Living in Ottawa, Ontario
Living in Ottawa:
OTTAWA’S LOCATION – CLOSE TO QUEBEC AND THE USA
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ENVIRONMENT :: TRANSPORT :: WHERE TO LIVE :: BUSINESS :: JOBS :: PROS AND CONS
In brief, Ottawa:
Is Canada’s capital city.
Has a population of 900,000.
Has a population of 1.5 million in the National Capital Region.
Is not a crowded city.
Sits in a known earthquake zone.
Has hot, humid summers and long, cold winters.
Offers the second highest quality of life of any city in North America.
Is the third cleanest city in the world.
Has the world’s largest ice-skating rink in winter – the Rideau Canal.
Has over one hundred thousand Federal Government employees.
Has 64% of people with mother-tongue English, 15% French, and 21% other languages.
Is officially a bilingual city. Many government jobs require candidates to be bilingual in English and French.
Where is Ottawa?
Ottawa is in eastern Ontario, on the Quebec border. You can see in the interactive Google Map (left) that Ottawa sits on the south side of a large river – the Ottawa River. Ottawa is also cut in half by the Rideau River.
Ottawa covers a large area: 2,779 square km, while the National Capital Region’s is 4,715 square km.
On the north side of the Ottawa River is the mainly French-speaking city of Gatineau, Quebec.
Ottawa is about four-and-a-half hours by car from Toronto and two hours from Montreal.
Ottawa is a one hour drive from the USA border, where you can cross the St. Lawrence river into New York State. You can drive to Lake Placid (US Winter Olympics Venue) in about three hours from Ottawa.
CROSSING THE OTTAWA RIVER
About one in six of Ottawa’s people are visible minorities; about one in five people were born in countries other than Canada.
These figures are similar to the foreign-born percentages for Calgary, Montreal, and Edmonton, and significantly lower than Toronto (49%) and Vancouver (38%).
Asia is currently the biggest source of immigrants to Ottawa, and China is the biggest current source country of immigrants to Ottawa.
More foreign-born people currently living in Ottawa come from the UK than any other single country.
About one in three people can speak both English and French, with Francophones concentrated on Ottawa’s east side.
Quality of Life
ICE SKATING ON THE RIDEAU CANAL
Ottawa performs well in ‘quality of life’ type surveys.
It has a reputation for being a quiet, reserved, family oriented city, where people are laid back, more into sport than nightlife.
Mercer ranks Ottawa as the second best city in the Americas, behind Vancouver, and fourteenth best in the world.
The Economist Intelligence Unit, who also do this type of survey, did not include Ottawa in their city rankings.
The Canadian Magazine MoneySense rates Ottawa as Canada’s best city. Ottawa scores strongly in most categories and particularly strongly for new car ownership, population growth, low crime, number of doctors, and culture.
Healthcare in Ottawa is high quality. It may be difficult when you first arrive to get a family doctor in Ottawa. Fortunately, there are walk-in medical clinics where you will be seen reasonably promptly.
Ottawa’s crime rates are low compared with other Canadian cities.
Canada’s police forces use a Crime Severity Index to measure reported crimes. This takes into account both the number of offences and their severity.
The lower the index, the better; Ottawa scores 46.5; the Canadian average is 69.7.
By comparison, some other scores are: Toronto (45.7), Montreal (59.1), Calgary (78.3), Winnipeg (87.2), Vancouver (96.2), and Edmonton (101.6) .
Ottawa’s violent crime rate is also lower than average, with 616 violent crimes per 100,000 people in 2015.
By comparison, other city violent crime rates were Calgary (779), Toronto (735), Montreal (889), Vancouver (1,043), Edmonton (1,174), and Winnipeg (1,127).
You can see more city comparisons here.
A TYPICALLY LEAFY STREET IN OLD OTTAWA SOUTH
IMAGE BY THORFINN STAINFORTH
Ottawa’s households have the highest incomes in Canada.
The most recent figures available are for 2014, when the Canadian average household income was $81,300 a year and Ottawa’s was $89,400.
Ottawa’s only below average score was for affordable housing. Despite this, homes in Ottawa are still more affordable than in Calgary, Toronto, and Vancouver.
Ottawa’s average house prices are similar to/a bit higher than Montreal’s and Edmonton’s, but incomes in Ottawa are much higher.
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