Cost of Living in Ottawa Ontario
Ottawa is no longer the sleepy capital city it once was. There’s a buzz of activity in this growing vibrant city, and with this vibrancy comes something else: rising living costs. These days it seems like every time you turn around, the prices of goods and services are on the rise. Residents need to tighten their budgets as necessities become increasingly pricey – grocery bills going up, rent or mortgage costs taking a bigger chunk out of your monthly expenses. But fear not; many experts say that although the cost of living may have risen in Ottawa, it is still more affordable than other large cities in North America. In this video, we are going to help shed some light on cost and affordability across this great city.
If you’ve ever been to Ottawa, Ontario then you know that it’s a great place with a thriving job market and some of the best attractions in Canada. What used to be one of the more affordable cities is now rapidly transforming into a rising star in terms of quality of living. For those looking to make Ottawa their home, it’s important to understand it’s changing nature before they dive head first into this particular city.
Over the past year or so we’ve seen changes in the cost of living all over the world. The pandemic brought us many things, and one of them was inflation. Families are paying more today for housing, energy, and food than they were a year ago. Inflation is nothing new—we’ve been seeing prices creep up since the dawn of currency. Nothing costs what it did in the 1950s, 60s, or 70s. But big surges in inflation have been largely absent for decades.
The changes we’ve seen in the past year have been fairly dramatic compared to the slow creep of the past thirty years. Nobody likes this kind of change, but it’s important to know how much it costs to live. Not just living in Ottawa, but all over Canada.
It’s also important to remember that sources will disagree as to the objective cost of living. Often this is the result of using different units of measurement. One source may tell you the overall cost of food monthly for a family of four. Another may break it down and tell you how much a pound of ground beef cost back in November 2022.
We’re going to be looking at the cost of living in Ottawa at the end of 2022. Be wary of calculators or articles without dates, you could be looking at old numbers. No one moving to Ottawa wants that sort of unpleasant surprise.
The cost of living fluctuates all the time, so we’re going to talk about averages and basics.
For a family of four living in a house, the cost of living in Ottawa in October 2022 was about $7462 per month. For a single person living in a two-bedroom apartment that number was about $2775 per month
Housing IN OTTAWA
The cost of living will vary based on location throughout the city, and the largest variable is housing. The Ottawa housing market has seen record growth since the onset of the pandemic. In May 2020 the average home price in Ottawa was $528,000 including both detached homes and condos. In December of 2022, that figure had risen to over $637,000.
The average price of a detached home in 2020 was $548,000, with the average condo coming in at $342,000. According to the Ottawa Real Estate Board, the November 2022 price for a detached home was about $680,000 and for a condominium $415,500.
That 24% increase for detached homes and 21% increase for condos reflects the soaring demand and dwindling supply we saw across the Canadian real estate market through most of the pandemic. Prices are beginning to inch down just a little as we start into 2023, with November 2022 seeing a 4-5% decrease from November 2021.
Housing prices are not fixed across the city. How much an average house cost depends on the neighbourhood you choose. For example, the 2022 median home value in Manor Park South was just over $351,000 – 42% less than Ottawa overall. The median home value on Lassiter Terrace was $260,800 – 57% lower than Ottawa overall.
The cost of goods and services also changes depending on the neighbourhood. For example, a homeowner in Rockcliffe Park can expect a 62% higher cost of living than most Ottawans, with the highest cost of living in the city. If you want to live in The Glebe, prepare for a 19% higher cost of living than the city overall.
Renters have also seen price increases over the past two years. The average 3-bedroom apartment has gone from about $2100 per month to $2200. For two bedrooms, the cost has risen from around $1900 to about $2000, and for a one-bedroom unit has risen from around $1600 to a little over $1700.
Those rental prices seem high, but they are over 28% lower than Toronto and over 34% less than Vancouver.
Housing makes up a large percentage of anyone’s cost of living. An unavoidable addition to base housing costs is utilities. Electricity, heat, and water are all part of a standard utility bill. In a 915-square-foot apartment, the average utility bill in 2022 was about $163. Internet added another $80. Your bills are going to depend on the size of your home, what type of energy you use, and how much energy you use. When inflation is running high, many families try to cut back, turning down the thermostat by a degree or two and making sure to turn off lights. Even taking shorter showers can lower your bill by a dollar or two.
Some people living in Ottawa have alternate energy sources like solar panels. Others have well and septic systems which affect their costs. Your bills depend on many factors, some of which you control and others that vary by neighbourhood.
Transportation costs include everything from a tank of gas to a monthly transit pass. At the end of 2022 gas in Ottawa was running a little over $7 per gallon ($1.85 per litre). That’s compared to well under $1 per liter in the spring of 2020, at the very beginning of the pandemic. We all knew those prices wouldn’t last!
Because Ottawa is such a large area geographically, a lot of you drive to work, do errands, and attend social activities. There isn’t a lot of variation from city to city when it comes to gas prices. Most of the cost of living difference is in how much driving is done regularly.
But Ottawa also has a decent public transit system. A monthly public transport ticket costs $125 in Ottawa. That’s a pretty good deal compared to Toronto’s $156.
The HST in Ottawa remains at 13%. The higher cost of goods being taxed has raised the total amount Ottawans (and all Canadians) pay in overall sales tax. A fairly major expense for most families is groceries. Ottawa is fortunate to have an abundance of grocery stores, including specialty markets. Prices will depend on where you shop. An average family of four spends about $1000 a month on groceries.
What about fun? Entertainment in Ottawa is pretty reasonable and there are many free activities throughout the city. A movie costs $15 in Ottawa (the same as in Toronto but $2 less than in Vancouver). A cocktail downtown is about $12 and dinner for two at a pub will run you about $60 (without alcohol).
It’s important to look at the cost of living in Ottawa in comparison to other major Canadian cities. We’ve seen that apartment rentals cost less than in Toronto or Vancouver, but what about other costs?
The average home in the Greater Toronto Area cost over $1 million in November 2022. In Vancouver, buyers spent an average of a little over $1.1 million. Montreal homes sold for an average of $560,000. In comparison, Ottawa’s average home cost $637,000 in late 2022.
In general, Ottawa’s cost of living is lower than Canada’s other large cities. According to calculations from WOWA including only housing, groceries, transportation, and childcare, an Ottawa family of four had a cost of living in October 2022 of $7462. In Toronto, that same family could expect to pay $8484. In Vancouver, $8928, and in Calgary $6910.
You can see that those average home prices impact the cost of living as much as you would expect. Your dollar goes further in Ottawa than in other areas, with lower restaurant (-9.6%) and grocery (-9.4%) prices than in Toronto. You’ll pay 5.8% less at Ottawa restaurants and 13% less for groceries than you would in Vancouver.
Ottawa is a very livable city in every respect. From cost of living to quality of life, it ranks among the world’s best cities. The cost of living has gone up everywhere since the pandemic, and the same is true when Living in Ottawa.
One of the reasons Ottawa remains one of the top places to live in the world is that it offers its citizens excellent quality of life, safety and security, high education, and career opportunities. So if you’re looking for a city where your money will stretch further than usual, look no further than moving to our spectacular capital city!
Speaking about relocating – if you are thinking about moving to Ottawa feel free to reach out to us. Give us a call – shoot us a text – send us an email – or even wrap it in a bow and send it first class because we got your back when moving to Ottawa or anywhere across Canada.