Ottawa advice

in AppleOutsider edited January 2014
Does anyone on these boards live in Ottawa, or have lived there, near there, or have any experience with the city? My wife and I are moving there soon for her to take a new job, and, once again, hubby is along for the ride.

We lived in Toronto from 1998-2003, but anyone who lives outside of Toronto would probably say that Toronto is not necessarily indicative of the rest of Canada (though we did love out stay there, and we will be visiting friends there often). We're looking on advice for living, and, for me, work prospects (graphic and web design, as well as a wide range of graphic design production work). we're both VERY excited, and i really loved the city for the couple of days we were there in january when she interviewed.

Thanks for any tips.

P.S. let's get this out of the way now -- we KNOW it'll be cold. thanks.


  • Reply 1 of 8
    xoolxool Posts: 2,460member
    A buddy of mine lives in Ottawa and a few friends and I visited him in September last year. It was pretty muggy at times and my throat got scratchy adjusting to the air. I don't know if it was because the air was dry, polluted, or I was just tired and out drinking too much.

    Speaking of which, Canadians love to drink! There's a number of cool places to to go to in Ottawa including The Brig and Zaphod's which is Hitchiker's Guide themed. The museums were cool and the river is beautiful. I'll post some panoramic photos later.

    We also toured the parliament building and we gave our young guide the third degree. I'm sure he wasn't used to getting real questions and lots of them. He kept saying how Canada was incredibly diverse. Maybe it is compared to the midwest US, but compared to Berkeley and the Bay Area I experience more diversity running out for a latte than I experienced my entire time in Ottawa.

    As far as work goes, my buddy actually does contract work for a US company. This was a great deal when the dollar was very strong but recently it doesn't work out as well as it used to. I'll ask him for some advice for you. He's a designer too.

    Enjoy the move. Ottawa is a cool place.
  • Reply 2 of 8
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,075member
    I lived for a number of years (co-op terms + 90-93) in Ottawa, and I loved it there.

    The key to having a good life in Ottawa is living downtown, the suburbs (Kanata, Orleans, etc) are quite boring.

    I moved around a lot - here are the neighbourhoods that I lived in:

    - Sandy Hill: this is beside the Rideau canal, and it is nice and quiet. A lot of the embassy buildings are there, along with nice old houses.

    - Vanier: working class neighbourhood with a bad reputation, but I thought that it was quite nice. It is on the other side of the canan from Sandy hill.

    - Glebe: brick buildings beside the canal, if you can afford it this is quite nice. Lots of yuppies live here.

    - Somerset and Preston: Chinatown is on somerset, little Italy is on Preston. I loved living there.

    - Tunny's Pasture: lots of apartment buildings overlooking the Ottawa river. Right beside the bus tunnel, so if you live here (or further on at Lincoln fields) it is more convienient to use the bus than a car. Fast to get downtown.

    - Elgin St: nightlife makes this a bit noisy to live on, but some people like it.

    Also, if you like to cycle, live near the river (or in Quebec) so you can easily access Gatenau Park.
  • Reply 3 of 8
    rokrok Posts: 3,519member
    cool, thanks guys. yeah, we'd really LIKE to just buy a house rather than renting the first year, since we've built up so much equity in our current house here. but we've got a knack for always choosing the worst place to live whenever we arrive in a new town, so hearing about different neighborhoods is always appreciated.

    we'd really like to live as close to the downtown area as possible. i think i could eat/drink at a different pub and coffee shop every day for the next five years in and around the by ward market alone.

    i guess we'll have to learn how to ice skate finally, since you can traverse a large section of the city via the rideau canal once the winter freeze sets in. i swear, the number of heavy fur hats and boots i saw, coupled with the old world architecture made it feel like pictures i've seen of russia.

    and the guide was right that canada is very diverse, in its own way, but berkeley probaby blows it out of the water, too. the interestign thing is that, being the nation's capital, there is a little bit of everything, since you never know what kind of diplomatic nationalities will be in town. also kinda strange to know that air force one will occassionally land at mcdonald cartier.

    anyone else, feel free to either chime in, or just PM me. thanks again!
  • Reply 4 of 8
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,075member
    - Behind Rideau center there is a modern dance school (I used to dance there) - they put on shows every now and then, and they are pretty good and cheap. It is right beside the youth hostel.

    - The NAC has a dance series, and it is worth subscribing to the whole series every year. You get better and better seats the longer you subscribe.

    - The market has a crepe resturaunt that is nice for breakfast.

    - The best resturaunt that I have ever been to ("Le Jardin", in the market) is also a screaming bargin (10 years ago it was $120 CDN for two, and it is better than $300 USD resturaunts that I went to in France).

    - If you are staying in a hotel there while house hunting, the Chateau Laurier is a cool (& romantic) place to stay. The Westin is not as nice, and is more expensive - the Westin has good deserts and a piano bar, though.

    - There are weekly suites (I think near Elgin/Alexander) that have kitchens, I stayed there once while looking for a place to live.

    - I don't know if it is still there, given the lifespan of bars, but "the downstairs club" on Rideau used to have great live music.

    - The national gallery of art is free one of the days of the week, and it is worth going there alot.

    - Colnel By drive is a blast if you have a motorcycle.

    - French canadian bars are different - they leave the lights on full blast, and you drink out of half-gallon beer bottles. The Lafette House in the market is one of these, but it is kind of the disneyland of these type of bars. In Vanier and Preston St you will find the type of bars that the lafette house was modeled after. They have their own unique charm that takes a while to get - but be polite to the patrons, because otherwise they will punch you out.

    - If you are mid-20s or younger, the discos in Hull are a lot of fun. They are open very late, and the drinking age is 18.

    - strip bars are far and above anything that you have seen in Toronto or the USA (if you like that sort of thing).

    - Canada day is really fun. One time I was there a beautiful lady ran through the crowd wearing just a big flag draped across her front. Later I woke up in a construction site cuddling up to a set of blueprints, without my shoes or socks, and I have no idea what happened.

    - The ice carving/snow carving festival is not to be missed, but dress warmly. They also have outdoor pop concerts at the same time.

    - If you live in a tower overlooking the Ottawa river, the other bank is all maples and other hardwoods, so you get the fall colors, spring and summer green, and a view of the beautiful frozen river in the winter.

    - The summer is horribly humid and hot. I probably would laugh at it now that I live in NC, but here I have AC and I never did there.

    - Montreal is close, and fantastic.

    - The Green Door is a really good vegitarian resturaunt on main street (main street is this crappy little street that nobody goes to - I would not have even known that it exists except for the green door being on it).
  • Reply 5 of 8
    I lived there for two years (2001-2003) with mixed results. By the time we left, my feeling was great place to visit, not so great to live. Though we were poor students when we lived there so that makes a big difference. And I'm born and raised in Toronto, so any other Canadian city pales in comparison. The Glebe is nice, and there are some cool places to live in ByWard Market. Skating on the Rideau really is one of the coolest things ever. Lots of people that live along the canal skate to work in the winter.

    I'll second whoever said to avoid the 'burbs. They are beyond bleak in Ottawa. Avoid them at all costs.

    Ottawa has that same awful chewy air that Toronto gets in the summer but it's a tad more oppresive in Ottawa. But there are great parks and trails in the area so it's bearable.

    Chinney is from Ottawa but I don't think he posts here anymore.
  • Reply 6 of 8
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,805member
    I have never lived in Ottawa, and will always try to do what is good and right so that the Lord will not send me there.
  • Reply 7 of 8
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,075member

    Originally posted by InactionMan

    By the time we left, my feeling was great place to visit, not so great to live. Though we were poor students when we lived there so that makes a big difference.

    I had a lot of disposable income (single programmer, straight out of college) when I was there, so maybe that is why I thought it was one of the best places to live ever (much better than Toronto, Frank!).

    rok - one thing to consider is buying a condo, rather than a house. There are some nice condo high-rises in Ottawa - this is what I would do if I didn't have kids.

    Houses seem reasonably priced, from a brief google search you can get a small house in the glebe for $329K CDN.
  • Reply 8 of 8
    rokrok Posts: 3,519member
    well, it'll definitely be different than our days in toronto. we loved t.o., but we were poor college students (well, my wife was... i was a poor production artist), so it was a pricey place to live for us, and with no car, ttc could suck the life out of you quickly. this time, we're going back with my wife having a good, solid job and income, and i'm at least far more employable than when i first stepped foot in the country.

    anyone ever tried to import a vehicle into canada? we didn't have a car during our first stay, and we've heard stories ranging from "it was easy but expensive" to "it was nightmarishly difficult and really expensive." i guess expensive is a common thread there.

    we'll probably keep both cars, since one is almost paid off, and i think we'd sell at a loss for the other, since we still have a ways to go to pay it off.

    the suburbs do seem a bit sterile, but i've seen worse. the condo idea is a good one, EXCEPT we have two dogs (one is canadian!), so that can be tricky without a street entrance.

    thanks again, folks.
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