Ottawa’s Best Places Closer to Downtown

On this page, we’ll share our picks with you for Ottawa’s best inner-suburban to downtown neighbourhoods.

If you haven’t done so already, you could read our where to live in Ottawa page.

On that page, you’ll find out how we selected the neighbourhoods, and how real estate prices in each neighbourhood relate to Ottawa’s averages.

You’ll also get our picks for outer-suburbs/rural living in Ottawa.

1. Beacon Hill North

Beacon Hill North is much closer to downtown than the areas we’ve already looked at, about 8 or 9 km north east of Parliament Hill. Its population is about 10,000.

Here are our ‘nearer to downtown’ Picks

Click a red marker to learn more
about any of the areas we’ve picked

Colonel By Secondary School,
in Beacon Hill North
Ottawa’s top rated public school

The people living in the area are generally well-educated, earning a little more than average for Ottawa.

The main thing the area has to recommend it, in addition to better proximity to downtown, is Ottawa’s (probably) best public high school, Colonel By Secondary School.

The school is rated as Ottawa’s best secondary school by the Fraser Institute, both for its raw academic results and for ‘adding value,’ achieving better results than expected. In 2019 Colonel By was ranked as the sixth best academic school in Ontario by The Fraser Institute.

In addition to Canadian qualifications, for an annual fee of about $325 students are offered the opportunity to study for the International Baccalaureate.

As a result of the school’s high performance, its catchment area (the street addresses where students must live to attend the school) is rather small.

Crime rates tend to rise in Ottawa with proximity to downtown, but you shouldn’t expect to find much if any more crime in Beacon Hill North than the areas we’ve already looked at.

In the Beacon Hill area, you’ll find the headquarters of Canada’s National Research Council and its large scientific research campus.

You won’t find many shops or restaurants in Beacon Hill North.

Driving downtown will take about 20 minutes in rush hour, while the bus will get you there in about 35 minutes.

Expect to pay about $550,000 – $700,000 for an average house and about $700,000 – $950,000 for an executive four bedroom property.

2. Nepean

This is a large area in western Ottawa. It’s so large that its outer parts would probably have fitted better on our earlier page, which looks at outer-suburbs/rural living in Ottawa.

Sir Robert Borden High School – You could
start a virtual tour of the area here.

Some parts of Nepean are urban, some suburban, some border the green belt.

‘Nepean’ can have a number of historical meanings in Ottawa; the area we’re considering sits within the catchment areas of two highly rated high schools – Sir Robert Borden High School, which is about 12 km from downtown, and Merivale High School, which is about 9 km from downtown.

Sir Robert Borden High School is in the western part and Merivale High School in the eastern part of the area; broadly speaking, the western neighbourhoods are more affluent than the eastern neighbourhoods.

This area is close to the Airport and is home to Algonquin College, Centrepointe Park and Ben Franklin Park. It is also adjacent to the city’s greenbelt, so there are plenty of walking/cycling/skiing trails to keep you active.

Driving downtown will take about 30 minutes in rush hour, while the bus will get you there in about 35 – 40 minutes.

Expect to pay about $550,000 for an average house in this area and about $280,000 for an average condominium.

3. Westboro

Westboro Beach in summer
Westboro Beach in summer
Image by Greencolander

Westboro is closer to downtown than the other areas we’ve looked at so far and has become popular with younger professional people.

It’s a gentrified urban area, popular with families who hanker after more of a ‘coffee shop’ city feel than they’d find in more suburban areas like Barrhaven or Kanata. Despite this, in addition to condominiums, there are also plenty of detached houses in leafy streets.

This area is within the catchment/attendance boundaries of Nepean High School, a high school awarded a very high rating by the Fraser Institute.

Nepean High School lies about 6 km south west of Parliament Hill, downtown – a 13 minute drive outside rush hour.

Detached family homes and condos in Westboro

While crime rates in Westboro are a little higher than the very low rates seen farther out in Ottawa, they are still comparatively low.

Westoboro has a beach by the river and Dovercourt Recreation Centre is a great facility for families with a pool, sauna, baby pool, water slide, aerobics studio, dance studio, internet café, tennis courts, play structures, etc.

During rush hour, you can drive downtown from Westboro in about 20 minutes, while the bus will take about 30 minutes.

Expect to pay over $1 million for an average house and around $400,000 for an average condominium.

4. Centretown – Byward Market – Sandy Hill – New Edinburgh

If you’d like to live in the heart of the city, Lisgar Collegiate Institute is a mere 1 km or so from Parliament Hill.

Byward Market at Night
Byward Market at Night
Image by Ian Muttoo

Lisgar Collegiate Institute was awarded a very high rating by the Fraser Institute.

The neighbourhoods we consider here are all within Lisgar’s catchment area.

As a consequence of living close to downtown, it’s not possible to find neighbourhoods with crime as low as the other areas we’ve considered so far on this page, and farther out.

Centretown, Byward Market, and Sandy Hill are within Ottawa’s Somerset and Rideau-Vanier Wards, which are the two highest crime rate wards in Ottawa.

New Edinburgh is within the Rideau-Rockcliffe Ward, which has the third highest crime rate in Ottawa, still significantly lower than Somerset and Rideau-Vanier.

Although the crime rate is higher than the other areas we’ve considered, these are still reasonably safe, pleasant areas.

Houses in Sandy Hill
Houses in Sandy Hill
Image by Dmitri Lytov

They are the most convenient places to live for Ottawa’s downtown, nightlife and restaurants.

Sandy Hill is where you’ll find the University of Ottawa.

Its population is about 12,000 and, not surprisingly, it’s a well-educated area.

It’s a very diverse area economically, with a cosmopolitan range of people living there including wealthy professionals, university staff, students, and homeless people in shelters.

Byward Market is one of the city’s biggest tourist draws; it’s busy and vibrant, there are great restaurants, cafés, bistros, bars, clubs, a great market, and also more of Ottawa’s downsides than you’ll see in other areas, such as homeless people and drunkenness.

Houses in Sandy Hill
Snow Plows in Centretown
Image by Mike Gifford

It’s not the best neighbourhood for a family; it’s better for young singles and couples.

New Edinburgh is a quieter, more affluent area and slightly farther from downtown than the others in this section, but handy for the nightlife of Byward Market.

Byward Market – Expect to pay over $700,000 for an executive condo and about $400,000 for an average condominium.

Sandy Hill and Centretown – Expect to pay about $450,000 for an average condominium. Good quality family homes cost from $750,000.

New Edinburgh – Expect to pay about $900,000 – $1 million+ for an average house and about $650,000 for an average condominium.

5. Glebe – Dows Lake

The Glebe

The Glebe is handy for downtown, sitting just south of Centretown.

It’s slightly farther from downtown, which means it has a lower crime rate than Centretown – Byward Market – Sandy Hill.

The Glebe is a wealthy part of Ottawa, with well-educated people, large expensive houses, and a strong sense of community.

During rush hour, you can drive downtown in about 10 minutes, while the bus will take about 15 minutes.

Expect to pay about $900,000 – $1,300,000 for a typical house and over $600,000 for an average condominium.