If you're thinking about Moving to or Living in Ottawa, Ontario, then here's your Ultimate Guide where we talk about the key things you'll want to know including the climate, history, education, employers, sports teams, restaurants, recreation, nightlife and even the pros and cons.
You'll definitely learn a few key things and when you have a better feel for the area of Ottawa you're interested in, we have that too! Above all, we want to help you make an informed decision about where and how you want to live.
If you live here and want to invest in Ottawa's plethora of multi-unit properties or start one of your own, we can help you with that as well in our Invest in Ottawa blog or on our Invest in Ottawa Youtube channel.
Find out about the history and climate here in Ottawa, as well as information about museums and art galleries in the major urban areas and suburbs of Kanata/Stittsville, Orleans and Barrhaven.
Queen Victoria, in 1857 chose Ottawa, which comes from the Algonquin word 'adawe', meaning "to trade", to be the capital of Canada.
Founded as Bytown in 1826 and incorporated as Ottawa in 1855, it was later incorporated as the City of Ottawa in 2001 after expanding its boundaries and amalgamating the former Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton. This corporate entity of the municipal government in Ottawa provides services to its residents and enforces municipal by-laws. After 12 years, Mayor Jim Watson did not run in the Fall of 2022, and Ottawa has voted in Mark Sutcliffe to the position.
Ottawa, in the south of the province of Ontario, is the capital of Canada and can be found at the confluence of the Ottawa River and Rideau River. It's the fourth-largest city and metropolitan area in Canada. It borders Gatineau, Quebec, forming the metropolitan area Ottawa-Gatineau, with a population of 1,488,307 at census 2021. The city itself has a population of 1,017,449. With its Parliament sitting centrally, it has become known primarily as a federal government town with many foreign embassies, and key organizations including the Parliament of Canada, the Supreme Court, and the residences of the governor general and the Office of the Prime Minister.
The most educated city across Canada, Ottawa is home to educational and research institutions such as the University of Ottawa, Carleton University and Algonquin College, as well as cultural institutions like the National Arts Centre, National Gallery of Canada, national museums, historic sites and monuments.
As the city of museums, Ottawa is proud to offer residents and tourists the opportunity to delve deep into history, learning and culture. Be sure to visit all of these fine and fascinating establishments: Canadian Museum of Nature, Canadian Museum of History and Canadian Children's Museum, Canadian War Museum, Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Canada Agricultural and Food Museum, Canada Science and Technology Museum, Diefenbunker Museum, and the Vanier Museopark.
Ottawa has a semi-continental climate with hot summers and cold winters, with Ottawa ranking as the 7th coldest capital in the world. Ottawa is known for its humid and very hot summer months reaching over 30 degrees Celcius and its severe and snowy winters that can reach -30 degrees Celcius. In between there are beautiful transitions from summer to fall in all it's myriad colours, and from winter to fresh and beautiful spring. In Ottawa we go rather abruptly into each season, so it's an important factor when thinking about moving to Ottawa.
The City of Ottawa encompasses 8 larger communities of Central Ottawa, East Ottawa, West Ottawa, Far West Ottawa, South Ottawa, Barrhaven, Kanata-Stittsville, and Orleans, not to mention some beautiful areas in Ottawa's Rural Outskirts. Read more about these neighbourhoods in Chapter 2.
Learn about the variety of neighbourhoods across Ottawa using the link below. You'll see the history of house prices over the last 20 years as well as what makes each area unique and inviting.
Check out our blog posts for each larger community, which gives you a snapshot of current sales and house prices in every neighbourhood.
See a list of all neighbourhoods and view homes for sale in each neighbourhood
Use the community links below to see all Listings in a certain larger community
You'll find primary, secondary and private schools across Ottawa to suit the needs of your growing family. As you look at Market Reports by Neighbourhood, you'll learn about the schools in the area and other key features and services to expect.
The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board is the largest in Eastern Ontario with 143 schools: 113 elementary schools, 2 special education, 25 secondary / adult high schools and 5 secondary alternatives.
The Ottawa Catholic School Board is a publicly funded separate school board operating 84 schools.
Ottawa is proud of its student-friendly, high ranking post-secondary educational institutions that can be found across Ottawa and into its outskirts.
The pre-university & International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) is proudly offered at Colonel By Secondary School. This rigorous program prepares students for the next level of education and for more advanced, critical thinking as they progress through grades 11 and 12. It is recognized internationally and offered at more than 3000 schools. Successful recipients of the IB Diploma will also receive their Ontario Secondary School Diploma.
University of Ottawa or uOttawa as it's known today is ranked in the top 20 percent of post-secondary institutions worldwide, operating since 1848, with 550 undergraduate and graduate programs. As one of the top 10 research universities, the uOttawa is a leader at addressing humanity's most important issues. As the largest French-English bilingual university in the world, it's become a welcome haven for supporting diversity and second-language needs for its students and faculty. It's ideal location in the downtown core and adjacent to the heritage community of Sandy Hill in combination with state-of-the-art facilities and laboratories makes it a natural choice drawing students from all over the world.
Founded in 1942, the Carleton University campus now sits on 100 acres nestled between the Rideau River and Rideau Canal, not far from downtown Ottawa. With 24,000 full and part-time graduate and undergraduate students, it's known for journalism, public affairs, international affairs, high technology and architecture programs. A hands-on research and teaching institution, it's unique to other Ontario universities through its partial support coming from charitable donations
Established in 1967, Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology is a leader in post-secondary education with three expansive campuses in Ottawa, Pembroke and Perth as well as online learning opportunities enjoyed by tens of thousands of students. It's named after the First Nations people who lived on the land and focused on the key skills needed for careers in today's immediate marketplace and offering practical experience in combination with in-class or distance learning.
Major job industries in Ottawa are Tourism, Healthcare and Public Service, Technology and Manufacturing & Construction.
Ottawa's largest employer and tenant, the Federal Government of Canada, employs 110,000+ residents, owns and leases 37 million square feet of office space within a 19 million square foot portfolio in the National Capital Region that spans Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec.
Major departments like the Department of National Defence employs 17,400 personnel, in 43 offices, now 28 across Ottawa and Gatineau after moving 9,300 employees in 2020 to the former Nortel campus on Carling Avenue in the west of Ottawa to scale down their locations. It's most well-known location at 101 Colonel By Drive in downtown Ottawa at the Major-General George R. Pearkes Building has been 1/2 empty since the pandemic that sent employees home and much needed renovations will mean it cannot reach its maximum capacity of 4,500 at least 4 more years with an estimated completion of 2026/2027.
While it is up to each department to decide what model to adopt, the government's hybrid work model that began in 2019 as a result of Covid-19 is expected to remain well into the future with 60% of employees wanting to work from home, 10% wanting to return to the office and about 25% enjoying a hybrid model. Statistics Canada employees are expected to return for a minimum of 2 days per week, starting September 12, 2022. This bodes well for anyone wishing to move to Ottawa to work for the GoC but wanting to live in a more rural setting.
It remains to be seen what the working environment and overall footprint will be for this major employer and how any unused office space will be transformed and redeveloped by the private sector. Many predict that much of the office space will remain but its use will be transformed to allow for greater physical distancing, upgraded with HVAC systems and virus-killing UV systems and whatever best accommodates health and well-being.
A prime example of how an unused older building is being transformed into multi-use residential complex is InterRent REIT's redevelopment of a 50 year-old building at 473 Albert Street, now called "Slayte" that combines all the conveniences of home with modern day luxuries like a yoga studio and rooftop terrace, all under one roof, and within walking distance to shops and amenities and steps from the Light Rail System.
The municipal City of Ottawa is also a fairly major employer with over 16,000 employees.
With the Federal Government as the largest employer in Ottawa, accordingly many of the corporate sector jobs are within major vendors and suppliers to the Government.
Startups are opening all the time in Ottawa. Some of the best known are companies such as:
Top Places to Work according to Ottawa Business Journal Survey
In recent years, Amazon has put down roots in the east and south ends of the city. Their latest YOW3 2.6 million square foot facility built in October 2022 in Barrhaven, is the largest building in Ottawa and one of only 5 like it in the world. As of November, 2022, they are actively recruiting employees with higher-than average hourly wages $19-$21/hour plus benefits.
According to City of Ottawa Census 2016: Median Household Income in 2015 by Ottawa Geography
City of Ottawa- Total: $85,969
Traffic is less congested in Ottawa since COVID-19, with many deciding to permanently work from home. However, with restrictions up and down, construction and the population continuing to grow, there are still delays for those who commute by car.
Typical "rush hour" timing in Ottawa runs from 7:30-9:30 a.m. and 3:30-5:30 p.m. (or later).
With Ottawa projected to grow to 1.14 million people by 2031, continued expansion of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) system is aimed at making Ottawa an enjoyable place to live, work and play. To ease traffic congestion, Ottawa has been expanding its O-Train Light Rail Transit and bus services.
Confederation Line 1 stretches 12.5 km running east-west from Blair Station to Tunney's Pasture and through a 2.5 km tunnel downtown.
Confederation Line 2 (the Trillium Line) is 8 km diesel line running from Greenboro Station in the south to Bayview Station, west of downtown. It closed in May, 2020 for Stage 2 construction and is expected to open in the Fall of 2022. In the meantime, there are buses running the length of this geography from the Greenboro Station in Hunt Club to Limebank in Riverside South, while adding a link to the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport. The mid-point of the full line is through Carleton University, thus making it ideal for students.
In the Stage 2 South Extension of the LRT project the line will carry on from Greenboro Station to Limebank in the south and on to the Airport.
In Stage 2 East Extension will extend the LRT from Blair Station to Place d'Orleans Station and then to Trim Road.
The West Extension will continue from Tunney's Pasture to Moodie and Baseline Stations. Once this extension is complete, Stage 2 will have succeeded in bringing 77% of residents with 5km of a rail station. By 2025, 95% of east end residents will be within 5km of an O-Train station.
Ottawa has an excellent reputation for their bus service. COVID-19 has made it more difficult for those planning the routes in that
New smartcard fare readers are being installed on the bus fleet to facilitate payment by credit card or mobile wallet.
Displaced persons and refugees arriving in Ottawa are eligible for free travel on OC Transpo for six months. The transit passes are distributed by the Catholic Centre for Immigrants (CCI) and other local settlement agencies.
If you depend on walking and public transport but need to get somewhere quickly, Uber is alive and well in Ottawa. With rides on demand you can schedule a trip to the airport or anywhere in minutes. Uber Eats will satisfy your hunger and you can even use their services for deliveries.
The first of its kind in Canada, September 2022, Uber has teamed up with local police using RapidSOS to help pinpoint a car's exact location in case of emergency.
With COVID-19 stunting the travel plans of most of the world, this international airport has gone from passenger traffic of 5 million in 2019 to only 1 million in 2021. We'll see how that changes as more and more people get the travel itch again.
Shaw Centre Ottawa (Central Ottawa)
"Canada's Meeting Place" re-opened in 2011, on the site of the original Ottawa Congress Centre, and has worked to achieve an APEX Award by the International Association of Convention Centres for becoming "The Best Convention Centre in the World" according to customer surveys. A spectacular space for conventions, meetings and events, right in the heart of downtown Ottawa, and LEED Gold certified for its environmental stewardship.
House of Targ (Central Ottawa)
A live music venue with an arcade and pierogis! Opened in 2014 with a 10-year lease. Try it for something completely different.
Bronson Centre Music Theatre (The Glebe)
A live music theatre with three bars, and holds about 600 people.
Lansdowne Live / TD Place Stadium (The Glebe)
The TD Place Stadium is located in Glebe neighbourhood and was redone as part of the redevelopment of Lansdowne Park. It is located outdoors with a capacity of 24,000.
Lansdowne Park is continuing development over the next six to seven years to add:
a. Event Centre (2023-2025) to seat 5,500 in the east Stadium endzone to become home to the Ottawa 67's and BlackJacks.
b. North Stadium Stands (2025-2027) additional 11,000-12,000 seats to host sporting championships, concerts and festivals, and be home to the Ottawa REDBlacks and Atletico Ottawa.
c. Residential (2024-2029) to ensure Lansdowne is a multi-functional gathering place as well as a 15-minute neighbourhood.
EY Centre (South)
The EY Centre in the south end of Ottawa can serve large conventions, trade and consumer shows, events, galas and concerts. With 220,000 square feet and 10,000 person capacity it provides an alternate location to downtown and is ideal for those coming and going by plane as it's adjacent to the Ottawa International Airport.
Kanata Theatre (Kanata)
A charitable organization with now 250 members, this volunteer run amateur community theatre company opened in 1968 and now offers 5 main-stage plays and a holiday children's play each year.
Canadian Tire Centre (Kanata)
A multi-purpose world class entertainment venue and indoor arena located in Kanata, opened in 1996 and has also been known as Corel Centre and Scotiabank Place under former sponsor arrangements. It's the home of the Ottawa Senators and you can enjoy headliner live music concerts, comedy and other sporting events in the 19,153 capacity arena.
Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe (Ottawa Far West)
With something for everyone, this 954-seat theatre opened in 1988 with local entertainer and singer, now internationally renowned, Rich Little. In 2010 they added another 200 seat Les Lye Studio Theatre which is Silver LEED certified green building.
Shenkman Arts Centre (Orleans)
Ottawa Little Theatre (Central Ottawa)
Rideau Canal Skateway
TD Ottawa Jazz Festival: annual music festival (held in June/July)
Ottawa Winterlude: annual winter festival (held over the first 3 weekends of February), begun in 1979 and run by Canadian Heritage. It attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors and is one of the most important events to Ottawa and Gatineau.
Canadian Tulip Festival: the largest tulip festival in the world with more than 1 million tulips (held annually in May) In 2023, the Canadian Tulip Festival and Royal Canadian Navy are coming together to celebrate the Naval Reserve's Centennial with all proceeds to support the Canadian Tulip Legacy.
Ottawa Bluesfest: annual outdoor music festival (held in July) with a capacity of 40,000, they had 250,000 attendees in 2022. Historically the music focus was on the blues, it has grown to include mainstream genres like hip hop, pop, rock and reggae.
Canada Day: held annually on July 1 to celebrate Canada's birth on that day in 1867. It has been held on Parliament Hill for over fifty years but with renovations of the Centre Block the main stage of Canada Day will move to LeBreton Flats Park and Place des festivals Zibi just west of Parliament Hill. Featuring a variety of programming it is the biggest celebration of the year ending with fireworks.
Carp Fair: One of the most beloved events in the region opened in 1863 and held annually in September, the Carp Fair can be enjoyed by the whole family. With a midway, music, magic and puppet shows, kids will especially enjoy learning about agriculture, pet zoo animals and watch the loyal SuperDogs show!
Italian Week or "Settimana Italiana": One of Ottawa's iconic festivals, Italian Week was incorporated in 1977 and is (held annually in June over 10 days) in the heart of Little Italy along Preston Street where it is closed to cars for that period.
GreekFest: a city favourite in south Ottawa (held annually during the 1st two weekends in August), with a full menu, lots of entertainment and free for all!
Carivibe: with a 20 year history the Caribbean culture can be felt through a host of events held between July and February, so no excuse not to get your tickets to those that appeal to you.
CityFolk Music Festival: Held annually in September at Lansdowne Park, this multi-day celebration of music, dance and community aims to spotlight performers from a broad spectrum of musical genres to enhance the cultural life and economic activity of the local community.
Summer Activity Highlights:
Anything and everything to do with lakes and rivers: Ottawa really has it all when you're looking for water-oriented activities, starting with the incredible engineering feat and UNESCO World Heritage Rideau Canal. This 202 km waterway runs via 45 locks and 23 lock stations from Ottawa River to Lake Ontario at Kingston, plus two locks on the adjoining Tay Canal. Over 60,000 boats travelled through the locks in 2019, with 66% coming from Ontario and the remainder from Quebec and the United States. You have the luxury of navigating your own experience or taking advantage of guided tours.
Guided Tours are provided by companies such as
Be your own captain:
Must Experience Lockstation Stops
Following are some launch sites within a reasonable drive for those living in the Ottawa region
Ultimate Frisbee: The Ottawa Carleton Ultimate Association (OCUA) promotes the sport of Ultimate in the region, running leagues, tournaments and special events year round. They also operate the world's first multi-field facility designed for Ultimate. They have 4,000 players and the summer league is among the largest in the world. With an aging population, its size began to stagnate in the 2000s, so they made a concerted effort to focus on promoting to the younger demographic which is paying off and growing their base. For those new to the city, OCUA will find you a league through completing an online form.
The beauty of living in Ottawa is its close proximity to loads of winter activity establishments. Following are places to enjoy downhill or cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, skidooing, snow tubing and a host of other winter sports. Keep in mind that many operate year-round, so don't rule them out for summer fun.
Ottawa offers an international array of options to accommodate its multicultural population. You'll find restaurants and bar favourites across Ottawa's neighbourhoods on this website, but there are some well-known landmarks and new standouts making it appealing to travel to or live in various areas of the city.
Restaurants in Hintonburg
Restaurants in Sandy Hill
Restaurants in Little Italy
Restaurants in ByWard Market
Restaurants in East Ottawa
Restaurants in South Ottawa
Restaurants in Ottawa's Outskirts
The Ottawa Senators Hockey Club, known as The Sens, was founded and established by real estate developer, Bruce Firestone, was the second NHL franchise to use the Ottawa Senators name. The original Ottawa Senators had quite a history winning 11 Stanley Cups from 1917 to 1934.
Today's Ottawa Senators became a franchise in 1990 and played their first season in 1992-93. They have achieved 16 playoffs, won 4 division titles, and won the 2003 Presidents' Trophy. They compete in the NHL as a member of the Atlantic Division in the Eastern Conference and play their home games at the Canadian Tire Centre that holds 18,652 seats!
Playing from June to December in the Glebe at TD Place Stadium at Lansdowne, Ottawa's Canadian Football League (CFL) team, the Ottawa REDBLACKS continue to make football an ever-popular sport and entertainment pastime of residents and visitors. Their Big Joe lumberjack mascot is a nod to the logging history of this region.
Ottawa Titans Baseball Club
The Ottawa Titans Baseball Club can be found at RCGT Park Ottawa Stadium, located along highway 417, and accessible via the Light Rail O-Train's Confederation Line, which stops at the VIA Rail Station, a short walk away. This team plays in the Eastern Conference of the Frontier League among 15 teams from Ontario, Quebec, and the US northeast. This 10,000 seat stadium is also home to concerts, festivals and events on the off season.
Named in honour of Canada's centennial, the Ottawa 67's major junior ice hockey team was established in 1967 after the Ontario Hockey Association granted the city of Ottawa an expansion franchise. They currently play their home games at TD Place Arena in Lansdowne Park. This red, white and black team is owned by the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, as are the Ottawa Redblacks. They have won the OHL 3 times and the Memorial Cup 5 times.
After Ottawa Fury soccer club disbanded in 2019, Ottawa was awarded the Canadian Premier League's first expansion team Atlético Ottawa, in January, 2020, owned by Spanish club Atlético Madrid and having Ottawa business man Jeff Hunt as a strategic partner. They play their home games at TD Place at Lansdowne Park in The Glebe.
The Ottawa BlackJacks are the first expansion franchise of the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) and have just finished their third season winning five of six home games under head coach James Derouin. Fans enjoy halftime shows with talented up and coming local artists and entertainment. They support their community through partnerships with the City of Ottawa, Christie Lake Kids, BGC Ottawa and the 2022 Ontario Summer Indigenous Games. They play home games at the world-class TD Place Arena at Lansdowne Park.
As you'll see, Ottawa is slower paced and beautiful, more for those wanting to raise children, and working in the government, high-tech, healthcare or education. It's also for those who enjoy the outdoors all year round. It's not as much a city for young adults looking for a variety of nighttime entertainment or job diversity.
You may not like some of our pros or actually appreciate some of our cons. Overall we hope it helps you make an informed decision about moving to Ottawa.