Calgary Cost of Living: A Comprehensive Guide to Expenses in 2024

How Expensive Is It to Live in Calgary?

Are you planning your finances for moving to Calgary? This guide provides an objective look at the Calgary cost of living, focusing on housing, daily expenses, and taxes. Gain a clear understanding of the costs that will affect your budget in one of Canada’s most economically vibrant cities.

Valuable Insights

  • The Calgary housing market offers a variety of reasonably affordable living options, with the average rent ranging from $1,200 to $3,000 per month. For single-family homes, that price range varies between about $300,000 and upwards of $9 million.
  • Daily living expenses in Calgary are typically manageable, with average monthly costs for food at $500 for an individual and basic utilities around $350 for a standard apartment, complemented by affordable public transportation options.
  • Calgary provides various lifestyle and recreational activities catered to diverse budgets, publicly funded healthcare with an option for additional private insurance, and education choices ranging from public schooling to more costly private education.

Navigating Housing Costs in Calgary

Median Home Price in Calgary

The Calgary housing market offers an impressive variety of options, catering to different budgets and lifestyles. However, examining the specifics can provide a clearer picture.

The Price of Homeownership

Stepping into homeownership in Calgary can be a worthwhile investment, with the city’s affordability even extending to this aspect of living. The home prices for single-family homes, townhouses, and condos can range anywhere from the mid-$100s for small units to upwards of $9 million for the most expensive luxury homes.

The median home price in Calgary is about $640,000. Compare this to Vancouver’s $1.1-million-plus and Toronto’s $1.2-million-plus and you can see why so many people are moving to Alberta’s biggest city!

Observing the city’s housing market trends is also crucial. Home prices have increased in recent years, in part because of the wave of immigration to Alberta. These trends, coupled with property tax adjustments and the absence of municipal or provincial land transfer taxes in Alberta, play a significant role in shaping the cost of homeownership in Calgary.

Renting in Calgary

Calgary offers a wide variety of rental options. Rent in Calgary typically ranges from just shy of $1,200 to over $3,000 per month.

  • Median rent for a studio apartment is about $1,625
  • One-bedroom units are about $1,960
  • Two-bedroom units are about $2,260
  • Four bedrooms and up typically exceed $4,500

Whether you’re renting as an individual or have a large household, Calgary, like other major cities, has rental options to suit your needs.

Daily Living Expenses in Calgary

From food and groceries to utilities and transportation, understanding daily expenses can give you a more complete picture of what life in Calgary might cost you.

Food and Groceries

The pricing for food and groceries in Calgary is fairly reasonable compared to national averages, with the average monthly food bill in Calgary coming in at around $500 for a single person. This can, of course, vary based on individual eating habits and preferences.

Utilities Breakdown

Utilities are another essential component of daily living expenses. The average monthly cost for basic utilities like electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage for a smaller apartment in Calgary stands at approximately $350. This includes essential amenities for daily living.

Natural gas, a primary energy source for home heating in Calgary, is both affordable and abundant in Calgary due to the prominence of the oil and gas industry in Calgary’s economy. Monthly utility costs for a typical two-bedroom apartment in Calgary may include gas costs and other expenses:

  • Natural gas
  • Water
  • Electricity

These estimated monthly costs may vary depending on factors such as the size of the apartment and individual usage.

Transportation Options

Calgary offers affordable transportation options for both buses and the CTrain, making commuting hassle-free. Calgary Transit’s fares include:

  • Single rides for $3.70 (kids 12 and under ride free)
  • Daily passes for $11.60
  • Monthly passes for $115

There are multiple categories of discounts for riders available, and leashed dogs ride free on public transit.

Average car insurance premiums in Calgary are about $1,250 per year, and gas prices are typically around 145 cents per litre.

Lifestyle and Entertainment in Calgary

Apart from the essentials, the cost of lifestyle and entertainment options also adds to the overall cost of living. In Calgary, these options vary widely, offering something for everyone, from foodies and night owls to sports enthusiasts and cinema lovers, similar to other major cities.

Dining Out and Nightlife

Calgary Nightlife

Calgary’s dining scene offers a diverse array of options to suit different budgets. Whether you’re in the mood for a casual fast-food meal or a more upscale dining experience, you’ll find a range of prices to match your preferences.

Free entertainment options in Calgary (beyond its many parks and green spaces, of course!) include the Alberta University of the Arts gallery spaces, museums like Glenbow at the Edison, and a plethora of free festivals, including Value Days during the Calgary Stampede, the 4th Street Lilac Festival, and the month-long Alberta Culture Days celebrations. Do some exploring and you can find many things to do in Calgary on the cheap!

Recreational Activities

When it comes to recreational activities, Calgary offers a myriad of options. Whether you prefer hitting the gym, playing golf, or joining a sports league, you’ll find a range of expenses to suit your lifestyle.

The average cost for a monthly gym membership falls between $50 and $150, offering an accessible option for those looking to maintain a fitness routine. Golf enthusiasts can expect to pay an average of $20 to $80 for a round of golf, with prices varying depending on the course and time of the week.

Calgary's Tax Landscape

Understanding the tax landscape is a key component of calculating the cost of living in a city. In Calgary, residents benefit from Alberta’s low provincial tax rate and the absence of additional provincial sales tax.

Sales Taxes in Perspective

In Calgary, sales taxes are limited to the federally administered Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 5%, with no additional provincial sales tax. This sets Calgary apart from many other major Canadian cities that also charge a Provincial Sales Tax (PST) or a Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), leading to higher overall sales taxes.

Essential items, such as groceries, are exempt from GST when purchased at grocery and convenience stores in Calgary. Therefore, the absence of additional provincial sales taxes can help you save money on daily purchases compared to cities with higher sales tax rates.

Property Taxes and Incentives

Property taxes are another crucial factor to consider when purchasing a home. The residential property tax rate is comprised of a municipal tax rate and an education tax rate.

Property taxes in Calgary are projected to increase at an average annual rate of 3.7% through 2026. While there was a decision against implementing a one-time property tax rebate, discussions around incentives remain relevant for homeowners seeking relief.

It’s also worth noting that in Alberta, there is no land transfer tax, which is an additional financial consideration for those involved in buying a home for sale in Calgary.

Healthcare and Insurance Costs

Healthcare and insurance costs are a significant part of any budget. In Calgary, these costs include public healthcare coverage and optional private insurance for additional services.

Public Healthcare System

Alberta Has Free Healthcare, but Private Insurance May Be Required

Public healthcare coverage in Alberta, funded through taxes, includes doctor visits, diagnostic procedures, and hospital stays. As part of Canada’s universal health care system, this coverage guarantees basic health coverage to all residents.

To access these healthcare benefits, residents use a health card issued by the province. This card is essential to receive healthcare services covered by the public system. To apply for this healthcare coverage, residents need to visit a registry agency with the appropriate documentation and can expect to receive their healthcare card only a few weeks after applying.

Private Insurance Options

While the public health insurance in Alberta generally covers emergency medical services and most healthcare services, there are areas like medication, dental care, and other non-emergency services that are typically not covered. Private health insurance serves to fill this gap. It offers additional coverage for services such as:

  • vision care
  • dental care
  • physiotherapy
  • prescription medication

Education and Childcare Expenses

Education and childcare can easily be significant expenses in Calgary.

Schooling Costs

The government funds public school education in Calgary. However, parents still need to cover some additional fees for activities and supplies annually.

For those opting for private education, annual tuition can range from $3,200 to over $20,000, depending on the institution’s prestige and level of education provided. Examples of these fees can be seen at Calgary Academy, where a one-time new family initiation fee of $2,500 is charged, and tuition and supplementary funding fees vary.

Childcare Fees

The average monthly cost for daycare services in Calgary ranges from $400 to $900, while after-school care services can vary significantly based on the type of program and provider.

For low-income families, subsidy programs are in place to assist with these childcare costs, potentially reducing the monthly expense significantly.

Ready For Your Move to Calgary?

As we’ve explored, Calgary offers an affordable cost of living across various aspects - from housing and daily living expenses to taxes, healthcare, and education. While the city’s cost of living is significantly lower than other major Canadian cities, it doesn’t compromise on the quality of life, offering residents a vibrant culture, a thriving economy, and a range of lifestyle and entertainment options. Truly, Calgary is a city where affordability and quality of life coexist harmoniously.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it expensive to live in Calgary?

It depends on your frame of reference. The cost of living in Calgary can be relatively high compared to Alberta’s overall cost of living due to housing and transportation costs, but the high salaries in the city can help offset these expenses. If you’re moving from another province, Calgary’s cost of living may be attractively low.

What salary do you need to live in Calgary?

To live in Calgary, you would need a salary that allows you to earn at least $24 per hour, according to the living wage. The average salary in Calgary is around $65,300, or around $33.50 per hour.

Is Calgary as expensive as Toronto?

Calgary is generally much less expensive than Toronto, particularly when it comes to housing costs, making it a more affordable city to live in. If you’re deciding between these two cities, you may be interested in checking out other comparisons for Calgary vs. Toronto.

Are you ready to move to Calgary? Call Justin Havre with eXp Realty at (403) 217-0003 to talk with a local real estate agent who can help you find your dream Calgary home.

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