Living In Toronto

Ottawa vs Toronto Compared: Lifestyle, Cost of Living, Education

Are you thinking of moving from Ottawa to Toronto? In this post, we will look at the differences between these two cities and what you should consider when choosing the right town to settle down. Let’s begin!

Comparing Toronto and Ottawa seems like an easy task. However, these two cities are so different and their lifestyles. All you need to do is to find out which lifestyle you’d like to have and what goals you’d like to achieve by choosing between the two cities.

Let’s compare Toronto and Ottawa in 4 major categories Lifestyle, Cost of Living, Education and Employment Opportunities.


Toronto has always been known for its dynamic lifestyle with rush hours, crowded intersections, busy parking lots, and high-paced weekdays. Ottawa is more moderate in this respect and offers a quieter and less-populated ambiance.

With a population of over 2.9 million people, Toronto is a melting pot of cultures and languages. It is the economic engine of Canada and home to some of the country’s largest businesses and corporations.

In general, it is a diverse, cosmopolitan city with a fast-paced lifestyle. There’s always something happening in Toronto, from concerts to sporting events, festivals, and cultural experiences. It’s a city that never sleeps, with countless restaurants, cafes, and bars that cater to all tastes and preferences. Toronto is also known for its vibrant nightlife, with plenty of clubs and venues to choose from.

On the other hand, Ottawa is a more laid-back city with a slower pace of life. It is a city that keeps a lot of history and natural beauty. Ottawa has a strong sense of community and is known for being a family-friendly city. It has plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy, such as hiking, biking, and skiing. Ottawa is a hub for government, politics, and diplomacy.

With a population of just over 1 million people, Ottawa is smaller than Toronto but still offers a significant arts and culture scene. The city is home to many museums, galleries, and festivals, making it a great destination for those who love the arts.

Climate Factors

If you are choosing between Toronto and Ottawa, don’t disregard the climate and weather differences, because they are one of the biggest concerns for a lot of people.

Toronto has a humid continental climate, with hot summers and cold winters. Summers in Toronto are hot and humid, with temperatures averaging around 25°C. In winter, the biggest challenge is a chill wind which makes the weather much colder.

Ottawa has a more severe climate. The city is located further inland than Toronto, which means it experiences more extreme temperature changes. Winters in Ottawa can be bitterly cold, with temperatures dipping below -20°C. Summers are warm and humid, with temperatures averaging around 27°C.

I have lived and worked in Toronto for many years I can tell you that if you are thinking of moving here and the only thing that stops you is the idea that it is busy, noisy, and overall crazy, then consider this – There are over 200 neighbourhoods and pockets in Toronto, some of which resemble a quiet countryside with no cars, no rushing crowds, no noise, and not even frequent pedestrians. It only takes connecting to a local realtor to be guided to those areas.

Looking for more tips to ensure you find the right Toronto home for your needs and lifestyle? Explore these other posts from my blog.

Cost of Living

Let’s start by comparing the costs of housing in Toronto and Ottawa based on numbers from April 2023.

  • The average price of a detached home in Toronto is $1,712,364. In Ottawa, it is $768,820.
  • The average price of a condo in Toronto is $728,271. In Ottawa, it is $424,360
  • The average price of a 2 – bedroom rental apartment in Toronto begins at $3,000 a month.
    In Ottawa, the price will be around $2,260.

The numbers from Ottawa were provided by my colleague – Real Estate Broker Sarah Hunter. Please don’t hesitate to give her a call if you have any questions or needs regarding Ottawa real estate.

Everyday Costs
The cost of utilities, phone, internet, and TV are on average the same in both cities. A monthly transit pass in Toronto will cost you $156 while in Ottawa it is $125.50. Car insurance in Ottawa on average is $1,200 per year, while in Toronto it is $2,000. Groceries on average are the same cost in both cities.

Sales Tax & Minimum Wage
A sales tax in Toronto and Ottawa stores is the same – 13%. The minimum wage is the same as well – 16.55 per hour.

Overall Affordability

To afford to live comfortably in Toronto you must make approximately $8000 per month, and in Ottawa, you must make around $4-5 thousand dollars per month. There is one more important thing to consider if you are moving from Ottawa to Toronto – which is your own list of personal expenses.

For example, If you plan to upgrade your primary residence while relocating, you must consider the significantly higher cost of real estate in Toronto than in Ottawa.

I always point out to my relocating clients that although any change requires some sacrifice, relocation mustn’t downgrade the comfort and lifestyle you are used to.


Next, let’s talk about schooling and education. In Ottawa, you can find 117 elementary schools and 25 high schools, which makes its selection a lot smaller compared to Toronto. So if you prefer to have more educational options, you might want to consider Toronto, which has about 473 primary and intermediate schools and 105 secondary schools.

The 4 top universities you can find in Ottawa are as follows: University of Ottawa, Carleton University, Dominican University College, and Université Saint Paul. The 4 top Toronto universities are: University of Toronto, Metropolitan University, York University, and Ontario College of Art & Design University.

Thinking about starting a new life in Toronto? Check out these blog posts for local advice.

Employment Opportunites

Speaking of job opportunities in Ottawa, they typically revolve around government positions. With that in mind, many people may struggle to find a career that suits them after moving here. In Toronto on the contrary, the variety of jobs is practically limitless. With the right approach, you will be able to get the best option in any industry you need.

Pros & Cons of Each City

Cons for Ottawa

  • Limited job markets
  • The need to be bilingual
  • The quiet lifestyle

Pros for Ottawa

  • Low population density
  • Higher affordability

Cons for Toronto

  • High living costs
  • Overcrowding concerns

Pros for Toronto

  • Fantastic schooling and career opportunities
  • Booming business scene
  • Diversity
  • More job opportunities

Whether you are a young professional or you have a growing family and looking to relocate to Toronto, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me to find out what neighbourhoods might be your perfect match.

Ready to find out if Toronto is the right city for you? As a local Realtor, I can help. Click here to send me an email. Alternatively, you can call or text me at (647) 294-3039.

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