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Cost of Living in Ottawa: A Ready Reckoner

Updated on 09 November, 2023

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert


Ottawa is the capital of Canada, nestled in southeastern Ontario. It lies on the Ottawa River's southern bank, across from Quebec's Gatineau. The cost of living in Ottawa is reasonable for students even though the city is just 4 ½ hours away from Toronto by road and approximately 2 hours away from Montreal. Ottawa is also an hour away from the border with the USA, where visitors can cross into New York State through the St. Lawrence River.


Ottawa has a continental climate with humid and warm summers. The winters are quite chilly and usually witness snowfall. Temperatures usually revolve around 10 degrees Celsius in January, while touching 21 degrees Celsius in July. 

Major Attractions 

Ottawa has several famous attractions, including the National Gallery of Canada (which also has two theaters and an opera house) and the Canadian War Museum. Other attractions include the Canada Science and Technology Museum, Central Aviation and Space Museum, and the Canadian Museum of History. Visitors can also explore the Library and Archives Canada, the historic Parliament Buildings, and Parliament Hill and Sparks Street. The Rideau Canal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and transforms into the longest skating rink in the world in winter. It is then known as the Rideau Canal Skateway. The canal is also the venue for the Winterlude festival held in February every year. 

Key Highlights to note about Ottawa 

  • Ottawa is Canada's biggest urban zone, with 1.4 million citizens. 
  • It is a multicultural and bilingual city where English and French are both spoken. 
  • MoneySense Magazine ranked Ottawa as Canada's best place to live in 2016. 
  • The City of Ottawa received the silver-level designation in November 2013 from WALK Friendly Ontario. 
  • It also received the gold-level Bicycle Friendly Community Award in the same year from Share the Road Cycling Coalition. 
  • 53% of newcomers to Ottawa hail from the Middle East and Asia, with 15% from Europe and 17% from Africa. 
  • More than 50% of adults in Ottawa have college degrees, while 43% have employment in creative professions. 
  • 26.4% of the total population is linked to the knowledge economy, while one out of every seven people works in technology or science. 
  • Ottawa's most prominent business sectors include knowledge-based support services, defense and aerospace, software, telecommunications, clean-tech industries, and e-business. 

Cost of Living in Ottawa 

The living expenses in Ottawa are highlighted below (per month), according to Numbeo. The cost of living in Ottawa for international students is comparatively lower than many other global study destinations. 


  • Milk (1 litre)- CA$ 2.63
  • Bread (500g)- CA$ 2.96
  • Rice (1 kg)- CA$ 4.41
  • Eggs (12)- CA$ 4.09
  • Chicken Fillets (1 kg)- CA$ 15.90
  • Potatoes (1 kg)- CA$ 2.56
  • Bananas (1 kg)- CA$ 1.63
  • Water (1.5 liter bottle)- CA$ 2.03
  • Meals for two at a cheap restaurant- CA$ 25
  • Meals for two at a mid-range restaurant- CA$ 90

Entertainment and Recreation- 

  • Monthly Fitness Club Fees- CA$ 72.26
  • Rental Tennis Courts (1 hour)- CA$ 34.38


  • 1 bedroom apartment rental- CA$ 1720.71 in the city center and CA$ 1397.14 outside the city center. 
  • 3-bedroom apartment rental- CA$ 2782.63 in the city center and CA$ 2240 outside the city center.

Utility Costs- 

  • Electricity, Cooling, Heating, Garbage, and Water- CA$ 180.90
  • Internet- CA$ 80.10


  • Transportation Ticket (One-Way)- CA$ 3.70
  • Monthly Transportation Pass- CA$ 125

According to Living Cost.org, a doctor's visit costs approximately CA$ 65.3 in Ottawa. This will enable a better understanding of the average cost of living in Ottawa. 

Top Universities in Ottawa 

Here is a guide to the approximate Ottawa living cost for international students based on the applicable expenses at leading universities. 

University NameTuition Fees (Approx in CAD)AccommodationHealth InsuranceBooks & Stationery 
University of Ottawa CA$ 5,825.85-7,283.03 per termCA$ 14,593 for a room in a two-bedroom apartment and upwards (per year)CA$ 756- Fall, CA$ 504- Winter, CA$ 252- Spring-SummerCA$ 550 per semester 
Carleton UniversityCA$ 30,389- $46,152 per year CA$ 11,775 (with double room, All Access meal plan and Wi-Fi/internet) per year and CA$ 9,600 (off-campus housing) per yearCA$ 138.56 (Health Only) per year and CA$ 136.57 (Dental Only) per year. For both plans, the amount is CA$ 275.13 per year CA$ 1,400 per year
University of Saint PaulCA$ 8,302.32-8,377.03 per termCA$ 12-15,000 per yearCA$ 756 per termCA$ 1,800 per year

Ottawa is one of the most student-friendly cities in Canada, with its reputed institutions and cosmopolitan environment. It has comparatively lower living costs than many other cities in the country, making it a preferred destination for international students. 

Note: The expenses mentioned are indicative only and subject to change at any time at the government/ university’s discretion.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is living in Ottawa expensive?

While Ottawa is not technically cheap to live in, the positive side is that living costs are lower than the national average by 18%. This makes it more reasonable for students and professionals alike. 

What salary do you need to live in Ottawa?

The average cost of living is CA$ 3,252 per month for a single individual renting a city home. A salary that ensures at least CA$ 5-6,000 per month would be a starting point for living in Ottawa. 

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert