Though Ottawa is Canada's capital, the cost of living in the city is one of the most affordable in the country. The 2023 Mercer Cost of Living Survey ranks Ottawa as 137th out of 227 cities surveyed, making it Canada's fourth most expensive city.

Cost of accommodation in Ottawa

Renting accommodation in Ottawa is far more affordable than in other major Canadian cities such as Vancouver or Toronto, depending on the areas and suburbs expats choose to live in. Property prices in Ottawa are also lower than the national median, while housing is generally of an excellent standard.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in Ottawa

Ontario's designated culinary tourism destination, Ottawa, boasts exquisite and diverse gastronomy. With myriad cuisines on offer, it's easy to see why eating out is a favourite pastime among locals, even though it doesn't always come cheap. Eating out at one of the many top restaurants in the city can be quite steep. That said, expats on a budget are sure to find great restaurants that won't break the bank.

The nightlife in Ottawa is lively, with plenty of bars and clubs in the ByWard Market District, but costs can add up quickly. Expats who enjoy a regular night out on the town can reduce their expenses by visiting the student watering holes, where prices are usually lower. Alternatively, adventure-loving expats can access the city's parks, forests and wetlands at little to no cost.

Cost of groceries in Ottawa

Although the cost of groceries in Ottawa is among the most affordable in Canada, it is rising, and residents are spending more for basic goods such as fruit and vegetables, protein and wholegrain goods. Still, expats will find that their dollars will go far in Ottawa, especially if they stick to discount stores and buy seasonal produce. Meal planning, buying directly from the store rather than online, and purchasing produce with imperfections are some other ways to save money while shopping. 

Cost of transport in Ottawa

Ottawa has a relatively affordable, efficient and clean public transport system. Regular commuters can boost their savings by purchasing an integrated Presto smart card for accessing public transit across Ottawa and the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas. Cycling is another cheap and healthy way to get around the city.

Cost of healthcare in Ottawa

Expats living and working in Ottawa are eligible for coverage under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). The public health insurance plan is funded through automatic tax deductions but does not cover prescription medicine, optometry or dentistry services. 

Luckily, most expats will have employer-provided private health insurance to cover these costs. Expats who do not have this benefit should shop around for the best deal. 

Cost of education in Ottawa

Public schools in Ottawa are free for all students from kindergarten to grade 12 and offer good-quality education in either English or French. Expat parents also have the option to send their children to international or private schools, but the tuition fees tend to be steep.

Cost of living in Ottawa chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for June 2023.

Accommodation (monthly)


One-bedroom apartment in city centre

CAD 1,800

One-bedroom apartment outside of centre

CAD 1,600

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

CAD 3,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of centre

CAD 2,430



Milk (1 litre)

CAD 2.77

Loaf of white bread

CAD 2.39

Chicken breasts (1kg)

CAD 15.15

Rice (1kg)


Dozen eggs

CAD 4.37

Pack of cigarettes

CAD 15

Eating out


Big Mac meal 

CAD 13

Coca-Cola (330ml)

CAD 3.21


CAD 5.55

Bottle of local beer


Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant 

CAD 100



Mobile phone monthly plan with data

CAD 55

Internet (Uncapped ADSL or Cable – average per month) 

CAD 84

Basic utilities (per month for a small apartment) 

CAD 230



Taxi rate/km 

CAD 2.75

City centre bus fare/train fare 

CAD 3.75

Petrol/gasoline (per litre) 

CAD 1.70

Expat Health Insurance

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