Renter's Guide to Ottawa
Canada’s capital, Ottawa, is a major southern city located on the south bank of the Ottawa River. It’s bordered by Gatineau, QC, and the two cities together form the National Capital Region. Ottawa is the second-largest city in Ontario, and the fourth-largest city in Canada. It has less than half of the population of Toronto, ON and is home to about three times as many people as there are in Gatineau, QC. The city is situated 280 miles from Toronto and just 6 miles from Gatineau, QC.
Ottawa’s cleanliness, lack of crime, and overall culture resulted in it being ranked 19th out of 231 cities around the world in Mercer’s annual Quality of Life survey in 2018. Thanks to its economy, commute, weather, healthcare, and other amenities, Ottawa was also ranked 2nd out of all Canadian cities in the MoneySense Canada’s Best Places to Live 2018 list.
Ottawa’s climate is humid continental, so the city sees warm, humid summers and cold winters each year. The weather in Ottawa in the summer has temperatures that average about 80ºF, with highs that can surpass 86ºF. The city’s winter temperatures are around 6.1ºF, although some days can get as cold as -4ºF.The city gets an average of about 35 inches of rain each year, mostly in the spring, summer, and autumn months. Winter months can have a lot of snow and ice, with about 88 inches per year. Ottawa can experience tornadoes, as well as flooding during periods of excessive rain.
Cost of Living in Ottawa
The public transportation system in Ottawa is operated by OC Transpo. Services include buses, bus rapid transit, and light rail transit. The regular adult cash fare is $3.50, while the price for seniors (65+) is $2.65. Children 5 and under can ride for free. There are also weekly passes ($49.00 regular), monthly passes ($116.50 regular, $44.50 seniors), and other passes (1, 3, and 5 days) that range from $10.50 to $41.25 for the regular fare. Discounted fares are also available for children over 5 years old and students.
Ottawa has a number of taxi options, including Blue Line Taxi, Capital Taxi, Coventry Connections, and West-Way Taxi. Here, the average commute time is around 25 minutes, which is comparable to the national average of 26.2 minutes.
People in Ottawa can expect to pay $60 to $100 for a three-course meal at a mid-priced restaurant. A regular cappuccino in the city can cost around $4.07. For utilities such as electricity, heating, water, and garbage for a 915-square-foot apartment in Ottawa, the average monthly bill is $164.92. This is higher than the Canadian average of $147.21.
Living in Ottawa
As with any city, there are pros and cons to living in Ottawa. Some of the reasons why you should move to Ottawa are the city’s low crime rate, its excellent museums, the lack of crowds compared to some larger cities, and its clean and well-maintained public spaces.
On the flipside, some of the negatives of living in Ottawa include that the city is sometimes not considered as exciting or lively as compared to some of Canada’s larger cities. Many jobs in the city, particularly those in the public sector, require employees to be bilingual in English and French. Air pollution and traffic congestion can sometimes be a problem.
Things to Do in Ottawa
No matter what your interests are, there are plenty of fun things to do in Ottawa. History buffs can enjoy the Canadian Museum of History, the Canadian War Museum, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and Parliament Hill.
Some of the best Ottawa attractions for kids include the Canadian Museum of Nature, the Canadian Children’s Museum, the Canada Agriculture and Farm Museum, Valleyview Little Animal Farm, and the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum.
There are also plenty of things for couples to do in Ottawa. Enjoy roaming through the National Gallery of Canada, which houses a variety of artwork from Canada and around the world. Or pack up a picnic and head over to Confederation Park, Brewer Park, or Major’s Hill Park.
When it comes to the best places to shop in Ottawa, the list includes ByWard Market, Rideau Centre, the Ottawa Farmers’ Market, Tanger Outlets, and the Bayshore Shopping Centre.
The city has a diverse restaurant scene, and some of the most popular restaurants in Ottawa include Riviera Ottawa, Town, Play Food & Wine, Fraser Café, Atelier, and Supply and Demand. There are plenty of high-end dining options, but Ottawa also has a great variety of pub and casual style dining establishments as well.
Ottawa events that everyone should check out include the Canadian Tulip Festival, the Ottawa Children’s Festival, the Ottawa Fringe Festival, the RBC Bluesfest, the Changing of the Guard, Winterlude, and of course, the largest Canada Day celebration in the country.
Employment & Economy in Ottawa
The Public Service of Canada is one of Ottawa’s main employers, and 40 percent of the employees in this national sector work in the Ottawa region. Public service employees run the day-to-day administrative operations of the federal government in around 200 departments.
Tourism is another major industry in the city, drawing people from across the country and beyond to enjoy its many museums, parks, historical sites, and events.
Technology and healthcare employ many people in Ottawa, and some of the major organizations that have headquarters or regional offices here include Shopify, Corel, Nokia, 3M, Bell Canada, and Adobe Systems. Ottawa has four large hospitals, including Queensway Carleton Hospital, the Ottawa Hospital, Montfort Hospital, and Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, as well as many specialized medical facilities. Ottawa’s unemployment rate of 5.0 percent is slightly lower than the national rate of 5.8 percent.
Education in Ottawa
Some of Ottawa’s highest ranked public elementary schools, as determined by the Fraser Institute, are Ahlul Bayt Islamic, Saint-François-d'Assise, Georges-Étienne-Cartier, Marius-Barbeau, and Édouard-Bond. Out of the city’s 25 high schools, the highest ranked are De La Salle, Nepean, Lisgar, and Canterbury. The city also has several private elementary and secondary schools.
The top colleges and universities in Ottawa include Carleton University (known for its journalism and political science programs), the University of Ottawa (the largest English-French bilingual university in the world), Algonquin College, and La Cité collégiale. Over half of Ottawa’s population has graduated from college and/or university.
Tips for Renting in Ottawa
Renters' rights in Ottawa are covered by Ontario's Residential Tenancies Act (RTA). When moving to Ottawa, make sure you’re properly informed about your rights as a renter, but if you have any questions, you should address them with your landlord before signing the lease.
Landlords are responsible for properly maintaining buildings, but tenants must ensure that they clean their unit and keep it free from any damage.
Renters in Ottawa can access supports from several agencies in the city, including Housing Help, Action-Logement, Community Legal Services, and Clinique Juridique Francophone de l'Est d'Ottawa.
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