Ottawa vs Montreal

Ottawa vs Montreal: Which is better to live In?

Ottawa is the capital of Canada, known for its rich history and beautiful architecture. Meanwhile, Montreal is the cultural capital of Canada, renowned for its amazing food, vibrant nightlife, and unique European flair.

Montreal offers a vibrant arts and cultural scene with endless entertainment options, not to mention some of the best poutine in the world (sorry, Ottawa!). Meanwhile, Ottawa boasts beautiful parks, the Rideau Canal, and historic landmarks like Parliament Hill.

As for the people, Montrealers are known for their joie de vivre and hospitality, and I’ll never forget when a waiter at a local restaurant taught me a French phrase or two. In Ottawa, the atmosphere is more reserved, but the people are still equally friendly. 

I remember my very first Winterlude festival as a child, making new friends while sipping on some hot cocoa and munching on a BeaverTail at the Rideau Canal Skateway.

To summarize, Ottawa is better than Montreal in terms of more job opportunities, higher safety, lower crime rates, and higher purchasing power. However, Montreal is better than Ottawa in terms of public transportation costs, housing, and cost of living. 

Cost of Living-Higher cost of living-Lower cost of living
Housing Costs-More expensive housing options-Cheaper rent and real estate costs
Safety & Security-Lower overall crime rate and high safety index-Slightly higher crime rate, but overall still very safe
Healthcare-Covered by OHIP

-Good variety of clinical services

-Highly skilled medical professionals
Education-Higher costs of education

-More educational options

-Lower tuition fees
Job Opportunities-Lower unemployment rate

-Higher average salary

-Lower average monthly salary

Is living in Ottawa cheaper than Montreal?

Is living in Ottawa cheaper than Montreal

Living in Montreal is cheaper than living in Ottawa. The average monthly cost of living in Montreal, including rent, is $5,914.5, while Ottawa’s is around $6,600.



Housing in Montreal is cheaper than in Ottawa because you can rent a 1BR apartment for only $1,447.30, while it costs $1,746.13 for Ottawa.

However, buying an apartment is cheaper in Ottawa than it is in Montreal, costing around $8,040.27. In Montreal, an apartment costs $8,376.03 per square meter.

For a more detailed look at these cities’ housing costs, you may refer to the table below:

Housing OptionsOttawaMontreal
Monthly Rent (1BR apartment) in City Centre$1,746.13$1,447.30
Monthly Rent (1BR apartment) Outside of Centre$1,442.50$1,110.78
Monthly Rent (3BR apartment) in City Centre$2,906.00$2,509.06
Monthly Rent (3BR apartment) Outside of Centre$2,268.57$1,873.33
Real Estate (Price per square meter - Apartment) in City Centre$8,040.27$8,376.03
Real Estate (Price per square meter - Apartment) Outside of Centre$6,955.42$4,748.24

Cost of Living

Cost of Living

Montreal is better than Ottawa in terms of the cost of living because you’d only need around $5,954.4 monthly, as compared to Ottawa’s $6,700. 

Montreal’s cost of living index is 75.95, while Ottawa’s is 79.94. This means that the cost of living in Montreal is about 5% cheaper than in Ottawa.

However, it’s worth noting that some specific expenses, like groceries, utilities, and transportation, may vary in each city. For example, some groceries, like a 1.5 liter of bottled water, cost less in Ottawa than in Montreal on average.

Take a look at the table below for a breakdown of the average costs of living in both cities:

Expense CategoryOttawaMontreal
Restaurant (Meal for 2, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course)$95$100
Groceries (1.5-liter bottle of water)$2.06$2.22
Transportation (Monthly pass)$125$94
Basic Utilities (Monthly)$203.19$105.23
Childcare (Preschool/Kindergarten, Full Day, Private, Monthly for 1 Child)$1,530$915.50
Clothing (1 Pair of Jeans - Levis 501 Or Similar)$84.82$83.84
Sports & Leisure (Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult)$75.75$38.98

Which is better to live in, Ottawa or Montreal? 

Which is better to live in, Ottawa or Montreal

Ottawa is better to live in than Montreal, with its lower crime rates, high safety & purchasing power, and better job opportunities. However, Montreal is better to live in if you’re only focused on cheaper costs of living and housing options.

According to the most recent data, Ottawa scored 172.33 on the quality of life index, as compared to Montreal’s 157.96. The criteria included purchasing power, safety, healthcare, climate, cost of living, property price to income, traffic, and pollution.

Average Salary

Average Salary

The average monthly salary in Ottawa is higher than Montreal’s, with a monthly average of $ 4,615.74 for the former and $3,831.62 for the latter. Additionally, Ottawa’s unemployment rate is lower at 6.3% versus Montreal’s at 8.6%.

This means that not only can you be paid more working in Ottawa, but you’ll also have generally better job opportunities available.



Ottawa’s healthcare is better than Montreal, from having more skilled medical professionals and better equipment to faster medical responses. 

Additionally, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Ottawa has 223 physicians per 100,000 population, compared to Montreal’s 186. 

Although Montreal does have competent medical professionals and quality medical equipment, it still falls short when compared to the state of Ottawa’s healthcare. The speed of its medical responsiveness, in particular, has received a low score.



In terms of academics, Montreal is better than Ottawa due to its lower tuition fees and better education. According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Montreal has an average of $2,833 per year for undergraduate students. 

Ottawa’s tuition fees come in at around $7,500 per year.

However, it’s worth noting that international students also pay higher fees as compared to Canadian nationals.

In terms of the quality of education, both Ottawa and Montreal have highly-regarded schools and universities.

Ottawa has a high number of specialized schools and institutions, such as the University of Ottawa, which ranked 279th in the QS World University Rankings 2022. 

Other notable institutions in Ottawa include Carleton University, Algonquin College, and Saint Paul University, which offer a range of programs in various fields.

In the same ranking, Montreal’s McGill University is ranked 27th in the world, making it one of the best institutions in the country and the world.

For the average prices of schooling in Ottawa and Montreal, you may refer to the table below:

Preschool/Kindergarten (Full Day, Private, Monthly for 1 Child)$1,530$915.50
International Primary School (Yearly for 1 Child)$26,142.86$11,890.91
Undergraduate Program (Yearly)$7,500$2,833



Montreal’s transportation is better than Ottawa’s because its public transit network is more extensive. This includes buses, trains, and a subway system called the Metro. 

Ottawa also has its own public transportation, the OC Transpo bus system and a light rail system called the O-Train.

STM (Société de transport de Montréal) manages all of Montreal’s public transportation services, and the Metro alone handles over a million riders per day. A single fare only costs $3.50, and there are various passes available with discounts and unlimited rides.

If you prefer more environmentally-friendly transportation, both cities also have bike-sharing programs. Montreal’s BIXI is one of the largest in North America, and Ottawa’s bike-sharing program, VeloGO, has also grown in recent years.

As for traffic, Montreal can be more challenging due to heavy traffic congestion and narrow roads. The city’s pothole-ridden roads can also be a source of frustration for drivers. 

In contrast, Ottawa’s roads are generally well-maintained and less congested, making it easier to get around by car. So even if its public transportation is less extensive than Montreal, it’s still a great choice for those who prefer to get around by foot, car, or bike.



Ottawa is safer to live in than Montreal due to its lower crime rates and higher safety. In 2019, Ottawa had a total of 41,737 reported crimes, equating to a rate of 3,373 per 100,000 people. 

Meanwhile, Montreal had a total of 103,934 reported crimes, which is 5,069 per 100,000 people.

However, both cities are overall rated safe, with Ottawa receiving a low score of 28.75 and Montreal with 31.62 in the crime index. As for safety, Ottawa received a high score of 71.25 and Montreal 68.38 on the safety index.

This means that both have low crime rates and high safety scores, making them some of the safest places to live in. 

For a more in-depth look at these cities’ crime statistics, you may refer to the table below:

Overall crimes28.7531.62
Property crimes35.9640.87
Violent crimes27.4427.32

Job Opportunities

Job Opportunities

Ottawa has better job opportunities than Montreal because you can earn a monthly average of $4,615.74 for the former and $3,831.62 for the latter. Additionally, unemployment rates in Ottawa are 2.3% lower than in Montreal.

To be specific, Ottawa’s unemployment rate is 6.3%, as compared to Montreal’s 8.6% unemployment rate. However, it’s worth noting that unemployment rates can vary by industry and education level, so it’s important to research your specific field of interest.

In terms of job growth, Statistics Canada has shown that Ottawa’s employment grew by 2.6% in 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Montreal also saw an increase of 1.9% in employment during the same period.

Is Ottawa bigger than Montreal?

Is Ottawa bigger than Montreal

Ottawa is bigger than Montreal in terms of land area, approximately 2,796 square kilometers, while Montreal is approximately 431.5 square kilometers. However, Montreal has a bigger population of 1.7 million, compared to Ottawa’s 1.4 million.

Ottawa is actually the 4th largest city in Canada, while Montreal is the 2nd largest city. Montreal is also more population dense with 4,938.8 people per square kilometer, while Ottawa’s population density is 1,336.8 people per square kilometer.

This means that Montreal is much more crowded than Ottawa, and its residents have to contend with more traffic and a bustling atmosphere. In contrast, Ottawa is more spread out.

Is Ottawa colder than Montreal?

Is Ottawa colder than Montreal

Ottawa experiences colder winters than Montreal, with the average winter temperature in Ottawa being -10.6°C (12.9°F), while Montreal’s is -6.6°C (20.1°F).

Ottawa’s location exposes it to cold northwesterly winds, resulting in wind chill values that can drop to -40°C. Montreal is located further south and is protected by the Laurentian Mountains, resulting in milder wind chill values.

When it comes to snowfall, Ottawa averages around 235 cm of snowfall each winter, while Montreal receives an average of 209 cm. However, Montreal tends to experience more frequent snowfalls, while Ottawa’s snowfall tends to be more sporadic but heavier.

Recreational Activities in Montreal vs Ottawa

Recreational Activities in Montreal vs Ottawa

Now we’re at my favorite part, where we’re going to talk about all the fun stuff we’ve done and that you (yes, YOU!) should definitely do when in Ottawa or Montreal. 

From paddling through the entire Rideau Canal to exploring and shopping in an underground city, there’s so much fun to be had!

Paddle through Ottawa’s Rideau Canal.

Paddle through Ottawa’s Rideau Canal

When the warmer months arrive, Ottawa transforms into a paddler’s paradise despite being one of the coldest capitals in the world during winter. With kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding all on offer, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. 

The Rideau Canal is an especially popular spot, offering stunning city views and a vast length to explore to your heart’s content. The world’s largest skating rink in winter during summer months brings about new energy as it becomes a hub for paddle activities

Take our word for it when we say that it’s important to plan your route and destination before setting off on your adventure. If you want an easier and quicker ride, you can also check out Dow’s Beach, Ottawa River, and Leamy Lake.

Try camping at Ottawa’s Gatineau Park.

Try camping at Ottawa’s Gatineau Park

Ottawa offers many camping options for every type of camper, regardless if you prefer traditional tent camping, RVing, or glamping. There’s something for everyone, so you’ll find something to suit your style here.

What’s even better is that many of Ottawa’s campgrounds offer more than just a place to pitch your tent or park your RV. You can explore walking trails, visit recreational centers, and enjoy various outdoor activities.

One popular spot for camping is Gatineau Park, located just across the Ottawa River, which offers a range of campsites and amenities. The camping season runs from May to October, and reservations can be made in advance. 

Makes some waves on a jet ski in the Ottawa River.

Makes some waves on a jet ski in the Ottawa River

It’s not hard finding a jet ski rental shop in Ottawa, which is why making a splash on the crystal clear waters of the Ottawa River is easy as pie. Just make sure you’re at least 18 years old and bring a valid government ID with you to the rental store. 

However, if you’re happy to ride as a passenger, there are no minimum age requirements to worry about in Ottawa.

You’ll be provided with all the necessary safety equipment and compulsory safety training by the staff, ensuring you’re well-prepared before hitting the water. Just remember that the maximum weight capacity of jet skis is 300 lbs (136kg).

Go ice canoeing at Montreal’s St. Lawrence River.

Go ice canoeing at Montreal’s St. Lawrence River

Ice canoeing is a winter sport that’s unique to the province of Quebec, particularly because of its roots in the province’s history. It’s been a tradition since the early 1800s and is now a beloved sport for locals and tourists alike. 

The annual Montreal Ice Canoe Challenge sees crews of five athletes competing by rowing amid bobbing ice blocks and pushing their canoes across slush and ice floes. It’s an event that showcases the hardy spirit of Montreal, celebrating its cultural heritage.

So if you’re in Montreal during the winter, you shouldn’t miss out on this unique sport! Just be careful not to accidentally fall in the icy waters because you wouldn’t want to spend the next few days sick with a cold after all.

Hike up and watch the view from Montreal’s Mont Royal Lookout.

Hike up and watch the view from Montreal’s Mont Royal Lookout

Montreal’s Mont Royal offers a breathtaking view that’s perfect for taking in the city’s beauty, as well as its rich history. The mountain’s summit, while not exactly the tallest, offers an impressive panoramic view of the city that’s been celebrated for generations. 

The Mont Royal Chalet and Observation Area, built specifically to showcase the stunning scenery, is a must-visit destination for anyone in Montreal.

While the lookout is accessible year-round, winter months can be slippery and cold, making it a challenging climb to the top. But, this also means that there are fewer crowds, and you can enjoy a peaceful experience as you take in the stunning views.