Calgary, Alberta is a city known for many things from its oil 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. Calgary is a beautiful city with a booming economy and plenty to see and do, so it's no wonder so many people choose to move there. Cowtown, as it is sometimes known, is full of western culture that any John Wayne or Sam Elliott fan will be able to appreciate, and this is just one reason why Calgary is so different from any other city in Canada. If you're looking for a new place to call home, Calgary has everything anyone could ever want.
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
Cost of Living in Calgary
In 2015, Calgary had the highest number of millionaires per capita of any major Canadian city. Overall, the cost of living index for Calgary is 71.52, which puts it more than 28 points lower than living in New York City. The sales tax is low, and there is no provincial sales tax. However, there is still a 5% Goods and Services Tax added to purchases throughout the country, except for essential items like basic groceries, prescription medication, and feminine hygiene products. Compared to other large cities within Canada, Calgary has a more affordable cost of living than Toronto and Vancouver.
The cost of living in Calgary is directly dependent upon the oil and gas industry. When it's doing well, prices tend to fall, but when it's having troubles, prices rise. Average monthly utilities vary widely throughout the country. 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, unless the apartment is located in the highly-desirable areas of the Southwest and Northwest.
If buying a house rather than renting, expect to pay an average of between $420,000 to $470,000. Healthcare is centralized by the government, and the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (ACHIP) is the provider for all healthcare services for permanent residents and expats staying longer than 12 months.
Groceries tend to be more expensive than 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.
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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 local economy, but there is a diverse landscape of industries in the region. Calgary has the highest household income across Canada at over $100,000 as of 2017. The minimum wage is approximately $15 per hour, and the unemployment rate is somewhat higher than the national average at 10.3%.
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. The top three private employers are Shaw Communications, Telus, and Nova Chemicals. Meanwhile, healthcare and education top the roster of public sector jobs.
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Things to Do in Calgary
The population of Calgary is diverse, with a median age of 36. It is easy to understand why so many people are drawn to the area when accounting for the wealth of opportunities for outdoor activities, nightlife, museums, and restaurants. Calgary is known for its annual Calgary Stampede held every July, and 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 while 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 Provencial Park and Nose Hill Park. For those who love hiking, Calgary has its fair share of beautiful trails nearby. Big Hill Springs and Grassi Lakes Trail are two that stand out as fan favorites.
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 in use 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 languges 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 world-famous Cowboys Dance Hall, a nightclub for people who love country music or just wants 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. The HiFi Club is a legendary music venue in the electronic music world, and it gives stage to both awesome local acts and influential electronic artists from around the world.
Being part of Canada, Calgary experiences cold winters with a lot of snow. January is Calgary's coldest month, and 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.
During the summer, Calgary typically stays around 24°C, and 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, Jully, and August when temperatures range between 10 and 25°C. However, snow sport enthusiasts will want to plan their vacations starting in November when skiing season starts.
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It is worthwhile to have a car in Calgary unless you can take advantage of the city's C-Train. However, with such a 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 cities trails and streets to travel through the city by car. Currently, there is a road in construction called Stoney Trail (also known as the Southwest Calgary Ring Road) that 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 are 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.
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Calgary Public Transportation
Calgary has a few different options for public transportation, including trains, busses, 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 wouthwest to northeast, and the Red line travels northwest to southeast. The lines intersect in 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 neighborhoods 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 the 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. The Calgary Board of Education is the public school board in Calgary. 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.
Why You Should Move to Calgary
Within the four quadrants and 14 wards, there is truly something for everyone in Calgary. This city has come a long way from its humble homesteading haven beginnings, developing into an important city for energy as well as other industries. Even with the cold winters and piles of snow, every season in this city has something to offer, whether it's skiing or picnicking at one of the many beautiful parks. In fact, the Conference Board of Canada ranks Calgary as one of the cleanest, healthiest cities in the country, bestowing it with an A grade for effective recycling programs and additional green living. Calgary is truly a city that anyone can call home.