Life in Gatineau for Immigrants – What to Expect

Here are all the information you need to settle in Gatineau as an immigrant.

Life in Gatineau for immigrants is very affordable and enjoyable, If you’re considering what it’s like to live in Gatineau, this guide will explain what life in Gatineau for immigrants looks like.

Moving is a big decision no matter how far you go. Weighing your options carefully and taking your time to decide is very important.

Gatineau is widely known for its vibrant, unique culture. it’s famous for forest scenery and one million lakes with countless waterways. Their official language is French, so it’s no surprise that there’s a high population of bilingual speakers in Quebec.

The city of Gatineau proudly displays its heritage through fine arts, multi-cultural events, and food. You can also relocate to Gatineau using the Quebec provincial nominee program.

Where is Gatineau?

Gatineau is located at the heart of Canada’s two largest provinces, Ontario and Quebec, and is situated across the river from Ottawa, the National Capital. The combined Gatineau-Ottawa population forms the fifth largest urban agglomeration in the country, with nearly 1.3 million inhabitants.

Gatineau was Officially named Ville de Gatineau, this western city is Quebec’s fourth-largest metropolis. Gatineau is across from Ottawa on the northern bank of the Ottawa River.

Together, these cities form Canada’s National Captial Region. This area has a history of log mill industries since the 1920s and its economy still largely relies on paper manufacturing.

Population and culture of Gatineau

Over 280,000 people are living there, making it not too big and not too small. There are all kinds of museums, parks, and the famous Gatineau Culture Trail.

The walking trail is inspired by Boston’s Freedom Trail and leads visitors almost two miles through Old Hull. There’s also Mosai Canada, which is an outdoor display featuring 40 different plant sculptures.

The city also hosts tons of celebrations like annual festivals, carnivals, and the Gatineau Beerfest. Between events, waterway tours, a casino, and art exhibitions, you’ll never run out of things to do.

Weather in Gatineau

It gets freezing cold in the winter, and temperatures fluctuate between extremes throughout the year. Gatineau experiences four distinct seasons, with winter being rather different to what most immigrants would be accustomed to in their native country.

Snow cover can be expected from early December until late March, though this is changeable year to year. January and February are bitterly cold, with temperatures often hitting -20°C or below

You will need a sturdy pair of boots and thick socks, as well as a warm winter coat and hat, scarf, and gloves.

Spring tends to be short, with a warm May leading into hot, humid summers where you can expect daily temperatures well above 20°C, and sometimes above 30°C.

Educational Systems in Gatineau

The education in Quebec isn’t the same as Canada’s other educational systems. Students must complete graduate high school in their eleventh year and then attend a two or three-year pre-university program called CEGEP.

There are three private high schools, two pre-universities, and the world-renowned Universite du Quebec en Outaouais. The UQO is known for its cyber-psychology lab. For English speakers, there are elementary and secondary schooling options.

With 28.3% of its population over 20 years of age having completed university studies, Gatineau is well ahead of the rest of the Canada.

Gatineau also has one of the highest bilingualism rates, with 63.5% of its population fluent in both English and French.

Is it expensive to live in Gatineau?

The first thing to know when you move to Canada for the first time is the affordability of the area you want to settle. Funny enough, you may be expecting the cost of living would be too high but fortunately its the other way round.

Gatineau is a relatively affordable place to live, especially compared to other cities in North America. The average salary is over 32,000 per year, and the average three-bedroom rental home price is around $981 per month. The estimated total cost of living is about $1,500 per month.

Reasons why you should live in Gatineau


Every large city has some level of safety issues and higher-crime areas. While Gatineau does have some crime, overall it’s very low. The most commonly reported crimes are that of theft and drugs. However, they’re still low in comparison to other big cities.

Violent crimes are extremely low, and residents rate their feeling of safety as high when walking home alone at night.


Gatineau has a lot of transportation options, making life in Gantineau for immigrants easy. It has two distinct bus-based public transit systems. Each one has a different type of fare, so tickets are not interchangeable.

However, it’s no extra cost to transfer from one to the other. For drivers, there are major highways that lead over bridges into Ottawa. However, there’s no direct access to The Queensway (the main highway), making it difficult to navigate.

Dining and Nightlife

As a city surrounded by even higher populated areas, Gatineau has plenty to offer for nightlife and dining experiences. There are dance clubs, bars, pubs, and late restaurants. It’s truly a mix of nature-living and city-dwelling. However, it’s not so big that you can’t get around easily.

Gatineau is a tourist attraction in itself, and  Dining out can be a great experience, with restaurants and cafés catering to every need, preference, and budget.

While the city caters largely to its French population, it’s still a multi-cultural area. You can find types of food from all over the world. Some of the top-rated restaurants in Gatineau are:

  • Sterling
  • Chez Fatima
  • Bistro Le Forain
  • Haru Izakaya
  • Bistro Mexicana

Good Neighborhoods to Raise a Family

For prospective residents looking to start a family or move theirs to Gatineau, there are a few particular suburban areas that are best. Most of them are north of the Gatineau River. It’s quieter and less busy than downtown there, and homes are cheaper.

Aylmer and Chelsea are good choices. Aylmer is denser with a variety of housing types. You’ll find everything from country-side homes to small apartments. Chelsea is less populated and very scenic. Both of these areas have easy access to Ottawa bridges.

The Plateau is also a very friendly area with parks and affordable housing. There are grocery stores and several schools within a five-minute drive and it’s only 15 minutes from downtown.

Good Neighborhoods for Students and Young Professionals

As is true with most cities, downtown is the heart of Gatineau. The downtown area has transportation, lots of industries, and the university. Hull is a great area for single professionals and students, too. It’s home to the casino, a theatre, and plenty of restaurants. The entire downtown area is only about a 20-minute walk, so it’s easy to get around on foot.

Life in Brantford for Immigrants

Cons of living in Gatineau


Sometimes,the traffic is bad during rush hour and other busy times of the day. The lack of main roads makes it harder to navigate around the city. Even when destinations are close, it takes longer than expected to get to them.

Language Barrier

It’s a little difficult to get around and find a job if you don’t know some French.


While it is safe, it’s still in Canada’s top ten high-crime cities.

Long winters

It gets freezing cold in the winter, and temperatures fluctuate between extremes throughout the year.

Special events in Gatineau

The town offers many special events for residents of all age groups and interests. They including:

  • Salon du livre de l’Outaouais
  • Gatineau BeerFest
  • L’Outaouais en fête
  • Gatineau’s Wonders of Sand
  • Gatineau Triathlon
  • BougeBouge Outaouais
  • Gatineau Triathlon
  • Hit the Floor
  • Gatineau Loppet
  • Gatineau Playground Festival
  • Snowflake Kingdom of Winterlude
  • Salon du livre de l’Outaouais

Retirement Communities in Gatineau

Deciding on a retirement community in Gatineau takes a little more personal thought. Options are spread out all over the city, so it depends on the lifestyle you prefer. There are attractive villages on the outskirts of town, apartments downtown on the river, and places everywhere in between.

Gatineau is a wonderful place to retire. The city attracts a lot of tourists, meaning there’s plenty to do and see. Retirement communities in the area range from full-amenity independent living to assisted-living retirement homes.

Best things to do in Gatineau

  1. Wander around Canada’s most visited museum
  2. Take the kids to the Children’s Museum
  3. Spend a day at the park
  4. Play poker
  5. Go skiing
  6. Enjoy a festival
  7. Wine and dine
  8. Step back in time
  9. Head to the beach
  10. Gaze at historic aircraft
  11. Go to Wakefield
  12. Visit The Farm
  13. Explore parliament
  14. Go bike riding
  15. Join a ski marathon

Frequently Asked Questions

What is accommodation like in Gatineau?

Accommodation in Gatineau is very affordable, The estimated total cost of living is about $1,500 per month.

What is the official language of Gatineau?

The official language of Gatineau is french.


In summary, Gatineau is a great place to live in Canada. The scenery is breathtaking, the people are notoriously nice, and the entire country is known for a strong employment market, high-quality healthcare, and excellent education systems.