Saunders 1865 | Moving to Ottawa

Moving to Ottawa

Are you moving to Ottawa? The capital of Canada, Ottawa is both a safe and picturesque city and is the fourth largest in the country. With a small-town feel, this cosmopolitan city is affordable when compared to others, but with an excellent quality of life. The city’s great heritage and rich culture, outstanding public and private schools and its position as an economic powerhouse and technological leader, make Ottawa a first-rate city for relocated families and young professionals. Ottawa was convincingly voted the country’s best place to live in 2017.

Our free, in-depth Moving to Ottawa report includes info on:

• The best areas to live
• The good schools
• The average monthly rental prices
• The excellent public transport system in the city

Putting Ottawa on the Map

Located on the eastern border of Ontario on the banks of the Ottawa River, which is the natural boundary between the provinces of Quebec and Ontario, there are several bridges connecting the two regions.  Although Ottawa is a bilingual city, English is the main language spoken, followed closely by French.  25% of the population were born outside of Canada.  The city boasts an outstanding public transport system.

The Rapid Transit Network consists of:

  • Dedicated bus or Transpo lanes consist of Regular services, Express during rush hours, Rural outside of the city and Rural Express during rush hours. The bus lanes are only open to buses, so rush hour traffic does not affect the speed of the vehicles.  Many of the buses have bike racks at the front from April to October, while cycles can be transported all year round on the O-Train.
  • The O-Train, a light rail system, has five stations, which are all fully integrated with the bus network. O-Train tickets can be purchased on the platform at the stations, and just need to be exchanged for a transfer when boarding a bus.
  • Greyhound provides buses to other cities.
  • Hybrid or pedi-cab taxis are plentiful, with additional options provided by Uber or Zipcar.
  • There are more than 105 miles of cycling paths, all with varying difficulty, which are constantly being improved for commuters.
The Areas

Different neighbourhoods, each with unique characteristics, form the patchwork of Ottawa.  Ample accommodation, ranging from family-centric housing to apartments more suited to singles and young couples.  The closer to the city centre, the more expensive they become.  The outlying suburban areas all have a strong sense of community and welcome newcomers’ involvement.

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Just south of Centretown, this popular and affluent area is ideal for commuters looking for a quick trip to work.  During rush hour, the bus will take 15 minutes while the car trip takes 10 minutes.  It has a low crime rate, is one of the older neighbourhoods with many Victorian houses and is commonly regarded as the best place to live.  Accommodation options range from million-dollar, large homes to student complexes, and public transport negates the need for a car and this family-friendly suburb is far from suburban.  Residents range from artists, retirees, families and students, all looking for a trendy vibe.


The closest to the city centre, or downtown, Westboro is popular with younger professionals.  Made up mainly of condominiums, the balance is detached houses lining pretty, leafy streets.  Situated 6.7 miles south-west of Parliament Hill, it takes around 13 minutes to drive to the city centre in rush hour.

Nepean High School, rated highly by the Fraser Institute, is within the catchment area.  Crime rates are comparatively low, there is a beach on the river bank, and Dovercourt Recreation Centre has facilities for kids and adults.


With magnificent homes, built between the ‘20s and ‘40s, and leafy streets lined with mature elm trees, the suburb exudes class and elegance.  Located in the west end of Ottawa, scenic walkways and cycle paths criss-cross the neighbourhood and there are two public schools, one Catholic school and a park.  The beautiful Experimental Farm, an agricultural working farm, is a National Historic Site of Canada measuring 1.5 square miles, with preserved and protected heritage buildings and is at the south end of Island Park.


As the name suggests, this neighbourhood has an incredible view of the Ottawa River and many scenic cycle paths.  With well-educated and wealthy residents, the population is generally older than other suburbs, residing mainly in single-detached houses.  There are no high-rise apartments here.  It has plenty of opportunities for outdoor living and recreation, from sledding hills to tennis courts.


Situated in the east end of Ottawa, this vibrant and ethnically diverse community offers affordable housing and a low crime rate.  The population is well educated, on the whole.  It has a high average of single detached houses, the balance being duplexes, row houses and low-rise apartments.  The area has steadily grown since the ‘70s with a significant French-speaking populace.


This relatively new, well-kept suburb is favoured by young families, but growth is currently hampered by heavy traffic congestion.  That being said, the City of Ottawa is working on the problem.  Mainly an English speaking neighbourhood, there is an abundance of parks, cycle paths, walking trails and trees.  Houses are mainly under 20-years old, mainly detached and row houses and the area has its own commercial services and a unique character.


A well-established area with well-maintained homes, low crime rates and plenty of recreation facilities, the streets are lined with predominantly single-family detached houses, mostly pre-1980, and no apartments of any kind.  Families make up the most of the population, and only 3% of the homes come up for rental.


While many homes are lavish, many are more affordable with home ownership sitting at 96%.  This family-oriented community has one of Ottawa’s lowest crime rates and a number of private and public elementary and secondary schools.  Located on the western border of the city, the village was named after its first postmaster in 1950.  There is a village association, made up of volunteers of both residents and business owners and they actively promote strong community values.  This is mainly an English-speaking community; French-speaking residents make up only 7% of the total number.


Culturally diverse and well-established, this area is bounded by the Rideau River to the north and west.  87% of the homes are a mix of detached and row houses and are generally in a good condition.  With the river in its midst, this is fabulous for nature lovers and the health conscious.

Who Lives and Works in Ottawa?

Ottawa has a population of around 934,243.  It is a high-technology centre, boasting more scientists, engineers and PhD graduates per capita than any other city in Canada.  The robust economy is focused on two main sectors, high-tech and the federal government, equalling 37% of the total GDP, which stands at more than C$40 billion.  A 2.3% growth is expected in 2017, up from 1.7% in 2016.

Shopify and QNX dominate the technology sector and the industry employs around 72,000 people who, combined with the well-paid government jobs, make up a high level of economic diversity which other Canadian cities dream of replicating.

The biggest economic gains are forecast to be in the personal services industry, predicting output increases of 4.3% due, in the main, to tourism-related spending.

However, the city’s biggest employer is the government, with the headcount rising by 26,000 since July ’16, a rise of 20%.  Natural disasters, such as the spring’s flood, while a drag on the economy, typically boost GDP figures as the construction and retail industries get into gear, replacing and repairing homes and supplying replacement household goods.  Ottawa is the agricultural centre of eastern Ontario.  It has more farmland than any of the other cities in the country.

The Best Bits

The low crime rates and affordable living costs, along with being Canada’s best place to live, great schools and a strong cultural heritage are just some of the highlights.  Here are some others:

  • Sunday Bikesdays on Sunday mornings from the 3rd weekend in May until Labour Day. More than 31 miles of parkways are car-free, open exclusively to cyclists, runners, walkers, people with mobility aids and in-line skater.
  • Christmas shows an increase in activities including sleigh rides, light displays, concerts and breakfast with Santa. With snowy weather to boot.
  • 93 miles of paths, 850 parks and three major waterways, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal. The canal becomes the world’s largest naturally-frozen skating rink in the cold winters at a length of 4.8 miles.
  • Ottawa is one of the youngest cities in the world. Almost half the population is under 35 years of age.
  • Festivals are frequent with over 35 per annum, the most famous being the Canadian Tulip Festival, the Canada Day celebrations, the Dragon Boats, and Winterlude, a massive outdoor festival.
  • The Canadian Museum of Civilisation is the most visited in the country. However, there are also 14 other museums in Ottawa.
  • Near to Ottawa is a wild-life park, home to wolves, beavers, deer and bears.
  • Charles Melville Hays, who was the president of the construction company that built the Château Laurier Hotel, is said to haunt the place. He died on the Titanic, 12 days before the hotel opened.
  • The 19th-century Hi-Ottawa Jail Hostel is open to overnight guests. The jail is in downtown near the Byward Market and the Parliament Buildings and was in full use for prisoners during the 19th-century.
  • There are numerous theatres in Ottawa, including three youth theatres. The Ottawa Little Theatre is the oldest amateur theatrical group in Canada.
  • Byward Market is one of the most famous attractions in the city and includes great street food, restaurants and an outdoor public market, all close to Parliament Hill.
  • The CF Rideau Centre is home to over 180 shops, including many of the world’s best brands.
  • Ottawa is the seventh coldest capital on earth but receives around 2061 hours of sunshine per annum.
  • Famous people from Ottawa include Alanis Morissette, Dan Ackroyd, Rich Little, Matthew Perry, Sandra Oh of Grey’s Anatomy fame, and Tom Cruise.
  • The former Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King made Laurier House, in Sandy Hill, his official residence. He would hold séances in the parlour to connect with the spirits of his mother and his pet dog.
Bringing the Kids

Ottawa is a safe, family centred city, making it ideal for the education and entertainment of your family.

  • With five universities and two colleges, professional schools and a number of technology institutes, the high level of further education is enviable. The city rates knowledge as key in maintaining high living standards and sustaining a competitive advantage in the world markets.
  • The business and technology sector works hand in hand with the education institutions ensuring the needs of industry are met.
  • The public schools work on a catchment system, so living in the area of your chosen school is vital.
  • Both private and public elementary and secondary schools have a high standard of education.
  • Public elementary schools have junior kindergarten and kindergarten for kids aged 4 and 5, with classes for grades 1 to 8 for children between the ages of 6 and 13.
  • High school is from the ages of 13 to 18. Public schools are free from fees for children with a residence permit.  However, the fees are a fraction of what private and international schools charge.
  • Most expats enrol their children in public schools, which are mainly English speaking with mandatory French lessons.
  • Private schools offer a higher standard of education, offering extra-curricular lessons, including music and They come at quite a price, though.
  • There are only three international schools in Ottawa. They are very pricey and have fierce competition for places, so pre-booking is essential.
Relocating to Ottawa

Ottawa is one of Canada’s most beautiful cities, with a high standard of living, great education opportunities and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It has been voted the best place to live in Canada three times, has a low crime rate and lovely accommodation in a variety of housing styles, from Victorian to row houses to apartments, with each of the neighbourhoods having its own character and community spirit.  The thriving economy, with strengths in high-tech, education and tourism, makes this an excellent city for expats to live and work in.  Moving is never easy, but using the services of an experienced relocation agency will smooth your way considerably, aiding in finding the right schools in the right area, lease negotiations and much more.


Family friendly
Good Schools
Great Transport
River side icon
Suburban Living Near City
Average Monthly Rent - Ottawa
1 bedroom in City Centre C$1200 (£721)
1 bedroom Outside of Centre C$910 (£547)
3 bedrooms in City Centre C$2075 (£1247)
3 bedrooms Outside of Centre C$1495 (£898)
Contact us for a free initial consultation about your specific situation.
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