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Toronto vs. Ottawa: Which City it Right for You?


Toronto and Ottawa are two major cities in Ontario, Canada, each with a rich historical background. Toronto, also known as the “Queen City,” was founded in 1793 and has since grown to become Canada’s largest city, with a population of over six million people.

Ottawa, on the other hand, is Canada’s capital city, founded in 1826. Its history is closely tied to that of the Canadian government and its political institutions. The city is idyllically situated on the banks of the Ottawa River, which served as a key trade route for early settlers. Today, Ottawa is known for its beautiful parks and museums, as well as its status as the seat of the Canadian government.

People wondering which city would be best for them to live in will probably benefit from this comparison provided below.

Rideau Canal meets Ottawa River, Ottawa

Cost of Living In Both Cities

When it comes to the cost of living, Ottawa is a more affordable option than Toronto. While Ottawa’s cost of living is slightly above average, it is still very affordable, especially when compared to Toronto. Housing is more affordable in Ottawa, and there are plenty of free or low-cost activities to enjoy. When factoring in other costs such as groceries, utilities, transportation, and childcare, you can expect to pay an estimated $4,500 per month for expenses in Ottawa.

On the other hand, Toronto has a high cost of living, making it one of the most expensive cities to live in Canada. Housing in Toronto is particularly expensive, and transportation costs can also be high. Other expenses, including groceries, transportation, and childcare, are also higher than in Ottawa. To cover all of your expenses in Toronto, you can expect to pay an estimated $5,000 per month. Overall, if you’re looking for a more affordable city to live in, Ottawa may be the better choice.

Toronto Waterfront

Entertainment & Nightlife

Ottawa is not very famous for its nightlife, it is more laid-back entertainment style and locals prefer to spend their time in pubs and breweries. There are clubs and bars but they are more popular with younger people. Some of the best places for entertainment in Ottawa include ByWard Market, Sunset cruise on the Ottawa River, Mayfair Theatre, Rideau Canal, Sparks Street, House of Targ, etc.

Toronto, in contrast, is well-known for its vibrant nightlife and it attracts dance lovers and rave fans from around the province. There is definitely something for everyone, from dance clubs, bars, pubs, and live music venues, to various shows, exhibitions, and activities connected to arts. The most recommended places in Toronto are The Second City Toronto, Reservoir Lounge, Rex Jazz and Blues Bar, The Ballroom Bowl, Horseshoe Tavern, SOMA Chocolatemaker, Lula Lounge, etc.

What does not differ for both cities is access to various online entertainments like video streaming services, video game platforms, and of course legal online casinos according to CasinosHunter because since April 2022, online gambling is completely legit and regulated in Ontario.

Skating on Rideau Canal
Ottawa Rideau Canal Skateway

Outdoor Activities

Ottawa is a city created for various outdoor activities, and people that love hiking, biking, and walking will find Ottawa a perfect place for call home. There are many parks and green spaces throughout the city, as well as Canada’s longest natural ice rink in winter (the Rideau Canal Skateway – weather permitting) so people can find some nature to spend free time in any time of the year.

Ottawa’s abundant parks include: Mooney’s Bay Park, Britannia Park, Morris Island Conservation Area, Petrie Island Park, Mud Lake, etc. On the other hand, as the capital of Canada, Ottawa offers many cultural activities as well.

Toronto, although it does have some wonderful parks is more about urban lifestyles, so despite a well-developed system of green areas and parks, it cannot be compared to Ottawa in this aspect. Yet, people that are fond of urban areas and culture will find lots of interesting districts and neighbourhoods to explore and enjoy.

The city is a cultural and artistic hub that provides spaces for festivals, shows, concerts, exhibitions, and so on. The best places to visit near Toronto include Niagara Falls, Algonquin Park, Killarney Provincial Park, Flowerpot Island, Prince Edward County, etc.

If climate is a consideration, Ottawa generally has much colder winters (the coldest month, January has average days with highs of 21°F (-6°C) and lows of 3°F (-16°C)., which winter sport enthusiasts will appreciate, while Toronto has milder winters. The average January maximum / minimum is between −1 and −7 °C (30 and 19 °F) in the city, which may be a plus for those hoping to avoid shovelling a lot of snow.

Ottawa O-Train Light Rail


Ottawa has an extensive system of public transportation that allows getting around the city and suburbs in a convenient way. There are buses from Ottawa Public Transit Commission (OC Transpo) and O-Train light rail system. As of 2023, monthly pass costs 125.50 CAD, and a single ride is 3.70 CAD.

Toronto has a similar convenient TTC system of public buses, subways, streetcars, and areas for biking. It is a bit more expensive than Ottawa, with a monthly pass costing around 156 CAD and a single ride costing around 3.25 CAD.

TTC Streetcar


Both cities have high-quality healthcare systems, with enough hospitals and clinics of various specifications. It must be underlined that Canada in general has one of the best healthcare systems in the world, so little wonder that Ottawa and Toronto alike can offer decent hospitals and educated doctors.

The list of the best hospitals in Ottawa includes:

  • The Ottawa Hospital
  • Hôpital Élisabeth Bruyère Hospital
  • Queensway-Carleton Hospital
  • Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO)
  • Hôpital Montfort
  • ByWard Family Health Team (BWFHT)
  • The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre
  • Saint-Vincent Hospital

One of the differences between Ottawa and Toronto, however, is that Toronto is home to SickKids pediatric healthcare centre that is rated high in the country and in the world.

Moreover, there are the following high-quality hospitals and clinics in Toronto:

  • Toronto General Hospital
  • Western Hospital
  • Women’s College Hospital
  • Mount Sinai
  • St. Michael’s
  • North York General
  • St. Joseph’s Health Centre
  • Sunnybrook Hospital, etc.


Both Ottawa and Toronto are beautiful cities to call home and have their own peculiarities and perks that locals appreciate about each city. It is still hard to choose a city for living simply from reading a description like this, so most of the time, it makes sense to go and check each location by living there for some time.

Other articles from totimes.ca – otttimes.ca – mtltimes.ca

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