Edmonton and Calgary are two of the most well-known cities in Alberta. Edmonton is the capital of Alberta, while Calgary is the most populated and largest city in Alberta. The cities may share a province, but they're still strikingly different places to live. The economies, weather conditions, attractions, and real estate markets of both cities have unique characteristics that suit different lifestyles
If you are unsure which area is the right fit for your future, this guide is here to help. We will look at what makes each city unique and special, along with the benefits of residing in each one. We'll also discuss the differences between homes for sale in Calgary and real estate in Edmonton and help you determine the best place to live.
Calgary Economy vs. Edmonton Economy
The economy is one of the most important factors to consider when moving to a new city. The economy influences many things, like housing costs, the types of businesses in the area, and the potential job market if you need to find a new career. When you have a good foundation of knowledge about these things, you can make your choice for moving easier.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Calgary is similar to Edmonton, which makes sense, considering cities are roughly the same size. Calgary is slightly more expensive, and living there is about $1,881 a month compared to $1,692 in Edmonton for a single person. For a household of four people, the cost of living is about $4,575 per month in Calgary and approximately $3,911 per month in Edmonton.
Food costs in each city are also similar, with the average resident expected to spend about $554 per month in Calgary and $531 per month in Edmonton. Utilities come in at an average price of $114 monthly in Calgary for a single person and $127 per month in Edmonton, with Edmonton being slightly more expensive each month. The average house price in Calgary is around $490,000, and in Edmonton, the average home price is $372,400.
Calgary is a significant tech center in Canada, and many businesses and recruiters are looking for top tech talent. The unemployment rate in Calgary has been rapidly decreasing since 2020. The diverse industry sectors and large local companies provide numerous options for job seekers.
In Edmonton, the unemployment rate is about equal to Calgary, at around 5.5%. Jobs in manufacturing, trade, professional, and information services are increasing, while specific sectors like agriculture and construction are decreasing their jobs slightly. A broad selection of part-time and full-time positions ensures ample options for various scheduling needs. As the province's capital city, there are also numerous provincial government jobs available in Edmonton.
Top Industries & Biggest Corporations
In addition to being a tech center, Calgary is known as a leader in the oil and gas industry. Calgary's economy is also known for the many financial services in the area and is a hub for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Other significant industries include the healthcare sector and construction.
Some critical industries in Edmonton include technology, energy, health & life sciences, agriculture and agribusiness, manufacturing, and education. There are also many government employees in Edmonton, as it is the capital of Alberta. Edmonton and Calgary have similar industries as they are close to each other and part of the same province. Top companies often have branches in each city, and many employees will travel between the two cities for work.
Both Calgary and Edmonton are part of a growing corridor in Alberta, one of the fastest-growing regions in the country. This provides an incredible amount of new opportunities, job offers, and cost of living changes as the region's economies continue to develop and evolve.
Calgary Commutes vs. Edmonton Commutes
Another essential factor to consider when moving to a new area is how you will get around. If you have your own personal vehicle, what do the significant rush hours look like, and when do they occur? And if you are relying on public transportation, what types of mass transit modes are available? Let's dive into the answers to these questions and learn about the commuting differences between Calgary and Edmonton.
Traffic Patterns and What to Expect During Rush Hour
Driving in Calgary is often the preferred way to commute; a little over half of the people use their vehicles to get around. With 490,100 people working locally, that can mean some traffic. However, the average commute tends to be lower than in most major cities due to the arrangement of the major roads like Highway 2, Highway 8, and Highway 201, along with the mass transit options. Weather conditions like snow and rain can also slow the commute, which averages around 27 minutes on a typical day.
In Edmonton, around 343,300 people work locally and rely on their own vehicles at about the same rate as Calgary, which is nearly 70%. The busiest time of the day is during the morning rush hour, between 7 am and 8 am. The average commute takes 15–45 minutes for workers, with very few residents having commute times longer than 45 minutes. Leaving after 8 am might be the best way to avoid traffic jams if you need to get to work.
Public transportation in Calgary is operated by Calgary Transit. The bus line has over 170 routes to get people to their destinations. A light rail transit system called the CTrain also helps people get around without relying on a personal vehicle. This system helps create fairly clear roads for the size of the city and ensures that no one who works in the city is dependent on their vehicle to get to and from work.
In Edmonton, there is also a bus service and light transit rail called the LRT. This service helps both residents and tourists get to different parts of the city on a consistent schedule and is used by around 25% of the population daily. Most train stations are connected to larger transit centres so that people can quickly transfer from bus to train.
Best Suburbs in Each City for Short Downtown Commutes
If want to live outside of the city centre, you'll be pleased to know many Calgary suburbs offer short downtown commutes. Neighbourhoods like Ravenswood in Airdrie and Boulder Creek Estates in the city of Langdon are close to local highways that lead right to downtown. Airdrie has an express transit system that takes you directly to Calgary, while Langdon is only a half-hour drive along Highway 1. Other communities like the city of Chestermere and the town of Okotoks are within a half-hour radius of Calgary.
Some of the closest suburbs in Edmonton are Devon, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Fort Saskatchewan, and Sherwood Park. These suburbs have great neighbourhoods and plenty of in-town entertainment if you don't want to go to Edmonton during the weekend. These communities are also just a short drive away from the city, usually between 15 and 35 minutes during regular traffic.
Getting around a new city can be challenging, particularly if you are driving on unfamiliar roads or relying on a mode of public transit that you haven't used before. Thankfully, both Edmonton and Calgary are commuter-friendly and designed to help reduce traffic times and get you to where you need to go quickly.
What to Do in Calgary vs. What to Do in Edmonton
Another factor that people consider before making a final move is what there is to do in the area. People like to know that entertainment centers, parks, activities, and great food and drinks are near their homes. Here's a comparison of things to do in Calgary and Edmonton.
Outdoor activities in Calgary are available all year, with sunny summers and snowy winters great for fishing, hiking, playing sports, and enjoying the views of the Rockies. There are nearly 1,000 km of paths and 96 km of trails within Calgary, perfect for people who want to run, bike, and walk around the city. The Bow River also provides outdoor entertainment and experiences where you can relax and take in the Calgary skyline.
People who love outdoor adventure will also find plenty of natural attractions in Edmonton. The river valley in Edmonton is the most extensive urban parkland in North America, filled with wildlife like elk, deer, owls, bison, and bears. You can hike, camp, kayak, and get out to enjoy the beautiful weather in any season.
Calgary is the home of many renowned Canadian sports teams, such as the Calgary Flames NHL team, the Calgary Stampeders CFL team, and the Calgary Roughnecks lacrosse league. These sports and more are celebrated by fans across the city and draw a big crowd. If you love sporting events, you'll love checking out the different sports teams in Calgary and maybe even becoming a new fan.
In Edmonton, teams like the Edmonton Oilers NHL and the Edmonton Elks CFL teams are great options for people who love to attend live sporting events and cheer for the home team. Other teams include the Edmonton Stingers basketball team and the FC Edmonton soccer team of the Canadian Premier League.
As the biggest cities in the province of Alberta, there are plenty of nightlife opportunities in Calgary and Edmonton. Calgary's nightlife bustles in the Beltline District, which is full of bars and fun clubs, while Calgary's best business improvement areas are great for food and shopping. Calgary's 17th Avenue and the International Avenue area are loved by locals and visitors alike. Places like the Cowboys Dance Hall and Commonwealth Bar & Stage offer live music performances and great dance floors.
Edmonton also has excellent night spots, from cocktail bars and dance clubs to comfort food open all night. Places like Envy Nightclub and Prive Ultralounge are dance venues for people who want to dance the night away, and Avenue Downtown and The Bower provide great drinks to people who want to enjoy the best that the nightlife scene has to offer in Edmonton.
Calgary Or Edmonton: Where Will You Live?
When you have to choose between two cities, you might feel overwhelmed or stressed at making a choice. Thankfully, moving to Calgary and living in Edmonton can be great choices. While these Alberta cities have their differences, they are both welcoming regions with plenty to offer. You can easily fit in either place, from nature and the great outdoors to widespread public transit. No matter what your future holds, you can find the best place to live with the correct information.