Moving to Calgary, AB: Is Calgary a Good Place to Live?

Moving to Calgary, AB Living Guide

Moving to Calgary, Alberta, means embracing a city known for its stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and dynamic lifestyle. Nestled between the prairies and the Rockies, the Calgary lifestyle offers a unique blend of outdoor adventure and urban sophistication. Before moving, it's vital to navigate the ins and outs of relocating to Calgary, from understanding the various neighbourhoods to discovering local amenities and community activities. Whether you're drawn to the thriving job market or its world-famous events like the Calgary Stampede, the city beckons while promising a smooth transition. Get ready to explore and settle into Calgary, a city with a high quality of life and endless opportunities.

What Are the Best Parts of Living in Calgary?

  • Home to the Calgary Stampede and other amazing festivals
  • Incredible natural scenery all around
  • Zero in sales tax in Alberta
  • Incredible job opportunities with 118 of Canada's biggest companies
  • Skiing, ziplining, and other outdoor adventures at WinSport, Canada Olympic Park
  • More than 2,300 hours of sunshine per year
  • Hiking in the Rocky Mountains is just 1 hour away
  • Considered one of the cleanest cities in the world
  • Easy to get around with an advanced public transportation system
  • Free insurance with the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP)

Is Living in Calgary Expensive?

The cost of living in Calgary has been on the rise in recent years. The Alberta Living Wage Network estimates that living in Calgary is slightly more expensive than in Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, and other large cities in Canada. A person needs to make an hourly wage of $23.70 to live comfortably here, which is almost $9 an hour more than Alberta's minimum wage of $15. The good news is that wages across Alberta are increasing faster than inflation.

The median home price for a single-family detached house is around $600,000. Attached Calgary townhomes or row houses typically list from the $400s. Luxury homes in Calgary can cost anywhere from $3 million to $10 million, depending on the size and location. However, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association, Calgary condos remain more affordable than the national average. Condos sell for an average of around $350,000, compared to the Canadian national average, which exceeds $540,000.

Getting a Job in Calgary

What to Know About Jobs in Calgary

Statistics Canada estimates that there are tens of thousands of jobs available in Calgary. However, it's still advised that a person should secure a job before moving to the city. Even with so many jobs available, the market is very competitive, especially for higher-paying white-collar jobs. Here's a closer look at the job market outlook in Calgary and the biggest industries and employers.

Job Market Outlook

Calgary's job market outlook is constantly fluctuating, which happens in nearly every major metropolitan area. According to the December 2023 Labour Market Review, the unemployment rate in Calgary is slightly lower than the national average. Calgary's unemployment rate is around 5.2%, compared to Canada's overall rate of 5.8% and Alberta's rate of 6.3%. Most of the job gains in Calgary in 2023 were in manufacturing, accommodation, and food services. Most of the job losses during the same period were in healthcare and social assistance, education, and public administration. 

Over the next few years, Calgary is expecting shortages of workers in construction, nursing, computer programming, graphic design, and elementary and secondary teachers. This can present some good opportunities for workers with the right skills and education who plan to move to Calgary.

Biggest Industries & Employers

Calgary’s City Centre has the highest concentration of major employers, of which there are plenty: the city is home to 118 of the biggest corporate headquarters in all of Canada. The city has long been the center of the nation's oil and gas industry, and Calgary also has a thriving film industry. In the 21st century, the city's economic focus has shifted, and it is now considered a technology hub. Billions of dollars are expected to be invested in digital transformation technologies by 2030, which will be divided between aerospace technologies, financial services, digital media, and other scientific endeavours.

Some of the largest oil and gas sector employers in Calgary are Imperial Oil Limited, Suncor Energy, and Enbridge, Inc. Shaw Communication, which provides fiber internet and cable television services, is also one of the largest employers in the city. The Canadian Pacific Railway and the Calgary West Central Primary Care Network are also among the top 10 largest job providers here.

More information about finding a job in Calgary:

Getting Around in Calgary

Calgary is spread out over a large geographic area, so it can take several months for a newcomer to learn their way around the city. A GPS map system on a smartphone is a must-have for driving in the city. Calgary also has an impressive public transportation system. Here are some things people need to know about getting around the city before moving here.

Driving

Calgary’s major roads for commuting are the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) and Glenmore Trail (Highway 8). The former crosses most of Canada and passes through the city of Chestermere to the east of Calgary and the town of Canmore to the west. Glenmore Trail parallels Highway 1 as a major east-west thoroughfare, but it runs through the southern part of the city and heads east to the Langdon community

Highway 201, also known as Stoney Trail or the Calgary Ring Road, is a bypass highway that circles the city's outer reaches. Deerfoot Trail (Highway 2) is a major north-south route, as is Crowchild Trail (Highway 1A). Macleod Trail (Highway 2A) enters the city from the south after passing through the town of Okotoks, eventually leading to Downtown Calgary.

Rush hour traffic occurs on weekdays between 7:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and from 3:30–6:30 p.m. The most heavily congested traffic occurs every Tuesday through Thursday from 4:00–6:00 p.m. The roads most likely to experience heavy congestion in Calgary are Deerfoot Trail, Crowchild Trail, and Stoney Trail. In 2022, Calgary commuters spent an average of 110 hours on the roads driving to and from work. 

Public Transportation

More than 400,000 people use Calgary Transit to get around every day. The public transportation system consists of regular buses, rapid transit buses, light rail train services, and a free-to-ride tram system in the downtown area. The easiest way to figure out a route is to simply enter the departure and end points on the main page of the Calgary Transit website and let it calculate the trip.

The city operates more than 150 bus routes with more than 1,000 buses. All buses are wheelchair accessible, and most have bike racks. 

The light rail system is called the CTrain. There are currently two light rail routes, the Red Line and Blue Line. There are 45 train stations scattered throughout the city along approximately 60 kilometres of track. More than 250,000 daily commuters use the train on weekdays. A third CTrain line, the Green Line, is under construction and is expected to be operational by 2026. It will add another 46 kilometres of track and 28 stations. The Green Line will connect North Calgary with Southeast Calgary.

Calgary Transit Fares

  • Adult Single Trip: $3.70
  • Youth (13 to 17) Single Trip: $2.50
  • Youth (12 and under): Free
  • Adult Day Pass: $11.60
  • Youth (13 to 17) Day Pass: $8.50
  • Seniors (65+) Annual Transit Pass: $154.50
  • Low-Income Seniors Annual Pass: $31.00
  • Pets: Leashed dogs ride free

The Skywalk

Calgary's downtown skywalk system is known as Plus 15, a system of 86 skywalk bridges that connects 130 buildings in the City Centre. Though centred around the city’s business district, the skywalks connect to buildings in Downtown East Village and also in Downtown West End. Outside temperatures can get very cold during Calgary's winters, and the skywalk allows pedestrians to comfortably move around the downtown area without going outside. The skywalk bridges are open and accessible from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on weekdays and from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on weekends and holidays. 

Schools in Calgary

What to Know About the Schools in Calgary

Calgary School District No. 19 operates more than 240 public schools in Calgary, serving more than 100,000 students from kindergarten to Grade 12. Parents should carefully research schools when looking for a home, as different schools may suit different needs. The school district has a web-based search called Find a School that helps parents find their schools if they shop for a home in a particular neighbourhood.

The Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) educates more than 62,000 students in 118 schools from kindergarten to Grade 12. Another school district in Calgary is the Southern Francophone Education Region No. 4, which offers French immersion and dual-language education for students.

The University of Calgary is the largest higher education institution in the city, located in the University Heights neighbourhood. It provides more than 250 bachelor's degree programs and more than 60 graduate programs in seven faculties and schools. Mount Royal University offers 13 degrees in 36 majors at its campus in Lincoln Park. The University of Lethbridge is the third-largest university in the city. All three of these options are public research universities.

What's the Weather Like in Calgary?

It's no exaggeration when people say that Calgary is the sunniest city in Canada. Calgary has an average of 333 days of bright sunshine every year, totalling about 2,396 hours. The winds that blow across the Alberta prairie tend to push the clouds away, so residents benefit from sunny skies nearly every day of the year.

Winters in Calgary are very cold, with temperatures ranging from 0℃ during the days to as low as -12.6℃ at night. January is the coldest month, with daytime highs averaging -6.3℃. It often snows in the winter, but not too deeply. The average precipitation amounts to 10 mm per month. Chinook winds will blow across the prairie at times during the winter and can warm temperatures up by as much as 10 degrees in a few hours. Cowtown has significantly mild winters if you’re deciding between living in Calgary or Winnipeg.

During the spring, temperatures gradually warm up until daytime highs reach about 18℃ in May. Rains typically pick up during the spring, with May averaging about 60 mm of precipitation. 

When summer arrives in June, the city gets the most rainfall of the year (about 80 mm). The rain comes during afternoon thunderstorms, which will sometimes be accompanied by hail. Temperatures will increase through July when daytime highs will be around 28℃. In terms of weather, July and August are the best times of year to visit Calgary. 

The fall months are cool and dry in Calgary. Temperatures will gradually drop to below freezing by November, which is when the first snowfall of the year usually happens. 

Things to Do in Calgary

What to Know About the Things to Do in Calgary

There are so many things to do in a city the size of Calgary that it's impossible to list them all in one location. Calgary has something for everyone to enjoy, from abundant outdoor activities to the arts and culture to an international dining scene. Here is a snapshot of some of the many things to do in the city.

Outdoor Activities

Outdoor activities in Calgary vary depending on the season.The city maintains more than 8,000 hectares of parkland for the public to enjoy, offering everything from family playgrounds to tennis courts and cricket pitches. Fish Creek Provincial Park, located in South Calgary’s Deer Run neighbourhood, is well worth checking out. It has more than 80 kilometres of trails for hiking and biking, an aquatics centre, a golf course, and a boat launch. During the winter, parks provide opportunities for cross-country skiing, sledding, tubing, and other seasonal activities.

Restaurants & Food

Calgary is a delightful place for foodies and those who enjoy trying new cuisines. Visit 17th Avenue SW in Downtown Calgary for a variety of restaurants to satisfy all tastes. Throughout several city blocks, diners can find authentic international fare from Pakistan, China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Yemen, Mexico, India, Italy, and the Mediterranean. This street turns into International Avenue on the east side of the Bow River, and the options for restaurants and fine dining continue along that section of the street.

Another spot to check out is 1 Avenue NE in the Bridgeland-Riverside neighbourhood. This area of the city has been redeveloped over the last two decades and is now considered one of the most walkable areas of the city. People can leave their condos or townhomes and stroll along 1 Avenue to find many fun and interesting dining options.

Arts & Culture

Calgary has so much public art on display that the city provides a Public Art Map just to help people locate all of it. Festivals and events throughout the year highlight the city's and region's unique arts and culture. This includes the Calgary Stampede in July, Calgary Culture Days in September, Canada Day, and New Year's Day.

Moving to Calgary, Alberta

Calgary stands as a vibrant city that beautifully marries the charm of nature with urban living. As you set your sights on moving to one of Calgary’s best neighbourhoods, remember that each neighbourhood and street echoes a story of community and adventure. With the resources at your disposal, you can ensure that your journey to calling Calgary home is as seamless and enjoyable as possible. Embrace the spirit of Calgary, from the majestic Rockies to the bustling city life, and let it inspire your new beginning.

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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