Nestled amidst the picturesque foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the city of Cochrane beckons those searching for a harmonious blend of modern living and natural beauty—whether a homebuyer moving to Alberta or a big-city resident looking for a suburban reprieve. With its historical roots, diverse amenities, and proximity to Calgary, this charming town offers an inviting escape for those wishing to experience a unique Canadian lifestyle. Whether drawn by its scenic vistas or the promise of a tight-knit community, the journey to Cochrane promises myriad opportunities.
10 Reasons to Move to Cochrane
- 20 minutes from Calgary
- Fast-growing community
- Historic Downtown area
- Lots of retail shopping
- Many annual events
- Plenty of school choices
- Beautiful natural views
- Access to outdoor activities
- Pleasant temperate summers
- Access to parks
Cost of Living in Cochrane
The cost of living in Cochrane is approximately 9% lower than Alberta’s average and also 9% lower than the national average, and thanks to its housing prices, it’s significantly cheaper than the cost of living in Calgary. Housing is approximately 41% lower than the national average, with detached homes in Cochrane listing from around $500,000. While Cochrane’s luxury homes can list for more than $1.5 million, the vast majority sell from the $500s to $1 million.
Condos in Cochrane list from the high $200s to the mid-$400s, and townhomes typically sell from the high $300s to the mid-$500s. The average monthly rent is approximately $1,150 to $1,650 but may be higher depending on the size and location of the condo, townhome, or apartment. Monthly, drivers can expect to pay around $470, which includes daily commutes and travel to and from other nearby amenities.
Utilities in Cochrane average just $154 per month, and the average household spends around $446 per month on groceries. While gasoline prices fluctuate, residents spend around $5.39 per gallon, on average. Local public transportation costs $2 for a one-way ticket. Residents pay around $46 per month for Internet service. This part of Alberta has seen significant population growth in recent years, with the overall total of people living in Cochrane increasing by about 24%.
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Cochrane Job Market
While some residents of Cochrane commute to the city, others work from home or work at local businesses. One of the city’s largest employers is Garmin, a world-renowned technology and software company. Garmin recently expanded here and is increasing the number of paid positions at its local facility from 200 to 400, doubling the number of employees. Media and advertising are big employers in Cochrane, including companies like Urban Casual Media, Blue Pixel Media, and many others. Because it is one of the fastest-growing places in Canada, many new businesses are putting down their roots here.
There are over 1,725 businesses in this city, so residents have plenty of opportunities to choose from. Many teachers and educators work for the Rocky View School District or at schools in Calgary. Bow Valley College is another top employer. UFA (United Farmers of Alberta) is another top employer that supplies crops, livestock, petroleum, building products, and services and was voted as one of the best employers in 2020. Other employers include Harvest Dental Care, OSR Healthcare, Inc., Safeway, Aspen Creek Designer Homes, and many more. Tech companies allowing employees to work from home is a draw for many people choosing to live in Cochrane.
Popular Industries in the Area
The most popular industries in Cochrane include retail trade, construction, business services, and agriculture. The technology sector is growing rapidly, much in part due to its close proximity to the massive economy in Calgary. Large companies are choosing Cochrane over the bigger cities in Alberta due to its smaller community size. The Calgary International Airport is just 45 minutes from Cochrane, so many residents commute and work there. Ranching and lumber are also long-standing industries. Because the city is growing, the residential and commercial construction industries are also seeing a boom. Grocery, hardware, and restaurant retailers are also flourishing here, as well as recreation and entertainment.
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Things to Do in Cochrane
Outdoor recreation, including skiing, hiking, horseback riding, and camping, are popular activities here; combined with the countless things to do in Calgary, residents are rarely starved for choices. The Cochrane Golf Club is a nine-hole course with an 18-hole mini-course for golf enthusiasts. The area is also a short drive to Banff National Park, where visitors can enjoy camping, sightseeing, fishing, and much more. Shopping and dining are also abundant, and restaurants like MacKay’s Ice Cream have been in the area since 1948.
Outdoor activities are abundant in Cochrane, and residents enjoy visiting the Bow River for fishing, boating, and rafting. Cochrane Ranche Historic Site is a 55-hectare public park featuring fire pits, an outdoor stage, picnic tables, and plenty of room to get out and explore. The Cowboy Trail—one of the best trails in Cochrane—offers trail riding and hosts a cowboy festival, powwows, and more. This trail links Waterton Lakes National Park to Mayerthorpe and spans across Alberta’s high country. Mitford Park is located along the north bank of the Bow River and has a pedestrian and cycling pathway, baseball diamonds, a soccer field, a skate park, ponds, and more.
There are many local attractions in Cochrane, including:
- Boundary Ranch, a horseback trail riding tour company
- Cochrane Disc Golf, located at Riverfront Park
- Cochrane Historical Museum offers a variety of exhibits and information about Cochrane’s past
- Cochrane Mini Golf is a fun 18-hole mini golf course with bridges, benches, and asphalt pathways
- Food Bike Tours, a local bike tour that takes guests to some of the best restaurants in Cochrane
- Route 22 Artist Collective Gallery, a local fine art gallery and boutique featuring works by many native and local artists
- The Links of GlenEagles, an 18-hole golf course with amazing views
Restaurants & Nightlife
Cochrane has plentiful restaurants and nightlife for residents and visitors to enjoy. For more late-night fun, Calgary’s nightlife boasts endless opportunities for fun. Cochrane Baking Company offers delicious baked goods like croissants, cupcakes, doughnuts, scones, and cakes — whole or by the slice. Fence & Post is a local upscale restaurant serving dishes made from fresh, local ingredients. The restaurant features an ever-changing menu of dishes made with influences from around the world. Cochrane Coffee Traders, located in historic Downtown Cochrane, serves hot and iced coffee of all kinds and roasted beans for visitors to take home and is located in historic downtown. Half Hitch Brewery Company is a local, family-owned brewery serving up craft beers that are brewed on-site.
Cochrane is known for its comfortable summers and cold, snowy winters. The area is partly sunny almost year-round, and temperatures can vary from -13° to 23°. Most tourists say that the best time to visit Cochrane is from early July to mid-August if one is interested in participating in warm-weather activities. However, those who enjoy skiing and other winter sports will prefer to visit during winter.
Generally, the warm season runs from June to September, with an average daily temperature of 18°. July is the hottest month, with an average high temperature of 22°. The cold season lasts from around November to March, with average daily highs around 1°. December is the coldest month of the year, with temperatures averaging a low of -12° and a high of -2°.
The wettest season lasts from May to mid-September, when there is a greater than 20% chance of precipitation on any given day. June is the month with the most wet days, averaging 10.4 days with precipitation. January sees the fewest wet days, with just 1.4 days of the month getting precipitation.
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Traffic in Cochrane
There is currently a plan to upgrade and widen Highway 1A from the bottom of the Big Hill, just past Sixth Avenue to alleviate traffic. Because Cochrane is such a fast-growing part of Alberta, the need for more roadways and better transportation is increasing along with the population. Recent improvements have been made to Griffin Road, and the Jack Tennant Memorial Bridge and connecting roadway have recently been completed. Phase one of the Centre Avenue improvements is currently underway as well.
Most residents say that the sanding and maintenance of the roads in Cochrane is excellent, making it fairly safe to drive and commute during winter. While many residents work from home, some commute to Downtown Calgary or within city limits. Traffic tends to be heaviest during normal business rush hours, and it may be slower in areas where road construction or maintenance is underway. Overall, traffic to and from Cochrane is mostly tolerable, and, according to most residents, it’s much more enjoyable driving here than driving in Calgary.
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Cochrane Public Transportation
There are a few options for public transportation in Cochrane, including a local on-demand transit system called COLT. The COLT system offers transportation to a variety of communities throughout Cochrane. Residents may use the website or mobile app, or they may call COLT directly to request a bus at a specific location and on a specific day and time during service hours. COLT has also partnered with SOUTHLAND Transportation and launched a transit service that integrates COLT with an enhanced On-It regional service running between Cochrane and Calgary. Once in the big city, Calgary’s public transit system can get you anywhere you need to go. The regional service makes travelling for school, work, shopping, and other activities easy and affordable.
An eco-friendly electric transportation company called Bird also arrived in Cochrane in the summer of 2023. Bird is partnering with Cochrane for a pilot program that will support the city’s environmental and transportation goals. The company helps to reduce carbon emissions, reduce traffic congestion, and shrink gaps in accessibility to transportation by providing residents with an alternative. Bird’s Electric Scooter Pilot Project gives people a fun, clean, car-free transportation alternative.
Schools in Cochrane
The Rocky View Schools and Calgary Schools Districts operate the schools in Cochrane, and homeschooling households are served by a network called Cochrane Home Educators. Students may attend one of eight elementary schools, including Fireside School, Glenbow Elementary, and RancheView School. École Elizabeth Barrett Elementary is a French immersion elementary school. Just one middle school serves local students: École Manchaban Middle School, which is also French immersion. High school students may attend one of three schools, including Bow Valley High School, Cochrane High School, and St. Timothy High School, a Catholic school.
Colleges and universities in and around Cochrane include Ambrose University, Prairie College, and Vanguard College. The Canadian Baptist Theological and Seminary College is located in Cochrane. Bow Valley College, located in Downtown Calgary, provides a wide curriculum that includes business training, technology classes, community studies, and unique continual learning opportunities that last long after graduation.
The Vibrant Cochrane Community Awaits
Having explored the ins and outs of Cochrane—one of Calgary’s suburbs with the lowest property taxes—one can undoubtedly appreciate its allure. Its captivating blend of contemporary conveniences and unparalleled natural landscapes offers residents a life of balance and serenity. For anyone contemplating a move, Cochrane emerges as a compelling destination where both adventure and tranquillity await. Here, amid the backdrop of the majestic Rockies, one can craft a life story as rich and varied as the town's tapestry.