Author Topic: Buying a car in ottawa  (Read 1778 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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  • Posts: 2
Buying a car in ottawa
« on: July 13, 2014, 09:00:47 AM »
Hello all!

Just signed up to the forum, been reading the blog from the 1st post for a couple of weeks now. I was hoping for some advice.

Me and my girlfriend will be moving from London, UK to Canada (ottawa) in September (she is Canadian, I am british). She is a teacher and should hopefully be on the supply list for the upper Canada school boards.

I plan to work in a bar or restaurant for at least a year to build up some savings, so will be working nearby and will be commuting by bike. For my girlfriend, she will be travelling  potentially long distances whilst supply teaching. She reckons a maximum would be 100km one way. Obviously when she has a permanent teaching position, we move closer to her work.

I was hoping on advice on what sort of car to look for, ie, a reliable make, good for winter, good mpg, what year I should aim for, how many miles on the clock, what price etc.

We have just over $10,000 to get us started (apartment rental, initial grocery shopping.  We already have furniture). Ideally I would like to pay less than $5000. I know it is very anti-mustachian to finance a vehicle, but in this case, would it be worthwhile?

Looking for a small car, will be used Monday-Friday during school term times.

Thanks for the help


  • Magnum Stache
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  • Posts: 3590
  • Location: France
Re: Buying a car in ottawa
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2014, 09:53:20 AM »
Hey, fellow brit expat here, also married to a Canuck, and living nearish to Ottawa.

Hopefully she has driving history. For you as a brit your history is pretty much worthless - they treat you like a brand new driver. Insurance is not cheap in Ontario.

You have to trade off three things:

1. rust
2. cheap to insure
3. cheap to run

Small car? Toyota Echo. Honda Civics are relatively expensive to buy, and expensive to insure. Corollas are good.

I understand she might be driving 100km now and again, but if that is going to be rare, you might want to get a cheap to insure car. Remember petrol is cheap over here (though expensive relative to the US) - local prices are $1.34 at the moment, which is 75p/litre.

Cheap to insure: Crown Vic (you get to drive a police car, it's awesome!), Buick Century, etc.

PROTIP! Get a forex-free credit card BEFORE you leave the UK! Like the Nationwide one. Also do CurrencyFair. Much cheaper than the other options.

Also, note that there is - AFAIK - a real oversupply of teachers at the moment...

Good luck. Drop me a PM when you arrive, it'd be nice to hang out with another Brit :)


  • Magnum Stache
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  • Posts: 3590
  • Location: France
Re: Buying a car in ottawa
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2014, 09:59:53 AM »
Default list of cars:

Pontiac Vibe (hatch, 'actually' a Toyota Matrix)
Civic (though 2006-2008 had issues I believe; we have an '04 which is fine)
Hyundai Accent/Elantra - newer - they depreciate fast but are much better than the older ones
Kia 5 - ditto (basically the same as an Accent, but 5 door hatch rather than 3/4-sedan)

Mazda 3 early on - rust rust rust
Ford Focus early on - just unreliable
Personally - pretty much 'Chevrolet', any other Pontiac... /shrug. Too much going on with recalls for all sorts at the moment, and rusty crappy cars are often Pontiac Grand Prix, etc. Lots of people love them.

Mileage will be higher here than in the UK. That's just the way it is. I'd say go for under 200k km, 2005 and newer now. REALLY good site - Craigslist isn't much here, but UsedOttawa (UsedCityName) and kijiji are good.