“The best place to live in Canada”

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Often named “the best place to live in Canada”, Ottawa is the country’s capital. Not only is it the seat of government, but it’s also a hub for arts, culture and education. Most importantly to locals, the standard of living is high and unemployment is low. While the city has all the urban conveniences you could want, there are neighbourhoods in Ottawa that maintain that small-town feeling. All this adds to the feel that Ottawa is the perfect blend between urban, suburban and small-town. Here’s the catch: if you’re not bilingual, Ottawa is a tough place to get a job – even in fields like retail or food services.

Housing Market

In the past, Ottawa has always been a favourite for city dwellers looking for a home that’s more affordable than most major cities. That’s changing now, though. Housing is in short supply in the city now, sparking bidding wars for buyers and skyrocketing prices for renters. Expect this situation to only get worse before it gets better. Given that, you may want to look outside Ottawa proper for options, if you’re having trouble finding a place in the city.

Typical housing type:

Detached homes, but there are also high-rises and row houses.

Side note:

We’re serious about needing to be bilingual to excel in Ottawa. And we’re not talking about having a word or two of conversational French. Most jobs require functional fluency. As for government positions, you have to be truly, fluently bilingual.

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Average Rent Prices in Ottawa

Avg. rent by housing size:

Bach/studio: $1,036

1-bedroom: $1,378

2-bedroom: $1,779

3-bedroom: $1,756

Avg. rent compared to other Canadian towns and regions

Ottawa is 1% lower than the Canadian average

Apartment Hunting in Ottawa

The best thing about apartment hunting in Ottawa is the vast array of rental options available to you. You’ll have no problem finding everything from quaint homes to high-rise, downtown condos to cheap housing for students (near Ottawa’s universities).

Want a dishwasher, pool, yard, or onsite laundry? You can find them here – though probably not in the student-geared housing. But student-oriented housing is often all inclusive or has utilities included, so it all balances out.

So just decide what it is you want and what neighbourhoods you want to target and hunker down with your favourite rental website (*ahem*)!

Residents

Ottawa has three major population groups. The first are students, who tend to be in their 20s and studying at one of the area’s colleges or universities. This group is largely single. They have less disposable income, but enjoy the town’s nightlife and cheaper food options. Most of the time, the students are grouped around their schools. The second group is families. Unlike many other cities, Ottawa has families of all ages. Having one or two youngsters is most common, but there are some larger families too. Hey, even the Trudeaus have three! The final population group are older Canadians. This group includes retirees – and MPs. Just kidding!... Kind of. This older population tend to be empty nesters. They have significant disposable income and a love of the sophisticated high-life, including fine food, fine art and fine wine.

Perfect for: Bilingual families and seniors, as well as students at one of the local post-secondary schools.

Not-so-perfect for: Anyone who isn’t fluent in both French and English.

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Life & Style

As Canada’s capital, Ottawa is a political city, as well as a university town. What does that mean? Being a university town, Ottawa has a hopping nightlife. There are a number of late-night restaurants and clubs, especially in the ByWard Market area. By day, Ottawa revolves around the political scene. That means there’s money and power floating around. Locals more involved in this side of Ottawa tend to enjoy cultural pursuits, like attending openings at the National Gallery of Canada or the National Arts Centre or dining at one of the city’s finest restaurants. What about all the locals who aren’t students, but aren’t living the climbing-the-political-ladder life? They enjoy the small-town feel of Ottawa, shopping at ByWard Market, visiting the many museums and galleries on the weekend, and skating on the canal in the winter. Many residents enjoy how easy it is to pop over to Gatineau, Quebec for a dinner or a weekend away. Just know that, while all of this may sound great, you will have to struggle against the crowds of tourists that flood Ottawa, especially in the summer months.

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Neighbourhood

The central hub of Ottawa is Parliament Hill. Close by are two major shopping areas: the Rideau Centre and Sparks Street. For food, head over to the ByWard Market during the day. Then, at night, head back for dining and nightlife. Theatre can be found at the National Arts Centre, while art is at the National Gallery of Canada. Pop over to Hull for a quick – or long – Quebec visit. There are a number of parks in the city, as well as the Rideau Canal. For the latest trendy neighbourhood, head down to Wellington West. For more classic hip Ottawa life, pop over to The Glebe.

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Landmarks:

Parliament Hill

Canadian Museum of History

Peace Tower

Notre Dame Basilica

ByWard Market

National Gallery of Canada

National Arts Centre

Canadian War Museum

Laurier House National Historic Site

Rideau Hall

Ottawa Locks

Dows Lake Pavilion

Watson’s Mill

Royal Canadian Mint

Supreme Court of Canada

Famous Five Monument

National War Memorial

Peacekeeping Monument

Canadian Tribute to Human Rights

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