Ottawa Vs Toronto: Cost Of Living, Prices, Pros, And Cons
Whenever Ottawa and Toronto are compared, some kind of painfully true and highly entertaining comparative pops up for Ottawans. More cultured? Check. Happier old people? Check. Stunning and fit single ladies? You know it. A government study has found that the average living cost in Ottawa is 3% less than the living cost in Toronto. It is the world’s third-cheapest city to relocate to in 2023. Some people agree with it wholeheartedly, while others scratch their heads and wonder if it is true.
In this article, I will do a head-to-head cost of living comparison between the two cities in Ontario: Ottawa and Toronto. I will refer to the cost of housing, utilities, grocery, and other expenses as well as my personal experience to make any claims. I will also mention the pros and cons, tips plus any other information I could dig up from the internet on the quality of living in the two cities.
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1. Ottawa Vs. Toronto Living
Toronto is the largest city in Canada and the fourth largest city in North America. It offers great job and recreational opportunities. However, it is more crowded and competitive.
Ottawa has a less population as compared to Toronto. It has a higher median income and lesser crime index than Toronto. There’s not much difference in the healthcare system in Ottawa and Toronto because both are covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan. (OHIP) Since Ottawa is the nation’s capital, it also offers better opportunities for historical exploration. On all accounts, Ottawa is considered a better place to live.
2. House Rent
The average monthly rent will vary depending on the location of house. According to CMHC Rental Market Survey, the following are the average housing costs in Ottawa and Toronto.
|Type of Lodging||Monthly Rent in Ottawa||Monthly Rent in Toronto|
|A bachelor-style apartment||$1,061||$1,217|
|A 2-bedroom apartment||$1,547||$1,680|
|A 3-bedroom apartment||$1,779||$1,918|
|A single-family detached house||$3,004||$3,542|
The monthly average rent in Ottawa is cheaper than the monthly rent in Toronto. This can save a lot of money on living costs.
3. Cost Of Buying A House
On the other hand, house prices in Toronto are much higher than in Ottawa. In 2022 the average house price in Toronto was $1,212,806, whereas the average house price in Ottawa is $621,291.
|The price per square meter to buy an apartment in the City Centre||12,757C$||7,931C$|
|Price per square meter to buy an apartment outside of Centre||10,005 C$||6,573C$|
Ottawa offers more affordable housing than Toronto. Moreover, the prices of apartments both inside and outside of the city Centre are cheaper in Ottawa than the prices of apartments in Toronto. This shows that buying a house or an apartment in Ottawa saves you a lot of money.
According to Wova, the average monthly cost of utilities in the two cities are as follows:
|Type of Utility||Monthly Cost in Ottawa||Monthly Cost in Toronto|
|Electricity, Phone, Internet, Garbage Collection||$164.75||$163.11|
The cost of utilities like electricity, heating, water, and garbage collection are very similar in the two cities. The monthly cost of the internet is slightly cheaper in Toronto ($75.85) than that in Ottawa (77.81).
The premium insurance in Ontario is $125 per month, whereas, the average monthly fuel cost is around $280/month. If we combine the maintenance, fuel and insurance costs of a car, it is $578 a month. Comparatively, the maintenance, fuel, and insurance are slightly more expensive in Toronto i.e. around $1,953.
Both cities have extensive public transportation systems. Ottawa Public Transit Commission (OC Transpo) operates buses and light rail systems in the city. According to a CTV News report, the cost of a monthly pass is $125.5 whereas a single ride costs $3.70.
OC Transpo Fares
|One time pass||Day pass||Monthly pass|
|Adults (20-64 years)||$3.75||$11.25||$125.50|
|Youth (12-19 years)||$3.75||$11.25||$96.75|
|Children (0-7 years)||Free||Free||Free|
|Kids (8-12 years)||$1.90||$11.25||$96.75|
|Seniors (65 years +)||$2.85||$11.25||$47.75|
Similarly, Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) manages public transportation in Toronto. The monthly pass costs $156 and a single ride costs $3.70.
Toronto Transit Commission Rates
|Regular Rout||Day Pass||Monthly Pass|
Public transit is slightly more expensive in Ottawa than in Toronto.
6. Food And Groceries
The average cost of food in both cities is almost the same and very close to the average cost of food in Ontario. The following table lists the average food cost in Ontario according to wova.com.
|Average food cost|
|Average cost of groceries for 1 person in Ottawa.||$263.68|
|The average cost of groceries for one person in Toronto.||$274.33|
Here’s a breakdown of the costs of grocery items.
|Type of Grocery||Cost In Ottawa||Cost In Toronto|
|Milk Regular, 1 liter||$3.62||$2.63|
|Loaf of fresh white bread 500 g||$2.96||$3.42|
|Rice 1 kg||$4.42||$4.12|
|Chicken fillets 1 kg||$15.39||$15.97|
|Beef round 1 kg||$16.93||$18.48|
|Apples 1 kg||$4.85||$4.85|
|Oranges 1 kg||$3.87||$4.43|
|Tomato 1 kg||$4.53||$5.06|
|Potato 1 kg||$2.61||$3.60|
The costs of groceries and restaurants are slightly different in both cities. The groceries cost a bit more in Toronto than in Ottawa.
|Type of childcare||Monthly Cost in Ottawa||Monthly Cost in Toronto|
If you are a working mother with small children, you could save some money while living in Ottawa. The monthly cost of infant care is almost half of what you have to pay in Toronto. Similarly, the monthly childcare cost for a preschool child is $1080 as compared to $1250 in Toronto. Ottawa is a clear winner here.
On average, an Ontarian family spends around $2000 a year on entertainment. These costs can vary depending on your lifestyle and choices. Some of the family fun activities in Ottawa are the following:
Entertainment in Ottawa
The following are some of the fun activities in Toronto:
- Go to a museum. The Royal Ontario Museum is one of the most famous museums in the country and offers a variety of exhibits.
- Enjoy some art at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
- View the city from the height of 1800 ft at CN tower.
- Enjoy the scenic view at Niagara Falls.
- Go to one of the cinemas, or restaurants.
When it comes to entertainment, both cities have a lot to offer. However, Ottawa has significantly more parks available to the residents than Toronto. If you want to have some quality time free of cost, Ottawa has more to offer.
Cost of entertainment - Ottawa vs. Toronto
|Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant||23.00C$||25.00C$|
|Meal for 2 people, Mid-range Restaurant, Three course||120.00C$||90.00C$|
|McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal)||13.00C$||12.00C$|
|Domestic Beer (0.5-liter draught)||8.00C$||7.50C$|
|Imported Beer (0.33-liter bottle)||9.00C$||9.00C$|
|Coke/Pepsi (0.33-liter bottle)||2.68C$||2.85C$|
|Water (0.33-liter bottle||2.13C$||2.13C$|
Restaurant prices in Ottawa are 7.2% lower than in Toronto. Ottawa has a greater number of public parks to have fun free of cost.
9. Sports and Leisure Activities
|Sports and Leisure Activity||Toronto||Ottawa|
|Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult||62.77C$||73.99C$|
|Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend)||23.77C$||35.43C$|
|Cinema, International Release, 1 Seat||15.00C$||15.00C$|
The cost of a gym in Ottawa is higher than the cost of the same activities in Toronto.
If you are trying to relocate yourself in 2023 you must settle in Ottawa. It is ranked as the world’s third-cheapest city. The comparison between Ottawa and Toronto reveals that Ottawa is a cheaper city as compared to Toronto. Ottawa also has a higher median income and less crime index. Housing, transportation, childcare, and grocery items are all cheaper in Ottawa.
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Both Ottawa and Toronto offer great living opportunities. However, when it comes to affordability and natural scenic beauty, Ottawa stands out. The biggest difference between Ottawa and Toronto is that Ottawa has less population as compared to Toronto. It has a higher median income and less crime index. Ottawa also offers cheaper housing options than Toronto. There are more green spaces in Ottawa than in Toronto. On the other hand, Toronto offers better job opportunities than Ottawa.
Some of the best areas to live in Ottawa are Glebe, Hintonburg, Westboro, Kanata, and Stittsville. The people in these neighbourhoods are quite friendly, with a strong sense of community. These areas offer great amenities, such as schools, parks, and hospitals.
If you want to live in an area full of cafes and restaurants in Toronto, you must have your house in The Beaches. It lies on the Shore of Lake Ontario a few kilometres away from Toronto’s commercial district. Leaside is the other area known for its quality of life with very good schools and a very short distance from Toronto’s commercial market.
Taxes are cheaper in Ottawa than in Toronto. You need around C$ 6568.1 in Ottawa to maintain the same standard of living that you can have with C$ 7500 in Toronto.
What is the average monthly net salary in Ottawa and Toronto?
According to numbeo.com, the average monthly net salary in Ottawa is C$ 4,013. In Toronto, it is C$4,049.
Ottawa lies farther north than Toronto. This results in significantly colder winters.