Living in Ottawa vs. Montreal: Where Should You Live?

Living in Ottawa vs. Montreal: Where Should You Live?

Ottawa, the capital of Canada, provides the quintessential Canadian experience. The city’s pillars are multiculturalism, bilingualism, and easy Canadian art and culture access.

Montreal has opportunities to attend fantastic theatrical, musical, and sporting events. The cost of living is reasonably priced compared to other major Canadian cities, and public transportation provides good alternatives.

Our guide on Living in Ottawa vs. Montreal explains the pros and cons of moving from one city to another including public transit, cost of groceries, entertainment, housing, and the job market.

Ottawa vs. Montreal

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Public transit in Ottawa vs. Montreal

Public transport in Ottawa

The city of Ottawa two city transportation systems:

On the Quebec side of the Ottawa River, the Société de Transport de l’Outaouais, generally known as STO, dominates public transit. You can pay with cash on the bus while purchasing tickets and day passes (Occasional Multi-pass) at service points and recharge stations at specific pharmacies, convenience stores, and malls. Young children under five travel for free.

On the Ontario side of the Ottawa River, OC Transpo runs buses, and the O-Railway, Ottawa’s light-rail train. You can buy tickets and day passes with cash on the bus, with a credit card, or cash at any O-Train stop, some pharmacies, grocery stores, and the CF Rideau Centre. Children under the age of seven can travel for free.

Para Transpo is a branch service that provides door-to-door pick-up and drop-off for people with disabilities who cannot use the regular service. 

The O-Train, Ottawa’s light-rail system, began service in 2001. It runs approximately 8 kilometers (5 miles) north-south from Bayview to Greenboro and is completely isolated from road and train traffic, making it extremely efficient.

Public transit fares in Ottawa

The fares for OC Transpo service are as follows.



Day Pass

Monthly Pass

Adults (20-64 years)




Youth (12-19 years)




Children (0-7 years)




Kids (8-12 years)




Seniors (65 years+)




(*OC Transpo: Fares & Our Services)

The fares of the STO is as follows: 



Day Pass

Monthly Pass

Adults (20-64 years)







$64.50 or

$224 per semester

Kids (6-11 years)



Seniors (65 years+)




How much is a transit monthly pass in Ottawa?

The cost of a public transit monthly pass in Ottawa is $125.50 for the OC Transpo or $101 for the STO.

Public transport in Montreal

The Société de transport de Montréal (STM)  is a public transportation agency in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, that provides transit buses and rapid transit services. It has expanded to include four subway lines and 68 stations, over 186 bus routes, and 23 routes functional at night. The STM operates Canada’s most heavily used urban mass transit system and one of North America’s most heavily used rapid transit systems.

The 747 Shuttle bus is an extension of STM metro that provides pick and drop service from the airport to downtown Montreal for just $10.

All metro stations, some depanneurs (corner stores), and grocery stores sell tickets. Opus cards are commonly used in Montreal. The metro station kiosk is the only place to purchase the $6 rechargeable card.

With more than five hundred drop-off locations, BIXI is a bike-share company with more than 6,000 bikes across the island. You must pay $5.25 for a day pass to rent a BIXI; only credit cards are accepted.

(* & STM info)

Public transit fares in Montreal

Here’s a quick summary of transport costs in Montreal:


Single Ride

Day Fares

Evening Pass

Weekend Evening

Weekly Pass



STM Metro







747 Shuttle Airport System


Free for children under 11


1$ unlock fee









(includes unlimited 45 min and under)

(*STM & Tripsavvy)

How much is a transit monthly pass in Montreal? 

The cost of a public transit monthly pass in Montreal is $94.00.


Cost of groceries in Ottawa vs. Montreal

The cost of groceries for Ottawa vs Montreal is compared below:

The average cost of groceries (Items X kg)



Milk (1 liter) 



Loaf of fresh white bread (500g)



Rice (white), (1 kg) 



Eggs (12)



Local cheese (1 kg) 



Chicken filets (1 kg) 



Beef round (1 kg) 



Apples (1 kg)



Bananas (1 kg)



Oranges (1 kg)



Tomato (1 kg)



Potato (1 kg)



Onion (1 kg)



Lettuce (1 head)



Water (1.5-liter bottle)



Bottle of wine (Mid-range)



Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle)



Imported Beer (0.33 liter)




What is the average cost of groceries for 1 person in Ottawa?

The average cost of groceries for 1 person in Ottawa is $263.68.

*Groceries for one person are multiplied by 2.5 for a monthly average.

What is the average cost of groceries for 1 person in Montreal?

The average cost of groceries for 1 person in Montreal is $273.48

*Groceries for one person are multiplied by 2.5 for a monthly average. 

What to do in Ottawa vs. Montreal

Montreal - Living in Ottawa vs. Montreal: Where Should You Live?

Entertainment in Ottawa

Every year, many festivals take place in the city of Ottawa, including food festivals, music festivals such as the BluesFest and JazzFest, and cultural festivals from the Italian, Lebanese, Greek, Chinese, Indian, and Caribbean communities, with more festivals being added every year. 

Street parties are becoming increasingly popular in Ottawa. These are in addition to the usual fantastic Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill and throughout the city, the Tulip Festival, and the Winter Festival.

The NAC has a thriving artist community, arts festivals, quality cinema, and world-class musicians. Mont Tremblant, one of the best ski resorts in the world, is about an hour and a half away.

Preston Street is home to several excellent Italian and other restaurants, cafes, and patisseries. Westboro is full of boutiques and small, one-of-a-kind, high-quality restaurants and cafes. Restaurants, pubs, and shops can be found in the Byward Market.


Entertainment in Montreal

Montreal is a charming city because of its nightlife, bistros, outdoor cafes, wine, and beer houses and terraces, Jewish establishments, and Italian District. The rich mix of French and English and multi-ethnic cultures where everyone parties together gives the city a radiating energy culture unlike any other. Montreal is undoubtedly the world’s “festival” capital, the celebrations ranging from jazz to comedy to song and dance to snow.

Nearly 700 acres of greenery makeup Mount Royal Park, a huge park in the city’s heart. It is a terrific place to walk, exercise, laze around, and have a picnic with fantastic city views. The city is home to a top-notch art hub: place-des-arts which hosts a museum, academic campus and a plethora of events all year long. The city also has its famous planetarium, insectarium, and world-renowned botanical gardens.

Because Montreal is an island surrounded by the Saint Lawrence River, you can kayak, canoe, boat, and fish there. Whitewater rafting and jet boating are available at the Lachine Rapids. More than a dozen ski hills, including the amazing Mont Tremblant, are within less than an hour’s drive to the north or south-east.

(*, Tripadvisor & Timeout)

Costs of entertainment — Ottawa vs. Montreal

A three-course supper for two at a mid-range restaurant in Montreal costs around $90, but only $80 in Ottawa. A monthly adult health club membership in Ottawa costs $71.30, whereas it costs only $43.90 in Montreal. A seat in a movie theatre showing an international release costs $15.50 in Ottawa and $15.00 in Montreal.


Cost of housing in Ottawa vs Montreal

The average home sale price in Ottawa’s housing market fell to $690,940 in June, down 8.8 percent from a peak of $757,230 in March 2022. This represents a 4.7% increase over June 2021. The actual 2022 median home price is $770,000 according to the Canadian Real Estate Association

According to information from the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers, the median price of a single-family home in Montreal and its metropolitan area decreased by less than 1% month over month to $576,000 in May. Since June 2021, prices haven’t decreased for two straight months. 

The average property price in Montreal has increased by 16% since May of 2021. The condo market remains stable, with the median price rising by 12% year over year to $410,000 in May, almost unchanged from April.

How much is a house in Ottawa?

The average cost of a house in Ottawa is $770,000.

How much is a house in Montreal?

The average cost of a house in Montreal is $576,000.

Cost of rent in Ottawa

Rents in Ottawa vary according to the location and size of apartments. The table below lists some common neighborhoods and the cost of apartments in each. 



1 bedroom

2 bedroom

3 bedroom

Sandy Hill





Centre Own





Lower Town





Centretown West















Downtown Ottawa









Blossom Park





Michelle Heights









How much is rent in Ottawa?

The average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Ottawa is $1,639.

Cost of rent in Montreal

Here is a summary of rental cost of apartments in Montreal. 



1 bedroom

2 bedroom

3 bedroom

Quarter Ville Marie










Vieux Montreal













































(*Liv & Zumper)

How much is rent in Montreal?

The average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Montreal is $1,450.

Job opportunities in Ottawa vs. Montreal


For many years, Ottawa has led the world in telecommunications innovation. The capital of Canada is currently one of North America’s most vibrant and varied innovation centers. Companies worldwide are drawn to Ottawa by its high concentration of technology expertise, affordable business costs, and high standard of living. It is Canada’s Silicon Valley with a high concentration of engineering talent according to Ottawa’s statistics. Given that Ottawa is the nation’s capital, the federal government is the largest employment sector.

The unemployment rate in Ottawa is extremely low. The city has a well-educated population, with most residents employed in the government, defense, or high-tech sectors. It is Canada’s Silicon Valley, with an abundance of engineering talent.

Montreal has a broader job offering because it is home to various industries and serves as Quebec’s primary economic engine. Mobile Developers, DevOps/Middleware, BI Specialists, Security Specialists, and all things Java are all in demand in Montreal.

The job market in Québec is distinguished by low unemployment at 4.9 percent, the lowest rate in 43 years. Women hold nearly half of all jobs, representing one of the highest rates in the world. 

(*Québec métiers d’avenir, Ottawa Business Journal)

Salary comparison in Ottawa vs. Montreal

The table below compares the average salaries of common professions in Montreal and Ottawa. 


Job title

The average salary in Ottawa

The average salary in Montreal










Business Development



Hardware Engineer



Chemical Engineer



Product Manager



Finance Manager



IT Manager



Mobile Developer



Sales Manager



Operations Manager



Software Engineer






Financial Analyst



Research Scientist



UX designer






Interior Designer






Customer Support



(*Teleport – Ottawa & Teleport – Montreal )

Cost of living in Ottawa vs. Montreal

The cost of living in Montreal is 7.1% cheaper than in Ottawa. Montreal has 2.20 percent lower consumer prices than Ottawa without rent. Consumer prices, including rent, are 6.74 percent lower in Montreal than in Ottawa. 

Rent prices are 16.34 percent lower in Montreal than in Ottawa. Restaurant prices in Montreal are 5.31 percent lower than those in Ottawa, while grocery prices in Montreal are 3.70 percent higher.

The cost of living indices of Ottawa and Montreal are: 


Cost of living index






Average monthly costs to live in Ottawa vs Montreal

The following table sums up the average monthly expenditures of living in Ottawa and Montreal. 


*For 1 person



Average house price 



Average monthly rent price (1 bedroom in city centre)



Public transit (One-way ticket)






Utilities (electricity + internet) 



Cell phone plan

$80, unlimited talk, text, and data included

$80, unlimited talk, text, and data included

Gym membership (monthly)



Clothing and shoes (1 pair each)








Ottawa is at the same time in Ontario and Quebec and incorporates the best of both worlds such as great economic opportunities and access to outdoors whilst being on a smaller scale. Montreal is one of the biggest cities in Canada and will offer the exciting lifestyle that comes with it. If you are planning to move soon, check out the 5 best moving companies in Ottawa and the 5 best moving companies in Montreal.

FAQ - The most frequently asked questions about Ottawa and Montreal

What is the biggest difference between Ottawa and Montreal?

Ottawa is the capital city of Canada. It offers great outdoor activities and known to be clean and peaceful. Ottawa is more expensive than Montreal, especially in housing costs. However, it offers higher salaries and lower costs on some essentials in addition to being less densely populated and on a smaller scale. On the other hand, Montreal is culturally different from Ottawa by having French as their dominant language which sets it apart and is noticeable in every sphere of life. It is also known for its amount of green space and great walkability

Where to live in Ottawa?



Young professionals 

Center town/Lower town and the Glebe


The Orleans and Kanata


Vanier and Sandy Hill

Where to live in Montreal?



Young Professionals 

Ville-Marie and Outremont


Villeray and Notre-Dame-de-Grâce


Côtes-des-Neiges and Plateau Mont-Royal


Is tax cheaper in Ottawa vs. Montreal?

  • In the province of Quebec, they have a GST which is set at about 5% and their own provincial tax (TVQ) set at 9,975%.
  • In the province of Ontario, they have the standard GST set at 5% and the PST set at 8% as a provincial sales tax.

Income tax rates in Ontario vs. Quebec

Applicable tax on the taxable income includes:

Income tax rates in Ontario

Income tax rates in Quebec

5.05% on the first $45,142 of taxable income

15% for $45,105 or less.

9.15% on the next $45,145 and over.

20% between $45,105 and $90,200

11.16% on the next $59,713 and over.

24% between $90,200 to $109,755

12.16% on the next $70,000 and over.

25,75% on the next $109,755, +.

13.16 % on the amount over $220,000.

Federal tax rates

The federal tax rate is the same in both cities. Applicable tax on the taxable income includes:

  • 15% on the first $50,197 of taxable income, plus
  • 20.5% on the next $50,195 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income over 50,197 up to $100,392), plus
  • 26% on the next $55,233 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income over $100,392 up to $155,625), plus
  • 29% on the next $66,083 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income over 155,625 up to $221,708), plus
  • 33% of taxable income over $221,708

(*Revenu Québec, &

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Montreal was founded in the year 1642 and was named “Ville-Marie” but got renamed again in the honor of a hill ‘Mount Royal’, situated in the center of the city; thus Montreal. The city has an area of about 431.5 Km2 and a population of 4,221,000. The city harbors a number of beautiful locations and neighborhoods such as the Old Port, le Plateau Mont-Royal and Saint-Henri just to name a few.

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