Finding a Good Neighbourhood in Ottawa

We’ll try to point you towards good neighbourhoods, ranging from rural right into the heart of the city.

Clearing snow from a suburban street in Ottawa
Snowblowers are better than shovels

Farther out is best for lower crime, larger lots and cheaper real estate prices.

Nearer downtown is better for cultural activities, short commutes, and a more active nightlife.

We’ve organised these pages using the highest rated public secondary schools as a starting point for finding good places to live.

Not everyone is comfortable ranking schools by academic performance, including many people who work in education.

In the absence of any other measure, however, we’ll use rankings from the Fraser Institute to identify Ottawa’s best performing public schools and their neighbourhoods.

If you have children of the right age, these areas will probably be important to you. Even if you don’t have children of the right age, areas around good schools are often among the best to live anyway.

We also try to pick the lowest crime areas, but please don’t get too obsessive about crime. Ottawa is one of the safest cities in Canada/North America.

Having said that, Ottawa does suffer typical city problems, such as drug abuse and gang activity, albeit on a smaller scale than most. You are unlikely to have any issues in Ottawa if you exercise common sense.

Here are our Ottawa rural/suburban picks

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

Types of dwelling in Ottawa

Almost 70% of dwellings in Ottawa are houses.

The remaining 30% are mostly condominium apartments.

Just over 60% of Ottawa’s houses are detached; the rest are row houses and semi-detached.


According to the Ottawa Real Estate Board (2020) the price of a two storey house averaged $603,000 in mid 2020, bungalows averaged $595,000 while condominiums averaged $368,000.

When we give average house prices below, they’re the average for all houses; the average detached house will be more expensive.

Favourite Neighbourhoods

Here are our own favourite Ottawa neighbourhoods. If we’ve not included your personal favourite, we’re sorry.

Ottawa has many great places to live, and we’ve done our best to select some of the best.

If you haven’t visited Ottawa before, you could use these as starting points when you search for a place to live.

1. West Carleton-March

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Rural Communities in West Carleton-March

West Carleton-March is in Ottawa’s far west. It’s a rural area, made up of scattered small villages and communities. Its total population is about 26,000.

Here, within a short distance of the nation’s capital, you can pursue the Canadian dream of owning a large house with plenty of space around you.

West Carleton-March has the lowest crime rate in Ottawa.

It also has one of the city’s best secondary schools, West Carleton Secondary School, which is rated very highly by the Fraser Institute, both for its raw academic results and for ‘adding value,’ achieving better results than expected.

If you’ll be working in Kanata, West Carleton-March is an easy drive.

If you’re working in downtown Ottawa, West Carleton-March is less convenient. It’s about a 30 to 60 minute drive in normal traffic, depending where you live, but at rush hour you could add about 25 minutes or so to your commute time.

Bus travel from West Carleton-March to downtown isn’t possible – you would need to drive to Kanata first and take a bus from there.

Expect to pay about $500,000 – $700,000 for an average house.

2. Kanata North

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Enjoy a virtual drive along March Road,
Kanata, home to a large number of businesses.

Kanata North is a family oriented suburban area with a population of about 37,000. It lies just south of West Carleton-March.

Kanata North population grewing by 12 percent between the censuses of 2011 and 2016, with a large number of new homes built.

Crime rates are a little higher than West Carleton-March, but are still comfortably below Ottawa’s average.

Two secondary schools in Katana North were rated very highly by the Fraser Institute: Earl of March Secondary School and Holy Trinity Catholic High School.

KRP Properties, formerly Kanata Research Park, has 4 million square feet of commercial accommodation in 556 acres.

Enterprises such as Bridgewater Systems Corp, CIBC World Markets Inc., Computer Science Canada Inc., Deloitte Touche, JDS Uniphase Inc., Nokia Products Ltd, Pfizer, and Tyco International Ltd have bases there.

Inside Scotiabank Place, Home of the Ottawa Senators
Scotiabank Place, Ottawa Senators’ home

In addition to the Research Park, a large number of businesses, such as Research in Motion and Alcatel-Lucent are also located in Kanata North. You can see some of them by taking a virtual drive along March Road in the Google Streetview on the right.

The Centrum Shopping Centre is a large shopping area with cinemas and plenty of large, free parking lots.

Ottawa’s National Hockey League team, the Senators, is based in Kanata North.

Driving downtown in rush hour will take about 50 minutes; the bus journey takes a similar time.

Expect to pay about $450,000 – $550,000 for an average house.

3. Barrhaven

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Suburban Living in Barrhaven

Barrhaven lies on the west side of Ottawa. It’s closer to downtown Ottawa than West Carleton-March is, but still lies beyond the greenbelt. Its population is about 60,000.

It has one of Ottawa’s fastest growing populations, growing by about 85% between the 2001 and 2012, with a large number of new homes built. By 2031, the population is projected to swell to 110,000.

Barrhaven is a family oriented suburban area; it enjoys some of Ottawa’s lowest crime rates and best secondary schools.

Three of Barrhaven’s secondary schools were rated very highly by the Fraser Institute: John McCrae Secondary School, St Joseph High School (catholic), and Longfields-Davidson Heights Secondary School.

The west and south of Barrhaven are our preferred areas; these are the catchment areas for the highest rated schools – John McCrae Secondary School and St Joseph High School.

There are plenty of family activities in the area, with the Walter Baker Sports Centre, Barrhaven Tennis Club, and a variety of parks all close to John McCrae Secondary School.

Snow piled up in an Ottawa suburb
Snow piled up in suburban Ottawa

In the South, you can take a drive along Market Place avenue, a large shopping area, with plenty of large, free car parking lots.

One of Ottawa’s two inter-city train stations, Fallowfield Station, is located in Barrhaven. (The other is near downtown.) All Ottawa-Toronto trains stop at Fallowfield.

Next to the railway station is OC Transpo’s FallowField Bus Station and a 1,660 vehicle park and ride lot – you can reserve a parking space for $60 per month.

Travel time between Fallowfield and downtown by bus is about 35 minutes during the rush hours, while driving will take about 45 minutes.

Expect to pay about $500,000 – $600,000 for an average house and about $300,000 for an average condominium apartment.

4. Aylmer, Gatineau, Quebec

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A modern street in Aylmer, Gatineau.
Houses are cheaper in Gatineau than Ottawa.

Although this page is about Ottawa, it would not be complete without looking at Gatineau, Quebec.

Gatineau is within the National Capital Region, sitting opposite Ottawa on the north side of the Ottawa River. Its population is over 250,000.

Commuting to downtown Ottawa can be quicker from parts of Gatineau than from Ottawa’s own outer suburbs.

Tens of thousands of people, including Anglophones, choose to live in Gatineau and commute to work in Ottawa. Here are some considerations:

In general, working people with no children are better financially to live in Ottawa, Ontario.
In general, people with young children are better financially to live in Gatineau, Quebec.
There is excellent, highly subsidised daycare for young children in Gatineau (there are long wait-lists, particularly for the youngest age groups).
Gatineau house prices (to buy or rent) are lower than Ottawa’s. Expect to pay about $300,000 to $350,000 for an average house in Aylmer, Gatineau.
Gatineau utility prices are lower than Ottawa’s.
Gatineau income taxes are higher than Ottawa’s.
There are long wait-lists for family doctors in Gatineau. It’s easier to get a doctor in Ottawa.

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Older homes in Aylmer
English language elementary and secondary schools are available in Gatineau. BUT a parent must have attended a Canadian school where English was the language of instruction for their children to qualify for an English school.
All other children go to French schools, unless their parents opt for private education in Ottawa. The high cost of private education more than absorbs any financial advantage Gatineau might have.
If your long-term future lies in the Ottawa area, having your children speak French fluently will make it easier for them to get government jobs in a city that is officially bilingual.
Aylmer, population 55,000, is an area of Gatineau favoured by Anglophones. Aylmer looks across the Ottawa river into Ottawa. English is the mother-tongue of about a third of the people in Aylmer – and nearly everyone understands English. The west side of Aylmer is particularly Anglophone.
Aylmer has public schools catering for English speaking children who qualify.
If your priority is for your children to attend the highest academically rated English speaking schools, your best option is probably to live in Ottawa, rather than Gatineau.
A commute from Aylmer to downtown Ottawa will probably take you about 30 minutes or so – the bridges over the river are bottlenecks at rush hour.
In the unlikely event that Quebec ever becomes an independent country, living in Gatineau and working in Canada might be less straightforward than it is today.

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One thought on “Finding a Good Neighbourhood in Ottawa”

  1. I am looking to retire after 65 years old more, within a relatively short short commute to Kanata where a close friend is living now, but now live in the suburbs north of Laval, Quebec, about 2-1/4 hours to drive to Kanata.
    A single family home with garage or Condo with garage would be fine, but on a budget of no more than $170,000 maximum for a purchase. Would I be better off looking in the Gatineau or Ottawa areas to keep me on budget? I see that Condo/Association fees in particular are quite a bit higher in Ontario compared to Quebec, and the cost of electricity is higher too. So do the lower income taxes and the lack of doctors worth NOT living in Gatineau vs Ottawa?

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