“We love the energy” — a newcomer’s guide to Ottawa
People & Places

“We love the energy” — a newcomer’s guide to Ottawa

U.K. born Andrew Glancy and his partner decided to make Ottawa their permanent home in April 2019 after four days of vacationing here. At first, they had very little knowledge about their new home. Since moving here, however, Andrew got to know the city on his own terms, and set out to create Living in Ottawa, a guide to help people new to the city that is updated frequently.

There are a few things here that many Ottawan’s might already know, like the Capital Pathway being over 200 km long. But there are also some lesser known facts. Who knew the land footprint of Ottawa is larger than Toronto (not including the GTA), Montreal, Calgary, Vancouver, and Edmonton combined? Or that Ottawa is on the same latitude as Venice, Italy? There’s a lot to discover in this guide to Ottawa, including a best restaurants list, run downs of which neighbourhoods are suited for you, and even cost of living breakdowns.

We caught up with Andrew to find more about his path to Ottawa, the Living in Ottawa project and the differences he sees between the U.K. and his new home of Ottawa.

Adjusting to Ottawa
Looking for a change of scenery, Andrew and his partner had been considering a move to Canada before their fateful vacation.

“To be honest it was Toronto that was on our target list,” says Andrew. “So we spent quite a bit of time in Toronto, but generally just didn’t fall in love with the city.”

So they decided to give Ottawa a shot. They spent the last few days of their vacation in Ottawa and knew it was the right city for them.

“We loved the energy — a smallish city that had its own rhythm, different from other big generic cities. It felt unique.”

(Left) Andrew walking along the Ottawa River. (Centre) Taking a quick break at Humanics Sculpture Park. (Right) Enjoying the sun at Mooney’s Bay.

Restaurants in the ‘new normal’
Just like everybody else in Ottawa (and around the world), Andrew and his partner had to make adjustments to their lifestyles when the pandemic hit a little over a year ago.

“We’ve tried a few different restaurants since pickup or delivery became necessary. My issue with getting restaurant quality food as hot takeout is that you find yourself rushing through it so it doesn’t get cold.”

So what was Andrew’s solution to this problem? Meal kits.

“You can try and recreate the experience of being in the restaurant at home – the sense of occasion. So we get dressed up, have a pre-dinner cocktail, and take our time with it.”

Some of their favourite places to frequent for these meal kits are The Whalesbone, Stofa, and Cantina Gia.

(Left) Having tea at the Chateau Laurier. (Centre) Ordering drinks at a pop-up ice bar in the city. (Right) Waiting for dinner on a restaurant patio.

Cost of Living
Compared to the U.K., Andrew says that Ottawa living is actually quite cheap.

“Firstly, I think eating out here is expensive.” He says. “I struggle to find ‘cheap eats’ places that offer tasty, high quality food, and a good atmosphere. The cost of groceries is noticeably more expensive here, too.”

“But apart from that, in general things here seem fairly reasonable and in many cases, cheap. For example: live music seems to be very reasonable – festival/music tickets are much cheaper than what I’d pay back in the U.K.”

While Andrew and his partner love Ottawa living, there is one thing that they haven’t tried yet that they would love to.

“Unbelievably and somewhat ashamedly, I’ve still not been to an ice hockey game so I really want to go to one of them. It’s not a big thing back in the U.K. so I’m excited to see what all the fuss is about.”