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Thinking of Canada? The Cost of Living in Ottawa

Scattered Canadian loonies mingle with the Ottawa cityscape, including the Parliament buildings and a proudly waving Canadian flag.
Scattered Canadian loonies mingle with the Ottawa cityscape, featuring the Parliament buildings and a proudly waving Canadian flag.

There are many reasons you might be considering moving here, from the beautiful nature to the amazing food. If you’re planning on making the move, the first thing you’ll need to examine is the cost of living in Ottawa. With so many different sources available online, all saying different things, answering that question accurately proves to be surprisingly tricky. Not to worry, though. That’s where we come in.

We compiled a list of costs of living in Ottawa. Our list covers everything you need to consider, including the cost of housing, utilities, transportation, and healthcare before drawing up a budget for your move. If you’re thinking of moving to Ottawa or even just planning an extended vacation there, this one’s for you.

A man is sitting outside Ottawa City Hall, wondering how much he will have to spend to enjoy himself and live here.
A man sits outside Ottawa City Hall, pondering how much he will need to spend to enjoy himself and live here.

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The Cost of Living in Ottawa

If you’ve decided on moving to Ottawa, you’ve chosen the second cleanest city in Canada and the third cleanest city in the world. Not only that but in 2018 the city was ranked as the second-best city in Canada to live in, according to buy MoneySense. The city has two large universities in the city center; the University of Ottawa and Carleton University, making it an attractive option for many families or students fresh out of school. Not only are these universities conveniently located, but they’re also rated as some of the best in the world. Ottawa is a great city to live in but, how much are you going to have to spend to enjoy it and live there? And, can you afford it? These are questions you need to take into consideration before committing to move. For a family of four, the estimated cost of expenses is around C$4,350 a month, and around C$1200 if you’re living on your own. We’ll break down exactly how we came to those numbers in further detail here.

Urban scene in Ottawa with buildings, vehicles, and a pedestrian crossing
An urban scene in Ottawa featuring buildings, vehicles, and a pedestrian crossing, capturing the vibrant city atmosphere.


The cost of living in Ottawa is slightly higher compared to the rest of the country. The biggest cause for this increase is the difference in housing and housing availability. Ottawa is a small city, but they’re growing every year and developers aren’t able to keep up, which pushes up the price of rentals and houses. On average, you should expect to pay around C$2,200 for a fully furnished 900sq ft apartment in the city center and around C$1,700 for a furnished apartment of the same size on the city’s outskirts. These estimates are also dependent on how many rooms you’re looking for and features like gardens or balconies, which are in small supply. For example, a 1 bedroom apartment in the city center costs around C$1,600 while a three-bedroom apartment could run as much as C$2,750. If you want something cheaper, apartments and rentals outside the city center are where you should begin your search. As with most apartments and houses, the larger they are the more they’ll cost you. So, for a smaller furnished 480 square foot studio apartment in an expensive part of the city, you could end up paying a crippling C$1,750. If you go for a furnished studio in a cheaper part of town, you can expect to get something for around C$1,300. If you’re thinking of buying instead of renting, you should budget to pay more than C$5,000 per 10 feet for an apartment in the city center and just over C$3,500 for the same space for an apartment on the outskirts.

A house encircled by sizeable, familiar household utility symbols, alongside our Canadian loonie, symbolizes the expenses associated with utilities and home management.
A house is encircled by sizable, familiar household utility symbols, alongside our Canadian loonie, symbolizing the expenses associated with utilities and home management.


The cost of utilities isn’t something you can avoid, so it’s best to make sure you’re prepared and you allocate an appropriate amount of your budget to them every month. For a mid-sized, two-bedroom apartment you can expect to pay an average of C$350 per month for basic utilities. This covers your electricity usage, heating and cooling, and garbage collection. If this is too much for you, you can always cut back on this cost by using electricity and water frugally or sharing the rental and spreading the charges. To illustrate, if you’re consuming an average of 1,000 kWh of electricity per month, your electric bill will cost you around C$155. But if you’re sharing between two people, you’re not likely to exceed 1,300 kWh, which works out to around C$100 each. Internet and phone bill costs depend on your service providers. Fortunately, there are plenty of options to choose from, so prices have to be competitive. If you choose to go with an ISP like TekSavvy or XplorNet you can expect to pay around C$80 for a 60Mbps unlimited internet connection. These are two of the most reputable ISPs in the area, and they’re known for fast connections, low downtime, and excellent customer service. Like with the internet, Ottawa has a host of mobile service providers. You can get a mobile phone plan with unlimited calls and a substantial data package for as little asC$60 a month, if not less if you’re willing to negotiate.

A woman is pushing a full shopping cart filled with food and groceries at the local supermarket.
A woman pushes a full shopping cart filled with food and groceries at the local supermarket, preparing for her household needs.

Food and Groceries

So, we’ve figured out how much you’re going to spend on shelter and amenities, but that’s only half the picture. To get a complete picture of the cost of living in Ottawa, we need to know how much you should budget for food and groceries. There are loads of small and independent grocers in Ottawa, like Farm Boy, Massine’s, and Manphong, as well as plenty of Loblaw franchises. Depending on where you shop, you can expect to pay around C$2.50 for a gallon of milk, and around C$3 for a loaf of bread. Some other important essentials include:

  • A dozen eggs – C$3.50
  • A pound of cheese – C$6.25
  • A pack of chicken fillets – C$12.10
  • A 2-pound round of beef – C$19.10
  • An 8oz bottle of water – C$1.60

If you’re looking for deals on your fruits, vegetables, and groceries, we recommend you check out the local Ottawa farmers market. Not only will you find organic, fresh produce but it’s also a great way to meet the locals and make some friends. Ottawa has four farmers’ markets, each running at different days, times, and venues. So, if you wanted to and you planned carefully, you could visit them all. The Lansdowne Market takes place every Sunday year-round from 9 am to 3 pm. It features over 55 farmers and artisans so you’ll have more than enough good food to choose from. The Westboro Market happens every Saturday from May 8th to October 30th, from 9 am to 3 pm. It’s a producer-only market so it’s the perfect opportunity to grab some locally grown fruits and vegetables! The Orleans Market is seasonal and takes place on Thursday from May 20th to October 28th. It’s slightly smaller than the previous two but still offers some delicious goods like the Thai Kitchen and the Purebread Bakery. Last but not least is the Barrhaven Market on Sundays from May 30th to October 31st. It’s a great place to pick up some delicious breakfast, or lunch, or local vendors and food trucks. Healthcare. Like everywhere in Canada, health care is free and paid for entirely through your income tax and other tax revenues.If you’re coming from another country, this can be particularly appealing, as having your healthcare provided for you will save you a lot of money in the long run.

Public transportation features Ottawa's public transportation with the word Ottawa prominently displayed on a map of Canada.
Public transportation in Ottawa highlighted on a map of Canada, showcasing the city’s accessible transit options.


Transportation is another one of those unavoidable expenses no matter if you’re taking public or private transport. After all, you need to get around somehow right? Let’s start with public transport. For a one-way bus ticket, you can expect to pay around C$3,60. A monthly bus pass will set you back C$120. This is cost-prohibitive if you only plan on taking the bus a few times a week, but if it’s your primary form of transport, it will save you a healthy chunk of money. If you have your own car, you can expect to pay around C$4.60 for a gallon of gas. However, if you’re planning on living close to work and you’re looking to save some cash, why not try cycling? Not only is it a cost-effective way to get around but Ottawa is considered to be one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in Canada. In 2013, Ottawa became the first Ontarian city to earn a gold medal for being a “Bicycle Friendly City”. The city has an impressive Capital Pathway which makes up a network of over 124 miles of both on-road and off-road pathways which is great for cycling and getting around. The city roads are also bike-friendly as many of them have designated bike lanes. Something to keep in mind is that it snows quite a bit in Ottawa during the winter so commuting with your bike at this time might not be an option.

A woman reads to children sitting on the floor in a colourful, modern childcare setting with books, toys and bean bags around.
A woman reads to children sitting on the floor in a modern childcare setting, surrounded by books, toys, and bean bags, fostering a vibrant and engaging learning environment.

Child Care

If you have a family, you’ll be pleased to know that Ottawa has a plethora of amazing elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as two fantastic universities. If you have the money, you could send your child to a private, full-day preschool or kindergarten for around C$1,300 a month. An international primary school could cost you around$14,375 per year. However, you’ll be happy to know that Ottawa has 4 publicly-funded school systems. So, if you want to send your children to public school you won’t have to pay any tuition fees. As part of Canada’s robust social welfare system, public schooling is entirely free. That being said, you still have to budget for textbooks, paper, binders, and any other school material. Leisure and Entertainment If you love the great outdoors and doing fun, exciting things, you’ll be happy to know that there are tons of fun activities to do in and around Ottawa. A ticket to the cinema costs around C$14.50 for a single. If you’re more into live performances, Ottawa has a gorgeous theatre that you can check out. Ticket prices will vary depending on the show but on average you can expect to pay aroundC$100 to C$375 a ticket. The Ottawa Art Gallery is also open to visitors and the best part is, visitation is free. You won’t have to pay a cent to enjoy one of the best-curated galleries in the country. If you prefer more strenuous activities, membership to a fitness club costs an average of C$150 per month. For the aspiring Federer’s out there, hiring a tennis court could cost you around $23,57 ($29,38) for an hour on the weekends. A great, and cost-effective, outdoor activity is the numerous stunning outdoor cycling and hiking trails and pathways spread throughout the city. Not only is this a great way to explore the city and all it has to offer, but it’s also a great way to get some exercise. If you’re a foodie, Ottawa offers a range of restaurants serving world-class food. The restaurants are incredibly diverse and include everything from Indian cuisine, sushi, Italian cuisine, and steakhouses, to name a few. There really is something for everyone. A meal can run from anywhere between C$20 for something at a family eatery to C$80 for a fine dining experience.

A family is unpacking their car in front of an Ottawa welcome sign.
A family unloads their car in front of an Ottawa welcome sign, beginning their adventure in the vibrant Canadian capital.

Key Takeaways

For a majority of us, a major move doesn’t happen overnight. It often takes a lot of saving and budgeting in order to make that happen. Knowing the cost of living in Ottawa is the first step to preparing for a move and planning your new life. With the information in this article, you’re sure to have a great starting point for your planning and thrive in your new environment!

Ready to Experience the Parkview Moving Co. Difference?

Whether you are moving across Ottawa or across the country, you are in good hands when you choose the team at Parkview Moving Co. Contact our local moving company in Ottawa today for a free quote on all our moving services.

Or call 613.425.0020 to book your free in-home estimate.

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