I love Ottawa. It’s the city I grew up in, and I’ve had plenty of time to fall in love with its many landmarks and lovely features.
To add to that, my profession gives me plenty of opportunities to explore everything that the capital has to offer. You can say that I pretty much know everything about the city at this point.
Since you’re reading this article, I’m guessing that you are wondering if Ottawa is a great place to live, correct? Well then, let me tell you about some of its pros and cons so you know what to expect if you choose to live here.
Pros of Living in Ottawa
There are plenty of great things to love about Ottawa, but I believe a few stand out. Here are some advantages that you will get to enjoy should you choose to live in Canada’s capital.
Ottawa is a very safe place, as it has a relatively low Crime Severity Index (CSI) of 50.2.
In a recent 2023 study by Nesto, Ottawa managed to rank 2nd out of the 15 safest cities in Canada. It is beaten out by Quebec, which has the lowest CSI of the safest cities at 48.6.
Here’s the complete list of the top 15 safest cities by Nesto with their respective CSIs.
Knowing this, you will be able to enjoy roaming the streets, be it day or night, without having to worry about any arm coming your way. I use this knowledge to take relaxing walks in the evening to help myself destress from work.
Some of the best universities and schools (Is Ottawa a good place to go to university?) in the world are in Ottawa. There are some excellent places to learn in the city, like the University of Ottawa and Carleton University.
One example is the University of Ottawa, which ranks #203 in the latest QS World University Rankings 2024 by Top Universities.
We know these campuses for their challenging programs, good instructors, and high academic standards. Because of this, they usually produce some of the best students around.
Ottawa’s universities offer plenty of courses that can help you reach your academic and job goals. Some of these classes are in engineering, the arts, business, and different kinds of science.
Other than that, the universities make sure to take great care of their student’s progress and well-being. These institutes also ensure that the pupils receive only the highest quality classes and programs.
Of course, we can’t forget about the incredible infrastructure and cutting-edge technology available at these colleges. These tools not only make researching and learning less tedious but also make them much more fun to do.
Government and Employment
As the capital of Canada, Ottawa houses the country’s federal government and serves as the seat of power.
This status alone brings immense benefits to the city. It attracts a diverse range of professionals, diplomats, and civil servants from all over the country, creating a vibrant and dynamic community.
Having a federal government also means that the economy is solid and safe. Government jobs are known for being stable, offering good benefits and allowing everyone to advance in their careers.
Because Ottawa is so stable, it hasn’t had to deal with some of the economic problems that other places do when times are hard. Because of this, many families and people feel very safe working for the government.
Also, the government has an effect on more than just the public industry.
Ottawa attracts a lot of private businesses and groups because it is close to where federal decisions are made. This presence helps businesses like technology, consulting, and professional services thrive, which makes the job market very active.
Another benefit is that Ottawa attracts a lot of talented individuals. People from different places and with different skills are drawn to the city because of the jobs that the government and related businesses offer.
This variety encourages creativity and new ideas, which makes for a strong and growing business environment.
Lastly, the government’s focus on education and research helps Ottawa’s image as a center for knowledge-based industries.
The city has a lot of well-known colleges and research centers, which makes it a place where you are always learning and are intellectually curious. This brings even more skilled professionals to the city.
Cultural and Recreational Activities
Ottawa is a cultural melting pot, and the variety of cultural events shows how different the city is. Throughout the year, our city has many festivals, events, and celebrations that show off the traditions, art, music, and foods of different groups.
From the famous Winterlude festival that celebrates all things winter to the mesmerizing Tulip Festival (What to do in tulip festival ottawa) that remembers the gift of tulips from the Netherlands after World War II, something fun always happens in Ottawa.
The museums and galleries in the city are a huge source of pride.
The National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of History, and the Canadian Museum of Nature are just a few examples of places with world-class shows. These facilities help both locals and tourists learn a lot about Ottawa and the country’s history.
But it’s not just about the past. Ottawa is also very dedicated to promoting new art and local talent.
There are a lot of theaters, music places, and art galleries in this city, and they put on shows and exhibits for people of all tastes.
Now, let’s talk about fun things to do. There are plenty of exciting activities to do in Ottawa, regardless of your interests.
With its beautiful setting along the Ottawa River and the Rideau Canal, the city is an excellent place if you love basking in the great outdoors.
During the cooler months, you can do winter sports like ice skating on the Rideau Canal or cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the nearby Gatineau Park.
Whitewater rafting on the Ottawa River is a thrilling journey that thrill-seekers come from all over the world to try.
Needless to say, Ottawa has a well-developed network of community centers, sports clubs, and exercise centers that cater to people with different interests and skill levels.
There’s something for everyone, whether you like team sports, health classes, or trying out new hobbies.
Ottawa is blessed to have a lot of green places, like huge parks, beautiful gardens, and quiet natural reserves.
Gatineau Park, a beautiful wild area just a short drive from downtown, is one of the crown gems.
It covers more than 361 square kilometers and has a lot of trails, beautiful lookouts, and places to hike, bike, and have a picnic. The park’s fall colors are beautiful, and people come from all over to see them.
In the middle of the city is the beautiful Rideau Canal, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a great venue to skate in the winter and a calm river in the summer.
The lush green area around the canal makes it excellent for long walks and a venue for events and concerts.
Aside from the famous sites, Ottawa has many neighborhood parks, each with its own unique charm. These green areas give you places to relax, get some exercise, and have fun.
Families often go on picnics together, kids play in parks, and friends get together to do things outside. This helps us build a strong sense of community and brings us closer to one another.
Cons of Living in Ottawa
No city is perfect, and Ottawa isn’t exactly without its disadvantages too. These are some notable characteristics of the city that might make it a bit hard to live in.
Extreme changes in temperature throughout the year are one of the most difficult things about Ottawa. Winters in the city can be very cold, with temperatures often falling well below freezing and wind chill making it feel even colder.
The long season can be hard to deal with, and the cold weather can make it challenging for us to go outside and do our everyday jobs.
Snow is another thing that can be both lovely and frustrating. Even though the city’s frosty scenery can be pretty, heavy snowfall and icy roads can cause traffic jams, make driving dangerous, and complicate navigation around the capital.
While the snow removal efforts help to ease this, it can be hard to keep up with clearing the streets and paths when it snows a lot.
On the other hand, it can get scorching and muggy in Ottawa in the summer.
Temperatures can get too high for comfort, making it less fun for you if you prefer cooler weather. Storms and heavy rain can also happen in the summer, which can be annoying for a while and could cause floods in low-lying areas.
Also, the quick changes between seasons in Ottawa can take a toll on your health.
The weather inside can change a lot when it goes from being very cold to suddenly being very warm. Your body may have some difficulty adjusting and staying comfortable.
If you are sensitive to changes in temperature or who have health problems that are made worse by extreme weather, Ottawa might give you a rough time.
Higher Cost of Living
While it may not be as expensive as some major international cities, I will admit that I find that certain aspects of living in Ottawa can be quite costly.
The cost of housing, in particular, is a big part of why the cost of living in a place is so high.
As the nation’s capital, Ottawa draws a lot of government workers and professionals, which can increase the demand for housing and drive up prices. Both renting and buying a home in a good area can be pretty expensive.
Also, the prices of utilities, property taxes, and other expenses can add to the cost of owning a home in Ottawa.
We also have to consider how much it costs to get around. Even though there is public transportation, it is often easier to own a car, especially for people who live in the suburbs or areas with few transit choices.
Costs like gas, internet, food, rent, insurance, car maintenance, and other bills have a combined cost of over $8800.
Compare this to other places like Calgary where the cost of living on average is around seven grand. This firmly puts Ottawa on the list of Canada’s more expensive cities.
While I do enjoy Ottawa’s more restrained and peaceful nightlife, some may not share my sentiments.
Indeed, Ottawa has a reputation for having a quieter evening than cities with more people. Even though there are bars, restaurants, and entertainment spots, the general vibe isn’t as lively and exciting compared to cities that are known for their nightlife.
The capital might not always be what you want if you are looking for a busy club and party scene. If you want to party late at night, you’ll find your choices a bit lacking.
When you compare it to other bigger cities like Toronto (ottawa vs toronto which is better to visit?) or Montreal (ottawa vs montreal which is better to visit?), Ottawa is definitely on the calmer side.
This is due to a number of things, including the city’s smaller population and tighter rules about noise and when alcohol can be served.
Some people of certain ages, like college students and young professionals, often look for cities with more lively nightlife to go with their busy social lives. If the nightlife is quieter, the general social atmosphere may be affected.
But it’s important to remember that Ottawa’s quieter scene has its own benefits.
If you like a calmer and more peaceful environment, the city’s more laid-back vibe may be right up your alley. Ottawa’s quieter nighttime can be seen as a good thing by families and people who value living in a safe and peaceful place.
Even though Ottawa is a beautiful and busy city, its transportation system is having some slight challenges in keeping up with its growing population and more traffic.
Getting to work during rush hour, especially during the week, can be hard and stressful for us.
The center area of Ottawa, in particular, gets a lot of traffic because it is where most business and government offices are located. Only a few major roads lead into and out of the downtown area, which can make things worse during rush hours.
Also, there has been a lot of growth in the suburbs due to Ottawa’s development, making it harder for many people to get to work. Those who live in the suburbs are often forced to use the roads, which causes traffic jams during rush hour.
The weather in Ottawa in the winter can also have a significant effect on commuting to work.
Snow and ice on the roads can make it hard to drive and take longer to get somewhere. Even though the city makes reasonable efforts to clear snow, heavy snowfalls can still cause delays and problems for drivers.
In Ottawa, there are bus and light rail choices for public transportation.
But some people, especially those who live in more suburban places, find that the public transportation system isn’t as good or as big as they would like. This can cause more residents to use their own cars, which adds to traffic jams.