With a population of 1,285,711 residents, Calgary is Alberta's largest city and the third-largest municipality in all of Canada. Calgary is recognized as both a leader in the Canadian oil and gas industry as well as one of the country's cultural capitals. The city is home to the country's second-highest concentration of corporate headquarters, trailing only Toronto.
The cost of living index for Calgary is 69.85, which is below Canada's average. As such, Calgary falls very much in line with the cost of living in other major Canadian metro areas, including Toronto and Vancouver. Calgary's cost of living—particularly housing—tends to fluctuate according to how well the economy is performing.
Housing prices in Calgary have continued to trend slightly downward the past two years. More recently, prices have seen a slight increase compared to the year prior, although it's unclear if that change in direction will continue. Another big factor in Calgary's cost of living is food, which is trending upward.
The following information can help new residents of Calgary learn the cost of living in the city in various categories.
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Calgary Housing Costs
The average house price in Calgary is $411,200. The housing market is experiencing a 1.4% decrease year-to-date, though recent upward price movement could reverse the trend.
Comparison of Median Housing Costs in Calgary
The median price of homes varies greatly in the communities surrounding Calgary. In nearby Chestermere, the median list price for all homes is $539,000, while in Cochrane, it is lower at $415,000. To the north of the city in Airdrie, the median price is $361,000, while Northeast of the city in Beiseker, the price is lower at $263,000.
Median Home Price
The median list price for single-family, detached homes in Calgary is trending around $478,000. By contrast, the median list price for condos is about $226,111, and the median list price for town homes is $319,000.
Average sale prices for homes in Calgary vary greatly by neighbourhood. Two of the most popular neighbourhoods in Alberta real estate, Elboya and Whitehorn, have average sale prices of $517,000 and $298,000, respectively. Another popular yet expensive neighbourhood is Bel Aire, with an average sale price of $2.5 million.
The Red Carpet neighbourhood, which is seeing a slowdown in real estate activity, has an average sale price of $90,750. The Cliff Bungalow neighbourhood has also seen a slowing in real estate activity, with an average sale price of $448,358.
Studio apartments in Calgary rent for between $750 and $1,000 a month on average. Two-bedroom apartment rents average $800 to $2,000 a month, depending on location and square footage. Three-bedroom apartments or town homes go for between $1,200 and $2,800 a month.
Rents tend to trend higher in the popular Southwest Calgary and Northwest Calgary areas. Median rent in the Brentwood neighbourhood is about $1,422, while in the Montgomery neighbourhood, the median rent is about $1,220. In the Maryland Heights neighbourhood, just east of downtown, the median rent is around $985.
The cost of utilities in Calgary—including electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage—averages about $200 per month for a 915-square-foot apartment.
For a three-bedroom town home, the total monthly combined electric and gas bills will range from $280 to $350 during the coldest months to $100 to $200 during the summer months. Cost for water, sewer, and waste collection can add $70 to $110 per month.
Internet service in Calgary averages about $60 a month. A typical TV, landline and Internet package ranges from $120 to $180 per month. Mobile phone service for unlimited talk, text and data runs about $100 a month.
Alberta has the second-highest average home insurance premium among all provinces. The average cost of homeowner's insurance in Calgary is $900 to $1,000 per year or between $75 and $83 per month. This is higher than the average across all of Canada, which is about $840 annually.
In Calgary, as well as across all of Alberta, the average cost of renter's insurance is about $25 per month, or $300 per year.
Calgary Food Costs
The average household in Alberta spends a minimum of $168 a week on groceries. The cost of groceries in Calgary is very similar to that of Edmonton. However, the average cost across all of Canada is lower, at $200 per person, per month.
Food prices are forecasted to become more expensive in Calgary and all of Canada. Predictions are that food prices will increase between 2% and 4%, which translates to an increase of $487 in annual food costs for an average Canadian family. Groceries are estimated to make up about 33.3% of all monthly expenditures for Calgary residents.
Calgary Average Food Costs
Among the most affordable grocery stores in Calgary are Giant Tiger, No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore, Save on Foods and Walmart.
The cost of dining out in Calgary varies with the type of restaurant chosen. A combo meal at a fast food restaurant will be about $10, while a basic lunch at an inexpensive restaurant will run about $17.
Coffee lovers can expect to pay $4.25 for a regular cappuccino. Colas cost about $1.77 for a 12 oz. bottle, while water is about $1.55.
Calgary Transportation Costs
Vehicle insurance in Calgary is approximately $105 per month on average. Premiums can vary significantly, based on age, postal code, driving record, vehicle driven, and other factors.
Calgary Transit (CT) is the public transportation provider for the city of Calgary. It has a ridership of about 106.5 million trips and provides services through 1,224 active vehicles. CT operates 46 train stations and about 170 bus routes.
Calgary Transit Costs Comparison
CT fare is $3.50 per ride for adults and $2.40 for children age 6 through 17. Children 5 and under ride free. Cost of a day pass is $11 for adults and $8 for children. A monthly pass is $109 for adults and $79 for children.
The average cost of a five-mile taxi ride is about $18. The minimum cost of an Uber in Calgary is $5.95.
Calgary Healthcare Costs
Alberta has a publicly funded healthcare system, the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP). AHCIP covers medically necessary doctors' services, some dental and oral surgical health services, psychiatrist visits, medically necessary diagnostic services (including laboratory and radiological procedures), and oral and maxillofacial surgery services. It can cost upwards of $100 for a routine doctor's visit if you are not registered for AHCIP.
Calgary has four major adult acute care hospitals and one major pediatric acute care site. The four largest Calgary hospitals have a combined total of more than 2,100 beds and employ over 11,500 people.
Some routine dental costs are not covered by AHCIP. The cost of a check-up is about $190. X-rays taken of both sides average $40.
As for veterinary costs, an annual visit for a dog or cat averages $120.
Calgary Childcare Costs
Parents in Calgary typically pay about $1,100 a month on average for infant care, the third-highest amount among Canada's major cities. Only Toronto, at $1,685 per month, and Vancouver, at $1,400 per month, have higher costs for child care. Costs for preschool childcare is about $924 per month. Calgary childcare costs have been increasing by about 1% annually.
Calgary Average Monthly Childcare Costs
Some examples of childcare in Calgary and their monthly tuition costs are Bow Valley Child Care at $1,625 for infants, Dominican Sisters' Daycare Centre at $1,030 for children ages 3-5 years old, and YMCA Calgary Child Care at $546 for 19 months to 6 years.
In Calgary, the typical cost for a live-out nanny is between $14-$18 per hour, but may be as high as $20 per hour.
Calgary Entertainment Costs
Calgary's charm includes not only its stature as a modern urban center, but its western culture, earning it the nickname "Cowtown." The city is home to the Calgary Stampede, a massive rodeo and festival held every summer. But arts and culture, as well as outdoor adventures, are an important part of Calgary life and things to do as well.
Alberta Ballet is one of Canada's premier dance companies. Balcony seating ranges from $40 to $70, while mezzanine seating is in the $100 range. Theatre tickets in Calgary range from $100 to $500.
For family fun, the Calgary Zoo admission is between $19.95 and $29.95.
Canada's Sports Hall of Fame is located at WinSport's Canada Olympic Park, site of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games. It contains 12 interactive galleries and boasts a collection of 100,000 artefacts. General admission is $12.
Alberta Brewery Tours offers a glimpse of Calgary's craft-brewing community, offering a three-hour tour of local breweries for $85.
The Calgary River Experience includes a guided, raft float trip through the city centre on the Bow River. Tickets are $59 for adults and $39 for children.
The city is home to a wide selection of restaurants and bars. A dinner for two at a mid-range restaurant will cost about $56 for the evening.
The sales tax rate for Alberta is 5%.
Calgary's economy is diverse, and it is impacted by the energy, financial services, logistics, technology, manufacturing, aerospace, health and wellness, retail, and tourism sectors. The region is home to Canada's second-highest number of corporate headquarters.
Popular employers in Calgary include the University of Calgary, ATB Financials, Suncor Energy Inc., Canadian Natural Resources Limited, and Alberta Health Services. Jobs most in demand in Canada include sales associate, driver, receptionist, welder, web developer, business development manager, general labourer, and project manager.
Monthly Expense Percentages Based on Average Calgary Salary
The highest-paying jobs in Calgary include physician, financial modeller, director of business development, general practitioner, and tax manager.
The average salary in Calgary is $66,000. Calgary salaries are about 2% less than the Alberta average, but 8% more than the national average.
The minimum wage in Alberta is $15. The income tax rates in Alberta range from 10% to 15% of income.
Employees in Canada are likely to receive a salary increase of about 9% every 15 months, with the average salary increase in one year to be 7%.
Final Considerations for Calgary's Cost of Living
Known for more than just the largest rodeo in the world, the city of Calgary is an urban centre rich with art and culture, festivals, western history and winter sports, all while serving as a backdrop to the Canadian Rockies. The city has been recognized as a cultural capital of Canada.
The cost of living in Calgary is less expensive than 45% of Canada's cities and 65% of cities in North America.
As Alberta's largest city, Calgary's modern economy was built on the oil industry and is considered a leader in the Canadian oil and gas industry. Early this century, the city's economy grew at a significantly higher rate than the overall Canadian economy, at 45% and 25% respectively.
Other major economic factors impacting the economy are financial services, film and television, transportation and logistics, technology, manufacturing, aerospace, health and wellness, retail, and tourism.
The Calgary metro area is home to the country's second-highest number of corporate headquarters among the nation's 800 largest corporations.
Those considering a move to Calgary can learn more about the city by speaking to a real estate professional who can provide them with insight about the city and the real estate market.