By: Randy Gaudreau | Sep 21, 2016

A quick recap.

First: A gauntlet was thrown down reminding the world that Ottawa is a tech hub.

Second: A compilation of the comments, nice and not-so-nice.

So now what? Well I want to turn back time and revisit that great piece by Bobbi Brant of Expert Market titled the “World’s Best Tech Hubs to Live and Work In”. It’s a hot take on which one of these tech hubs will leave you strapped for cash and which ones will make it rain.

Gangster Cat Money

cash. money.

Her list is pulled from the “The Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSEP)” by the firm Compass. I highlighted the GSEP in my first piece, arguing that Ottawa should be part of the conversation when looking at tech savvy cities around the world. So let’s play this out and see where Ottawa ranks in the cost of living lists.


Well as Bobbi correctly surmised,

High living costs and lower work-life balance let these tech hub giants down and allow second tier startup cities such as Berlin and Austin to shine through as better alternatives.

My whole point is this: rather than posturing that Ottawa should be the next Silicon Valley (which is super lame and a horrible strategy) or that the 613 will see a renaissance as Silicon Valley North (also lame), cities should focus on promoting their strengths. I honestly believe Ottawa is place to enjoy a rewarding career and high quality of life; while not putting your wallet on life support.

So here is the list Expert Market put together. You can see the top ten is North America heavy.

Expert Market Cost of Living Chart

source: Expert Market

To calculate the cost of living, we’ll use the same source as Expert Market, the online database Numbeo. It aggregates data from thousands and thousands of users in real time. It then uses this data to rank cities across the world in terms of cost of living, health care, traffic, even a quart of milk or loaf of bread.

Here’s how Numbeo defines its numbers:

Cost of Living Index (Excl. Rent) is a relative indicator of consumer goods price, including groceries, restaurants, transportation and utilities. Cost of Living Index doesn’t include accommodation expenses such as rent or mortgage. If a city has a Cost of Living Index of 120, it means Numbeo estimates it is 20% more expensive than New York (excluding rent).

So here’s the Expert Market list with Ottawa included:

Expert Market Cost of Living Chart with Ottawa

source: Numbeo

You know what’s great, Canada dominating the top ten of this list. And although the COL is negligible when looking at Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver — compared to their USA counterparts, it is quite significant.


But how much you spend on groceries is only part of the equation. What about a roof over your head? Here is what a one-bedroom is going to run you, on a monthly basis, in a North American tech hub:

Cost of rent for one bedroom in North American cities

NOTE: I’m comparing Ottawa against other NA cities, cause’ I’m not entirely convinced swaths of people from say Barcelona or Tel Aviv, are going to move across the ocean — because they can save a few hundred dollars on rent. (But I’m always open to being proven wrong!)

Here’s where Ottawa starts to pull away from the pack. Montreal still takes the top spot, but compared to Vancouver and Toronto, Canada’s capital is already saving you around $400 a month. (In fact, it could be more). Compared to our friends south of the border, only Austin comes remotely close.

And that’s just renting. Good luck if you want to own a house. Here was the avg price of a Canadian house in July 2016 according to in CAN):

Canadian Cities Average House Prices July 2016

I’m so sorry Vancouver.

Factored in In USD, that’s about $284,000 for a house in Ottawa. Approximately $70K less then the average cost of a home in all of the USA! And just for good measure, here’s an avg home in Silicon Valley compared to Ottawa.

Average Silicon Valley Home versus Ottawa home

Finally when we look at paid vacation and commute, according to Numbeo, Ottawa comes out at 6th and 11th spot. So taking everything into account, Ottawa is one of the most affordable tech hubs not just in North America but in the world.


According to the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), here are the number of jobs the Province of Ontario is expected to add by 2019:

Projected hiring requirements to 2019 by municipality

source: Labour Market Outlook 2015-2019

That “Other” category, guess what? A large amount of those jobs will be in our neck of the woods (South Eastern Ontario). And perform a quick search of “software” on Indeed or Linkedin and ALL THE JOBS pop up:

Software Jobs in Ottawa


So thousands of jobs in a capital city that is very affordable to live in. Sounds like a winner to me! But Ryan, you ask,“Is there anything to actually DO in Ottawa?

Yes. There is. But that’s for the next piece.

Work in ottawaClick this image!

Randy Gaudreau

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