Ottawa Cost of Living: Ottawa, ON Living Expenses Guide [2023]

Ottawa Cost of Living Guide

Ottawa, the vibrant capital of Canada, offers a unique blend of cultural richness, historical significance, and economic vitality. While its status as a political epicentre often overshadows other aspects, it's essential to delve into Ottawa's day-to-day living costs—whether for those moving to Ottawa or for current residents wondering where their city stands. From housing and transportation to entertainment and dining, understanding the financial nuances of this city provides a comprehensive view of its residents' experiences.

Ottawa Housing Costs

Ottawa is considered to be an affordable city compared to other major Canadian cities. Most homes in Ottawa list for under $1 million, and buyers may qualify for a minimum down payment ranging from 5% to 10%. There is, however, an ultra-luxury market for those seeking high-end detached properties; luxury homes in Ottawa can list for more than $5 million.

Compared to other Canadian cities, housing in Ottawa is slightly more expensive than in Montreal and Calgary but cheaper than in Toronto and Vancouver.

Median Home Price

Homes in Ottawa range from $400,000 for an apartment to $800,000 for a single-family home. The median home price in Ottawa sits below the national average and well below the prices seen in Toronto and Vancouver. Ottawa's real estate market has shown steady growth, with minor fluctuations in recent years. In recent years, the median home price has steadily increased.

Home prices in Ottawa vary depending on the size, location, amenities, age, and condition of the apartment, townhouse, or detached single-family home. For example, a one-bedroom apartment in the city center can cost between $300,000 and $600,000, while a three-bedroom single-family home can range from $500,000 to $3 million.

Ottawa townhomes list from the high $200s to more than $1.5 million, and condos can be found from the low $200s. However, the most luxurious condos in Ottawa list from $1.5 million to more than $4.5 million. 

Median Rent

Rent in Ottawa is around $1,500 to $4,000 monthly for an apartment or condo. Studios and one-bedroom homes typically have monthly rents of around $1,500 and $2,000, respectively, while two and three-bedroom units can cost double that. Four-bedroom apartments, townhouses, and detached single-family homes are also available at higher prices.

One and two-bedroom apartments are popular layouts, and monthly rents vary widely based on location. For example, one-bedroom apartments in Downtown Ottawa and in The Glebe neighbourhood average around $2,000. Similarly, two-bedroom units in Ottawa's Centretown neighbourhood can reach over $2,500.

Utilities

Utility Costs in Ottawa

According to Ontario’s financial accountability office, a four-person household typically spends between $200 and $300 monthly on utilities. These include energy costs, water and sewer bills, and internet plans.

Electricity makes up the bulk of utility expenses, with monthly bills in Ottawa exceeding those in Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Toronto. 

Homeowners insurance is another cost to consider when living in or moving to Ottawa, as the city has one of the highest median insurance premiums in the country.

Food Costs in Ottawa

Ottawa offers a wide range of food options, from standard and gourmet grocery stores to budget-friendly and high-end restaurants. Popular chains for everyday needs include Loblaws, Food Basics, FreshCo, and Metro. Specialty grocers like Whole Foods, Jacobsons, and Farm Boy are also available. Additionally, the Ottawa Farmers' Market operates four locations throughout the city, offering fresh produce and artisanal goods year-round.

Overall, a four-person household in Ottawa can expect to spend at least $1,100 per month on groceries. However, this estimated cost can vary significantly based on dietary preferences and eating habits.

Groceries

On average, a four-person household in Ottawa spends about $1,000 per month on groceries, but this can vary per month depending on the brand, store, and location.

Grocery stores that offer the lowest prices include FreshCo, No Frills, and Food Basics, with multiple locations throughout the city. Other popular chains like Walmart, Giant Tiger, and Costco also provide competitive prices for produce, dairy, seafood, and meat products.

Restaurants

Restaurant Costs in Ottawa

Ottawa has no shortage of restaurants. Both domestic and international cuisine are widely represented, with popular options ranging from Indian and Thai to Italian and Mexican. There are also great finds when it comes to value for money, with hotspots in Ottawa’s best waterfront neighbourhoods and in the city’s centre. 

Dining out at a standard mid-range restaurant in Ottawa costs around $100 for two, not including alcohol. Fast food establishments like Shawarma Palace and Tim Hortons offer more budget-friendly meals. By contrast, a fine dining experience at places like Restaurant e18hteen and Luxe Bistro can cost upwards of $80 per person.

Ottawa Transportation Costs

Getting around Ottawa is relatively affordable and convenient, with various options, including public transit, taxis, and rideshares. Public transit operates far outside the city centre, so residents living in Ottawa’s best townhome communities—many 20-plus kilometres from downtown—can easily commute with these options.

The Ottawa-Carleton Regional Transit Commission, or OC Transpo, is Ottawa's primary public transit provider. It owns and operates bus routes, plus the Confederation and Trillium light rail lines (also known as the O-Train). Additionally, it provides door-to-door, para-transit services for individuals with disabilities.

Riders can purchase a monthly transit pass for unlimited travel on local buses and the O-Train or per-ride fares. Visit the OC Transpo website to learn more about Presto cards and per-ride fares.

For those who prefer driving, the average price for gas in Ontario is less than in nearby Quebec, with lower rates often available at Costco gas stations. Car insurance is also relatively affordable compared to other major Canadian cities. The average car insurance is around $1,200 annually, slightly less than the provincial average.

Local taxi service providers in Ottawa include Blueline Taxi and City Cab, with fares regulated by the city bylaw. Rideshares like Uber and Lyft are also available.

Child Care Costs in Ottawa

The Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care (CWELCC) system aims to provide affordable childcare options across all Canadian provinces. The City of Ottawa's subsidy program prioritizes low and moderate incomes. Applicants can use the city's child care fee subsidy calculator to estimate their eligibility. Applications are processed online through the city's Child Care Registry and Waitlist system.

After the subsidy, the cost of full-time child care in Ottawa varies depending on the child's age and type of care. Child care for infants and toddlers typically costs more than preschoolers and school-aged children. 

Besides center-based and school-based child care, applicants can also opt for home-based care, where licensed agencies contract individual providers who care for children in their own homes. Alternatively, parents can hire a nanny through a private referral or an online job posting service.

Ottawa Entertainment Costs

Entertainment Costs in Ottawa

Ottawa's entertainment scene is diverse, spanning from sports clubs and sporting events to cultural attractions and nightlife. On average, Ottawans can expect to pay around $200 per month for popular leisure activities that include gym memberships, pub crawls, and unique experiences like axe throwing. The sales tax rate for most goods and services is 13%.

Ticket prices for the cinema cost about $30 for two, while theatre tickets can cost $80 per person for mid-range seating. Festivals are also a major city highlight, with free and ticketed events taking place year-round. Notable festivals include RBC Bluesfest, Winterlude, and the Canadian Tulip Festival. While many festivals are held in the city centre or along the river, areas like the Vanier neighbourhood feature must-visit annual festivals.

Ottawa Senators games are another popular source of entertainment in the city, along with recreational hockey leagues. Additional indoor recreation is available through the city's network of gyms, pools, and community centres, with monthly membership fees ranging depending on the facility and program type.

Salary in Ottawa

The average salary for jobs in Ottawa is approximately $72,000 annually or $35 per hour. Salaries vary depending on the industry and position. Some of the top-paying sectors in Ottawa include healthcare, technology, and professional services. Provincial income tax brackets range from 5.05% for the first $46,226 and 13.16% for earnings above $220,000.

Based on data from Statistics Canada, the median household income in Ottawa stands at around $100,000 before taxes. This places Ottawa-Gatineau as one of the top metro areas in Canada for household income.

The minimum wage in Ottawa follows the provincial standard of $16.55 per hour for general workers and $15.60 per hour for students. Homeworkers earn slightly more at $18.20 per hour. Examples of at-home work include answering calls for a call centre and writing software for a technology company.

Ottawa's unemployment rate is around 5.1%—slightly lower than the national average. Among Canada's major cities, Ottawa's unemployment rate is slightly higher than Quebec City's, but it is lower than rates in cities like Toronto and Calgary.

Living in Ottawa: Costs, Comparisons, and More

Ottawa's cost of living reflects its stature as a major city with diverse offerings. Like many urban centers, it presents both challenges and opportunities for its inhabitants. Gauging these expenses is crucial for anyone considering a move to or an extended stay in Ottawa. Equipped with this knowledge, one can make informed decisions and embrace all this Canadian gem offers.

Thinking about moving to Ottawa? Contact MetroCity Property Group of eXp Realty at (613) 733-9494 to reach a local real estate agent who can help you find your Ottawa dream home today.

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