Ottawa routinely ranks as the top city to live in Canada—but it’s also considered among the most desirable cities to move to worldwide. In fact, with over a quarter of its population having been born outside of Canada, Ottawa is a top destination for international students and foreign workers alike.1
Why is the city so beloved and such an attractive place for young professionals to relocate to? If you asked its residents, you’d get well over a million unique opinions about why Ottawa is such an exceptional place to live.2
From a welcoming multicultural atmosphere to a vibrant festival scene, Ottawa’s offerings will dazzle and delight you. So, if you’re considering moving to Ottawa, consider this your inside guide to everything the city has in store.
Everyone is Welcome in Ottawa
As Canada’s capital, Ottawa is a shining example of the warmhearted, open-minded, and inviting nature of the nation’s people. This amicable attitude is reflected in Ottawa’s stellar safety statistics, which frequently place it among the most secure cities in the nation in regard to theft, violence, and other criminal activity.3,4
Ottawa isn’t just safe, however—it’s downright welcoming to anyone and everyone. It exemplifies Canada’s official policy of the Cultural Mosaic, a type of society defined by its harmonious mixture of:5
- Ethnic groups
Canadians strive to celebrate the various idiosyncrasies that make different segments of society unique and interesting. No matter your mother tongue, race, or religion, there’s room for you in Ottawa’s growing mosaic.
Over 25% of the area’s residents were born abroad, but that only tells a quarter of the story. Ottawa benefits from a unique mix of backgrounds and cultures, including significant communities of:2
- South Asians
- Latin Americans
No matter your background, there are likely many people who share your culture and language already living in Ottawa. There’s a wealth of new friends from different places waiting to be made.
And Ottawa celebrates these different ethnicities, too! Every year, the city hosts a cavalcade of festivities that rejoice in the diversity of its residents, including celebrations such as:
- Salsa nights at City Hall
- Ottawa Greek Festival
- A plethora of Pride-focused events
- The Salvadoran Festival of La Pupusa
- Capital Ukrainian Festival
- Ottawa Kosher BBQ Festival
- Kanata Multicultural Dance and Music Festival
- The Tagwàgi Festival, which celebrates Indigenous arts and customs
- Palestinian Festival Ottawa
There’s always something new to do and discover in Ottawa. The city has more festivals than any other, which means you’ll have many opportunities to experience the fun and flavors of Ottawa’s unique cultural blend any time of the year.
Craveable, Cultural Cuisine Abounds!
Ottawa’s diverse and delectable culinary scene stretches the flavor spectrum and serves up offerings from every corner of the globe.
For delicious, discount eats, you can try choosing from Canada’s largest selection of shawarma shops. The meat wrap became a symbolic staple of the city via an influx of Lebanese immigrants in the 70s and 80s who opened up authentic eateries.6
Or, if you’re feeling fancy and aren’t concerned about breaking the bank, there’s a plethora of upscale options to choose from. In fact, across the nation, critics recognize Ottawa’s culinary prominence—eight Ottawa restaurants made Canada’s list of top 100 best restaurants in 2023.7
Put simply, Ottawa’s dining scene, much like the land it’s built on, is uniquely varied and highly praised by those who know it well.
The City is Home to Natural and Urban Beauty
Ottawa is spread out over an expanse of nearly 2,800 square kilometers that contains well over one million residents.2 It comprises:
- A primary urban center
- Multiple rivers
- Pristine woodlands
- Sprawling farmlands
- Several suburban offshoots
All this is to say that Ottawa is a big city—really big. It’s currently composed of 24 different wards, each of varying size, population, and character.8
Looking for a fun outdoor activity to try? Due to this immense size and natural diversity, the Ottawa area offers a wealth of outdoor activities, such as:
- Skating on the Rideau canal, a Unesco world-heritage site
- Bungee jumping
- Cross-country and downhill skiing
- Zooming into Quebec on the world’s only interprovincial zipline (no travel documents necessary!)9
If architecture and urban action are more your pace, the majority of the national capital’s developed districts are clustered together along the bank of the Ottawa River across from Quebec.8 While the area’s walkable, there’s also ample public transit and cycling lanes ready to carry you around this central core and beyond, no matter where you choose to adventure.10
This central part of the city not only contains the highest proportion of people, but it’s also home to some of Ottawa’s most iconic landmarks as well, including:
- The House of Parliament – Ottawa is Canada’s capital, after all! Thus, some of the most iconic buildings to mark the city’s skyline are the seat of power for the country’s current government. Composed of three huge neo-Gothic halls, the Parliament buildings and their surrounding green space are the perfect place to visit, tour, and picnic on a summer’s day—if a protest hasn’t already beat you to the spot!
- Museums – Ottawa is steeped in history, and the city contains many museums that reflect that. In fact, this Canadian city has seven of the nine national museums funded by The Museums Act, a law aimed at preserving and sharing Canadian culture through carefully curated galleries.
- The Rideau Canal – Despite being a long-established waterway, The Rideau Canal isn’t a natural feature of the city. Originally built for defensive purposes against the newly established United States of America, the canal now provides a calming contrast to the constant bustle of urban life. Take a jog along its banks when the weather’s warm, or glide straight down the center when it freezes over for the winter and becomes the world’s longest skating rink.11
These iconic places give Ottawans plenty of options for enjoying days out on the town. When the sun goes down, however, another side of Ottawa comes out to play.
Ottawa’s Nightlife Scene is Historic and Iconic
Ottawa has a rich and fascinating history with bibulous festivities. The city’s oldest tavern, the infamous Chateau Lafayette, has been in (relatively) continuous operation since its inception in 1849—meaning it predates the Parliament buildings, the name Ottawa itself, and even Canada’s independence from the British Empire.12
In the over 170 years since then, The Laff (and nightlife in the capital in general) have undergone some significant changes. During a brief period in the mid-1910s, the hotels and bars of the nation’s capital went dry as the government enforced prohibition. The ban on liquor didn’t drain the energy from Ottawa’s social scene, however, as people began drinking in underground speakeasies called blind pigs13.
This unbreakable spirit of revelry persists today in Ottawa’s most frequented nightlife districts:
- Elgin Street – Whether you’re a fan of live music, peaceful patios, sizzling sports bars, or luxurious lounges, you’ll find it all on Elgin Street. Its homey, walkable feel gives pedestrians the sense that they’ve left the capital — until the complex cocktails and craft beers remind them they’re smack-dab in the middle of a world-class city.14
- Byward Market – By day, The Market—as its name suggests—is alive with the hustle and bustle of commerce as shoppers flock to specialty food stores, chic boutiques, and souvenir stands. At night, however, the atmosphere shifts to the hippest nightlife scene in the city. Four blocks of fun replete with welcoming pubs, bouncing bars, and much more comprise the market.
So, there you have it. Ottawa is a virtually unparalleled city complete with spectacular natural beauty, a welcomingly diverse populace, and fantastic food and nightlife options. And, if all that doesn’t convince you, perhaps getting an exceptional deal on rent may finally persuade you to make the move.
Exquisite Ottawa Homes Are Waiting With Common
If you’re raring to pick up and move to Ottawa after hearing about all its exceptional offerings, but unsure if you have the capital for the capital, Common can help.
Common provides all the information you need to move to this beautiful city like the average cost of living as well as comfortable coliving homes for significantly less than private apartments—usually at least 20% less, if not more. On top of saving on rent, living in a Common home can help you save on:
- Furniture, as every home features a plush bed with a nearby nightstand and spacious wardrobe—plus a fully-furnished shared living room
- Utilities, as you’ll never be responsible for a single gas, electricity, or water bill
- Wi-Fi, as a high-speed connection will be available for use from day one
- Laundry, as it’s always offered free on-site
- Basic living supplies, such as hand soap, paper towels, and dishware, which are all provided
- Cleaning services, which are included with every unit
With Common, relocating to beautiful Ottawa is more affordable than you may think. And, with every loonie you save on rent and necessities, you have one more to put towards enjoying the city to its fullest!
- City of Ottawa. Why choose Ottawa. https://ottawa.ca/
- Statistics Canada. Census Profile, 2021 Census of Population. https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/
- Statistics Canada. Safe Cities profile series: Key indicators by census metropolitan area. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/
- Canada Crime Index. Crime Severity Index in Canada by city | 2022. https://canadacrimeindex.com/
- YMCA Newcomer Information Centre. The Cultural Mosaic. https://newcomersincanada.ca/
- Ottawa Citizen. Shawarma: the staple of Ottawa cuisine . https://ottawacitizen.com/
- Ottawa Tourism. 8 Ottawa Restaurants make the list of Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants. https://ottawatourism.ca/
- City of Ottawa. Ward maps and school board zones. https://ottawa.ca
- Ottawa Tourism and Convention Authority. Awesome adrenaline-inducing activities in Ottawa. https://ottawatourism.ca/
- OC Transpo. Bus & O-Train network. https://www.octranspo.com/
- National Capital Commision. History of the Rideau Canal Skateway. https://ncc-ccn.gc.ca/places/history-rideau-canal-skateway
- Chateau Lafayette. About us. https://www.thelaff.ca/
- CityNews Ottawa. Remember This? The arrival of prohibition. https://ottawa.citynews.ca/
- Ottawa Tourism and Convention Authority. Elgin Street. https://ottawatourism.ca/en/about-ottawa/neighbourhoods/elgin-street