workers. Ottawa is home to many national museums, galleries, and historical sites, which require staff for daily operations and special events. This industry offers unique job opportunities for those passionate about arts and culture and provides excellent customer service.

While looking for job opportunities in Ottawa, remember to explore various online resources like job search websites and company career portals. Here are some resources:

Ottawa's diverse economy and strong job market create an ideal environment for long-term career success. You'll find numerous employment opportunities across several sectors, including the federal government, technology, healthcare, and cultural industries. So, take your time to research and find the best fit for your skills and interests as you embark on your journey to build a prosperous career in Ottawa.

Education in Ottawa

When you move to Ottawa, you'll appreciate the high-quality education system with both English and French schools available. The Ontario Ministry of Education offers publicly-funded education from kindergarten to grade 12, ensuring that your children have access to excellent schooling opportunities.

For young kids, Ottawa supports play-based learning with numerous early education centers throughout the city. You'll also find that the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board is continuously expanding its offerings by building new schools and providing diverse programs to cater to different student needs.

In terms of higher education, Ottawa is home to two top universities: the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. The University of Ottawa, a bilingual institution, offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs in fields such as science, engineering, and the humanities. It is also recognized for its research-intensive focus, attracting scholars and students from around the world.

Carleton University, on the other hand, is known for its strong programs in architecture, business, and journalism. It promotes a collaborative learning environment, providing students with ample opportunities to engage in both disciplinary and interdisciplinary studies.

As you settle into your new life in Ottawa, take advantage of the many educational resources available for you and your family. With an emphasis on learning and a dedication to fostering well-rounded education, Ottawa proves to be an ideal location for expats in pursuit of academic excellence.

Public Transportation and Commuting

Ottawa offers a variety of public transportation options to make your daily commute and navigating the city convenient. The OC Transpo operates buses and a light rail system known as the O-Train. This efficient public transport system runs 24/7, with more limited nighttime service, connecting various parts of the city and nearby regions.

During rush hour, the frequency of buses and trains is increased to accommodate the high demand and ease traffic congestion. The O-Train network includes two lines, the Confederation Line (Line 1) and the Trillium Line (Line 2), linking major suburbs, workplaces, and shopping centers. Keep in mind that during peak hours, the public transportation system can be busy, so planning your travel accordingly will ensure a smooth experience.

Biking is another popular and eco-friendly way to navigate Ottawa. The city boasts an extensive network of bike paths, enabling you to enjoy a healthy and cost-effective mode of transportation. You can also combine biking with public transit, as most buses and O-Train stations are equipped with bike racks. Just ensure that your bike is securely fastened and follow any posted guidelines.

The Ottawa International Airport (YOW) connects residents to both domestic and international destinations. It is easily accessible through public transportation, taxis, or private vehicle. Keep in mind that travel times to the airport may vary depending on traffic conditions, so ensuring ample time for arrival and security checks is recommended.

To help you navigate through Ottawa's public transportation system, a PRESTO card can be used for convenient fare payment on buses and the O-Train. The card can be reloaded online or at participating retail locations and also offers transfer options between different modes of transport.

Getting around Ottawa is made easy through its various public transport options, bike paths, and well-connected airport. By familiarizing yourself with these systems, you will enjoy a comfortable and efficient commute in your new city.

Cost of Living

If you're thinking about making the leap to Ottawa, it's important to keep the cost of living in mind. As the lively capital of Canada, Ottawa has so much to offer. But to make the most of your experience, be aware of the expenses you might encounter and see if they align with your budget. It's all about finding the perfect balance between your dreams and your wallet!

In terms of the overall cost of living, Ottawa is relatively affordable compared to other major Canadian cities. The cost of living index for Ottawa is rated 83.67 out of 100, while Kanata, a suburb of Ottawa, has an index of about 84.50 out of 100. This means that living here is less expensive than the national average, as well as in many regions in Ontario.

Housing prices in Ottawa are a significant factor to consider when planning your move. The average house price in the city is higher than the national average of $438,700 but lower than the provincial average of $496,600. Prices can vary depending on the neighborhood you choose. For instance, the most expensive neighborhood in Ottawa is Rockcliffe Park, where the average house price is $1,325,000. On the other hand, the least expensive neighborhood is Vanier North, with an average house price of $296,000.

Here's a brief outline of typical expenses you may encounter while living in Ottawa:

  • Housing: As mentioned, housing prices range from affordable to luxury, depending on the neighborhood.
  • Utilities: The cost of utilities, including electricity, heating, and water, is generally lower than the national average.
  • Transportation: Public transportation is available through the OC Transpo system, with regular bus routes and light rail options. Owning a car is also an option but factor in expenses such as gas, car maintenance, and insurance.
  • Groceries: The cost of groceries is typically average compared to other Canadian cities, but your actual expenses will depend on your personal consumption and shopping preferences.
  • Healthcare: Healthcare in Ottawa is administered through the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP), which covers most essential medical services for residents. Additional costs may include prescription medications, dental care, and supplementary insurance.
  • Entertainment: Ottawa has a bustling arts and culture scene, with numerous theaters, galleries, and events happening throughout the year. The cost of entertainment is generally affordable, and you can find options to suit various budgets.

The cost of living in Ottawa is generally more affordable than in many other Canadian cities. Keep these factors in mind when planning your move to Ottawa, and you can find the right balance between expenses and the quality of life the city has to offer.

Weather Patterns in Ottawa

As you're contemplating a move to Ottawa, let's talk about the city's fabulous weather! Ottawa gets to experience all four seasons, which means there's never a dull moment. Each season brings its own magic and charm, so being prepared for the delightful surprises they bring is essential for making the most out of your life in the Canadian capital. Embrace the diversity of Ottawa's weather, and you'll be ready for any adventure that comes your way.

Winter in Ottawa can be quite cold, with average temperatures around -15 degrees Celsius. Snow is a common occurrence, so make sure you have appropriate clothing and equipment for snow removal and driving in snowy conditions. Winter activities like skating on the Rideau Canal and skiing in nearby parks are popular, providing plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun.

During spring, the weather starts to warm up gradually. Snow begins to melt, and temperatures can range from chilly to mild. Have layers and a good-quality waterproof jacket during this time of year for those unpredictable rainy days.

Summer in Ottawa brings warmer temperatures, with averages around 25 degrees Celsius. With plenty of green spaces throughout the city, summer is a great time to explore the outdoors, enjoy picnics, and attend various festivals. Stay hydrated and wear sun protection during hot summer days.

Fall in Ottawa is a season of transition, with colorful foliage and cooler temperatures. It's a great time to enjoy outdoor activities, like hiking and biking before the winter weather sets in. Temperatures can vary, so having a mix of lighter and warmer clothing is necessary.

Knowing the climate of Ottawa and being prepared for each season will help you make the most of your time in this beautiful city. Dress accordingly, and be ready to experience everything that Ottawa's weather has to offer.

Choose Allied Van Lines for Your Ottawa Move

Allied Van Lines is a reputable and reliable moving company that can help you move to or from Ottawa with ease. With over 95 years of experience in the moving industry, Allied Van Lines has become a trusted name in the business. We offer a wide range of moving services that can cater to your specific needs and requirements.

Request a free estimate today!