Cost of living in Ottawa
This section provides information to help you understand the cost of living in Ottawa. You will find facts on major areas of expenses: food, housing, health care, public transportation, and common products and services.
There is a tremendous variety of places from which to buy food in Ottawa, from farmers markets to big grocery store chains.
The average monthly cost for food for a family of four in Ottawa is estimated at over $750 (May 2011). The City of Ottawa provides information for calculating the cost of nutritious food: Cost of a Nutritious Food Basket Ottawa, 2011.
Ottawa offers numerous housing options and prices. Housing costs vary, depending on whether you are buying or renting, the size of your home, its location, and other related factors.
In addition to the mortgage, you will have to pay for property taxes, utilities (water, heat, electricity, etc.) and insurance.
The cost of renting an apartment depends on the size and location, and whether or not utilities are included in the rental cost. If utilities are included, the rent will usually be higher.
The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Newcomer’s Guide to Canadian Housing tells you everything you need to know about renting or buying a home in Canada.
The provincial government provides Ontario residents free health coverage through the Ontario Health Insurance Program (OHIP).
However, your OHIP coverage becomes effective only three months after you have established residency in Ontario.
The Ministry of Health therefore strongly encourages new and returning residents to buy private health insurance to cover their healthcare needs during the OHIP waiting period.
There are several private insurance companies offering individual health insurance for new immigrants and other people who are not eligible for provincial and territorial health plans.
You may wish to browse the list of members of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association or the Yellow Pages.
There is also short- term health insurance for newcomers who qualify through the Interim Federal Health Program. It is available to protected persons only (resettled refugees, refugee claimants, certain persons detained under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and other specified groups).
Ottawa has a good local transit service that offers an efficient way of getting around the city. OC Transpo, the City's transit service, has a large fleet of buses, all of which are fully accessible.
There are different daily and monthly fares for children, adults, students, and seniors. Fares for Regular Routes also vary from those for Express Routes. You will find the current transit fares on the OC Transpo website.
Other products and services
Below is a list of other common products and services and their average costs:
Gym membership—$35 to $70 per month, per person.
The City of Ottawa offers a wide variety of fitness classes and membership packages to suit different lifestyles. There are also many private gyms in the city, offering a variety of membership options at varying prices.
Internet service—minimum of $30 per month, per household
Local home telephone service—minimum of $25 per month, per household.
Proof of funds
For Skilled Workers and professionals, the Government of Canada will ask you to show Proof of Funds to the Canadian visa office in your country of origin when you submit your application for immigration.
The Proof of Funds is evidence that you can support yourself and your family after you arrive in Canada. The required amount depends on the size of your family.
The Proof of Funds is not required if you have arranged employment.
The job market
For more information on the job market, please visit the local job market section.
Adjusting to the Canadian climate
Ottawa has four distinct seasons and the city’s weather changes with each season. Residents experience large differences in seasonal temperatures, with warm to hot summers and cold winters.
This section gives an overview of what to expect in each season in Ottawa, and has some tips on dressing appropriately for the seasons.
The four seasons in Ottawa
In spring, temperatures are mild and there is lots of rain to help the flowers grow. Tulips, lilacs and daffodils are in full bloom. People start biking and rollerblading along the city’s pathways, and thousands of runners enter the Ottawa Race Weekend. Tourists from around the world come to Ottawa to enjoy the annual Canadian Tulip Festival in May.
Summers in Ottawa are typically humid and can get quite hot, reaching temperatures in the high 20 degrees Celsius and low 80 degrees Fahrenheit. People escape the heat by swimming at one of Ottawa’s beaches. They also participate in different outdoor sports, such as soccer, baseball, and beach volleyball. On July 1, Ottawa celebrates Canada Day with concerts and a fireworks display on Parliament Hill.
In fall, the temperature drops and the leaves turn bright shades of red, orange and gold. People hike in Gatineau Park, which is about 15 minutes from downtown Ottawa and has over 36,000 hectares of forest and lakes. Many residents drive to local fruit farms or orchards to pick apples.
In winter, days are cold and temperatures can drop to 20 degrees below zero Celsius and 4 degrees below Fahrenheit. There is usually plenty of snow for winter sports and activities, such as skiing, tobogganing and skating along the Rideau Canal—the world’s longest skating rink. In February, people participate in Winterlude, an outdoor festival with concerts and an international ice sculpture competition.
Dressing for the Weather
Ottawa residents dress according to the season. In the spring and fall, most people wear pants and shirts, with light jackets for added warmth. In the summer, people wear lighter clothes like sandals, shorts, t-shirts, skirts and sundresses. In the winter, Ottawa residents keep warm in heavy jackets, hats, scarves, mittens and boots.
Average monthly temperatures
Here are average monthly temperatures in Ottawa, in degrees Celsius and Fahrenheit:
Visit Environment Canada for the latest weather news.