Moving to Calgary: Everything You Need to Know About Living in Calgary 
Posted by Justin Havre on Wednesday, May 24th, 2023 at 9:27am.
Is Calgary a Good Place to Live?
Calgary is a city known for many things, from its proximity to the Rocky Mountains to the annual Calgary Stampede. With more than 1.6 million residents, Calgary is the fourth most populous city in all of Canada, and it's growing with every passing year.
Thanks to the booming economy and the thriving Calgary real state market, it's no wonder so many people are moving here. Cowtown, as it is sometimes known, is full of western culture that any John Wayne or Sam Elliott fan will be able to appreciate. If you're looking for a new place to call home, come and see what moving to Calgary can do for you.
Table of Contents
- Cost of Living in Calgary
- Calgary Job Market
- Things to Do in Calgary
- Calgary Traffic
- Calgary Public Transportation
- Calgary Schools
- Why You Should Move to Calgary
10 Reasons to Love Living in Calgary
- Strong Economy: Calgary offers a thriving job market and opportunities in industries like oil and gas, finance, technology, and engineering.
- Booming Tech Scene: In addition to its robust economy, Calgary's tech industry is growing at unprecedented rates.
- High Standard of Living: Calgary consistently ranks among the top cities in Canada for quality of life.
- Natural Beauty: Nestled near the stunning Canadian Rockies, Calgary offers breathtaking views and outdoor recreational opportunities.
- Vibrant Arts & Culture Scene: Calgary has a rich arts and culture scene, with numerous theatres, art galleries, museums, and music festivals.
- The Annual Stampede: The city hosts the annual Calgary Stampede, a world-renowned event celebrating its Western roots.
- Sports & Recreation: Calgary is home to professional sports teams like the Calgary Flames (NHL) and the Calgary Stampeders (CFL).
- Education Opportunities: From preschool to PhDs, students of all ages can choose from a wide selection of public, charter, and private schools.
- Low Taxes: Alberta has no provincial sales tax and lower overall taxes compared to many other provinces in Canada.
- Accessible Transportation: Calgary has a well-connected transportation system, including an extensive network of roads, public transit, and an international airport.
Cost of Living in Calgary
Calgary's cost of living is notably more affordable than Toronto or Vancouver. Alberta further reduces its cost of living by waiving provincial sales taxes, so residents are only charged the 5% national sales tax. Compared to other large cities in Canada, Calgary has a more affordable cost of living than Toronto and Vancouver.
Housing expenses in Calgary are also some of the lowest of any metropolitan area in Canada. The median home value in Calgary is around $500,000, although the prices in Calgary's most expensive neighbourhoods will often start at around $1 million. That said, you don't need to escape to the suburbs to find a cheaper place to live. The abundance of townhomes and condos in Calgary makes it easy to find low-cost living in the heart of the city.
“You have to go much further out of the city centre to find an affordable home in Vancouver or Toronto," says Harish Consul, President and CEO of Ocgrow Group. "but in Calgary, inner-city living is still very much affordable." Consul and his team recently broke ground on SOLA Calgary, an upcoming condominium complex in the Northwest area.
Average monthly utilities vary widely throughout the city. For basic electricity, gas, and water, expect to pay $200-250 for a three-bedroom property. Internet and cellular service can cost anywhere from $53 to $220 per month.
Renting a one-bedroom apartment will average between $750 to $1,000 per month, depending on whether the apartment is located near the city center or outside the city center. A three-bedroom rental property will average around $1,200 to $1,800 per month.
Healthcare is centralized by the government, and the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (ACHIP) is the provider of all healthcare services for permanent residents and ex-pats staying longer than 12 months. Groceries tend to be more expensive than in other locations, especially for commodities like meat and dairy. Restaurant meals are reasonable, with dinner in a mid-range restaurant averaging between $14-20 per person.
More information about cost of living in Calgary:
Calgary Job Market
Calgary may have started with a concentration in the oil and gas industry, but times have changed. The energy sector still figures predominantly in the Calgary economy, but the region has a diverse landscape of industries. Calgary is also consistently included among the highest-earning cities in Canada. Recent legislation has also set the Canadian minimum wage on track to reach $15 per hour by 2024.
Popular Industries in Calgary
Major contributors to the economy include jobs in the energy, financial services, film and television, transportation and logistics, technology, manufacturing, aerospace, health and wellness, retail, and tourism industries. Large gas and oil companies like BP Canada, Canadian Natural Resources Limited, Suncor Energy, Shell Canada and Nexen have a presence in the city. Shaw Communications, Telus, and Nova Chemicals are the top three private employers. Meanwhile, healthcare and education top the roster of public sector jobs. The tech industry has also taken off in Calgary, providing opportunities at the best tech companies to work for.
More information about finding a job in Calgary:
Things to Do in Calgary
Fun is never hard to find in Cowtown! Calgary is known for its annual Calgary Stampede, held every July. The city also has several sports teams like the Flames hockey team, Stampeders football team, and even the Roughnecks lacrosse team. There is no shortage of things to do in Calgary.
Outdoor Activities in Calgary
Calgary has more than 20,000 acres of parkland available for public use by Calgary's residents. Some of the best parks in Calgary are Fish Creek Provincial Park and Nose Hill Park. Calgary has its fair share of beautiful trails nearby for those who love hiking. Big Hill Springs and Grassi Lakes Trail are two that stand out as fan favourites.
Calgary is a natural location for winter sports because of its proximity to the Rockies. The home of the 1988 Winter Olympics, the city continues to host several major winter sporting events at Canada Olympic Park (also known as the Winter Sport Institute), including bobsledding, luge, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, downhill skiing, and snowboarding. Like counterparts in other cities that have hosted the Olympic Games, the Olympic facilities continue to be used for athlete training when not used for competition. Also, Canada Olympic Park serves as a mountain biking trail in the summer months.
Restaurants, Breweries, and Bars in Calgary
A local delicacy in Calgary is the cheese bun from Glamorgan Bakery. These pillows of buttery, cheesy goodness sell out fast, so come early or order ahead. Any local will also tell you to get your hands on the mini doughnuts at the Calgary Stampede, now available year-round.
With over 120 spoken languages in Calgary, this diversity also translates to the food you find in restaurants. The aptly-named Himalayan Restaurant serves Nepalese food that many people have never had an opportunity to try. To sample some of the beef Calgary is known for, try Open Range Steakhouse, which locally sources all of its meat.
Nightlife in Calgary
Calgary is the home of the world-famous Cowboys Dance Hall, a nightclub for people who love country music or just want to have a night filled with fun and line dancing. If country music is not your scene, you'll find an abundance of options, from small venues that provide intimate acoustic sets to traditional nightclubs with bottle service, international DJs, theme nights and light shows. Nightlife in the Beltline District is vibrant almost every night of the week, but a good time can be found in every neighbourhood in town.
Calgary experiences cold winters with a lot of snow. January is Calgary's coldest month; temperatures can reach as low as -30°C, but the average is around -7°C. On average, Calgary will have 54 days of snowfall each year, and it will accumulate 1,288 mm (50.7 inches) of snow. Winters are also typically more humid in Calgary than in other Canadian cities. As the sunniest city in Canada, residents enjoy plenty of outdoor fun all year long.
During the summer, Calgary typically stays around 24°C; the hottest months are July and August. On average, Calgary has 68 rainy days per year and accumulates 327 mm (13 inches) of rain. For those visiting when there isn't any snow on the ground, the best months to spend in Calgary are typically going to be June, July, and August, when temperatures range between 10 and 25°C. However, snow sports enthusiasts will want to plan their vacations starting in November when skiing season starts.
More information about the climate in Calgary:
Having a car to drive in Calgary is worthwhile, but with any populous city, it's important to expect some congestion. Morning and evening rush hours will slow down traffic, so time management is important when commuting to work. Calgary sits at the intersection of the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 2, so a lot of trucking traffic passes through the area carrying goods to other parts of the country.
Alternative Routes Around Calgary
Instead of driving on congested highways, most residents use the city's trails and streets to travel through the city by car. Currently, a road in construction called Stoney Trail (also known as the Southwest Calgary Ring Road) will circle around the city to help alleviate traffic. It's currently slated for completion in 2024 after some delays, but about two-thirds of the road is completed and can be used. Another alternate road is Deerfoot Trail, which runs north and south through the city. It's typically busier than Stoney Trail but still faster than the major highways.
More information about traffic in Calgary:
Calgary Public Transportation
Calgary has a few different options for public transportation, including trains, buses, and shuttles. One of the most popular ways to get around is the C-Train. The C-Train runs mostly over-ground and consists of two lines: Blue and Red. The Blue line runs southwest to northeast, and the Red line travels northwest to southeast. The lines intersect downtown. For frequent commutes, it is economical to purchase a monthly pass for $103. However, there is a ride fare-free zone along 7th Avenue near downtown. The C-Train transports about 270,000 passengers per day. It runs on 100% renewable wind-generated energy.
Most neighbourhoods are walkable. Additionally, there are over 581 miles of multi-use paths throughout the city for walking and biking. The Peace Bridge, a pedestrian and cycling bridge, provides actress to the downtown area from the north side of the Bow River. There is also an extensive skyway network called the Plus 15. This network allows pedestrians to move throughout downtown while being protected from extreme winter temperatures.
Ridesharing services and taxis are also plentiful in Calgary. They provide a good option for transportation when in an area outside the city center or domain of the C-Train.
There are 357 schools in Calgary for students from kindergarten through grade 12, and all of the public options are serviced by The Calgary Board of Education. These schools service 171,000 students on an annual basis. There is a variety of different school districts in Calgary to choose from. Calgary School District Area II is one in particular that is known for having high ratings and well-performing students. There are also French-language schools, Catholic schools, and several charter schools that parents and guardians can choose to send their children to.
There are also over 50 alternative public education programs, plus several post-secondary institutions like the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University.
Are You Ready to Move to Calgary
Within the four quadrants and 14 wards, there is truly something for everyone in the best neighborhoods in Calgary. This city has come a long way from its humble homesteading haven beginnings, developing into an important city for energy and other industries. Every season in this city has something to offer, whether it's skiing or picnicking at one of the many beautiful parks. Calgary is truly a city that anyone can call home.
If you're looking for the perfect Calgary home, contact Justin Havre of RE/MAX First with Calgary Homes at (403) 217-0003 to get in touch with a local Calgary real estate agent and discover your new dream home today.