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Old 03-02-2009, 12:03 PM
 
3,681 posts, read 6,005,090 times
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Hi,

We want to make a move from California and have discussed the possibility of moving to Canada. DH is originally from Canada and has never given up his Canadian citizenship. One place we have talked about is Ottawa but it could be anywhere in Canada. I have a few questions perhaps someone could enlighten me on.

What is the cost of living like in comparison to the U.S. for someone living on a fixed income of U.S. dollars?

What is the housing market like in Ottawa? What would you expect to pay for a nice 3,000 sq ft. home in a safe area with good schools?

Speaking of safe areas, how is the crime?

How are the public schools? What are the best areas for schools?

I have heard that universities are "free" in Canada. Is this really true? Are they difficult to get in to?

How is the health care? Is it totally free? Is there really long wait times for appointments/care? Do you have to drive long distances to see approved doctors?

Thanks so much to anyone who takes time to respond to any/all of these questions.
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Old 03-02-2009, 06:06 PM
 
4,282 posts, read 15,182,231 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maja View Post
Hi,

We want to make a move from California and have discussed the possibility of moving to Canada. DH is originally from Canada and has never given up his Canadian citizenship. One place we have talked about is Ottawa but it could be anywhere in Canada. I have a few questions perhaps someone could enlighten me on.

What is the cost of living like in comparison to the U.S. for someone living on a fixed income of U.S. dollars?

What is the housing market like in Ottawa? What would you expect to pay for a nice 3,000 sq ft. home in a safe area with good schools?

Speaking of safe areas, how is the crime?

How are the public schools? What are the best areas for schools?

I have heard that universities are "free" in Canada. Is this really true? Are they difficult to get in to?

How is the health care? Is it totally free? Is there really long wait times for appointments/care? Do you have to drive long distances to see approved doctors?

Thanks so much to anyone who takes time to respond to any/all of these questions.
Your cost of living is going to be determined by tax load which is driven by income level. The more money you make, the higher the tax rate and the more expensive it will be, comparitively, to live in Canada. The constantly fluctuating currency exchange rate will also have a bearing on how much bang you get for your US dollar.

Your best bet for comparing Ottawa real estate prices is REALTOR.ca - Welcome

Ontario public schools are mandated to teach the same curriculum regardless of location, so there shouldn't be wide variance in quality. Check the web site of the school board in your chosen area for information on EQAQ scores.

Universities are definitely not free, although they are likely cheaper than many privately run colleges inthe US. Each university has differing admitance standards for each program.

Health care in universal; it is not free. Health care spending covers about 40% of the budget for the Province of Ontario. There is, currently, a minor health care tax which is collected through federal income tax returns. The amount due is based on income.

Health care access is generally based on urgency of need. Non-urgent issues requiring a specialist will likely have a longer waiting time than is the norm for a well-insured person in the US.

There are no "approved" doctors. Geographic distance to specialists depends largely on where one chooses to live. If you live out in the boonies, odds are good you won't have a neurosurgeon living in the village. Ottawa is home to several large teaching hospitals and offers very good access to specialized medical care.
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Old 03-03-2009, 06:58 AM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
25,448 posts, read 33,174,422 times
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Coming from California, unless you are living in the snowy mountains you should consider the winters in Ottawa will be much colder. Think Minneapolis.

Just this morning it was -18 C (zero F) in Ottawa, with a windchill making it even colder. And we are in March. This is not normal for early March in Ottawa I must admit but it still gives you an idea...

The crime rate in Ottawa, especially by U.S. standards, would be very low.
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Old 03-10-2009, 11:22 AM
 
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Ottawa is VERY safe with very low crime levels. I live in the core, in what would be called one of the "bad" areas and still feel very safe.

Universities are not free. All universities are of very high quality though. Tuition is much lower in Canada, but there are not as many supports (scholarships, etc.). Student debt, on average, is actually higher in Canada than the U.S. If you're comparing to a more expensive university in the US, I would say it is cheaper to go here. There are also very good community colleges.

Health care is 'free' and universal (no such thing as 'approved doctors' as long as you are in your province). I say 'free' because that really just means basic care. There can be supplementary charges, dental and pharmacy are not included, etc. Most people still have private supplementary insurance from their employers like in the U.S. But coming from the U.S. you will certainly find healthcare a bargain.

As far as wait times go, this can be a problem for certain procedures, but I imagine that is a problem anywhere in North America. There is definitely a shortage of family doctors.
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Old 03-10-2009, 03:44 PM
 
39 posts, read 275,490 times
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Some universities are more subsidized by the government than others, and prices can vary greatly, but they certainly aren't free, unless you receive a scholarship of course.

Health care varies by province, but in general all necessities are covered. in some provinces expect to pay for ambulance bills. Specialized dental care and cosmetic surgery is not covered. There is private medical insurance as well, that may be included as a benefit at work, and would normally cover dental bills, mental/psychiatric treatments, and in some cases give you access to private clinics so you don't have to wait hours and hours and hours in the emergency room, and weeks and months for surgery at the public hospitals.

i'd say Ottawa is one of the safest cities to live in in Canada; there is next to no gang activity, and a very low crime rate. If you're looking for a suburban family-oriented area I could suggest the St. Laurent area, which is close to schools, public transit, and shopping. The main occupation in Ottawa is government jobs, since it's the capital region. It's not known as much of a party city, but it's quite charming, especially in winter, and it's only a stone's throw away from Montreal; party central.
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Old 03-10-2009, 06:31 PM
 
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada
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Ottawa is one of the best cities I have ever lived in. It is true it get cold in the winter, but it is also very very true that is a safe city. I would move back in heart beat
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Old 03-10-2009, 06:36 PM
 
3,681 posts, read 6,005,090 times
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Originally Posted by LeJeremy View Post
Some universities are more subsidized by the government than others, and prices can vary greatly, but they certainly aren't free, unless you receive a scholarship of course.

Health care varies by province, but in general all necessities are covered. in some provinces expect to pay for ambulance bills. Specialized dental care and cosmetic surgery is not covered. There is private medical insurance as well, that may be included as a benefit at work, and would normally cover dental bills, mental/psychiatric treatments, and in some cases give you access to private clinics so you don't have to wait hours and hours and hours in the emergency room, and weeks and months for surgery at the public hospitals.

i'd say Ottawa is one of the safest cities to live in in Canada; there is next to no gang activity, and a very low crime rate. If you're looking for a suburban family-oriented area I could suggest the St. Laurent area, which is close to schools, public transit, and shopping. The main occupation in Ottawa is government jobs, since it's the capital region. It's not known as much of a party city, but it's quite charming, especially in winter, and it's only a stone's throw away from Montreal; party central.
Do you happen to know if the Universities are more difficult to get into than the U.S.?
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Old 03-10-2009, 06:46 PM
 
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada
74 posts, read 120,350 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maja View Post
Do you happen to know if the Universities are more difficult to get into than the U.S.?
I am going to jump in on this question, I don't really know if they are harder to get into because it depends on what university you compare,


because in my opinion the Carleton University in my opinion won't be hard to get into. While they are good at basketball I don't know if they have the highest standards.

But, say if you are talking about McGill University that is a different story I know many people who get very high marks and are used to receiving scholarships but, didn't get squat. McGill is a very good uni. in my opinion of course.
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Old 03-10-2009, 11:02 PM
 
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It also depends on what courses you're taking. Medical courses, for example, are highly competitive; like umtiki I've had friends who left CEGEP with 95%'s and still weren't accepted at mcgill.
On the other hand, there are plenty of courses that are less competitive, and as long as you've got the money and make a good impression, you're in.

I'd also say that Carleton U wouldn't be as hard to get into as say, York University in Toronto.
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Old 03-11-2009, 01:48 PM
 
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Default Housing Costs

Quote:
Originally Posted by maja View Post
Hi,

What is the housing market like in Ottawa? What would you expect to pay for a nice 3,000 sq ft. home in a safe area with good schools?
Others will hopefully be able to offer suggestions on the neighbourhoods you should look at, just wanted to send you a link to a site that lists the majority of homes for sale in Canada:

www.mls.ca

You could also check out www.propertyguys.com

Good luck
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