In my 30 years as a Realtor in the Ottawa market, I’ve worked with many buyers who are re-locating from various parts of the world and other cities in Canada. These clients are sometimes making their first visit to Ottawa and rely on my expertise to find just the right location that suits their needs here in the city.
As a longtime resident of Canada’s capital, I love introducing newcomers to the city that I have come to know so well. With a population of more than 900,000, Ottawa is Canada’s fourth largest city (behind Toronto, Montreal and Calgary), and while it has the amenities you expect in a big city, it also retains a pleasant smaller “green city” feel.
If you’re new to Ottawa or considering re-locating, I can easily share dozens of features I love about this area . When we meet to discuss your vision for a new home in Ottawa I can give you a quick overview of what I enjoy and the many reasons others feel that Ottawa is a great place to live and call it “ home”:
AN AFFORDABLE AND STABLE HOUSING MARKET
Two attractions for buying property here are the reasonable prices and the stability of the market.
If you’ve looked at prices in Canada’s other big cities (especially Toronto and Vancouver), you’ll be thrilled by what you can buy in Ottawa.
In Vancouver and Toronto these days, the average price of a detached home is around the $1 million mark. Even if you look at the wider Toronto region rather than just the city of Toronto, the average price in February 2015 was around $588,000.
By contrast, the Ottawa Real Estate Board reported that for the month of February, 2015, the average sale price of a residential-class property, not including condominiums, was $380,358. The average sale price for a condominium-class property was $267,880.
The market in Ottawa is also generally stable, and not as affected by the general economy as some other Canadian cities might be. Ottawa is home to the federal government, and one of the largest employers is the public service, where jobs are not as affected by recession as might be the case in other sectors of the economy.
Of course, Ottawa real estate prices can still increase or decrease according to the general economy, the number of properties on the market and the number of buyers looking to purchase a home, but Ottawa rarely experiences dramatic fluctuations.
EXCELLENT SCHOOLS AND POST-SECONDARY INSTITUTIONS
If you’re raising children, Ottawa offers an excellent range of schools to suit whatever kind of schooling you’re looking for. There are public and private schools, French-language schools and French-immersion schools. Post-secondary options include Algonquin College, Carleton University and the University of Ottawa.
NATURE, RECREATION and SPORTS
As we drive around the city to explore neighbourhoods, my clients who are new to Ottawa often comment on how green Ottawa is, with its many parks, the beautiful Ottawa River and the adjacent parkway as well as the many recreation options.
When you live in Ottawa, you can be enjoying quiet time in nature within minutes rather than having to drive an hour or more to cottage country, as you do in some of the big cities.
In the summer, you can jog along the lush trails beside the Ottawa River or on the wide walkways along the Rideau Canal. In the winter, when the canal freezes over, it becomes the Rideau Canal Skateway _ a very long ice rink that stretches nearly 8 kilometres. On a sunny winter day, you’ll see thousands of people skating or gathered around the concession stands to warm up with some hot chocolate and a pastry.
If we’re experiencing a warmer winter and the canal isn’t frozen enough for skating, there are temperature-controlled outdoor rinks at Ottawa City Hall and Lansdowne Park that remain open for outdoor skating.
There are a huge number of bicycle paths crossing many parts of the region, allowing you to cycle safely for long distances, without worrying about car traffic.
Just across the river from Ottawa in Gatineau lies Gatineau Park, a spectacular park offering 360 square kilometres for walking, hiking, swimming, snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing. Its main entrance is just four kilometres north of downtown Ottawa.
If you’re a sports fan, Ottawa is also home to several major sports teams, including the Ottawa Senators and Ottawa 67s hockey teams and the Ottawa Redblacks football team.
A THRIVING ARTS SCENE
One of the things many residents love about the Ottawa area is its thriving performing and visual arts scenes, with options for every taste.
The Ottawa region is home to excellent national institutions, including the National Gallery and Canadian War Museum in Ottawa and the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, and there are also dozens of smaller galleries. In some neighbourhoods, including Westboro and the ByWard Market, you can visit many galleries in the space of a few blocks.
If you love theatre, music and dance, the National Arts Centre is home to the National Arts Centre Orchestra, English and French theatre seasons and a superb dance series mixing classical ballet and contemporary dance companies from across Canada and around the world.
Other arts organizations include the Great Canadian Theatre Company, the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, Opera Lyra Ottawa, Thirteen Strings and many excellent choirs that encourage interested singers to join their ranks.
Film buffs can enjoy foreign, classic and independent films at the ByTowne Cinema, Mayfair Cinema and the Canadian Film Institute. Ottawa is home to major music festivals that draw thousands of fans every year and present music for all tastes, including the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival (2015 dates are June 18 to July 1); RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest (July 8 to 19); CityFolk (formerly the Ottawa Folk Festival, Sept. 16 to 20) and for classical music lovers, the Music and Beyond Festival (July 4 to 17) and Chamberfest ( July 23 to Aug. 6).
MAJOR NEW TRANSIT PROJECT TO MAKE COMMUTING EASY
For those who want to avoid bumper-to-bumper traffic on their commute, Ottawa has an excellent bus and light-rail system operated by OC Transpo. The system includes an extensive network of bus-only roads known as the Transitway, where you don’t have to worry about traffic because only buses use the roads.
Commuting will get even more comfortable thanks to a major new light rail transit (LRT) route under construction and expected to open in 2018. The new Confederation Line, part of OC Transpo’s O-Train network, will have 12.5 km of track, from Tunney’s Pasture west of downtown to Blair Road at Highway 174 in the East, with several stops downtown in new underground stations. Service will be every 3.5 minutes during rush hour, and travel time from Tunney’s Pasture to Blair will be just 24 minutes.
Riders can take a seat and spend their commute relaxing and reading or catching up on paperwork rather than gripping their steering wheel and inching along a highway. At a cost of just over $2 billion, the route is the largest infrastructure project in Ottawa’s history, and many commuters are eagerly looking forward to the new line.
If you’re considering a move to the city, I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me through my website at www.nancybenson.com (where you can also see my current listings), or you can reach me through my office at 613-788-2556.