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What is it like to live in Ottawa Canada during Winter?

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What is it like to live in Ottawa Canada during Winter?

Ottawa — known for its striking historical landmarks and some of the most beautiful sceneries in the world, you’ll be hard pressed to come up with a list of negatives when considering relocating to this picturesque capital city. But Winter tends to scare most away – want to know what is it like to live in Ottawa Canada during Winter?

For some, Ottawa’s climate is a big factor when deciding to make the move or not. If you ask some of the locals around the city, you’ll probably hear a few grumbles about how bitterly cold the winters can get but also those who embrace the snowy months and all the activities this Northernly city has to offer.

In this video, I’m going to share with you what living in Ottawa during winter looks like and stay tuned till the very end because I’m going to share my top five hacks that will actually have you looking forward to the first snowfall of the season!

Speaking of relocation, if you’re thinking about making a move feel free to reach out to us – give us a call / shoot us a text / send us an email / or even wrap it up in a bow and send it first class because we got your back when moving to Ottawa and anywhere across Canada.

We won’t leave you in the cold without letting you know truly what is it like to live in Ottawa Canada during Winter?

1. Winter commutes

Ottawa is characterized as an urban sprawl. The population density of the city ranks 16th in all of Canada (while being the 4th largest city in Canada) with a good chunk of the population living in neighbouring suburban areas outside of the city’s downtown core. This mean depending on where you live and where you work, commute times will vary. Rush hour is typically between 7am to 9am and 3:30pm to 5:30pm, with traffic jams usually seen the worst from the downtown core to the West-end — add snow into the mix and you can expect the commute to take anywhere between 40 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on where you live and work. However, for many who have previously lived-in high-density cities like Toronto, traffic in Ottawa is comparably mild.

public transit

Public transportation in the winter time can be a hit or miss. Buses can be packed during rush hour and sometimes you can expect to face delays or no-shows. Certain routes are more reliable than others. Depending on where you live, during commute hours, you can expect a bus to show up every 10-15 minutes. There are also express busses that run during this time that connects downtown locations with more local routes in the suburbs. With busses having dedicated lanes, many people who live in suburban areas like Kanata and Barrhaven will choose to bus over driving to work to save time on rush hour commuting by car.

With the completed Phase 1 of the LRT system in Ottawa — the system has greatly improved since its launch and work on Phase 2 is already beginning. You’ll want to dress warmly if you plan on taking public transportation though, just to be safe!

Want to learn more about the neighbourhoods in Ottawa? You can check out the rest of my playlist if you looking to pick out where to live, work and play – we will leave a link up here

2. Taking care of your home in the winter

From shovelling your driveway to preventing freezing pipes, you’ll want to create a winter home maintenance checklist to avoid any unexpected home surprises. Feel free to reach out to get a copy of the one we created.

However, if you choose to live in a condo/strata property, you’ll likely have your property manager take care of this for you.

3. Living costs during the winter

You can expect living costs in Ottawa during the winter time to be relatively the same as the warmer months. The expenses put into running your heater is on par with running an AC during the summer heat. If your housing has an electric baseboard heater instead of a central air system, you’ll want to keep your eye on your energy bill just as a precaution because your bill can rise rather quickly.

Unless you choose to hire a driveway snow removal service there aren’t too many other costs you can expect that’s winter specific. But highly recommend getting a snow blower to get through Winter here in Ottawa. For years, I would hand shovel large and long driveways and it becomes a real pain that can take some time. Often I would look at it like a workout but as I get older I said ‘forgot that’ and about two years ago I purchased a great snow blower and haven’t had a problem since. In fact, I often take care of my elderly neighbours laneways and walkways as well – because that’s just the right thing to do!

4. There are TONS of new activities to do

A change in season means a change in activities to do! There is something just so amazing that happens when the environment around you changes.

If you enjoyed paddling on the rideau canal during the summer months, now you can enjoy skating on it. If you enjoyed biking along the Capital Pathways, you can now enjoy cross-country skiing on it. There are tons of forest pathways just outside the city for walking, hiking or snowmobiling.

If you’ve ever been to Le Nordik Spa-Nature during the summer, just wait until you visit during the winter. The experience is truly magical and relaxing sitting in a hot tub and experiencing the outdoor winter scene.

Winter also means Winterlude, a flagship event that happens every February in the city since 1979. It celebrates and experiences Canada’s northern culture and climate. Activities range from ice sculptures to skating rinks scattered around national sites and live performances. It’s three weeks of pure magic you won’t want to miss out on.

Still not sold on the cold? Don’t worry — I have five top hacks that will make the colder months more enjoyable!


1. Get out there and become a tourist!

Explore all the winter festivities and activities the city has to offer. Ottawa has a ton of events put on by the NCC (National Capital Commission) and the City of Ottawa. From Winterlude to skating through a forest at Lac de Loups — you’ll be wishing for winter in the summer heat!

2. Find a winter sport that you love

Whether you enjoy skating, tobogganing, snow-shoeing, skiing, snowboarding or snowmobiling, there never a shortage of winter sports to partake in. And when you embrace a Winter sport the season can go by very quickly – It’s all a matter of perspective! Once you find a new passion for a Winter sport you will have plenty of answers for people asking ‘What is it like to live in Ottawa Canada during Winter?’

3. Use the time indoors to learn a new skill and make your home a place of warmth

Winter gives us more time to focus on ourselves and our home. Learn to paint like Van Gogh, redecorate your bedroom and do some early spring cleaning!

4. Take the time to finally go see indoor activities you’ve been putting off all year

If you haven’t been to museums, theatres and galleries in a while, now’s your chance! Well, once the pandemic allows us to enjoy such things. The Winter allows us to enjoy some of the city’s greatest hidden gems.

5. Invest in proper clothing — and the cold won’t feel so bad anymore!

As they say ‘There is no such thing as bad weather only bad clothing choices’. Make sure to have a proper Winter jacket, boots, gloves and a touque! Otherwise, you will be complaining and miserable when it gets cold. Winter gives us an opportunity to step outside our comfort zone and experience something new throughout the year. If you brave into the cold and embrace what winter has to offer, who knows, maybe it’ll soon become a season you love.


What is it like to live in Ottawa Canada in Spring?

What is it like to live in Ottawa Canada in Summer?

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