Calgary is one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada. It has a healthy economy, tons of amenities, and is near some of Canada's most exciting outdoor activities. For many, moving to Calgary seems like an excellent choice. There are so many great Calgary suburbs to choose from, and each one offers something unique. How do people choose the right one? Many factors determine where buyers live: town/city size, proximity to work, and nearby amenities. Yet, there's one critical yet often overlooked factor that buyers should consider: property taxes. Where in Calgary do homeowners pay the lowest taxes? Keep reading to learn more about the Calgary areas with the lowest property taxes.
How Property Taxes Are Calculated in Alberta
When it comes to property taxes, many factors determine how much a homeowner is going to pay. Alberta property taxes are a tax on land and property. They're calculated based on a percentage of the property's assessed value. How high that percentage is depends on where you live.
Municipal and Education Tax
Property taxes in Alberta are divided into two main components: a municipal tax and a provincial education tax. Municipal taxes are used to fund municipal expenses, including the fire department, police department, and the local infrastructure. Provincial education taxes are used to support primary and secondary education throughout Alberta.
Municipal property tax rates are determined based on the municipality's budgetary needs to fund these public services. How do cities figure this out? They consider their expected spending and other revenue when making a budget and use property taxes to make up the rest of it. Property taxes that year will depend on the municipality's budget, plus its total assessment base (AKA their tax base). If more tax revenue is necessary, then tax rates will go up. If less tax revenue is essential than in the previous year, then property taxes for that year will decrease from the last year.
Municipalities also set educational taxes. Alberta municipalities set a tax rate annually and are expected to fund education based on their assessment base. The cities then determine how they support the education tax and fixed tax rates accordingly.
Alberta properties are assessed every year according to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs guidelines and the Alberta Assessment and Property Tax Policy Unit. Unlike other surrounding provinces, Alberta properties are evaluated based on market value. There are three main ways municipalities calculate a property's market value:
- Sales Comparison Approach - comparing sales of similar properties in the assessment year to determine the valuation for a property; this is the most common approach.
- Cost Approach - using the cost of the property if someone were to rebuild it to determine the property's value; this method is used for new builds.
- Income Approach - used to determine the value of properties that generate income, such as rental or commercial properties.
Rocky View County: 0.528% Property Tax
Rocky View County Amenities
- Ghost Lake
- Calaway Park, Western Canada's largest amusement park
- CrossIron Mills, Alberta's newest shopping destination
- Calgary Farmyard
- Butterfield Acres
- Beiseker Station Museum
- Langdon Park
Originally known as The Municipal District (MD) of Calgary No. 44, Rocky View County is a horseshoe-shaped county located north of Downtown Calgary real estate. With just over 39,000 residents, Rocky View County is a predominantly rural county with fourteen hamlets and numerous subdivisions. While Rocky View County has many great qualities, one of its main draws is its natural beauty. As its name suggests, Rocky View County has sweeping views of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, grassland prairies, and open skies. For residents, municipal taxes and provincial taxes are calculated differently, but the combined total of both is what residents can expect to pay. Because Rocky View County is so rural, residents will need to determine if they can live on a residential or farmland property. For single-family residents not living on a farm, municipal taxes are 0.0025511, or 0.255% of the entire home and land value. Provincial taxes are 0.0026768, or 0.267% of the total property value, with a combined total of 0.0052836, or 0.528% of the real property value.
Example: A Rocky View County resident with a home valued at $500,000 will have to pay $2,640 in property taxes.
One of the most appealing aspects of living in Rocky View County is the abundance of outdoor activities. Rocky View County has sixteen golf courses for golf lovers, including River Spirit Golf Club and Bearspaw Golf Club. For buyers looking for an affordable, rural county just 25 minutes from Downtown Calgary, Rocky View County is ideal.
Foothills County: 0.658% Property Tax
Foothills County Amenities
- Leighton Art Centre, Gallery, and Museum
- Museum of the Highwood
- Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Canada's First Nocturnal Preserve
- Rothney Astrophysical Observatory
- Bar U Ranch
- Frank Lake
Foothills County, located south of Calgary, is a rural county in the foothills of southern Alberta. While Foothills County is close to Calgary, at just 35 minutes away, the county does not have any large cities within its borders. With just over 22,000 people, Foothill County residents live in the county's five towns, ten hamlets, or rural communities. Still, because of its proximity to Calgary and the Rocky Mountains, Foothill County is becoming one of the fastest-growing counties in Alberta. For Foothills County residents, taxes are highly affordable, with residents having to pay 0.658% of their property's total value in property taxes.
While Foothills County is primarily a rural area, there are many attractions for residents. There are many campgrounds available for outdoor enthusiasts, including Riverbend, Hogg Park, and Okotoks Lions Sheep River. For golfers, there are eight golf courses, including Crystal Ridge Golf Course and Heritage Pointe. Foothills County fits the bill for buyers who enjoy the rugged, natural beauty of the foothills while being just a short drive away from big-city amenities.
Airdrie: 0.749% Property Tax
- Nose Creek Valley Museum
- Chinook Winds Regional Park
- Iron Horse Park
- Standard Tap Public House
- Genesis Place
Airdrie real estate, located just north of the Calgary metropolitan area, is a lively, smaller city quickly growing in popularity. With just over 68,000 people, Airdrie has many neighbourhoods, giving it a more small-town feel, with big-city amenities. For sports fans, Airdrie is home to many sports teams, including the Knights of Airdrie and the Airdrie Irish. Airdrie is also ideal for commuters. Located just 30 minutes from Downtown Calgary, Airdrie has easy access to Hwy 2 and Hwy 201, making it one of the best suburbs for commuting to Calgary.
Not only is Airdrie convenient for commuters, but their tax rates are also highly affordable, with Airdrie residents paying 0.749% of their property's total value in property taxes.
Example: A $500,000 property is $3,749 in property taxes.
Cochrane: 0.763% Property Tax
- Cochrane Ranche, home of Alberta's first large-scale ranch
- Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park
- Big Hill Springs Provincial Park
- Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary
- Studio West Bronze Foundry & Art Gallery
- Salt Water Wellness Centre
Located west of Downtown Calgary, homes for sale in Cochrane are in a small, historic town that strongly identifies with its western heritage. With a population of just over 34,000 people, Cochrane is steadily growing but still has a small-town feel. For Cochrane residents, homeowners can expect to pay 0.763% of their property's total value in property taxes annually. This is based on municipal and provincial taxes, making their tax demands reasonably affordable. Not only is Cochrane more affordable than surrounding areas, but it's also just a 30-minute drive to Downtown Calgary. Because of its proximity to Highway 1A, it's an easy commute into the city. Cochrane is one of the most historic towns in Alberta. As such, it has an incredibly charming downtown with many shops, including their famous ice cream shop, Mackay's Ice Cream. Cochrane also hosts many rodeos and horse shows throughout the year. For buyers looking for a charming, rustic small town just a short distance from big-city living, Cochrane is an ideal place to live.
Chestermere: 0.767% Property Tax
- Cobb's Adventure Park
- Anniversary Park
- John Peake Park
- Sweet Talk Stables
- Heatherglen Golf Course
- Chestermere Recreation Centre
- McIvor Rink
A small town built around a lake, the Chestermere community is home to one of the best lakes in the Calgary area. Located east of Downtown Calgary, Chestermere real estate, formerly known as Chestermere Lake, has just under 20,000 residents but has been steadily growing over the years. While Chestermere is small, prospective buyers have plenty of real estate options, including townhouses and single-family homes. Some of the most desired real estate in Chestermere is lakefront homes, which can range anywhere from a one-bedroom condo to a sprawling six-bedroom house. And while lakefront living can be pricey, Chestermere's property taxes are reasonably affordable, with the city charging 0.767% of the property's total value in property taxes. Since it is just 20 minutes from Downtown Calgary, Chestermere is ideal for those who work in Calgary but want a waterfront home. Chestermere Lake is the biggest attraction in the town, with many trails, beaches, and parks surrounding it. Water lovers can engage in many activities, including swimming, boating, fishing, and paddleboarding.
Calgary Tax Rates Can Be Affordable, Too
Many people who want to live in the big city may be under the impression they need to settle for a suburb due to property taxes. However, that isn't so with Calgary. Calgary has a property tax rate of 0.74%, which is lower than Airdrie and Cochrane. Homebuyers considering one of these suburbs may want to look into Calgary as well.
For urban dwellers, Calgary is Alberta's hotspot. With over 1.2 million residents and growing, Calgary is the third-largest city in Canada, behind Toronto and Montreal, and the largest city in Alberta. A more modern city, the growth is thanks to the robust Calgary economy. Oil industry jobs are plentiful there, and an increasing number of Canadian corporations are headquartered there. While Calgary once had an industrial reputation, Calgary is one of Canada's fastest-growing cities.
Calgary has tons of big-city amenities, including iconic restaurants, a healthy public transportation system, and a lucrative job market. It is among the five best cities to find a job out of 100 global cities. Calgary also has a thriving food and entertainment scene. Residents will find a variety of different cuisine options, from traditional Canadian food to international foods from all over the world. Local chefs have found a way to infuse traditionally hearty dishes with artistic flair. Some of the most popular restaurants in Calgary are Cluck N Cleaver, Bridgette Bar, Avec Bistro.
Calgary residents can expect to pay lower tax rates than in other large Canadian cities, such as Vancouver or Montreal, among its many amenities and benefits. Like with many areas of the province, Calgary's property taxes are divided into two tax types: municipal and provincial. What each taxpayer pays is based on a percentage of the property's combined land and home value. For Calgary residents, the municipal tax is 0.0048250, or 0.48% of the total property value, and the provincial tax is 0.0025818, or 0.258% of the real property value. This is then combined into 0.0074068, or 0.74% of the total property value.
Example: A Calgary resident who owns a property valued at $500,000 will pay $3,700 in property taxes.
Navigating Property Taxes in Calgary
Not only is Calgary one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in Canada, but it also has a wide range of communities with affordable property taxes. Which area home buyers choose depends on many factors, including amenities, proximity to work, proximity to the airport, and affordability. By knowing more about how property taxes are calculated, buyers can better understand which area is right for them.