Cost of Living in Calgary AB: 9 Things for Your Budget
Calgary, Alberta, renowned for its vibrant culture and stunning landscapes, offers a dynamic cost of living spectrum that reflects its status as one of Canada's major cities. Homebuyers considering moving to Alberta can benefit from a comprehensive overview of the expenses associated with living in Calgary, from housing and utilities to transportation and leisure. By focusing on key expenses, prospective residents can gauge the financial implications of their decision to call this dynamic city home.
Calgary Real Estate
Calgary's real estate market has experienced significant changes in recent years. Low supply has led to a rise in benchmark prices, resulting in an average home price of around $550,000. As real estate costs in Calgary have increased, attached and semi-attached properties have become more popular among buyers. Condos, duplexes, and townhomes in Calgary typically range in price from $130,000 for a studio or small one-bedroom apartment to $700,000 for a luxury two- or three-bedroom residence.
In contrast, the detached home market has a higher entry point for buyers, with prices generally ranging from $700,000 to $1.2 million. Buyers interested in Calgary's luxury homes have options in both attached and detached sectors. High-end condos, Calgary new construction homes, and grand estates are available with values exceeding $3 million.
Despite the home price increase, Calgary remains Canada's second most affordable housing market. Toronto and Vancouver pale in comparison, with median home prices of around $1.2 million each. This makes Calgary a highly attractive option for buyers who are looking for more affordable housing while still living in a major Canadian city.
Renting in Calgary
Rental prices in Calgary have increased 17% year-over-year since 2020, following a trend seen in many other Canadian cities. In 2023, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Calgary was $1,800, while two bedrooms averaged $2,100 per month. Generally, neighbourhoods in the southwest quadrant of the city closer to downtown tend to have higher rental rates. On the other hand, areas that are further away from Calgary's City Centre usually have lower rental prices. Some of Calgary's most expensive neighbourhoods include Beltline, Mission, Mount Royal, and Elboya, whereas Renfrew, Montgomery, Forest Lawn, and Dover are some of the more affordable neighbourhoods in the city.
Groceries in Calgary
The cost of groceries in Calgary varies based on household size, dietary restrictions, and shopping habits. Buying organic or locally sourced products like those available at the Calgary Farmers' Market may increase the cost of groceries. Still, the quality of the food and the support for local businesses can be worth the extra expense for some Calgarians.
Several grocery stores in Calgary offer a wide range of options at lower prices. These include Walmart, Giant Tiger, Save-on-Foods, No Frills, Costco, and Real Canadian Superstore, all of which can provide consumers with savings.
Eating Out in Calgary
Calgary boasts approximately 6,000 restaurants serving both domestic and international cuisines. Local specialties such as Alberta beef, ginger beef, and bánh mì are popular dishes. On average, a dinner for two at a mid-range restaurant costs around $56. Some affordable options for dining out include Village Flatbread, Thai Thien, and El Furniture Warehouse, all of which offer meals under $11. Fast food chains like A&W and McDonald's also offer value meals for around $16, including a drink. A single lunch item at a casual restaurant in Calgary averages $13 per person. Fine dining, however, can cost anywhere from $100 to $300 per person, depending on the restaurant and the menu.
Utilities in Calgary
Utilities are a major factor in the cost of living in Alberta. A 1,000-square-foot household can expect to pay around $300 per month for electricity, including heating and cooling. Water, sewer, and waste collection costs can add $70 to $110 monthly.
Alberta is the only Canadian province with a deregulated electricity market, which means consumers can choose their electricity provider. Suncor, ATCO, and Enmax are some of the popular choices in Calgary. The province has an average electricity rate of $0.077 per kilowatt hour (kWh). The Alberta Electric System Operator predicts that integrating renewable energy sources such as wind and solar will reduce utility costs in Alberta over time.
Other monthly costs to consider while living in Calgary include internet and phone. A typical package that includes TV, landline, and internet ranges from $120 to $180 monthly. The average cost of internet in Calgary is $65, with plans ranging from $50 to $120 depending on the provider and connection speed.
Getting Around in Calgary
Calgary has a well-connected traffic infrastructure with major highways like Deerfoot Trail, Macleod Trail, Crowchild Trail, Glenmore Trail, and Highway 1. Stoney Trail, also known as Ring Road, encircles the city, shortening commute times and making it relatively easy to get around in Calgary. Deerfoot Trail, also known as Highway 2, runs north to south and is vital to driving in Edmonton, where it's referred to as the Queen Elizabeth II Highway.
Gas prices in Calgary are affordable at $1.37 per litre. However, it's important to note that Alberta has some of the highest car insurance rates in Canada, similar to those in British Columbia and Ontario. Drivers in Calgary pay around $1,300 per year for car insurance.
Public transportation is available through Calgary Transit, whose extensive bus network comprises more than 250 routes and covers most areas of the city. Public transit riders can also use the CTrain's Red and Blue lines, with a third line underway. The fare for a single adult is $3.60, while the fare for youth (ages 13–17) is $2.45. Monthly passes are available for $112 for adults and $82 for younger riders. Seniors (65 and over) are eligible for a yearly pass that costs $150.
Taxis and ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are available in Calgary. The cost of a taxi ride is around $1.91 per kilometre. Ride-sharing fares from the airport to the southwest quadrant range from $35 to $45, depending on the time of day and demand.
Entertainment in Calgary
Calgary offers endless entertainment options, from sporting events and art galleries to concerts and festivals, all of which is a major factor in its status as one of the best places to live in Alberta. These expenses vary depending on the activity, but overall, Calgary has something to offer for every budget and interest. One advantage of living in Alberta is that there is no sales tax at the provincial level, so Calgarians pay only the federal 5% tax on goods and services.
Hockey enthusiasts can watch the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome, with tickets starting as low as $14 and averaging $117. For those who prefer outdoor activities, several parks and trails spread throughout Calgary's best neighbourhoods are free to visit, including Fish Creek Provincial Park and Nose Hill Park.
Music lovers can attend concerts and music festivals throughout the year. Some popular venues for live music include Fort Calgary, Stampede Park, and the Jack Singer Concert Hall. Ticket prices for concerts vary depending on the artist and the venue, ranging from $30 to $130 for general admission.
Other popular activities in Calgary include visiting museums, going up to the Calgary Tower observation deck ($22), and exploring the city's golf scene, with seven municipal courses that charge between $33 and $65 per round.
Skiing Near Calgary
Calgary is a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts—ever-important to the Alberta economy—as it boasts several world-renowned ski resorts within a few hours' drive. Banff National Park is home to the "Big 3" ski resorts: Mt. Norquay, Lake Louise and Sunshine Village. These resorts offer a variety of terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all levels, along with stunning views of the Canadian Rockies. The cost for a one-day lift pass ranges from $62 to $179.
Half-day tickets are also available, starting at around $29 and up to $129. A more affordable option is Nakiska Ski Resort, located within an hour's drive from Calgary. Here, skiers can save about $30 on a day pass, and seasonal passes cost nearly $1,000 per adult and $2,300 per family.
Healthcare & Child Care in Calgary
Canadian citizens or individuals with valid residence or work visas are eligible to receive free healthcare in Calgary. The Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP) provides complete coverage for medically necessary physician services and also offers some dental and oral surgical health services. Standard dental procedures can cost anywhere from $200 to $300 per visit for preventative services.
Childcare costs in Calgary can be pretty high compared to other Canadian provinces like Quebec and Manitoba. Infants and toddlers under three years of age cost parents an average of $1,250 monthly, while care for preschoolers is more affordable at around $1,000 monthly.
To help reduce childcare costs, the City of Calgary offers subsidies for eligible families. The subsidy amount varies based on household income, the number and age of children, and the type of childcare arrangement (licensed facilities or family day home agencies). For children aged 0 to kindergarten level, the subsidy amount ranges from $106 to $266 per month.
Calgary's average salary is around $65,000 per year or $33.49 per hour; it's very possible to live comfortably here when you combine salaries with the city's status as one of Alberta's cities with the lowest property taxes. It's important to note that salaries vary depending on industry, plus the worker's education and experience. Top-paying sectors in Calgary include oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, and technology. The retail and service sectors tend to offer lower salaries.
Some of Calgary's most popular job titles are General Practitioner, Software Developer, and Project Manager. Salaries for these positions typically range from $80,000 to $120,000 annually. On the other hand, customer support associates, bank tellers, and food service workers typically earn between the minimum wage of $15 per hour and around $35,000 annually.
The unemployment rate in Calgary is around 6.3%, which is slightly higher than the national average of 5.7%. However, when compared to other provinces, Alberta's unemployment rate of 5.9% is only slightly higher than British Columbia's 5.3% and Quebec's 5% and lower than Ontario's 6.1%.
It's worth noting that Alberta has a flat tax rate of 10% for taxable income up to $142,292 in 2023. For taxable income up to $170,751, the tax rate increases to 12%. Finally, the provincial government taxes personal income above $341,502.01 at a rate of 15%.
Living Costs in Calgary, Alberta
Calgary's cost of living presents a varied picture, influenced by its economic vitality and quality of life. The broad range in the city's real estate market makes it one of Alberta's most affordable places to live. While some aspects of living in this Canadian city may be higher than in other regions, Calgary offers a balance of urban amenities and natural beauty. It's vital to carefully consider all the financial considerations, from housing costs to lifestyle expenses, to gain a realistic understanding of what to expect. For those planning to move to Calgary, this insight is essential for making informed decisions.