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 has two city transportation systems. On the Quebec side of the Ottawa River, the SociĂ©tĂ© 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 Greensboro and is completely isolated from road and train traffic, making it extremely efficient.

Public transit fares in Ottawa

Type of fare Rate
Per ride

(Adult & Young)

Per 1 day $11.25
Per 3 days $27.75
Per 5 days $44.50
Per 7 days $52.75
Monthly pass $125.50

OC Transpo (July 2023)

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.

Public transport in Montreal

The SociĂ©tĂ© de transport de MontrĂ©al (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 $11.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. (Jan 2024) & STM info (Jan 2024)

Public transit fares in Montreal

Type of fare Rate
Single ticket $3.75
Daily pass $11.00
Weekly pass $30.00
Monthly pass $97.00
747 Trudeau Airport/Downtown $11.00

STM (Sept 2023)

How much is a transit monthly pass in Montreal?
The cost of a public transit monthly pass in Montreal is $97.00.

Cost of groceries in Ottawa vs. Montreal

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

Groceries costs Ottawa Montreal
Milk (regular), (1 gallon) $11.04 $10.86
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (1 lb) $3.21 $3.69
Rice (white) (1 lb) $1.99 $1.96
Eggs (regular) (12) $4.39 $4.28
Local Cheese (1 lb) $8.07 $7.32
Chicken Fillets (1 lb) $7.18 $7.28
Beef Round (1 lb) $9.28 $7.94
Apples (1 lb) $2.18 $1.98
Banana (1 lb) $0.75 $0.88
Oranges (1 lb) $1.73 $2.19
Tomato (1 lb) $2.09 $2.43
Potato (1 lb) $1.18 $1.23
Onion (1 lb) $1.17 $1.43
Lettuce (1 head) $2.97 $3.17
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) $17.00 $18.00
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle) $3.52 $3.69
Imported Beer (12 oz small bottle) $3.32 $4.31
Average monthly cost of groceries for 1 person  $324.28 per month. $330.56 per month.

Numbeo-Ottawa (Sept 2023) & Numbeo-Montreal (Sept 2023)

What to do in Ottawa vs. Montreal

Entertainment in Ottawa

Every year, many festivals take place in the city of Ottawa. This includes 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, cafés, and pùtisseries. 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. (Jan 2024)

Entertainment in Montreal

Montreal is a charming city because of its nightlife, bistros, outdoor cafĂ©s, 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.

Costs of entertainment — Ottawa vs. Montreal

A mid-range restaurant meal in Montreal costs around $57.50, meanwhile in Ottawa is less expensive and around $53.75. A monthly adult health club membership in Ottawa costs $83.21, whereas it costs only $41.14 in Montreal. A seat in a movie theater showing an international release costs pretty similar in both cities.

Overall, the cost of entertainment in Montreal is cheaper.

Entertainment costs Ottawa Montreal
Mid-range restaurant meal $53.75 $57.50
Taxi 1h $50.00 $44.25
1 cinema ticket $16.50 $15.00
Total $120.25 $116.75

Numbeo-Ottawa (Sept 2023) & Numbeo-Montreal (Sept 2023

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 Ottawa Real Estate Board, the median sale price for single detached homes edged up 1.1% on a year-over-year basis to $737,250 in the fourth quarter of 2023. Meanwhile, the median sale price for apartment units was down 5% on a year-over-year basis to $380,000 in the fourth quarter of 2023.

According to information from the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers, the median price of a single-family home in Montreal increased by 17% year-to-date in January 2024 compared to the same period in 2023. Meanwhile, condominiums saw an 8% increase in median price, and the median price of Plex (2-5 units) decreased by 2% year-to-date January 2024 compared to the same period in 2023.

Cost of Housing in Ottawa vs. Montreal

In the tables below, you’ll find two charts that display the average cost of renting an apartment, including two apartment types, and the average home price in Ottawa vs. Montreal.

Cost of rent in Ottawa vs. Montreal

Area/Neighborhood 1-bed apartment 3-bed apartment
Ottawa (Outside of Center) $1,712.22 $2,417.83
Montreal (Outside of Center) $1,221.81 $1,979.26

Numbeo-Ottawa (Sept 2023) & Numbeo-Montreal (Sept 2023)

Cost of buying a property in Ottawa vs. Montreal

Area/Neighborhood Average home price 
Ottawa $643,600
Montreal $521,600

CREA (Aug 2023)

How much is a house in Ottawa and Montreal?
The average price of a house in Ottawa is $643,600, while in Montreal it is $521,600.

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.

QuĂ©bec mĂ©tiers d’avenir (Jan 2024)

Salary comparison in Ottawa vs. Montreal

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

Professions Average salary in


Average salary in


Software Engineer $109,990.40 $102,398.40
Data Scientist/Analyst $95659.20 $92,040
Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses $85,280 $74,880
Financial advisors $79,996.80 $72,800
Audio and video recording technicians $54,080 $62,400

Government of Canada Job Bank (Nov 2023)

Cost of living in Ottawa vs. Montreal

Average monthly costs to live in Ottawa vs. Montreal

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

Category Monthly cost in Ottawa Monthly cost in Montreal
1 bed apt rent outside city center $1,712.22 $1,221.81
Numbeo’s monthly grocery expenses $324.28 $330.56

Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage

$255.58 $110.21
Internet with 60 Mbps $86.58 $59.54
Transit pass $125.50 $97.00

Meal, taxi, movie

$120.25 $116.75
Gym membership $83.21 $41.14
Total $2,707.62 $1,977.01

Numbeo-Ottawa (Sept 2023) & Numbeo-Montreal (Sept 2023)

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?

Lifestyle Neighborhood
Young professionals Center town/Lower town and the Glebe
Families The Orleans and Kanata
Students Vanier and Sandy Hill

Where to live in Montreal?

Lifestyle Neighborhood
Outdoor reacreation Verdun, Anjou
Families and Young Couples LaSalle, Kirkland, Rosemont – La Petite-Patrie
Accessible Lachine
Urban Lifestyle Outremont

Is tax cheaper in Ottawa vs. Montreal?

Income tax rates in Ottawa (Ontario)

Applicable tax on the taxable income includes

  • 5.05% from $0.00 to $51,446 of annual taxable income.
  • 9.15% on the next $51,446 up to $102,894.
  • 11.16% on the next $102,894 up to $150,000.
  • 12.16% on the next $150,000 up to $220,000.
  • 13.16 % on the amount over $220,000.

Canada Revenue Agency (Feb 2024)

Income tax rates in Montreal (Quebec)

Applicable tax on the taxable income includes:

  • 14% on annual taxable income of $51,780 or less.
  • 19% on the next $51,780 up to $103,545.
  • 24% on the next $103,545 up to $126,000.
  • 25.75% on the amount over $126,000

Revenu Quebec (Jan 2024)

Federal tax rates

The federal tax rate is the same in Ottawa and in Montreal. Applicable tax on the annual taxable income includes:

  • 15% on annual taxable income from $0.00 to $55,867.
  • 20.5% on the annual taxable income from $55,867 up to $111,733.
  • 26% on the annual taxable income from $111,733 up to $173,205.
  • 29% on the annual taxable income from $173,205 up to $246,752.
  • 33% on the annual taxable income over $246,752.

Canada Revenue Agency (Jan 2024)

Sales tax in Ottawa vs. Montreal

In Canada, there are three types of sales taxes: the federal GST (5%), the provincial sales taxes PST (varies depending on the province), and the HST, which is a combination of the two. In Ontario, the HST is used, which is equivalent to 13% and applies to purchases of goods and services. On the other hand, in QuĂ©bec, there’s the PST and the GST, which are set at about 5% and 9.975%, respectively, totaling 14.975% and applying to purchases of goods and services.

 Government of Canada (Sept 2023)


Ottawa, situated in both Ontario and Quebec, incorporates the best of both worlds, offering great economic opportunities and access to the outdoors on a smaller scale. Montreal, one of the biggest cities in Canada, offers the exciting lifestyle that comes with urban living. If you are planning to move soon, check out the best moving companies in Ottawa and the best moving companies in Montreal.


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Ann Nacario

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Meet Ann – our head writer with a knack for making moving and city living a breeze. From the many details of moving to picking the perfect moving company, she’s your guide. Ann has a friendly yet detailed approach to ensure your move goes off without a hitch. When she’s not writing about relocation, it will always be on her mind, but you’ll catch her spending time with her three furry friends.

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