Do’s & Don’ts: A Guide For People Who Just Moved To Ottawa
Moving to a new city can be very difficult. If you don't know anyone, you feel alone, you don't know who to ask about OC Transpo times and the ByWard Market seems super hard to navigate on your own. I totally get it. However, Ottawa is welcoming, cultured and of course, beautiful. No other city can compare.
There are a ton of things Ottawans love to hate about Ottawa, and you're bound to figure those things out. However, there are also so many reasons to move to Ottawa. From the hot summers to the Rideau Canal in the winter, it's a pretty great city. And it's more than just a government city.
So if you're making the move or have already made the move, here are some do's and don'ts you need to know.
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Do: Familiarize yourself with the city/all of the neighbourhoods
Because there are a lot. You'll hear random words like Barrhaven, Kanata and Orleans and those are all huge neighbourhoods in Ottawa. People love to make fun of all three, and if you familiarize yourself with them, you'll be able to see why people make these jokes. You can also check out a restaurant in each neighbourhood to see what you like, if that's easier for you. Ottawa is known as a big but small city, and it's really true. You could get lost downtown easily, but find at least 3 people you know on the way.
Don't: Compare Ottawa to other cities like Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver
There is no comparison. Even though people still think Toronto is the capital of Canada (it's not), that's sort of the only one-up we have to big cities like that. Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal are the prime spots for celebrities to visit, especially during their tours. Ottawa gets passed by, unless it's a country artist. Another one-up we have on those cities are how f*cking cold our winters are.
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Do: Be prepared for the most bipolar weather
If I remember correctly, Ottawa was named one of the coldest capitals in the world. And it's not even like it's super cold with no snow. No. It's super cold with snow and ice and snow storms pretty much weekly in the winter. And then the heat is pretty unbearable in the summers due to the humidity. I don't mention fall or spring because realistically, once it stops snowing it's basically hot AF out and once it stops being hot, we worry about the snow. It's really fun.
Don't: Move here thinking everyone is dramatic about the weather
So many people have told me they won't visit here because of how cold it is. It is f*cking cold. If you don't come prepared, you'll be so mad at yourself later on. A thick winter jacket is essential, and no AC in your car isn't an option in the summertime. Just look at pictures of our winters on Google and you'll see. You can feel the cold through the screen.
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Do: Take advantage of the nature in and around the city
Gatineau Park is one of the most beautiful things about the city. Us Ottawan's are super lucky that we have a big city vibe with so much nature. With all the parks, greenery and trails we have, we don't feel the need to get away from the city that often because it's the best of both worlds. From downtown, Gatineau Park is only about a 20 minute drive and it's totally worth it for the views, the exercise and just being out in nature.
Don't: Be confused as to why Ottawa and Gatineau are basically considered the same city
They're neighbouring cities, but it still doesn't make that much sense really. They're in two separate provinces, but we don't question it anymore. Gatineau is a beautiful addition to the Ottawa area, even though it's not even an addition. The National Capital region includes Ottawa and Gatineau, so just think about that when you're silently questioning it like the rest of us.
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Do: Try out the 'basic' and typical Ottawa restaurants, bars, and spots
How else would you become a true Ottawan without trying these foods? Ottawa is known for a lot of things besides the Parliament Buildings. We have great food here, restaurants that you should've already gone to, and if you want to feel like a true Ottawan, these are the go-to bars. True Ottawans know that there are so many underrated spots, and if you check them out, you'll be way ahead of the game. We have so many restaurants to choose from, so that's definitely a plus when you move to Ottawa.
Don't: Forget to check out the hidden gems
What will make you even more of an Ottawan? Checking out the hidden gems that everyone is secretly talking about. From hole in the wall food spots to this unreal beach, Ottawa is filled with gems that people like to keep to themselves. Take advantage of these places, especially if you're a lone wolf for a while, and really take in how awesome and unique Ottawa is.
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Do: Take advantage of OC Transpo
Even though people bash it, and it's late a lot (most) of the time, it's a great way of getting around the city if you don't have a car or a bike. It's literally at every stop around the city, and can get you from point A to point B easily. If you're new to the city, there are a lot of apps that help you figure out what bus to take. Or you can just walk down the street to see what bus to take because like I said, they're at every corner.
Don't: Be scared!
A few months back, Ottawa was named the best place to live in Canada. From someone who was born and raised here, I can agree that it's an eclectic, diverse and welcoming city. We're more affordable than a lot of cities in Canada, but that doesn't mean the city is cheap. 20 years ago, Ottawa wasn't as developed as it is now. Yes, Justin Trudeau lives here, but that's not the only reason to make the move. With all the construction going on in the city at all times, that just means bigger and better things for Ottawa. It's a safe and homey city, and you'll fit in just fine.