As a high-income, extremely safe, and industrialized nation, Canada is perceived as having an elevated cost of living in comparison to other countries. In fact, the nation’s most popular cities—namely Toronto and Vancouver—are routinely ranked among the most expensive places to live across the globe.1
It’d be easy to assume that, as Canada’s capital and one of its largest urban centers, the cost of living in Ottawa would be similarly high. Ottawa, however, is comparatively much more affordable than The Six or Vancity.
If you’re considering the big move to the nation’s capital, you’re probably wondering exactly how affordable we’re talking. To help you get a sense of the average cost of living Ottawa offers, we’re breaking down key expenditures such as public transportation, food, utilities, and housing.
While some continue to choose to drive in Ottawa, there are effective options for those who want to enjoy a car-free lifestyle. Currently, the city of Ottawa’s public transportation is run by OC Transpo. They service most of the city and offer a couple of different ways to get around.
OC Transpo’s vast bus network stretches from Richmond and Munster Hamlet on the west side to Cumberland, Vars, Navan, and Sarsfield on the far east. Vertically, it runs from the bank of the Ottawa River in the north (including a few routes into Quebec) to Manotick on Ottawa’s southside.2
A single trip will cost you $3.70 using tap, or $3.75 when you pay with cash. If you plan on frequenting public transportation, however, you may want to consider OC Transpo’s extended passes, which are priced as follows:3
- One day – $11.25
- Three days – $27.75
- Five days – $44.50
- One week – $52.75
- One month – $125.50
Increased fares may apply on long rides from some of the more rural districts into the city. All in all, however, Ottawa’s bus routes are expansive and relatively cheap.
Light Rail Transit
For those travelling to the core, Ottawa offers another form of efficient above-ground transit with the light-rail train. As far as fares go, they’re exactly identical to the costs of taking the bus.
When getting the LRT, riders have a couple of different lines to choose from:
- Line one – Line one runs a 12.5-kilometer stretch from Tunney’s Pasture in the west to Blair in the east. Along the way, you can hop off at major sites such as Parliament Hill, uOttawa – or Byward Market – or head straight to Trillium station to switch to line two.4
- Line two – The city’s second line is currently under expansion, and it’s expected to reopen in the very near future. When completed, it will run to and past the airport and into Limebank in the southwest.5
Multi-use pathways and walkability
Ottawa is proud of its many multi-use pathways, which offer safe cycling and walking options to get around. Despite being a winter city, Ottawa is a very walkable city, and heavily promotes active transportation as an alternative to driving.
Ottawa has a nationally celebrated culinary scene, with eight local eateries making the list of Canada’s top 100 in 2023.6 If you’re new to Canada, the tempting pull of such refined restaurants can definitely drive up the Ottawa living cost for international students and relocating workers alike. However, those looking for more affordable options won’t be disappointed in Ottawa, as the city has a truly vast and diverse culinary scene.
If you’re a home chef, however, you might be more curious about the average monthly cost of groceries. Exactly how much you’ll spend will depend on what you like to cook and eat. The average Ottawan’s grocery list includes items such as:7
- Different proteins
- Whole grains
Much like food, how much someone spends on utilities will depend on their personal habits. Long showers, cranking up the heater or air conditioner, and cooking frequently will all raise your monthly bill.
While the amount of electricity, water, or heating and cooling used varies from person to person, the price per unit will not. Utility costs are set by the local government or provider and vary based only on the amount that you use.
Ottawa’s tap water is clean, crisp, and safe for anyone to drink, cook, or bathe with.8 Like many municipalities, the rate you’re charged coincides with your usage for the month.9
There are two electricity providers operating in the Ottawa region, and where you live dictates who will supply your power—their rates are competitive, however.
Heating and cooling
75% of homes in Ontario are heated via gas furnaces.10 Common at Zibi, however, currently provides net-zero carbon heating and cooling for all tenants.11 The Zibi Community Utility District Energy System (DES) is the the first in North America to use post-industrial waste recovery in a master-planned community, making Zibi the region’s first zero-carbon-emission community.
Housing is far and away the greatest expenditure on most people’s monthly balance sheet. Housing costs like rent vary drastically across the city, and factors such as location, size, and amenities affect how much you’ll spend.
That said, Ottawa residents pay almost exactly $2,000 per month on average. This figure, however, can be broken down further depending on the type of place:12
- Bachelor – $1,699
- One bedroom – $1,892
- Two bedroom – $2,075
- Three bedroom – $2,530
If the prospect of moving to Ottawa excites you but these rental prices are a little rich for your blood, fear not! There’s a savvy way to reduce your housing costs in the capital while still staying in comfortable, classy lodgings.
Make The Move to Ottawa in a Unique Home from Common
What are you waiting for? Canada’s capital is calling and Common is here to help you answer.
Common’s coliving spaces offer Ottawa life at a significantly reduced rate versus conventional condos and private apartments. Generally, our coliving homes are 20% less than the next lowest option, and their prices include numerous benefits, such as:
- A fully-furnished apartment complete with a bed set and wardrobe in your personal room, as well as couches, tables, and televisions in shared living areas
- Basic necessities such as soap, detergent, and kitchenware
- On-site laundry facilities
- Free Wi-Fi (which runs well over $100 monthly for a decent package in Ontario)13
- All utilities, including heating and cooling from the region’s newest and cleanest district energy system
- Regular cleaning services
Whether you’re an international student, you’re relocating to Canada for work, or you’re simply looking to experience Ottawa in all its glory, consider a coliving home from Common. In the capital of a G7 country, we offer a guiding light for those seeking more affordable, incredible housing.
- Mercer. Cost of Living City Ranking 2023. https://www.mercer.com/
- OC Transpo. Bus & O-Train network. https://www.octranspo.com/
- OC Transpo. Prices. https://www.octranspo.com/
- OC Transpo. O-Train Line 1. https://www.octranspo.com/
- City of Ottawa. Stage Two Light Rail Transit Project. https://ottawa.ca/
- Ottawa Tourism. 8 Ottawa Restaurants make the list of Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants. https://ottawatourism.ca/
- CityNews Ottawa. Report shows Ottawa families paying more for groceries on a monthly basis. https://ottawa.citynews.ca/
- City of Ottawa. Drinking water – Frequently asked questions. https://ottawa.ca/
- City of Ottawa. Rates and fees. https://ottawa.ca/
- Statistics Canada. The heat is on: How Canadians heat their home during the winter. https://www.statcan.gc.ca/
- Zibi. District Energy System. https://zibi.ca/zcu/
- CTV News. Ottawa Rent: Here’s how much an average apartment costs. https://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/
- Government of Canada. Price Comparisons of Wireline, Wireless and Internet Services in Canada and with Foreign Jurisdictions: 2021 Edition. https://ised-isde.canada.ca/
- Ottawa Tourism. Getting around. https://ottawatourism.ca/