- Download our Moving to Ottawa Guide (PDF)
Located in southeast Ontario at the nexus of three rivers, Ottawa is the Canadian capital and the country's political and economic powerhouse. Expats moving to Ottawa will appreciate the fact that, while at the forefront of technological advances, the city also prides itself in conserving its heritage and culture.
Living in Ottawa as an expat
A cosmopolitan and multicultural city with a welcoming environment, Ottawa attracts expats from all over the world, thanks to the abundance of employment and academic opportunities.
The city is home to a highly educated workforce – boasting more engineers and scientists per capita than any other Canadian city. The diverse job market encompasses a variety of sectors ranging from information technology to life sciences and academia. That said, newcomers seeking employment should note that competition for jobs in Ottawa is quite fierce, so it's best to secure a role before arriving in the city.
Fortunately, new arrivals can enjoy a high quality of life in Ottawa. Expats will benefit from one of the world’s most highly regarded healthcare systems and social benefits There is also an endless stream of things to see and do in Ottawa. ByWard Market is a particular favourite among young expats due to its trendy bars and restaurants and buzzing nightlife scene. The bold Gothic Revival architecture in the nearby Parliament Hill is a must-see as well.
Cost of living in Ottawa
Despite being Canada’s capital, Ottawa enjoys a gentle cost of living. Accommodation in Ottawa is abundant and among the most affordable in Canada. Residents of Ontario also have most of their healthcare needs covered by the province at no cost, further reducing expats' expenses.
Expat families and children in Ottawa
Expat families relocating to Ottawa with children can rest assured that the city has a range of affordable, high-quality and bilingual public and private education options. Public schools in Ottawa are free for all children in the city to attend, and parents also have the option of sending their children to faith-based institutions.
Ottawa is one of the world's safest, greenest and cleanest cities, making it ideal for raising a family. With protected forests, parks and wetlands, children can participate in many outdoor pursuits. The city has many museums, markets and nature centres, so expat families will never run out of things to discover. Moreover, Ottawa is brimming with exciting festivals, concerts and parades expats can attend throughout the year.
Climate in Ottawa
Ottawa’s climate is semi-continental, with surprisingly warm summers characterised by plenty of sunny days. The winters come with extreme snowfall for at least 120 days of the year, and spring and autumn usually invite unpredictable weather conditions.
Overall, expats moving to Ottawa are guaranteed a rich yet affordable quality of life thanks to the city's welcoming community and the inclusive and extensive social benefits on offer.
►Learn more about the lifestyle in Ottawa
"Overall, Ottawa is an easy city to live in. It’s safe, clean, family-friendly, and it’s arguably one of the most picturesque cities in Canada. I can’t compare it to France, it’s just different. I do think the job market is better here than in Europe, though, especially if you’re bilingual."
Read about the expat life in Ottawa in our interview with French expat Juliette.
Are you an expat living in Ottawa?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Ottawa. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
Cigna Global Health Insurance
With Cigna, you won't have to rely on foreign public health care systems, which may not meet your needs. Cigna allows you to speak to a doctor on demand, for consultations or instant advice, wherever you are in the world. They also offer full cancer care across all levels of cover, and settle the cost of treatments directly with the provider. Cigna is currently offering a 10% discount for seniors (over 60) on their Silver package.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.