Ottawa - Post Report Question and Answers

What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Finding a house is competitive. Most houses are old and not up to standards acceptable to the US Embassy. If you don’t have kids you have a lot more options. If you have kids it will be a challenge to find something that meets Embassy’s standards and size restrictions. I understand there used to be more flexibility, but now the standards seem to be more strict. There is no parking at the Embassy, so you will need to take a bus or pay to park in a garage. Typical embassy commutes range between 10 and 45 mins. Smaller families/singles could find housing within walking distance of the Embassy. - Sep 2023

US Embassy people choose their own housing in Ottawa, so you can get just about anything you like. Many people have small houses just outside of the downtown area. We live in an apartment right near the embassy. - Aug 2015

LQA, so anything you can imagine. 5-30 minutes. - May 2014

We chose an older house within walking distance to work and schools. Others live in apartments even closer to work or in large houses on the edge of town. (there is something for everyone). - Jul 2013

Ottawa is an LQA post, so you find your own housing. It's up to you whether you want a house, apartment, townhouse, etc., and which neighborhood you want to live in. The allowance is pretty generous and should cover an appropriate-sized dwelling for your family. If you arrive before or after the summer transfer season, you will have a more limited selection, especially for houses, but you should be able to find something. Some arrivals arrange housing sight unseen to ease the transition, and GSO has info from several realtors who can help with that. Others take a trip on their own time/dime to house-hunt. If you don't have a place lined up to live when you first arrive, GSO will put you up in an extended-stay hotel for up to 60 days while you find a place to live. Finding a place can be stressful, but it's also refreshing to be able to pick out exactly what you want and where you want it after having housing issues at other posts. - Jan 2013

People live all over. From downtown in highrises, swanky Rockcliffe Park and New Edinburgh to way out in the suburbs with DC-type commutes. - Dec 2010

Housing is completely up to you, since it is an LQA post for U.S. Embassy employees. Most people choose to live in Rockcliffe Park, New Edinburgh (with about 10-20 minute commutes) or Westboro (20 minutes). Single folks tend to live in very nice condos downtown. Many live in a building two doors down from the embassy, giving them a few minutes' walking commute. Our military and law enforcement types tend to live way out in Kanata or Nepean, so they can have McMansions. They have 30- to 60-minute commutes, sometimes longer in the winter. - Aug 2010

The suburbs (Orleans, Kanata, Barrhaven) feature the same banal urban planning with typical suburban houses spread out amongst a sea of big box stores. Although public transit is available, it is often inefficient in some of these areas. I'm sure if you drive around these areas, they are equivalently as banal and homogenous as any suburb in DC, Atlanta, etc. The more urban areas closer to the embassy (Glebe, New Edinburgh, Rockcliffe, Westboro) are considerably more expensive and feature your typical variety of 50-120 year old character homes. These neighbourhoods are much nicer to live in and very walkable to embassies and government offices downtown. There is a certain charm to them and they feature a far more vibrant lifestyle (think Georgetown but on a much smaller scale).Cost:Rockcliffe - 1 Million +Glebe/New Ed/Westboro - 500K - 1 MillionBurbs - 250K - 600KThere's also many condos springing up in the downtown core in the 200-600K range. For rentals, houses in the urban core are in the 1800-3500/month range and move pretty fast. 2 Bdrm Apartment in a good building/area is about 1500-2000/month. - Nov 2009

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