Jim (serving), Clare, Theo (10) and Alice (6), who arrived on their posting with elderly dog Macy and will be leaving with new puppy Maple

How long have you been an army family?

Since 2007.

Time in Ottawa?

We arrived in August 2020.

How many other military families live there?

There are 11 exchange officers in Ottawa, but we are spread out all over the city. Because of COVID restrictions we only met one other British military family in person during the first year, but with regular meet-ups at the British High Commission we have met nearly all of them now.

What’s your quarter like?

We have a private rental that we chose. Housing in Ottawa is expensive and we wanted to live close to schools and have a good-sized garden for our dog, so our house is smaller than many, but we love the location and it has served us well.

Are there any employment/ training opportunities?

Ottawa is a bilingual city so many of the local jobs will ask for fluency in French, however Clare works remotely as a podcast producer.

What about schools/ childcare?

With the pandemic schooling has been a little crazy! The kids went back in late January 2021, but were back to virtual learning in March and didn’t return to school again until September, 152 days later! That said, we have been very happy with the schools.

Where do people tend to get together and who supports you?

We have a community liaison officer at the British High Commission who organises a weekly coffee morning in the centre of Ottawa. I know coffee mornings are a bit of a cliché, but I’ve really enjoyed them and found them very useful for sharing information.

How do you find the cost of living?

Car insurance is really expensive – thousands of dollars a year. Food is a little more expensive too especially if you want quality, and of course if you do winter sports that can be pricey, but most outdoor recreation is cheap or free. As with all postings there is a trade-off between making experiences versus living more modestly.

What are the best and worst things about Ottawa?

The outdoor lifestyle is amazing. Ottawa is a bike-friendly city with a network of multi-use pathways which run along the rivers and canal. Gatineau Park is minutes away in Quebec and amazing for hiking, mountain biking and skiing. Skating is everywhere in winter, and free! Though it may be cold in winter the sun mostly shines, it’s definitely not like a grey English winter.

The worst thing for us is we will leave without having done everything we wanted. We were under tight restrictions for the first ten months and the US border only opened 15 months after we arrived.

Would you recommend it as a family posting?

I honestly can’t think of anywhere better to take your family and we’ve been to a few places!

Want to share your experiences of army family life? Get in touch by emailing editor@aff.org.uk

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