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The Pros and Cons of Moving to Ottawa
If you’re thinking of moving to Ottawa, Ontario, to take a job or come here for school, you’re probably wondering what it’s like.
When moving to any new city, you discover some ups and downs. But these will depend on your age, your lifestyle and other factors; one person’s “pro” can sometimes be someone else’s “con.”
Let’s talk about what life’s really like in our nation’s capital city.
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If you’re looking for a place that has a blend of city living and small-town appeal, the great city of Ottawa has a lot to offer.
1. Economically Stable
It’s no secret that Ottawa’s a government town. This means jobs in a wide variety of departments that require a wide variety of skills. It also means we’re a bit more economically stable because we’ve got a buffer of employment options that aren’t dependent on resources, manufacturing or services. Certainly, there are layoffs sometimes by both Conservatives and Liberals on Parliament Hill from time to time. Still, all things considered, you don’t get the fluctuations you see with cities dependent on other sectors. Not only that, Ottawa is a destination city, allowing the hospitality and tourism industries to thrive.
2. Lots of Green Space and Bike Paths
Ottawa has one of the highest percentages of parks to residents in Canada. They’re scattered around the city, with most neighbourhoods situated within walking distance of a park with a place for kids to play. Also, the city offers dozens of larger parks with green spaces, like Gatineau Park—the perfect place to enjoy stunning nature, a picnic lunch and a game of frisbee.
There’s lots to choose from for people who like outdoor activities and prefer to get their exercise outside. Ottawa has many scenic bike paths, especially along our rivers. In the winter, there’s the canal, of course. If you’re in the mood for a longer hike or ski, the Gatineau Hills are 10 minutes away in Québec.
3. Lots of Great Museums
As Canada’s capital, we benefit from of playing host to the nation’s major artifact collections. There’s the Canadian Museum of Nature in the recently refurbished Victoria and Albert building, the Canadian War Museum on Lebreton Flats and the newly rebuilt Canada Science and Technology Museum. We also have the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum and the Diefenbunker, a piece of cold war history preserved in its original state. Right across the Ottawa River in Gatineau is the Canadian Museum of History, which offers a fabulous view of the parliament buildings and has amazing attractions like an IMAX theatre.
4. Lower Crime Rate
While crime is a fact of urban life, Ottawa is not bad in this area. The capital region has one of the lowest crime rates in Canada. In 2018, Ottawa had just 764 incidents of violent crime per 100,000 people, a rate that is 15% lower than Ontario and 33% Canada overall. Even better, it looks like crime rates in Ottawa overall are decreasing.
5. Less Traffic Congestion
When you move to Ottawa, you’ll see we do have a rush hour, but it’s nothing compared to what you’ll find in the bigger cities. The 401 runs east to west (directly through downtown), but congestion has dropped thanks to some recent and ongoing expansions. If you’re already used to the madness of the Don Valley Parkway or Highway 40 through Montréal, our little piece of the 401 is a cakewalk.
The other main arteries are slow at their peaks, but the only truly terrible route is the Prince of Wales Dr access to Barrhaven. It’s a two-lane highway that is one of the only ways south to one of Ottawa’s key bedroom suburbs, Barrhaven.
6. Housing Prices Are Reasonable
If you’re used to paying a lot to live in Vancouver or Toronto, you’ll find lower prices for comparable housing when moving to Ottawa. However, if you’re coming from a small town or a rural area, you might not have the same experience. Of course, rent and housing here get more expensive the closer you are to downtown, but you can still get a better house for less than you’ll pay in many other major cities in Canada.
Further, when you call Ottawa home, there are many desirable country house and cottage destinations within driving distance.
7. Fun Things To Do In Ottawa
Ottawa offers many amazing experiences, including these:
The Rideau Canal is a not-to-miss Ottawa attraction. This scenic waterway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is described as the ultimate “outdoor adventure playground.” Do you enjoy ice-skating? The Rideau Canal Skateway is the largest outdoor ice rink in the world. Do you prefer warmer weather activities? There are endless opportunities for boating, kayaking, paddle boarding, cycling, walking and more.
Ottawa is often referred to as “Bytown.” Why? Because Lieutenant Colonel John By headed the construction of the Rideau Canal and established the famous ByWard Market. One of the oldest and largest public markets in the country, ByWard Market is packed with indoor and outdoor vendors. The area is a genuine shoppers paradise and boasts a multitude of great restaurants nearby.
Bluesfest + other festivals
Every July, over 300,000 people flock to Bluesfest, one of the largest international music events in the world. Over a two-week period, Ottawa hosts some of the greatest musical performers of all time on multiple stages.
It doesn’t stop there; from the Tulip Festival to Winterlude, the many festivals in Ottawa add vibrancy and life to the city.
It’s not all sunshine and roses in our fair city…
1. It’s “Boring”
We find this a bit of a misconception, but if you’re used to cosmopolitan cities like Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver, you may find life in Ottawa a little dull. We have theatre, galleries, and live music, but everything is more toned down as compared to big-league cities. We have plenty of coffee shops, restaurants and clubs in the downtown core, but, again, you won’t find nearly the number of places to go or the variety you’ll get elsewhere.
If you’re a hard-core culture vulture, foodie or fashionista, you may find yourself feeling a little deprived (although living downtown, you can indulge in a great craft beer scene). Sports fans are a little more well looked after, however, with the Canada Tire Centre close by and tons of local sports arenas and leagues if they want to play themselves.
2. You May Need to be Bilingual to Get a Job
Many public-facing jobs require that you know both official languages: English and French. This is only a con, of course, if you’re unilingual. It’s common for Ottawa kids to take French immersion in school, so they have a great start. But people moving from the more heavily anglophone provinces will have less to choose from in terms of employment opportunities.
Quebec is very close (literally over-the-bridge), so speaking French is a bonus. (The capital city is home to many cultures; you’re bound to hear any number of languages on the streets of Ottawa.)
3. Mass Transit that’s Still Under Construction
Ottawa has one of the best mass transit systems in Canada, but we Ottawans still complain about it. There is a regular bus service, plus rapid transit buses and a light rail system (the O-Train).
Admittedly, these options are great if you’re going to and from the downtown core but not great if you’re going elsewhere. It’s understandable—downtown is where the bulk of the jobs are, and our population is spread out, making investing in efficient mass transit a problem. Unfortunately, Ottawa’s transit woes aren’t going away because the population is growing.
On the other hand, we’ve got the new Ottawa International Airport (YOW), two train stations and a major bus terminal, so getting to and from the city is fairly easy.
Should You Move to Ottawa?
You’ll notice our list of pros is longer than the cons. That says a lot about our city. It may not be the most exciting place for twentysomethings or die-hard out-on-the-towners. But if you are looking for a green city with culture and family friendly neighbourhoods, you simply can’t do better than good ‘ol Bytown. When you are ready to move, reach out to our professional, residential moving team at Cassidy’s Moving & Storage in Ottawa.
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