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Living in Ottawa

Living in Ottawa Vs. Living in Toronto

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Living in Ottawa Vs. Living in Toronto

When deciding between living in Ottawa or living in Toronto, both cities have their advantages. Ottawa is the Canadian capital and a great place to tour historical monuments. It offers plenty of access to nature, with its bike paths along the Rideau Canal and Gatineau Park nearby. Meanwhile, Toronto is Canada’s largest city, located on the shores of Lake Ontario which provides access to amazing city views and cultural attractions. For those looking for a fast-paced lifestyle, Toronto has an abundance of music festivals, restaurants, sports teams and more. While both cities are unique in their own right, they both offer something special that makes them worth exploring.

Deciding whether living in Ottawa or living in Toronto is better is no easy feat! On one hand, Ottawa offers the tranquillity of small-town charm with a big-city vibe combined with a wealth of museums, galleries, and cultural attractions. On the other hand, Toronto is renowned for its world-class restaurant scene, bustling nightlife and a major centre on the international stage. Ultimately, it really comes down to personal preference; some people may prefer the slower pace of life found in Ottawa while others will thrive on the energy and vibrant cultural life of Canada’s largest city. Whether you choose to call Ottawa or Toronto your home, the decision is certainly a personal one based on what you are looking for!


Ontario is Canada’s most populous province, home to 15 million people in 2022. That’s nearly twice the population of Quebec’s 8.7 million and almost three times more than British Columbia’s 5.3 million. Those 15 million people represent over 38% of Canada’s entire population.

The two largest cities in Ontario are Toronto and Ottawa. Toronto, also the largest city in Canada, is home to 5.6 million people. Ottawa-Gatineau is Canada’s 6th largest city with a population of a little over a million people. Side note – These are 2022 numbers.

So how do you decide which city is better? Ottawa is the nation’s capital. Toronto is the nation’s largest city. That doesn’t give you quite enough information. The best place to start a real comparison is by looking at some numbers.

A good metric for any city is the density of the population. Ottawa is a sprawling city with lots of green space and a population density of 334 people per square kilometre. The city covers over 2,700 square kilometres.

Toronto is a far more compact city. The city itself covers only about 630 square kilometres. The metropolitan area is far larger at over 5,900 square kilometres. The population density in Toronto is 4,334 people per square kilometre.

Population density tells us a lot about a city. Toronto is more urban, with high-density housing such as large apartment buildings. Ottawa has more single-family homes and smaller multi-family units. As a more compact city, Toronto is less reliant on cars for transportation. Although traffic can be a challenge. Ottawa has more open space for recreation but your family will be reliant on a car in most suburban areas – certainly when you are outside the Greenbelt.

The bottom line about population density is that the more people per square kilometre, the more crowded a city feels. Lower population density plays a large part in Ottawa’s laid-back vibe. Higher population density contributes to Toronto’s bustling, busy atmosphere.


Toronto is the largest economy in Canada, creating 20% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. It’s a world financial, industrial, and commercial hub with thousands of businesses operating within its borders.

Toronto’s key industries include finance, media and entertainment, technology, and tourism. About half of Canada’s largest companies are headquartered in the Greater Toronto Area. The central business district is huge, encompassing hundreds of different industries.

Well-known companies with Canadian headquarters in Toronto include Apple, Coca-Cola Canada, Google, McDonald’s Canada, and Toyota. Companies with global headquarters in Toronto include Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, and Manulife Financial.

Ottawa is the nation’s capital and home of the federal government, which serves as the city’s largest employer. Over 127,000 people in the National Capital Area work for the Public Service of Canada. That’s 40% of the public service employees in the nation.

Tech giant Shopify was founded and is headquartered in Ottawa, spearheading the area’s outsized tech presence. IBM, 3M, Nokia, Lockheed Martin and Adobe Systems all have locations in the city. Start-ups and smaller tech companies number in the thousands. Together, tech companies are estimated to employ as many as 74,000 people.

Ottawa is also home to three major hospitals, two public colleges, and two universities. In 2016, 22% of Ottawa’s workforce was employed in health and education.

Ottawa’s niches are large, but the smaller city doesn’t have the diversity of opportunity of Toronto. No other city in Canada does.

Real Estate

Whether Toronto or Ottawa is better for real estate depends on whether you’re buying or selling. The average price for a home in Toronto in November 2022 was $1,079,395. In Ottawa, the average price was $621,254. 

Broken down further, the average single-family detached home in Toronto was $1,390,162. An average detached home in Ottawa was $680,031. The average condo price in Toronto was $708,636 compared to Ottawa’s $415,533.

Clearly, these numbers fall in favour of Ottawa. You also pay both provincial and municipal land transfer taxes when you buy a home in Toronto. Ottawa does not have a municipal tax only a provincial one, so you save there as well. To put that in perspective – let’s say you were purchasing an $800,000 home – in Toronto the land transfer tax total would cost you $24,950 whereas that $800,000 spent in Ottawa in land transfer tax would cost you $12,475.

Both markets saw record growth during the pandemic which is only now starting to ease. The long-standing shortage of homes across the country affects both areas, likely preventing prices from dipping.



Ottawa is a sprawling city, encompassing many formerly independent municipalities. Most people drive to work, run errands, and for social engagements. With a litre of gas currently running about $1.85, those trips can get expensive.

Ottawa’s public transit infrastructure is reasonably good, and a monthly pass is $125. The combination of regular ground transit and light rail is ok – not great – it is struggling to stay consistent and scheduling conflicts and the hiccups of implementing the LRT system have caused many issues. Hopefully, they will get this resolved soon.

The geographical expanse of Ottawa and the service issues have added to the total trip time. Commuting time has risen to 84 minutes per day for Ottawa residents.


A litre of gas costs about the same in Toronto, but fewer people rely exclusively on their cars. Toronto has an excellent public transit and subway system, one of the best in the country. It reaches the suburbs, runs all the time, and takes you anywhere you need to go. A monthly transit pass costs $156.

That sounds great, but the average commute time in Toronto is a daunting 96 minutes a day. That’s the sixth worst commute time in the world. Even in a smaller geographical area, it takes longer to get around in Toronto than in Ottawa.

So if you like to dive to work – Ottawa is better. If you like public transit and want to rely on it – Toronto has the advantage here.



Reports from the Toronto Police Service show that crime increased in 2022, with over 44,000 major crimes reported. Major crimes include assault, robbery, theft, sexual assault, and homicide. Of those categories, only homicides decreased.

The Ottawa Police Service does not break down crime statistics in the same way as Toronto – it’s much more granular with stats on specific types of crime, which makes it difficult to compare apples to apples.

But to get more of a comparison between these two cities as well as other cities across Canada we can use the Crime Severity Index which indicates both the amount of crime and the seriousness of the offences. In 2021, the CSI reported scores for 84 cities with populations over 25,000. These are just a sample of a few of these rankings but essentially the higher the score the less crime. Toronto ranked in 66th place where as Ottawa ranked in 71st place. 

Victoria: 10

Edmonton: 27

Thunder Bay: 28

Vancouver: 33

London: 35

Greater Sudbury: 37

Kingston: 38

Calgary: 49

Montreal: 51

St. John’s: 54

Hamilton: 55

Halifax: 57

Toronto: 66

Gatineau: 68

Ottawa: 71

Whereas MacLean’s a major National publication tracks, measures and reports on Violent Crime Severity as their primary index – here is the ranking using that statistic. These rankings slightly change the various city positions. But again the best way to look at these rankings is to know that the higher the score the lower the crime. Ottawa ranked

Victoria: 4

Thunder Bay: 5

Greater Sudbury: 21

Edmonton: 23

London: 28

Montreal: 30

Vancouver: 35

St. John’s: 36

Hamilton: 41

Halifax: 43

Toronto: 45

Kingston: 46

Calgary: 48

Gatineau: 57

Ottawa: 65


When deciding which city has better weather, Ottawa and Toronto both have their advantages and drawbacks. Toronto has a milder winter with generally less snow compared to Ottawa, while Ottawa experiences colder temperatures during the Winter. Although Ottawa has more sunny days than Toronto annually. The differences between the two are not too far off which is understandable considering they are not geographically that far apart. The one thing that both cities have in common is that although they can be unpredictable, the weather offers something new year-round and can shift considerably in one day. Ultimately, it can be said that if you enjoy the heat in the summer and cold winters, Ottawa may be the better choice, while those who love mild Winters should opt for Toronto.


Average temps:

January: Coldest month 

Average high: 31 F / 0 C

Average low: 21 F / -7 C

July: Warmest month

Average high: 82 F / 28 C

Average low: 65 F / 18 C

(Source: https://www.currentresults.com/Weather/Canada/Ontario/Places/toronto-temperatures-by-month-average.php)

Snowfall: 115.4 centimetres

Total precipitation: 792.7 centimetres


Average temps:

January: Coldest month 

Average high: 23 F / -5 C

Average low: 8 F / -13 C

July: Warmest month

Average high: 82 F / 28 C

Average low: 61 F / 16 C

(Source: https://www.currentresults.com/Weather/Canada/Ontario/Places/ottawa-temperatures-by-month-average.php)

Snowfall: 235.7 centimetres

Total precipitation: 943.5 centimetres


When it comes to entertainment, Ottawa and Toronto have much to offer. In Ottawa, visitors can enjoy a wide range of activities such as exploring the historic Parliament buildings and other nearby attractions like Rideau Canal, the ByWard Market and Canada’s Aviation and Space Museum. As for Toronto, there is an abundance of activities for guests to explore, like Casa Loma, Ed Mirvish Theatre and Ripley’s Aquarium. Whether you’re looking for a family outing or a night on the town with friends, both cities deliver quality entertainment choices guaranteed to meet your needs.

Both Ottawa and Toronto offer a great many entertainment options for families to enjoy. However, when it comes to sheer variety, Toronto takes the cake. From world-class attractions like the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium and Ontario Science Centre, to family-friendly cinemas, bowling alleys and amusement parks, many of Canada’s most beloved family activities are located in Toronto. Additionally, it is not uncommon for festivals and concerts to grace the streets of Toronto during summer months, providing the energy of vibrancy and truly unforgettable experiences. On the other hand, Ottawa also provides excellent entertainment opportunities; however, these tend to lean towards more cultural experiences such as museums or national sites like Parliament Hill. All in all, when considering entertainment options for families that span a broad spectrum of interests and ages, Toronto clearly trumps its neighbouring city.


Toronto restaurants: over 7500 in over 140 neighbourhoods

66 museums

92 festivals:

22 film festivals

19 music festivals

13 Professional Sports teams

55 live music venues

43 live theatre venues


Ottawa Restaurants: 2282

National Museums: 8

National Arts Centre

National Gallery of Canada

Canadian Museum of History

Canadian Science and Technology Museum

Canadian Aviation and Space Museum

Canada Agricultural and Food Museum

Canada Museum of Nature

Canada War Museum

Total Museums: 56

56 annual festivals

5 professional sports teams

13 live music venues

49 live theatre venues


When it comes to healthcare, both Ottawa and Toronto offer good options. However, in many cases, the two cities have different strengths and weaknesses that make one better than the other depending on a variety of factors. For instance, when it comes to accessibility, Ottawa’s healthcare system is spread throughout the city, making medical services much easier to access in comparison to Toronto which tends to have most if its options centralized. Toronto also has more specialized medical facilities available which may be more desirable for those living with rarer conditions however Ottawa typically has lower waiting times at hospitals when compared to its northern counterpart. Ultimately, whether Ottawa or Toronto provides better healthcare will depend heavily on the individual’s requirements and preferences.

Canada’s two biggest cities, Ottawa and Toronto, both offer excellent healthcare access for families in a range of ways. However, if the convenience of proximity is a deciding factor then Ottawa may be the better choice. In addition to regular family physician offices, there are numerous walk-in clinics, urgent care centres and speciality health providers in Ottawa available to families at all hours. When it comes to lifestyle sources of support for families such as gyms, recreation centres and parks – again Ottawa outdoes Toronto – with smaller populations comes greater access to facilities such as these more easily than the hustle and bustle of the big city in Ontario.


Hospitals: 35

1 hospital per 160,000 people


Hospitals: 12 with another 4 in Gatineau

1 hospital per 71,500 people


When it comes to deciding which city has better education between Ottawa and Toronto, several factors need to be considered. Ottawa offers a higher quality of primary and secondary schooling, with a larger variety of private- and international-focused institutions compared to Toronto. However, Toronto is often preferred for its vast selection of post-secondary options; notably, the University of Toronto is highly ranked on a global scale, making it ideal for those wishing to pursue studies at the highest level. Ultimately both cities offer great educational possibilities, so when choosing one it’s best to reflect on your individual educational needs and lifestyle preferences.

When choosing the best city for education for families, Ottawa and Toronto are both great options. Ottawa offers many beautiful schools, such as Carleton University and the University of Ottawa, that rank highly in national standings. Families living in Ottawa have access to a wide range of postsecondary institutions with excellent reputations. In addition, there are numerous daycare centres and private schools that can provide children with comprehensive educational experiences. On the other hand, Toronto is home to some of the largest universities in Canada such as the University of Toronto, as well as York University which has world-class academic programs. High school students also benefit from extensive language programs offered at multiple advanced-level high schools. Ultimately, families looking for an educational experience will find that between Ottawa and Toronto, both cities provide distinct advantages for a unique learning experience.


Four public Universities:

Ontario College of Art and Design

University of Toronto

Ryerson University

York University

Private University:

Northeastern University Toronto

Four publicly funded Colleges:

Centennial College

George Brown College

Humber College

Seneca College

At least 140 private career colleges


25 private career colleges

Two public Universities:

University of Ottawa

Carleton University

Two public Colleges:

Algonquin College

Collège La Cité

Considering the difference in population between the two cities, Ottawa does pretty well. Toronto has one public college or university for every 700,000 people, and Ottawa has one for every 250,000 people. Much like hospitals, Toronto doesn’t have as much density in its education as in its population.


 When considering which city to live in, Ottawa and Toronto offer distinct advantages. For example, Ottawa is known for its picturesque surroundings and impressive cultural attractions, offering magnificent views of the Ottawa River and the Rideau Canal. In contrast, Toronto is Canada’s most populous city, with plenty of world-class restaurants, entertainment venues, museums and art galleries. The cost of living in both cities can vary according to location; however, overall it tends to be more expensive in Toronto due to the higher demand for services and amenities. Ultimately the decision of which city is better to live in depends on what a person wants out of their life experience: whether they want to take in beautiful nature vistas or experience all that a bustling major metropolitan area has to offer. When deciding on relocating it’s important to understand what’s most important to you and your family.

Speaking of relocating – if you have any questions about the moving process 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.




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