If you’re weighing the pros and cons of settling in Calgary, trust me, you’re in good company!
Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Calgary promises a plethora of outdoor adventures throughout the year. From exhilarating ski trips in the frosty winters to invigorating bike rides and camping escapades during the warmer months, there’s always something to do. However, the biting cold of the winters and fleeting summers might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
My travels have taken me to numerous corners of the globe, including the vast expanse of Canada. As a young wanderer, I was drawn to Calgary by the allure of the renowned Stampede, touted as the grandest outdoor spectacle on the planet. That experience left me pondering about life in this dynamic city.
For a string of years, Calgary has proudly held its position as the most hospitable city in North America, even making its mark among the top 10 globally!
So, if Calgary is on your radar for a potential move or you’re simply curious about the day-to-day life of its inhabitants, join me on this journey of discovery!
Quick Facts About Living in Calgary
Short on time? Here is some of the essential information about living in Calgary, Canada:
- Calgary Population: 1.3 million
- It’s the largest city in the Canadian province of Alberta.
- Known for its strong economy, with many jobs in the oil and gas industry.
- Average Summer Temp: 22°C
- Average Winter Temp: -12°C (often dipping below -20°C)
- The average cost of living in Calgary, Canada, is about $2,500 CAD. Alberta province has the most expensive cost of living in Canada.
- The quality of life in Calgary is high.
- Calgary is a great place for families and new immigrants.
Is Calgary the Right Fit for You?
Calgary beckons individuals from every corner of the globe with its unique charm.
The city’s robust economy, driven by the oil and gas sector, offers a plethora of job prospects for those seeking opportunities.
According to Weather Spark summer temperatures averaging 22°C (71°F) and winter temperatures hovering around -12°C (10°F), Calgary is a haven for those who prefer a temperate climate.
While the living costs in Calgary might lean towards the higher side, averaging around $2,500 CAD, the city compensates with an unparalleled quality of life, abundant family-centric activities, and a welcoming environment for newcomers.
Taking everything into account, Calgary emerges as a prime destination for those eager to embark on a fresh chapter in their lives.
A picturesque city skyline mirrored in a serene water body. The Bow River, situated east of Downtown Calgary, was a stone’s throw from my residence. Living the Calgary Dream Among Canadian cities, Calgary stands out for its affordability, boasting modest housing prices coupled with even more attractive tax rates.
The city has earned accolades as one of the globe’s most habitable cities, even clinching the top position a few years ago.
In report of its demographic from Calgary.ca, Calgary is relatively youthful compared to its Canadian counterparts, with a median age of just 38 years. It’s home to over 1.3 million inhabitants, offering a less congested environment than Toronto’s 3 million or Montreal’s close to 2 million.
One of Calgary’s standout features is its proximity to the awe-inspiring Canadian Rocky Mountains. A short drive of under an hour transports you to the heart of Canada’s pristine mountainous terrain.
Calgary’s Geographical Charm
Situated in Alberta, Canada, Calgary graces the southwestern part of the country. It’s a mere 3-hour drive from the US border, specifically north of Montana, and is tantalizingly close to the iconic Canadian Rocky Mountains, just an hour away.
Distances to other major Canadian cities are considerable, with Edmonton being the closest at 300km (186 miles), followed by Vancouver at 973km (604 miles) and Toronto at a whopping 3,238km (2,212 miles).
For nature aficionados, the renowned Banff National Park, Canada’s premier national park, is conveniently accessible via the Calgary International Airport.
A picturesque view of Exshaw, flanked by the Rocky Mountains, lies just an hour’s drive from Calgary. It’s an idyllic spot to relish a sunny summer day for Calgary residents.
Calgary’s weather is a delightful blend of beauty and unpredictability. The city’s infamous Chinook winds are known to bring about swift temperature shifts according to Live Science. As locals often jest, “If the weather isn’t to your liking, just wait a moment!”
Proudly holding the title of Canada’s sunniest major city, Calgary offers a gentler climate than many of its counterparts.
Summers in Calgary are pleasantly warm, with temperatures hovering in the early 20s Celsius (68-73°F). However, they can feel fleeting. Those with a penchant for scorching summer days might find Calgary a tad cool, especially with nighttime temperatures dropping. Summer also witnesses the majority of the city’s rainfall.
As meganstarr.com says, winters are milder than those in Canada’s northern regions. Daytime temperatures average -3°C (27°F), plunging to -14°C (7°F) during nighttime. The brisk weather persists through spring and fall, which might catch some off-guard. Snow blankets the city for approximately 88 days annually.
Given Calgary’s prairie landscape, it’s renowned for its windy and arid conditions, making a good moisturizer indispensable.
Calgary is a cultural hub, teeming with events and attractions:
- Signature Events: The renowned Calgary Stampede, Calgary Folk Music Festival, and Sled Island are just a few of the annual highlights.
- Artistic Exploration: Dive into art at the Glenbow Museum or the Esker Foundation.
- Wildlife Encounters: The Calgary Zoo houses over 1,200 global species, while the Telus Science Centre offers interactive displays, a planetarium, and a motion theatre.
- Diversity: With 165 languages spoken, Calgary is a melting pot of cultures.
- Cowboy Legacy: The city’s cowboy heritage is evident, especially during the Stampede, with many donning cowboy hats and boots.
- Nightlife & Music: The city comes alive at night with its bustling music mile, showcasing numerous live performance stages.
Wide angle view of downtown Calgary’s skyscrapers, shimmering in chrome and bronze hues.
Cost of Living in Calgary
While Calgary offers a high standard of living, it comes at a price:
- Housing: A central 1-bedroom apartment averages around $1,700 CAD monthly.
- Expenses: Expect an additional $1,000 CAD for general monthly expenses.
- Affordability: Despite the costs, Calgary ranks as one of Canada’s most affordable cities, second only to Edmonton and among the world’s top 25 for affordable housing.
Quality of Life
Calgary promises a fulfilling life:
- Safety: Low crime rates and a community feel make it an ideal place to settle.
- Outdoor Adventures: Home to Fish Creek Provincial Park, Nose Hill Park, and Canada Olympic Park.
- Pathways: North America’s largest outdoor pathway and bikeway network spans over 700 kilometers, perfect for exploration.
- Healthcare: While Alberta’s healthcare might be pricier and face challenges like physician availability, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons.
Crime Rates in Calgary
Is Calgary safe? Absolutely. Despite minor upticks in crime, it remains safer than many Canadian cities. The Crime Severity Index showcases Calgary at 75.22, lower than the national average and significantly lower than Edmonton’s 100.39. The Calgary Police Service continually works to enhance public safety.
- K-12 System: Alberta’s free public school system offers top-tier education, even for expats and permanent residents.
- Academic Year: Runs from September to June.
- Educators: Teachers in Calgary are highly qualified, ensuring premium instruction.
- Higher Education: Institutions like the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University cater to tertiary education needs.
- Public Transit: The C Train, powered by wind, offers efficient transportation.
- Footbridges: A unique network connects buildings, shielding from the cold.
- Biking: Numerous paths cater to cyclists.
- Walkability: Downtown is pedestrian-friendly, and destinations like Banff National Park are a drive away.
Calgary’s food scene is a gastronomic adventure:
- Canadian Classics: Relish poutine and perogies.
- Global Flavors: According to To Do Canada city offers from Indian and Thai to Greek and Ethiopian world of tastes.
- Local Eateries: Whether it’s a food truck on Stephen Avenue or a quaint café in Kensington Village, culinary delights await at every corner.
Comparing to Other Canadian Cities
Calgary vs. Vancouver
According to the same source, when comparing Calgary to Vancouver, one can’t help but notice the differences in cost of living.
While both cities offer scenic beauty, Calgary stands out with its lower housing prices and overall cost of living.
This makes it an attractive option for those looking to get the best of both worlds – urban amenities and natural beauty without breaking the bank.
Calgary vs. Toronto
Toronto, with its bustling business sector and cosmopolitan culture, offers a different vibe than Calgary.
However, Calgary’s laid-back nature combined with its affordable living costs makes it a compelling choice for many, especially those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of a mega-city.
15 Pros and Cons of Living in Calgary
1. Pro: Breathtaking Landscapes
Calgary is a nature lover’s dream. Nestled amidst mountains, prairies, and rivers, the city offers a visual treat at every turn.
For those who thrive in the outdoors, Calgary presents a myriad of activities, from hiking trails that weave through scenic landscapes to cycling routes that challenge even the most seasoned bikers.
Moreover, the proximity to Banff National Park means that iconic spots like Peyto Lake and Moraine Lake are just a short drive away, perfect for weekend getaways.
2. Con: Intense Winters
While Calgary boasts many sunny days, its winters can be a force to reckon with. Stretching from November to March, the cold can sometimes feel relentless. However, for those who see the glass half full, this also means a longer season to indulge in winter sports. Skiing, snowshoeing, or simply building a snowman in the backyard become regular activities. And with more sunny days than most Canadian cities, even the cold has a silver lining.
3. Pro: Year-Round Outdoor Fun
Calgary’s geographical location ensures that there’s never a dull season. Summers are vibrant with activities like kayaking, fishing, and golfing. As the snow blankets the city, residents switch to snowshoeing, skiing, and ice skating. The nearby ski resorts, such as Lake Louise and Sunshine Village, are a boon for winter sports enthusiasts, offering world-class facilities just an hour away.
4. Con: Brief Summers
The fleeting nature of Calgary’s summers can be a slight damper. Just as you start soaking in the warmth, temperatures begin to dip by late September. However, Calgarians know how to make the most of it. The city comes alive with summer festivals, bustling street markets, outdoor concerts, and more, ensuring that residents soak up every bit of the sunny season.
5. Pro: Green Oasis
Amidst its urban sprawl, Calgary offers numerous green retreats. Parks like Stanley Park and Bowness Park are perfect for picnics, leisurely strolls, or just lounging with a book. These green spaces provide a much-needed respite from the city’s hustle, offering serene landscapes and recreational facilities.
6. Con: The Chinook Challenge
The Chinook Winds, while a blessing in the cold winters, come with their own set of challenges. These warm winds can lead to rapid temperature changes, and their strong gusts can sometimes result in fallen branches or even minor structural damages. Residents have learned to be prepared, often securing outdoor items and being cautious during high winds.
7. Pro: A Melting Pot of Cultures
Calgary’s cultural tapestry is rich and diverse. With a significant immigrant population, the city is a confluence of various cultures, languages, and traditions. This diversity is reflected in the city’s festivals, culinary scene, and neighborhoods, making it a vibrant and inclusive place to live.
8. Pro: Robust Economy
Calgary’s economy isanchored by the oil and gas sector, offers stability and growth according to Calgary.ca. The city is home to numerous corporate headquarters, providing a plethora of job opportunities. In recent years, Calgary has also seen growth in the tech sector, further diversifying its economic landscape and offering varied career paths.
9. Con: Economic Fluctuations
Being closely tied to the oil and gas industry means that Calgary’s economy can be susceptible to global market changes. Dips in oil prices can impact job security and wages. However, the city’s resilience is evident in its efforts to diversify and invest in emerging sectors.
10. Pro: Tax Benefits
One of Calgary’s significant advantages is its favorable tax structure as Alberta.ca says. The absence of a provincial sales tax and competitive corporate income tax rates make it an attractive destination for businesses and entrepreneurs. This, in turn, can lead to higher wages and better job opportunities for residents.
11. Con: Elevated Living Costs
Calgary offers a high standard of living, but it comes with a price tag. While housing and general expenses can be high, they are still more affordable compared to cities like Toronto and Vancouver. The city’s amenities, cultural scene, and job market often justify the costs for many residents.
12. Pro: Cultural Richness
Calgary’s cultural scene is dynamic and ever-evolving. Events like the Calgary International Film Festival, the Stampede, and various music festivals ensure there’s always something happening. The city’s theaters, live music venues, and restaurants offer diverse entertainment options, catering to all tastes and preferences.
13. Pro: Efficient Public Transport
Navigating Calgary is a breeze, thanks to its comprehensive public transit system. The C-Train connects key parts of the city, making commuting efficient and eco-friendly. The extensive bus routes further ensure that even the city’s nooks and crannies are accessible.
14. Con: Rush Hour Woes
Like any major city, Calgary faces traffic congestion, especially during peak hours. While the city’s infrastructure is continually improving, downtown can get particularly busy. However, compared to larger cities, Calgary’s traffic is still relatively manageable.
15. Pro: Safety
Safety is paramount, and Calgary doesn’t disappoint. With low crime rates and proactive policing, the city ensures that residents and visitors feel secure. The sense of community further enhances this feeling, making Calgary a top choice for families and individuals alike.
Best Neighborhoods To Live In Calgary
Calgary, with its 190 distinct neighborhoods, offers a diverse range of living experiences. These neighborhoods are neatly categorized into four quadrants: Northwest, Southwest, Southeast, and Northeast.
- Downtown Core: The heart of Calgary, this area boasts a blend of sleek high-rise apartments, modern condos, and charming single-family homes. For those wanting to be close to the city’s pulse, neighborhoods like Brentwood and Southwood are ideal choices.
- Western Communities: Established neighborhoods like Cougar Ridge, Signal Hill, Springbank Hill, and Tuscany provide residents with a plethora of amenities. From schools and shopping malls to parks, these areas cater to families and professionals alike.
- For the Young Professionals: Varsity and Kensington are hotspots. These neighborhoods, with their mix of apartments, condos, and townhomes, are perfect for those who want to be close to the downtown action.
- Northeastern Delights: Vibrant communities such as Falconridge, Marlborough Park, and Taradale are nestled in this quadrant. They are characterized by expansive green spaces, parks, trails, and even golf courses.
- Eclectic Vibes: Bridgeland/Riverside stands out with its unique mix of eateries, shops, and picturesque river views. Meanwhile, East Village is the go-to for trendy cafes, art galleries, and a lively arts scene.
- Scenic Living: West Hillhurst and Mount Pleasant offer residents breathtaking city views, proximity to shopping hubs, and a tranquil environment. For those dreaming of lakeside living, Auburn Bay is a gem, boasting waterfront trails and a serene setting.
A Traveler’s Guide
Medium says Calgary is often dubbed the “Heart of the New West,” is a city that seamlessly blends modernity with its rich history. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a history buff, or someone looking to relax and soak in the culture, Calgary has something for everyone. Here’s a curated list of things to do in this vibrant city:
1. Reach New Heights at the Calgary Tower: Standing tall at 191 meters, the Calgary Tower is not just an architectural marvel but also offers panoramic views of the city’s skyline. It’s a must-visit for those looking to capture Calgary in all its glory.
2. Step Back in Time at Heritage Park: Heritage Park is a living history museum. With over 180 exhibits, it offers a deep dive into Alberta’s rich past, taking you on a journey from the pre-railway days to the present.
3. Embrace Nature at Fish Creek Provincial Park: Spanning 37km of the river valley, Fish Creek Provincial Park is an urban oasis. Its myriad walking trails and outdoor activities make it a perfect getaway from the city’s hustle.
4. Tee Off at Shaganappi Point Golf Course: A stone’s throw away from downtown Calgary, this golf course is a haven for both seasoned golfers and novices. With its picturesque views and top-notch facilities, it’s a golfer’s paradise.
5. Unwind by the Glenmore Reservoir: This man-made lake is a hub of activities. Whether you’re into swimming, fishing, or just lounging by the water, the Glenmore Reservoir promises a day of relaxation and fun.
6. Experience Theatre Calgary: For the art enthusiasts, Theatre Calgary is a treat. Showcasing a mix of classic and contemporary plays, it promises an evening of drama, emotions, and stellar performances.
7. Dive into Calgary’s Festive Spirit: Calgary’s festivals are a testament to its diverse culture. From the rhythmic beats of Folk Fest and Sled Island to the vibrant celebrations of Carifest and GlobalFest, there’s always a reason to celebrate in Calgary.
8. Revel in the Stampede Fever: No visit to Calgary is complete without experiencing the Stampede. Held every July, this 10-day extravaganza is a blend of rodeos, parades, and concerts. And if you’re visiting outside of Stampede season, fret not! Stampede Park hosts a plethora of events year-round, ensuring there’s never a dull moment.
What Makes Calgary Stand Out?
Calgary is renowned for its mesmerizing vistas of the Rocky Mountains, expansive prairies, and intricate parks and trails. While the city buzzes with excitement during the 10-day Stampede festivities in July, it also hosts a myriad of other vibrant events throughout the warmer months.
Why Choose Calgary as Home?
Absolutely! Calgary is a delightful place to reside. With a cost of living that’s more affordable than many Canadian cities, a multifaceted economy, and a plethora of outdoor adventures like skiing and trekking, it’s a city that offers the best of both worlds. However, be prepared for its extended winter seasons.
Does Living in Calgary Burn a Hole in Your Pocket?
When juxtaposed with other prominent Canadian metropolises, Calgary emerges as a more budget-friendly option. The city boasts housing rates that are notably lower than places like Vancouver or Toronto. Additionally, essentials like food and utilities are reasonably priced. Plus, commuting in Calgary won’t break the bank.
Is a 70k Salary Considered Adequate in Calgary?
Certainly! A 70k salary in Calgary is deemed quite comfortable. Given the city’s relatively lower living expenses, especially when compared to cities like Vancouver or Toronto, and Alberta’s favorable tax structure, this salary can afford a good lifestyle.
How Does Calgary’s Cost of Living Compare to Vancouver?
Calgary undoubtedly offers a more economical living experience than Vancouver. Whether it’s housing, utilities, food, or transportation, Calgary consistently ranks as a more affordable option.
Choosing Calgary as your home base opens doors to a dynamic urban experience, brimming with job prospects, boundless outdoor escapades, and captivating landscapes.
While the city’s winters might be lengthy, they don’t dampen the spirit of Calgarians, who find joy in a range of activities and a pulsating cultural scene all year round.
With a cost structure that’s more lenient on the wallet than cities like Toronto or Vancouver, Calgary is a dream for those seeking quality living without the hefty price tag. Keen to explore more Canadian cities? Dive into our guides on other top Canadian destinations and find your perfect Canadian haven!