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Choosing a city is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make when moving to Canada. While many immigrants consider landing in large cities such as Toronto, smaller cities like Oshawa, Ontario can offer what you’re looking for. This city provides safe neighbourhoods, good schools, and a variety of businesses. It’s also proud of its growing retail and business segment while showing a commitment to community-based living.

Selecting the right city, for example, one that is affordable, offers suitable career options, and meets the needs of you and your family takes some research. It’s vital to consider the location, local economy, transit system, education, and overall quality of living within a city to ensure it meets your selection criteria. This upfront effort can help you avoid landing in a city, only to find it necessary to move to a more suitable city. And, moving again can be expensive. So, let Prepare for Canada guide you with helpful information about living in Oshawa, Ontario.

About Oshawa, Ontario

The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) consists of a number of regional municipalities, including Durham Region. This region forms the east end of the GTA, along Lake Ontario and Oshawa is the largest city in the region. The city is located about 60 km east of Toronto.

Because Oshawa is home to the General Motors headquarters in Canada, it is known as “Canada’s Motor City”. It’s regarded as a safe and family-friendly area that is ideal for commuters.

Oshawa was incorporated as a village in 1850 and has grown into the city it has become today. The name Oshawa originates from the Ojibwa term aazhawe, meaning “the crossing place.”

How Many People Live in Oshawa, Ontario?

The city of Oshawa is a mid-sized city with a population of over 170,000 residents. The population in the metro area (which includes Whitby and Clarington) is over 405,000. The population is growing consistently at 1% per year. This makes the Oshawa area the sixth largest in Ontario.

How to Find a Job & Build a Career in Oshawa

Oshawa’s Local Economy

Oshawa is known for its strategic location along the eastern part of the Greater Toronto area. Highway 401 links the city with Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa. Manufacturing and construction are two major growth industries for the city. Manufacturing is expected to grow by 8.5% in 2022 and construction by 4.3%. The city will also see the reopening of GM Canada’s Truck Assembly Plant, which will bring a big boost to the local economy.

Here is a breakdown of the biggest industries in the city:

  • Healthcare 18%
  • Retail Trade 15%
  • Educational Services 11%
  • Admin & Support 8%
  • Public Administration 8%
  • Accommodations & Food Services 8%
  • Manufacturing 6%
  • Professional Services 3%
  • Finance & Insurance 3%
  • Information & Cultural 2%
  • Other 18%.

Major Employers in Oshawa

There are close to 12,000 companies, employing about 70,000 residents. Employment grew by about 5.9% in 2021. The top employers include:

  • General Motors of Canada
  • Ontario Ministry of Finance
  • Durham Catholic District School Board
  • University of Ontario Institute of Technology
  • Lakeridge Health
  • Concentrix
  • City of Oshawa.

Career Pathways in Oshawa

There are several ways to search for job opportunities. You can use the Government of Canada Job Bank, search individual websites of the top employers in Oshawa and use an employment agency. The top recruitment agencies in the area are Durham Recruiting, Adecco, Redwood Employment, and Randstad Canada.

The Oshawa Housing Market

Finding a place to live is at the top of the priority list for newcomers. Whether you plan to rent or buy, assessing your housing options is important. Knowing where top employers, schools, stores, and other amenities are located can help you make your decision.

Is Housing Expensive in Oshawa, Ontario?

Affordability is increasingly becoming an issue in Oshawa as many people in the City of Toronto move out of the city. Oshawa is now one of the most expensive places to rent an apartment in the GTA. Real estate prices have also risen in recent years.

Finding a Place to Rent in Oshawa 

f you are looking to rent, there are many neighbourhoods to consider such as Vanier, Donevan, Eastdale,  O’Neil, and Central Oshawa. You could also consider other close-by towns such as Whitby, Ajax, and Bowmanville. While prices can vary based on factors such as location, size, and apartment features, the average rent in Oshawa is $1,349 for a Bachelor, $1,26 for a 1 Bedroom, $2.143 for a 2 Bedroom, and $2,264 for a 3 Bedroom.

Our Rentals for Newcomers site is a practical and easy-to-navigate site to help you make an easier transition to life in Canada when it comes to finding housing! And you can even determine the average cost of rentals in each city. This is helpful since rental prices change often.

Also important to consider when renting, is buying renter’s insurance to protect your belongings.

Get more information about renting a home: Renting in Canada: What Newcomers Need to Know

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Buying a Home in Oshawa 

The average price to buy a home in Oshawa is $826,486 according to Zolo.ca. The average cost of a detached 3-bedroom home is $852,000. A 3-bedroom townhouse is $706,000, and the average price for a condo is $461,000.

While many newcomers arrive in Canada with savings to purchase their first home, this is one of the largest investments you’ll likely make in Canada. So, it’s vital to inform yourself about the process and key factors to consider. To learn more about buying your first home in Canada, check out: First Time Home Buyer: Newcomer Tips.

Driving & Public Transit in Oshawa

Driving in Oshawa, Ontario

Like many other cities in the Greater Toronto Area, Oshawa is a commuter town. This means that many people live in Oshawa and then drive to offices across Durham region or into downtown Toronto. Highway 401 goes directly through the city and connects to other Highways such as Highway 412, Highway 418, and Highway 407 ETR.

All drivers are required to have a valid Ontario driver’s licence and insurance to drive. The province of Ontario has a graduated licencing system. You must complete all steps to become a fully licensed driver. Learn more about driving in Canada with these 10 essential facts.

Get more information about driving in Canada:

Driving in Canada: 10 Essential Facts to Know

Driving Test in Canada: A Full Guide

Tips for Winter Driving to Ensure Your Safety

Oshawa Public Transit

GO train offers convenient service between Oshawa and Toronto and helps residents avoid traffic congestion.
GO Transit provides regular train and bus services between Oshawa and Toronto and other GTA municipalities.

Oshawa has a good public transit system. Go Transit trains and busses connect residents to Toronto. Durham Regional Transit offices local bus services in the city. The transit system makes it easier and more affordable to commute to work. In addition, it offers a greener way to travel and avoids the frustration of dealing with heavy traffic congestion.

The city is also home to the Port of Oshawa and Oshawa Executive Airport.

Community Support for Newcomers

All newcomers to Oshawa can get settlement assistance through Welcome Centre Immigrant Services. They can help you with many settlement services such as finding housing, searching for jobs, accessing health care, and they can answer your questions about getting settling in Oshawa. Read more about settlement services and how they can help you succeed.

Language Support in Oshawa

Language skills are vital to your success in Canada. The Welcome Centre Immigration Services offers language support where you can get your language skills assessed, get reading and writing help, and receive community services in your mother tongue. You can also find language courses through Durham College and other post-secondary institutions in the city.

Personal Finance & Banking

A good financial plan will help newcomers acclimate to the city more effectively. Once you arrive in Oshawa you can open a bank account with a local bank or credit union. Both offer services and financial products for new immigrants. They can help you open accounts, get a credit card, apply for a mortgage, and even get a line of credit. Visit a local branch or open an account online.

Get more banking tips for newcomers:

Top 10 Financial Steps to Take Before You Leave for Canada

Move to Canada | Transferring Cash & Valuables

Open a Bank Account Before Arriving in Canada

Oshawa’s Education System

The government of Ontario oversees the school system in the province. However, each city has a unique school board that runs the day-to-day operations of the primary, high school, and post-secondary schools.

Elementary and High School Education

Public education is offered through the Durham District School Board. There are 28 elementary and 6 high schools in the city. The Durham Catholic District School Board oversees catholic education. There are 11 Catholic elementary and 2 high schools. There are also several French language and private schools.

Post Secondary Institutions

There are three post-secondary schools in Oshawa with over 20,000 full-time students. They include:

  • Durham College
  • University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT)
  • Trent University Durham

Read more about education in Canada:

Schooling in Canada | A Look at the Education System

Higher Education Offers Benefits to Newcomers

Where To Get Medical Care in Oshawa, Ontario

Oshawa residents have access to great healthcare. It’s serviced by Lakeridge Health Oshawa, which is one of the largest community hospitals in the province. The RS. McLaughlin Durham Regional Cancer Centre is also onsite. In case of an emergency call 9-1-1. This number is the same no matter where you live in Canada. 

The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) provides residents with health care coverage. You must be a resident to qualify. Learn how to apply for an OHIP card.

You can pay for additional health insurance plans to cover prescription drugs not covered by OHIP. Some people have third-party health insurance through their employer benefits packages.

How to Find A Family Doctor In Oshawa

Having a family doctor is an important step to ensuring you have access to the care you need. You can search for a family doctor who is taking on new patients through Health Care Connect. You can call 1-800-445-1822 or visit www.ontario.ca/findadoctor to search online. 

If you cannot find a family doctor in Oshawa, you may be able to find one from another town close by. You can also visit a local walk-in clinic to receive no emergency care.

Get more information about health care in Canada: Steps to Access Free Health Care in Canada.

What is Day-to-Day Life Like in Oshawa?

Things to Do in Oshawa

Oshawa’s proximity to Lake Ontario and spacious parkland provide residents with lots to explore. And the city is only a short drive from Toronto, which offers access to lots of entertainment options.

Public Spaces & Attractions 

There are a variety of public attractions for residents to enjoy. Some of the top tourist attractions include Canadian Automotive Museum, Ontario Regiment RCAC Museum, The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Tribute Communities Centre, Oshawa Museum, and Parkwood Estate.

Restaurants & Nightlife

The city offers a diverse selection of cuisine options, including Wildfire Steakhouse, Cyrus Persian Restaurant, Avanti, The White Apron Restaurant, and Rainbow Restaurant. The city hosts several festivals throughout the year including Oshawa Peony Festival, Kars on King, and Oshawa Fiesta Week.

Nature & Natural Landscapes

Oshawa has lots for people to explore outdoors. There are wildlife reserves, parks and trails, biking paths, and a beach. Be sure to check out the Waterfront Trail, Darlington Provincial Park, Oshawa Valley Botanical Garden, McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve, and the Oshawa Zoo and Fun Farm.

Oshawa Beach along Lake Ontario
Oshawa Beach along Lake Ontario.

Sporting Events & Concerts

Oshawa is home to the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). It also has many other junior sporting teams. If you want to enjoy a concert, check out The Music Hall, Stage 44, and Regent Theatre.

Culture & Diversity In Oshawa

Diversity

Oshawa is a diverse community that continues to welcome new immigrants. The city welcomed 4,700 newcomers in 2021 and they plan to continue to be a city that is welcoming of newcomers. About 15% of the city’s population is visible minorities. The top minority groups are black (5.5%), South Asian (3.8%), Chinese (1.4%), and Filipino (1.3%). 2.9% of the population is Aboriginal.

Worship

Oshawa is a predominantly Christian community. About 75% of residents are either Protestant, Roman Catholic, or Christian, 0.9% are Muslim, 0.4% are Hindu, and 0.4% are Sikh.

The Weather in Oshawa

Oshawa has a similar climate to the rest of southern Ontario. It has a humid continental climate with warm summers and cold winters. The average temperature can be as low as an average of -8.5 Celsius in January to as high as an average of 25.1 Celsius in July.

Two cyclists along the Waterfront Trail in the fall with Lake Ontario in the background.
Cycling along the Waterfront Trail in the Fall.

Common Questions Immigrants Ask About Living in Oshawa

Is Oshawa a Good Place for Immigrants?

Oshawa is a good city for new immigrants. It offers you affordable housing options, good employment opportunities in the city and other close-by regions and good education options. It’s ideal for families and young professionals.

What are the Potential Disadvantages of Living in Oshawa for New Immigrants?

Traffic can be an issue, especially during rush hour. And like many other cities in Ontario, the cost of living is on the rise. But these are common disadvantages that are like many other cities across Canada.

What are the Benefits of Living in Oshawa?

Oshawa is a great city to consider if you want to live in the Greater Toronto Area. It has a short commute to downtown Toronto; it has a good transit system and has more affordable real estate and is surrounded by lots of nature.

For more information, tools, and free webinars about living in Canada visit our Settling in Canada resource page. We’ll help you to settle successfully!