When I made the decision to move to Ottawa, it was for purely academic reasons. I had never planned to stay, although having said that, I also hadn’t planned on leaving. There was no plan. But once I moved here, I noticed there were some very good, and some not so good elements to the city.
1. Ottawa is a beautiful city
One can’t help but notice the charm and elegance that this city has to offer. For a small-town bumpkin like myself, it has the provincial atmosphere I crave, but with the added benefit of great city amenities. Ottawa is clean, green, historic, and picturesque. Whether its citizens are aware or not, they are lucky in that they get to enjoy a wonderful mix of old and new in this beautiful urban landscape.
This is entirely biased, as it is purely from my own perspective, but I have found the people in Ottawa to always be exceedingly friendly and polite. In comparison, my experiences visiting Toronto have many times left me with a bitter taste, as most people greet you not with smiles, but with a look of disdain. In Ottawa, everyone seems to smile more readily, allow my car to merge into traffic more easily, and not once have I witnessed anyone ever hesitating to hold a door open for another.
3. Our nation’s capital
I find the fact that I live in our nation’s capital exhilarating. Bills are passed here, the Prime Minister “lives” here, embassies from a number of different countries can be found here, and if you’re looking for a government job, you’re in luck, because in Ottawa there are a ton!
I also love how accessible our Parliament is. Situated in the downtown core, one can meander the visually-pleasing grounds, or go inside for a free guided tour.
Being our nation’s capital, one may expect to find a great deal of history here, and you wouldn’t be wrong. A tourist can begin at parliament, and continue their journey to see the sights, all within walking distance; you may visit the eight wooden locks, the glamorous and historical Chateau Laurier, the much-publicized War Memorial, the always bustling Rideau Mall and infamous Market, or perhaps visit one of the many museums, art sites, and parks. An afternoon can easily be lost just taking in the sights.
4. A lot of recent industry growth
And… The Not So Good
1. You MUST be bilingual
Canada is a bilingual nation, or it is technically supposed to be. But as many of us know, there are parts that speak more French than English, and others that speak more English than French. Being the epicenter of Canadian politics, and resting on the border with Quebec, Ottawa MUST be bilingual. But to those of us who are not, work can be very hard to find.
2. Job market is tough
I think this happens in most cities where you have an over abundance of a well educated populace. In Ottawa, we have two universities, one college, and a large group of government workers who recently were let go or retired, and are looking for some part-time work. Good luck standing out in this crowd.
3. Housing is expensive… at least for me
Ottawa is nowhere as expensive to live as, say, Toronto or Vancouver, but it certainly is not cheap. Renting, although many times a much cheaper option than buying, can average approximately $1,265 for a two bedroom apartment (RentBoard.ca.). If that amount sets you off, then don’t even think about buying. According to the Ottawa Real Estate Board, “The majority of buyers in Ottawa continue to buy properties in the $300,000 to $400,000 price range”. This would mean paying an approximate average of $1,583 per month.
When many today are paying off students loans, still looking for work, paying for phone bills, groceries, the upkeep on a vehicle (gas, maintenance, etc), child care and rearing, plus much much more, many might not have much, if anything, for a down-payment on a home.
I love this city, I love the people in it, and I can’t imagine being anywhere else.
Don’t get me wrong, this is in no way a “bash Ottawa” story. But just like anything else, there can always be positives and negatives. I would still highly recommend moving here. I think there is plenty of great opportunity to be found in this city. In terms of job hunting, just like anywhere else, connections and relationships, more times than none, will secure you that interview or job. Thank you Ottawa and your citizens, for accepting me, and letting me put down roots here. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.