As a Realtor with more than 30 years of experience in the Ottawa area, I work often with buyer clients who are new to our city and are intrigued by the novelty of having another province just across a bridge over the Ottawa River.

It’s there that you will find the city of Gatineau, Quebec. Clients who are looking for a new home in our region sometimes ask me about the real estate market there and what some of the pros and cons might be of purchasing a property there rather than in Ottawa.

As I explain, the Ottawa region boasts many residents who speak both English and French as part of their jobs, and these people are comfortable with the idea of living in a French-speaking province.

One reason that many buyers ask about Quebec is that they have noticed that average property prices are lower in Gatineau than in Ottawa, which can allow their dollar to go further.

According to numbers from the Canadian Real Estate Association, the average residential home price in Gatineau in December of 2017 was $240,902. The benchmark price in Ottawa, meanwhile (representing a typical residential property with the most popular combination of features), was $369,400.

But for most buyers, price alone is not the sole factor in deciding where they will buy.

Buyers also often ask me about how much their homes could be expected to appreciate, and it’s here that Ottawa has an advantage.

According to the Real Estate Association, the average price in Gatineau in December of 2016 was $238,607, and the average price a year later was $240,902. That means there was a 1.0 per cent change from year to year, though of course, as with Ottawa or any other city, some neighbourhoods can have higher appreciations than others.

By contrast, the benchmark price in Ottawa went from $346,600 in December of 2016 to $369,400 a year later, representing an increase of 6.6 per cent.

Looking at the average sale price, rather than the benchmark price, to compare Ottawa with Gatineau, the average sale price of a residential home in Ottawa in 2017, according to the Ottawa Real Estate Board, was $425,063, representing an increase of 6.8 per cent over the average sale price in 2016. The average 2017 sale price of a condominium unit, meanwhile, was $269,903, representing a 3.4 per cent increase over the year earlier.

There are other costs of living as well, some favouring Quebec and others favouring Ottawa. For example, personal income taxes are higher in Quebec than in Ottawa. While it can vary by income and deductions, it would not be unusual to pay three or four thousand dollars more a year in income tax in Quebec than you would pay in Ontario, or more if you are in a high tax bracket.

But car insurance is cheaper in Quebec, and depending on the car and other factors, your insurance could be as much as $1,000 cheaper to insure in Quebec than it would cost in Ontario. Electricity rates and childcare costs are also generally lower in Quebec.

In the end, only you can decide which factors are most important to you financially and which city feels right as a place to live.

As a Realtor in Ontario, I can only represent properties sold in Ontario, but if buyer clients find a place they love on the other side of the river, we do have strong ties with a few Realtors on the Quebec side who are able to help find homes and complete the contracts to purchase there.

If you’re interested in buying or selling property in the Ottawa area, I’d love to hear from you and chat about the services we offer at Nancy Benson and Associates and the expertise I can offer from more than 30 years of working in real estate in the region. You can give me a call at 613-747-4747, or visit my website at www.nancybenson.com, to read more about my team and see my current listings.