Ottawa vs Vancouver

Ottawa vs Vancouver: Which is better to live in?

Choosing between Ottawa and Vancouver can be tough, almost as tough as choosing between pizza or tacos. Don’t worry because we’re not bad enough to leave you hanging like a limp noodle while you try to make a choice.

Vancouver offers breathtaking views thanks to its neat little spot nestled between the mountains and the ocean. Romantic walks by the seaside, anyone?

Ottawa is most beautiful during winter because you’ll be greeted by a wonderland of pure snowy landscapes and ice skating on the Rideau Canal. And even if I’m a local here, I’m not exaggerating when I say it looks like something straight out of a movie. 

And while we can’t make this decision for you, I can say that both cities have a lot to offer. From Vancouver’s vibrant food scene and bustling nightlife to Ottawa’s rich history and cultural events, you really can’t go wrong. 

It all comes down to your personal preferences and what you value most in a city, whether it’s warm sandy beaches or extreme winter sports. 

To summarize, Ottawa is better to live in than Vancouver in terms of consumer prices, job opportunities, housing costs, education, and safety & security. However, Vancouver offers à higher average salary as compared to Ottawa.

Cost of Living-Lower cost of living-Overall higher cost of living
Housing Costs-Cheaper housing options-More expensive cost of rent
Safety & Security-Overall lower crime rate-Higher crime rate
Healthcare-Covered by OHIP

-Good variety of clinical services

-Lower ratio of doctors to patients

-Covered by public healthcare

Education-Higher costs of education-Lower average tuition fees

-Better overall academic performance

Job Opportunities-Lower average monthly salary

-Better job opportunities

-Higher average monthly salary

Is living in Ottawa cheaper than Vancouver?

Is living in Ottawa cheaper than Vancouver

Ottawa is definitely cheaper to live in as compared to Vancouver when it comes to average consumer prices, healthcare, and rent. 

According to the data, you only need $6,672.9 in Ottawa as opposed to Vancouver’s $7,700 for average monthly expenses.

This means that when you take into account the average cost of living and housing prices, Ottawa is obviously the cheaper option between the two.



Ottawa’s housing costs are cheaper than Vancouver’s, including both rental and real estate prices. You can expect to pay a monthly average of $1,746.13 to rent a 1BR apartment in Ottawa while paying $2,479.17 in Vancouver.

You can also buy an apartment in Ottawa for $8,040.27 per square meter, while Vancouver can charge you an average of $13,379.29. Overall, Ottawa is the cheaper option in terms of housing prices.

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

Housing OptionsOttawaVancouver
Monthly Rent (1BR apartment) in City Centre$1,746.13$2,479.17
Monthly Rent (1BR apartment) Outside of Centre$1,442.50$2,110.42
Monthly Rent (3BR apartment) in City Centre$2,906.00$4,517.55
Monthly Rent (3BR apartment) Outside of Centre$2,268.57$3,346.63
Real Estate (Price per square meter - Apartment) in City Centre$8,040.27$13,379.29
Real Estate (Price per square meter - Apartment) Outside of Centre$6,955.42$10,404.57

Cost of Living

Cost of Living

Ottawa’s cost of living is lower than Vancouver’s by 0.1% without rent and 13.3% lower if you include housing costs. You would only need $6,672.9 monthly in Ottawa to maintain the same lifestyle in Vancouver, which costs around $7,700.

Another factor that contributes to the cost of living is taxes, and Vancouver has a higher provincial sales tax rate than Ottawa, with a rate of 7% compared to 5%. This may not seem like a huge difference, but over time, those extra percentage points can add up.

Take a look at the table below for a breakdown of the costs of living in Ottawa and Vancouver:

Expense CategoryOttawaVancouver
Restaurant (Meal for 2, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course)$95$100
Groceries (1.5-liter bottle of water)$2.06$2.49
Transportation (Monthly pass)$125$120
Basic Utilities (Monthly)$197.54$127.14
Childcare (Preschool/Kindergarten, Full Day, Private, Monthly for 1 Child)$1,470$1,370.87
Clothing (1 Pair of Jeans - Levis 501 Or Similar)$82.54$78.82
Sports & Leisure (Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult)$73.54$58.81

Which is better to live in, Vancouver or Ottawa?

Which is better to live in, Vancouver or Ottawa

Ottawa is better to live in than Vancouver for a variety of reasons, such as lower costs of living, better healthcare, and lower crime rates. However, Vancouver does have a higher average salary and cheaper tuition fees.

Additionally, transportation costs, such as monthly passes in Vancouver, are cheaper than in Ottawa. However, the city has a congestion charge, which means that drivers have to pay a fee to drive into certain areas of the city during peak hours.

Average Salary

Average Salary

The average salary in Vancouver is higher than Ottawa’s, with a monthly average of $4,643.97 for the former and $4,533.17 for the latter. However, Ottawa has a lower unemployment rate.

If you want better job opportunities, Ottawa is the way to go, but if you prefer higher compensation, then Vancouver is definitely the right place for you.



Ottawa is better than Vancouver in terms of medical response due to having slightly shorter wait times and a higher ratio of family doctors.

According to a 2021 report by the Fraser Institute, the median wait time for medical procedures in Ottawa was 17.3 weeks, compared to 20.7 weeks in Vancouver.

There’s no denying that both cities have access to high-quality hospitals and medical centers, with a range of specialists available to meet the needs of their residents. Both cities have universal healthcare systems that cover the majority of medical expenses. 

In Vancouver, finding a family doctor can be a challenge, with some estimates suggesting that as many as one in five residents do not have a primary care provider. This is in contrast to Ottawa which has a higher ratio of doctors to residents.



In terms of academics, Vancouver is better than Ottawa. According to the 2021 rankings by the Fraser Institute, it has a higher percentage of schools that rank in the top 10% of schools in the province, with 36.7% of schools achieving this. 

In contrast, Ottawa has 28.1% of schools in the top 10%. 

For families who want their children to attend the highest-performing schools, this could become an important factor in their decision. 

Additionally, Vancouver has lower tuition fees for undergraduate degrees, with an average of $6,256 per school year, whereas Ottawa averages around $7,920.

Vancouver is home to world-renowned universities like the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University. Whereas Ottawa is home to the University of Ottawa and Carleton University.



Vancouver has a better public transportation system than Ottawa. Vancouver has a more extensive public transportation network, namely a well-developed public transit system called TransLink. 

It includes buses, trains, and ferries, while Ottawa’s OC Transpo primarily consists of buses.

While both cities have received criticism for their public transit systems, Vancouver has made significant investments in recent years to improve its system. This includes the construction of new transit lines, such as the SkyTrain’s Evergreen Extension.

There’s also the introduction of new technologies like the Compass Card fare system.

On the other hand, Ottawa has faced criticism for its unreliable and crowded buses and the city’s light rail transit system, the O-Train. It’s been experiencing significant delays and technical difficulties since its launch in 2019.



Ottawa is better than Vancouver in terms of crime rate and safety because, according to Statistics Canada’s Crime Severity Index, its crime rate was 45.1 in 2019, while Vancouver’s was 62.3.

This means that Ottawa’s crime rate is about 28% lower than Vancouver’s.

Ottawa has consistently ranked as one of the safest cities in Canada, and its own police service has launched various initiatives aimed at promoting safety and crime prevention.

On the other hand, Vancouver has faced some challenges concerning safety in recent years, particularly in relation to the opioid crisis and rising property crime rates. 

You can take a look at the table below for the crime stats in Ottawa and Vancouver:

Overall crimes26.9341.72
Property crimes35.7653.03
Violent crimes27.3735.13

Thanks to the low crime rates, Ottawans gave a high safety score of 64.44 when it comes to walking alone at night, while Vancouver gave a moderate score of 57. However, both cities reported scores of 85.26 and 80.93 in the daytime, respectively.

Is Ottawa bigger than Vancouver?

Is Ottawa bigger than Vancouver

According to recent data, Ottawa is bigger than Vancouver, with a population of around 1 million. The latter’s population is only around 675,000.

Ottawa is also bigger than Vancouver in terms of land area, with a total of 2,790 square kilometers. Meanwhile, Vancouver is only 115 square kilometers.

Vancouver is more densely populated between the two, which can make it feel more crowded and bustling. However, Vancouver’s smaller size also means that everything is more easily accessible, and transportation is more efficient.

Is Ottawa colder than Vancouver?

Is Ottawa colder than Vancouver

Ottawa is colder than Vancouver — average temperatures hover around -10°C to -15°C in the winter months, thanks to its location in Eastern Ontario.

In contrast, Vancouver has a milder climate due to its location on the Pacific coast. Winter temperatures stay at an average low of around 0°C. 

If you’re the type who loves winter sports, then Ottawa is just perfect for you. But if you’re more into the sun and sand, Vancouver’s your best bet.