The Magic of Canada: A Guide to Moving to Montreal & Ottawa

Moving to Canada can be an exciting experience, but where should you choose to live? Here, our Ottawa and Orleans immigration physicians share information about moving to Ontario's unique and popular cities – Ottawa and Montreal.

Moving to Ottawa & Montreal, Ontario

If you’re considering a move to Canada, two cities that might be on your radar are Montreal and Ottawa. Both cities offer unique experiences and lifestyles, making it difficult to choose between them.

Montreal is a better place to live since its cost of living is 10% less expensive than Ottawa's. Montreal is ranked as the 2311th most costly city in the world, and Ottawa is ranked as the 2019th most costly city.

Additionally, the average after-tax salary in Montreal is enough to cover living expenses for 1.7 months compared to 1.8 months in Ottawa.

So read on as we explore and unravel these two Canadian gems' distinct charms and hidden secrets. We ultimately help you decide which metropolis truly reigns supreme as the ideal place to call home.

Cost of Living

Knowing how much your monthly expenses will be helpful if you’re moving to or from Montreal and Ottawa. 

This cost of living comparison considers the average rent for apartments in each city and other basic costs like groceries and transportation.


In Montreal, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre is approximately $1,400; in Ottawa, it’s around $1,700.

A three-bedroom in Montreal’s city centre averages $2,500 for larger apartments, whereas Ottawa’s is closer to $2,800.

Although both cities offer a range of housing options to suit various budgets, Montreal’s lower rental prices make it a more attractive option for those looking to save on housing costs.


Although groceries in Montreal are about 2.4% higher than in Ottawa, items like fruits, vegetables, and dairy products often cost less.

Meanwhile, eating out in Montreal tends to be more budget-friendly. The average meal cost at an inexpensive restaurant is around $22, while in Ottawa, it is $25.

Montreal’s diverse culinary scene offers various affordable options, making it an attractive city for food lovers seeking both quality and affordability compared to Ottawa.


A monthly public transportation pass in Montreal costs around $94, while Ottawa’s equivalent is approximately $125, a noticeable difference of around 31%.

Additionally, taxi fares start at a lower rate in Montreal, with a base fare of $4.10, compared to Ottawa’s $4.50. On the other hand, gas prices are relatively similar between the two cities.

Montreal’s public transportation system is overall affordable, and lower taxi fares make it a more budget-friendly choice for residents and visitors seeking cost-effective transportation options.

Quality of Life

When evaluating the quality of life in Montreal and Ottawa, various factors that contribute to an individual’s overall well-being, such as cultural offerings, healthcare, education and safety, must be considered.

Cultural Offering

Montreal hosts more than 300 festivals annually, including jazz, comedy and film festivals. Meanwhile, Ottawa has fewer annual events but still produces big ones like Winterlude or Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill every July 1st.

It also has several museums worth visiting, including the National Gallery of Canada, which houses works by Picasso and Van Gogh.


The city of Montreal has a large number of hospitals, including McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), which is ranked as one of the top ten hospitals in Canada.

Healthcare services are highly accessible, with most residents easily accessing primary care physicians.

Residents can also receive treatment anytime without waiting for an appointment or waiting hours in line at a clinic or hospital emergency room.


Montreal’s universities and schools offer a wide range of programs at all levels, including the prestigious McGill University and Concordia University, which make it an excellent destination for students seeking a quality education. 

Concordia University: Located in downtown Montreal, this university offers bachelor’s degrees in arts and science, business administration and management, and law.

McGill University: Founded by James McGill himself in 1821! This school offers undergraduate programs through its Faculty of Arts & Science as well as graduate programs through its other faculties, such as Medicine or Law School.

Montreal's presence of these institutions, along with other universities and schools, makes it an attractive destination for students seeking a quality education.


In 2017, Ottawa had 5,965 reported crimes per 100,000 residents compared with 4,211 in Montreal. However, both cities have similar emergency services coverage.

Both have 911 emergency service centres that dispatch police officers or firefighters when necessary, making it relatively safe.

Furthermore, both cities also offer ambulance services through private companies contracted by local governments and life-flight helicopters or air ambulances if necessary.

Job Opportunities

Montreal boasts a strong presence in sectors like technology, aerospace, gaming, and film production, offering a wider range of job prospects. However, Ottawa, the nation’s capital, offers ample opportunities in government and technology sectors. 

While Montreal's unemployment rate is slightly higher, at around 5%, compared to Ottawa’s 3%, the city’s diverse job market attracts a larger pool of talent. 

Ultimately, choosing between Montreal and Ottawa for job opportunities depends on one’s career preferences and industry focus.


Montreal is the second-largest city in Canada, with a population of over 3.6 million. It attracts people from various cultural backgrounds and offers a rich blend of languages, cuisines, and traditions.

In contrast, Ottawa’s metropolitan population is around 1.4 million, making it the fourth-largest city in the country. 

Ottawa, being the capital city, also draws a diverse population, but its primary focus on government and public administration makes it less densely populated than Montreal.

Montreal’s larger and more diverse population can make it a more attractive option for those seeking a vibrant and multicultural environment. 

Immigration Process

Montreal, located in Quebec, follows the province’s distinct immigration policies, which include a separate skilled worker program and a mandatory French language proficiency for certain applicants. 

In contrast, Ottawa, located in Ontario, adheres to the general federal immigration programs, such as the Express Entry system and the Provincial Nominee Program, without a compulsory language requirement. 

Therefore, immigrants should consider their language skills and desired immigration programs when choosing between Montreal and Ottawa.

Montreal vs Ottawa: Pros and Cons

Montreal and Ottawa are two of Canada’s most popular cities, each with unique character and charm. Here are some of the pros and cons of each city.



  • Montreal is known for its rich history, festivals, and diverse arts scene, offering numerous entertainment options.
  • Montreal’s mix of French and English speakers creates a unique bilingual atmosphere that is beneficial for language learners.
  • Compared to Ottawa, Montreal has more affordable housing options, making it attractive for renters and potential homeowners.
  • Montreal boasts an extensive public transit system, including the metro and buses, offering easy navigation across the city.


  • Montreal residents face higher income and sales taxes than those in Ottawa.
  • The prominence of French can be challenging for non-French speakers regarding employment and daily interactions.
  • Montreal experiences colder, snowier winters compared to Ottawa.



  • As Canada’s capital, Ottawa offers a stable job market, particularly in the government and tech sectors.
  • Ottawa’s residents enjoy lower incomes and higher sales taxes than Montreal residents.
  • The city’s green spaces and nearby parks provide ample opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Ottawa is home to prestigious universities and research institutions.


  • Ottawa’s housing market and overall cost of living are higher than Montreal’s.
  • Ottawa has a smaller population and is generally considered quieter and less culturally diverse than Montreal.
  • While Ottawa has public transit options, they are less extensive than Montreal’s, making car ownership more desirable.

Ultimately, choosing which city to live in will depend on individual preferences and priorities, such as career opportunities, lifestyle, and personal interests.

If you need more information regarding immigration medical exams to help with your move to Canada, Immigration Physician Ottawa is happy to help. Contact us today to learn more.


Why Trust Us

  • Dr. Max is the nicest doctor I have ever seen. He was very respectful, positive, and inspiring to talk with. He was very modern with his perspective on mental health issues and understanding. He is very patient and re-assuring when it comes to Visa application information. I wish there were more doctors like this man!
    - Patient Bank St. Clinic

Call Bank St.Call Innes Rd.