Perhaps you have been thinking of Ottawa as a possible place to move, but you have doubts because you’ve always heard that it’s a boring city, that there’s nothing to do or see, that is a totally uninteresting place. Wait! I live in Ottawa and I can tell you, it offers many interesting things and above all, a great quality of life.
It’s not for nothing that Ottawa was considered the 19th city with the best quality of life in the world in a survey where Vancouver ranked 3rd and Toronto 16th. https://mobilityexchange.mercer.com/Insights/quality-of-living-rankings The thing is that these two cities have become too expensive in terms of housing.
And that fact take us directly to the first reason that makes Ottawa a good choice to live.
1. Affordable real state market
Ottawa is a city where the price of houses is still affordable, not like Toronto or Vancouver where housing prices skyrocketed, making it almost impossible for the middle-classes to afford buying a 3 or 4 bedroom house with a nice backyard.
That’s still possible in Canada’s capital. In January 2018 when I moved to Ottawa, the average house price was 370,000 dollars. Now in 2020 it’s closer to 500,000 dollars. Since 2018, Ottawa’s real state market has gone through an auspicious growth spurt. Even the Covid-19 pandemic hasn’t hit the market as strongly as one would have imagined.
Even though the total sales of properties decreased in May due to the pandemic by almost 50%, the prices continued increasing, and the average of time for selling a property was shorter when compared to 2019, according to the Ottawa Real Estate Board reports.
And the best thing is that there’s lots of room for the real state market in Ottawa to keep growing because the demand for houses exceeds the offer. That’s why it’s a very good moment to buy properties in Ottawa. Many people, who bought houses 5 or more years ago, made substantial profits in recent years.
Another important reason for living in Ottawa is its employment rate, which is one of the highest in Canada while its unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the country. Ottawa has a strong climate of stability which explains these two facts.
In January, before the pandemic, the employment rate in Ottawa was 66.5% and it dropped 7.2 percentage points in May to 59.3%. In the same period, the employment rate in Toronto dropped from 63.2% to 54.5%.
In Vancouver the employment rate dropped almost 10 points between January and May from 64.1% to 54.6%, and in Montreal it dropped from 62.6 to 54.8%, according to Statistics Canada. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=1410029401&pickMembers%5B0%5D=2.7&pickMembers%5B1%5D=3.1&pickMembers%5B2%5D=4.1
The two industries in Ottawa that are the main source of jobs are in the federal government and in the high tech industry.
3. Low levels of crime
Ottawa has also lower levels of crime, compared to other metropolitan areas like Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, which is a factor that adds a greater sense of safety.
According to Statistics Canada, in 2016 Ottawa had a Violent Crime Severity Index of 62.1 compared to Toronto, whose index was 70.4, Vancouver 72.8, and Montreal 73.1. By violent crime one understands homicide, attempted murder, sexual assault, and others. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/85-002-x/2017001/article/54842/tbl/tbl03-eng.htm
It’s not that Ottawa doesn’t have crime. Actually there are some ocasional murders by shootings or stabings usually associated with drug addicts, there are robberies of bicycles or cars and some break-ins in specific neighborhoods, but definitely there are by far less cases than those in bigger cities.
4. Low traffic
Being a medium-size city Ottawa doesn’t have bad problems of traffic like Vancouver, Toronto or other big cities in the world. In terms of traffic, Ottawa is the 139th city with the worst traffic worldwide. Toronto is the 80th, and Vancouver the 40th. https://www.tomtom.com/en_gb/traffic-index/ottawa-traffic/
You’ll understand now why I feel so relaxed when I drive here in Ottawa, but even more when I tell you that my hometown, Lima, is the 7th city with the worst traffic in the world.
After experiencing those levels of bad traffic, Ottawa feels like paradise to me! Even though I live in the East end of Ottawa, and many Ottawans would think that I live very far away, driving to downtown takes me 30 minutes in a normal workday, 40 minutes during rush hour, and 20 minutes on weekends.
5. Proximity to Nature
And last but not least, Ottawa’s proximity to nature makes it an awesome city. Ottawa is surrounded by forests everywhere and besides that it’s close to the Gatineau Park, a natural reserve of 361,1 sqaure kms that it’s truly a paradise for people who love the outdoors.
In Gatineau Park, many Ottawans have their cabins or cottages in front of lakes to spend their vacations or the summer weekends. The best part of this, is that these beautiful and quiet places are just 30 minutes away from downtown Ottawa.
For sports and outdoor lovers it is a big advantage to live and work in Ottawa and be able to leave work and go practicing their favorite sport. That may be hiking, biking, or swimming, canoeing, kayaking and paddling in a lake in the middle of the forest. These are all excellent ways to relax and fight the stress of modern life.
Usually the employers here in Ottawa let their employees to leave work a little earlier in the summer so that people can enjoy the nice weather or so that they can have a better work life balance.
And that’s what my family and I did a lot last summer. My kids and I left home with our beach stuff packed in the car, I drove to my husband’s work site to pick him up, and we all headed to a beach to spend the late hours of the afternoon swimming, playing and sunbathing! That was the life!
Taking into account all these reasons we decided to move to Ottawa, the decision has worked very well for us. After two years and a half living in Canada’s capital, I feel so much in love with this beautiful and friendly city, and I wouldn’t change it for a big one.
What about you? Do you like the effervescence and stress of big metropolis? Would you rather try a more slow-paced city? If you want to know if Ottawa would fit you, I invite you to take the test: Is Ottawa a boring city? in the previous post of this blog. Take care.