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Moving to Canada? Here are 4 Reasons Why You Should Live & Work in Ottawa 

May 28, 2024

Ottawa, the capital city of Canada, sits peacefully alongside the beautiful Ottawa River. It’s a place where people from all backgrounds come together to enjoy city life mixed with a relaxed vibe.  

With a population of over a million people, Ottawa is one of Canada’s biggest and oldest cities. And because of the high quality of living, affordability, and inclusiveness the city offers, as well as the fun experiences available in the region year-round, it’s also a popular destination for immigrants from around the world. 

Ottawa is also a popular destination for immigrants worldwide because of the quality of living, affordable lifestyle, inclusiveness, and tons of fun experiences throughout the year. In light of these amazing qualities, Ottawa should be at the top of your list of places to live if you’re planning to move to Canada.  

To make sure Ottawa is a serious contender on your list, we have curated our top 4 reasons why you should consider Ottawa as your home in Canada.  Let’s dive in! 

1. A roaring job market with a growing economy 

Ottawa is unparalleled when it comes to employment and economic stability. Although the city is often referred to as a paradise for those looking for a government career, it is also strong in many other industries, particularly the tech sector.  

Ottawa’s tech job sector is dominated by roles in software, communications technology, aerospace and defence, cybersecurity, smart mobility, digital media, gaming, and other knowledge-based industries. 

Population growth is a significant indicator of a region’s economic potential and stability. Ottawa, when compared to other Canadian municipalities, ranks 4th in terms of average population growth over the last five years (Statistics Canada). This remarkable growth not only reflects the city’s appeal but also its ability to attract new residents and continue its path of development and progress. 

When it comes to the job market, Ottawa has shown remarkable resilience. Despite facing challenging times during the COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath, the city maintained a steady job market which is evident in the 25,345 job vacancies in Q3 2023. Moreover, according to Statistics Canada, Ottawa’s job vacancy rate in the same quarter was 3.9%, which is impressive when compared to some other big cities and tech hubs like Montréal (3.9%), Toronto (3.5%), Calgary (3.6%), and Edmonton (4.3%). 

An arial view of the area surrounding the Parliament Buildings.

Ottawa Downtown Skyline View. Source: Ottawa Tourism

Ottawa also stands out as a major Canadian city with the lowest unemployment rate (4.5%) (Statistics Canada) in comparison to Toronto (6.3%), Vancouver (5.6%), Calgary (6.1%), and Halifax (5.5%), demonstrating the stability of Ottawa’s job market.  

The capital’s substantial decline (approximately 2.3 percentage points) in the unemployment rate over the past decade also signifies that it’s not only an attractive and roaring job market for job seekers, but it also indicates there’s a growing demand for talent. 

Ottawa shines in its employment landscape with the highest percentage of occupation in public administration (22% or 135.8K employees) and the professional, scientific, and technical services sector (13% or 79.1K), underscoring Ottawa’s pivotal role as the nation’s capital and a prominent center for innovation and expertise. 

The city is also praised as a top destination for tech professionals, which is evident from the city’s remarkable density of tech talent. Canada’s capital has the highest concentration of tech talent (13.3%), ranking among the top North American cities (CBRE, 2023), and is home to Kanata North, Canada’s largest tech park, which contributes $13 billion to Canada’s GDP annually. The tech park is also home to over 540 companies and over 33,000 skilled employees (KNBA). 

An aerial view of a business park in Kanata North

Kanata North Business Park. Source: uOttawa.

Ottawa is also home to a plethora of giant corporations in many prominent tech sectors, including Nokia, Ericsson, Shopify, Dell Technologies, General Dynamics Mission Systems, Lockheed Martin, Syntronic, Microsoft, Accenture, Deloitte, Adobe, Blackberry QNX, Ford, IBM, Telesat, SurveyMonkey, Ciena, and Kinaxis. 

If you are reading this, then it’s time to get beyond the misconception that Ottawa is only for public sector professionals! On the contrary, this is a place where global talent from different backgrounds thrive in a diverse ecosystem.  

2. Comparatively lower cost of living with a high-income potential 

If the robust economic landscape and a growing job market are not enough to convince you to move to Ottawa, you should take the cost of living into account. While the cost of living is skyrocketing in many Canadian cities, Ottawa is still maintaining its prominence as an affordable major city. 

For instance, one of the major costs you should consider when moving to a new place is the rental market vacancy rate. A lower vacancy rate means more competition among renters, which usually results in a higher rental cost.  

As per the recent data from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) from October 2022 to October 2023, vacancy rates declined in most of Canada’s larger rental markets except for Ottawa & Vancouver. Also, in October 2023, Ottawa held a higher vacancy rate (2.1%) than Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, and Montréal. 

A chart showing vacancy rates in Canada's larger rental markets.

Vacancy rates in Canada’s larger rental markets. Source: CMHC

In terms of rental cost: Ottawa is still more affordable than Toronto and Vancouver, two of Canada’s major tech hubs. For instance, if you are looking at the purpose-built rental market, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Ottawa is $1,698 whereas the same two-bedroom apartment will cost more in other big cities such as Vancouver ($2,181) and Toronto ($1,940). 

House prices are also comparatively lower in Ottawa compared to Toronto and Vancouver. On average, according to The Canadian Real Estate Association, in March 2024 the MLS® Home Price Index benchmark price was $1,113,600 in the Greater Toronto Area and $1,196,800 in Greater Vancouver. In Ottawa, the benchmark house price was $636,700. It is almost 42% less than the GTA & 46% less than the Greater Vancouver region’s benchmark house price, which is a paramount factor to consider when selecting a city as your new home. 

Considering all the facts above, it is no surprise that Ottawa is the second-most affordable city among all major North American cities when it comes to the cost of living, according to Mercer’s Cost of Living Index 2023. 

A graphic showing that Ottawa is the 2nd most affordable major city in Canada.

Ottawa’s position in the Mercer Cost of Living City Ranking 2023.

Now, one may contend that other big cities with giant multinational company headquarters have a higher income ceiling than Ottawa and that somewhat makes up for the higher cost of living. In that case, you’ll be stunned to learn that Ottawa holds its own against other major Canadian cities when it comes to employment income. 

In fact, if you take median employment income into account, the National Capital Region (Ottawa-Gatineau) ranks #1 among all Canadian Census Metropolitan Regions (CMAs), according to the Fraser Institute’s ranking of employment incomes in the largest 141 metropolitan areas in Canada and the United States. According to the report, the Ottawa-Gatineau region boasts a median employment income of $45,500 which is significantly greater than Toronto’s ($37,970) and Vancouver’s ($37,300). 

The National Capital Region also stands out prominently in the high-income category, with 16.1% of its employed population earning $100,000 and over (the highest of any major CMA). This impressive figure demonstrates that the region enjoys a strong presence of high earners, making it highly competitive with major cities like Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver (Statistics Canada). 

If you seek a highly rewarding career in a big yet affordable city, the statistics show that Ottawa is definitely one the best places to live in Canada. 

3. Vibrant communities and entertainment scenes 

In Canada, it can be pretty rare to find that perfect mix of dynamic, big-city urban living and the mid-sized city, laid-back lifestyle. Fortunately, residents of Ottawa get the opportunity to enjoy this rare balance. 

If you are a metropolis-lover, you will enjoy exploring the downtown and surrounding area. If you prefer a moderately paced lifestyle, there’s no shortage of spaces in the Ottawa area that will offer you a more modest and balanced living experience with a wide variety of options. And if you want a rural lifestyle, the Ottawa-Gatineau region can certainly also meet your taste. 

Ottawa is also a perfect place if you want to raise a family. According to a ranking by Clever Canadian, Ottawa is ranked 2nd among the top family-friendly cities in Canada. The capital of Canada is famous for its kid-friendly neighbourhoods with top-performing elementary and secondary schools. 

An image showing a family having fun sledding in the snow, with the text reading: More than a city: Ottawa is world-famous for its outdoor activities.

Family-friendly Winter Activity in Ottawa. Image Source: Ottawa Tourism

Particularly, with many employers now offering hybrid and remote work opportunities, finding the perfect place to live has never been as easy in Ottawa. This is reflected in the KISI Work-Life Balance Index, where Ottawa is touted as the best among the Canadian cities and #6 in the world for finding and achieving work-life balance. 

Another bonus: If you love working remotely, Ottawa has your back! Our city ranks 1st among the North American cities and 9th among all 74 major cities in the world in the latest WORKATION Index, proving the city to be an appealing destination for remote work in terms of many factors like environment, costs, safety, and overall quality of life. 

A chart showing that Ottawa ranks among the top 10 cities for remote work.

Ottawa among the top 10 cities for remote work. Source: Preply.

But that’s not the only reason why Ottawa is one of the most preferred locations for newcomers.  

Ottawa is also a melting pot for many communities from many parts of the world, making the city diverse, inclusive, and a center of many festivals. Whether it is a sizzling summer or colourful fall or a freezing winter, Ottawa never runs out of activities.  

Here are a couple of amazing facts you should know (thanks to Ottawa Tourism): 

An image of the Canadian Museum of Nature.

Canadian Museum of Nature. Source: Nature.ca

  • Ottawa is home to seven of Canada’s nine national museums. 
  • At 3.14 miles (5.05 km), the Calabogie Motorsports Park is Canada’s longest circuit in its fullest form. 
  • The area encircling Ottawa has over 150 kilometers of cross-country ski trails. 
  • The Rideau Canal Skateway, the world’s largest skating rink, winds its way through the heart of the National Capital over a total length of 7.8 km. 
  • Ottawa has four sandy public beaches on the shores of the Ottawa and Rideau rivers. 

Ottawa is also home to many festivals, some of which attract tourists from all over the world. For example, we have Winterlude, Canadian Tulip Festival, Ottawa International Children’s Festival, and many more.  

Around 11 million visitors a year are attracted to the Ottawa region, and tourism is the third largest industry and job creator in the city. Check the Ottawa Festivals’ website to learn more about festivals happening in Ottawa.  

A panorama image of Bluesfest at LeBreton Flats in Ottawa

RBC Ottawa Bluesfest at LeBreton Flats. Source: Ottawa Tourism.

4. A Taste of Nature in the City 

Do you know that The City of Ottawa operates and maintains roughly 4,300 hectares of parkland at over 1,300 sites, including 2,000 play structure components? It’s no wonder that Ottawa is often called the city of parks with all of the green space you can find within the city. There is barely a neighbourhood without a park and community space for residents to enjoy. 

An image of the view of Rideau Canal Locks from the Ottawa River.

View of Rideau Canal Locks Near Downtown from Ottawa River. Source: Ottawa Tourism.

The Capital Pathway is one of the most extensive pathway networks in North America. It includes over 200 kilometres of off-road, multi-use pathways connecting the Capital’s parks, gardens, museums, and attractions. Even when you’re walking around the bustling downtown, you’ll never be without a touch of nature.  

Tons of sports activities are also happening in and around the city year-round, ranging from winter sports like hockey and skating to community sports events. For those who love biking, you should explore all the biking trails in Ottawa (yes, inside the city). 

A view of the Capital Pathway being enjoyed by cyclists and pedestrians

The Capital Pathway. Source: National Capital Commission

For those who enjoy day trips, Ottawa is the perfect place to be. Here are a couple of “must-visit” places in Ottawa: 

A fall hike in Gatineau Park. Source: Ottawa Tourism

  • Parliament Hill 
  • National Gallery of Canada 
  • Rideau Canal 
  • Canadian Museum of Nature
  • ByWard Market 

And don’t forget the Fall Rhapsody season!

The Gatineau Park, the Arboretum, and many scenic parkways are some best places to appreciate the fall colors in Canada. There are tons of seasonal activities too.  

So, there you go! These are our top four reasons, among many others, why you should choose to live and work in Ottawa.  

In addition to everything discussed above, Ottawa has a tremendous education system with both public and private schools, colleges, and universities, as well as world-class research facilities, which further solidifies this city as one of the best destinations for students. 

Ottawa’s laid-back lifestyle, affordability, comparatively lower cost of living, strong sense of community, multi-culturalism, and safety standards made this city one of the best places to live and raise a family in Canada.  

So, if you are planning to move to Canada or even thinking of switching provinces in Canada, choose Ottawa!

Interested in Living & Working in Ottawa? 

If you are seeking jobs and planning to move to Ottawa, we can help! Invest Ottawa’s talent team helps top talent from all over the world and within Canada to connect with top employers in the city.  

We have partnered with some of the prominent start-ups and tech giants to help them discover talent who plan to move to Ottawa. You can start by submitting your profile here. 

To learn more about living in Ottawa or finding jobs in the area, visit workinottawa.ca  


Invest Ottawa
Invest Ottawa, is Ottawa’s leading economic development agency for fostering the advancement of the region's globally competitive knowledge-based institutions and industries. Invest Ottawa delivers its economic development services through a unique partnership with the City of Ottawa, where the City and Invest Ottawa, through its members set the strategy and manage the programs that move Ottawa’s economy forward. Invest Ottawa is a non-profit, partnership organization that operates on an annual budget that comes from a variety of sources including: municipal, federal and provincial government; membership fees; professional development programs; and private sector contributions.

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