Moving to Calgary, AB: Is Calgary a Good Place to Live?

Moving to Calgary, AB Living Guide

The city of Calgary offers unique opportunities for those considering a move. This vibrant city, known for its stunning natural beauty and dynamic urban environment, provides an ideal balance for work and leisure. It's a place where natural wonders meet city life, offering something for everyone. If you're seeking a change in scenery or pursuing new prospects, understanding everything the area offers is key. Discover why moving to Calgary could be your best decision yet.

Top 10 Reasons Calgary is a Great Place to Live

  • Lower cost of living than big cities elsewhere in Canada
  • Great real estate prices compared to other cities
  • Year-round outdoor activities
  • Home to some of Canada's biggest annual festivals
  • One of the sunniest cities in Canada
  • One of the cleanest large cities in the world
  • Great public transportation system
  • Amazing arts and culture to enjoy
  • Very dog-friendly city
  • Breathtaking natural scenery

Biggest Advantages of Living in Calgary

Calgary is consistently ranked as one of the world's top 10 most livable cities. Anyone who spends even a brief amount of time here can understand why. Nestled where the prairies meet the Rocky Mountains, Calgary is situated in an area that offers stunning natural beauty with all the amenities of a major city. A robust economy, abundant educational and career opportunities, and a high quality of life all make this a great place to live, work, and play.

Cost of Living in Calgary

What's the Cost of Living in Calgary?

Residents in Calgary enjoy a lower cost of living than in other large cities in Canada, such as Vancouver or Toronto. Single-family homes range in price from the high $300s all the way up to around $10 million for the highest-end luxury homes. The average cost of living in the city, minus rent or mortgage, is typically around $1,600 per month for a single person or around $5,600 for a family of four. The median household income after tax is nearly $84,800, or around $7,060 per month.

Apartment rental prices vary widely in Calgary. The closer a person lives to the downtown area, the more the price increases. The average cost for a two-bedroom apartment is about $2,250 a month. Utilities, food, and transportation are all comparable or slightly cheaper than in other large cities. Plus, Alberta's income taxes are the lowest out of all the provinces in Canada and help keep the province cost of living more reasonable.

Calgary's Strong Economy

Alberta has a very business-friendly climate, so companies and startups looking to find a great workforce have flocked to Calgary in recent decades. The province's corporate income tax is 8%, which is the lowest in Canada. More than 100 international companies have their corporate offices headquartered here. Calgary is also home to more than 700 startup companies, many of which are in the tech sector. The number of jobs helps set Calgary apart when compared to Montréal and some of the country's other large cities.

Calgary's economy has been anchored by the oil and gas industry for many years. Energy companies such as Enbridge and ATCO are headquartered here and employ many thousands of workers. The Canadian Pacific Railway also makes its home base in Calgary, providing transport and shipping for the city's high volume of exports to other provinces. 

However, more recently, the economy has become much more diversified in terms of industries. Skilled trades, scientific and technical services, healthcare, and social assistance are all major employment industries. Calgary’s population is growing, so the building industry is expected to continue to flourish as new construction homes, condo communities, and suburban neighbourhoods continue to spring up.

More information about finding a job in Calgary:

Calgary's Festivals

There's always something exciting happening in Calgary. The city hosts many different festivals and community events every year, some of which are major tourism draws. 

TheCalgary Stampede is billed as one of the biggest and wildest outdoor shows in the world, and it lives up to that reputation. This massive rodeo takes place over nine days in July and draws more than one million tourists to the city. In addition to the rodeo, there are huge arena concerts, a parade, First Nations exhibitions, and much more.

The High Performance Rodeo is a two-week wintertime arts and culture festival (not actually a "rodeo"). The Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo is a springtime festival celebrating pop culture. GlobalFest is an international celebration with live music, food, dancing, and a nightly fireworks show that happens over five days in August. The Calgary International Film Festival is one of the most highly respected film festivals in the country, with more than 200 feature and short films playing every September.

Things to Do in Calgary

Activities & Entertainment in Calgary

Calgary is an amazing city to visit and an even better place to live. Residents have access to a year-round plethora of activities for all ages to enjoy. From major events with thousands of people in attendance to a quiet dinner for two, the city has a little something for everyone. Active people who love the outdoors will find no shortage of adventures, including enjoying the many farmers markets in the area. Those who love seeing the sights and visiting tourist attractions have tons of options. Calgary also has an incredible dining scene, and the nightlife is also enticing.

Here is a closer look at some of the many things to do in Calgary.

Outdoor Activities

The Calgary Zoo is a fun spot to visit that's open year-round. Visitors can take a walk through the zoo and enjoy watching and learning about animals from every continent. Calaway Park is another great choice. It's one of the largest amusement parks in Canada and has a ton of rides, live entertainment, a spray-and-play, and much more.

The more adventurous sorts may want to check out the Olympic Park Zip-Line. After a training session, they can ride to the top of the ski jump tower and experience a 500-meter zip-line ride at 120 kph. 

Calgary also maintains more than 8,500 hectares of city parks, more than 1,000 kilometres of outdoor trails, more than 1,100 playgrounds, and hundreds of sports fields for soccer and baseball.

Local Attractions

The Calgary Tower used to be the tallest structure in the downtown area, but it has now been eclipsed by a few other skyscrapers. Still, the 191-metre Calgary Tower is a great place to visit, and it has a viewing area with a glass floor offering a thrilling view of the city. There’s also a revolving restaurant at the top. 

The National Music Centre is located in the massive Studio Bell structure in the East Village neighbourhood. The Music Centre is home to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, and many artifacts and instruments that were once owned by some of the biggest performing artists in the world.

Devonian Gardens is a large indoor botanical garden at the Core Shopping Centre. It has more than 500 species of trees, numerous plant species, fish ponds, and a playground for the kids to experience.

Restaurants & Nightlife

Calgary is home to a wide variety of delicious restaurants that are perfect for all budgets. Here are a few to check out:

  • River Café: Gourmet dining on beautiful Prince's Island Park.
  • Winebar Kensington: Quick bites, full meals, and a huge selection of wines.
  • Paper Lantern: Authentic Vietnamese cuisine in a fun basement speakeasy.
  • Major Tom: A5 Wagyu and one of the hardest reservations to score in Calgary.
  • Twisted Element: Adults-only nightclub with live DJs and cocktails.
  • Cowboys Casino: Food, drinks, live country music, and gambling.
  • Commonwealth Bar & Stage: Nightclub with DJ shows and two dance floors.

Schools in Calgary

The Calgary Board of Education, also known as Calgary School District No. 19, operates over 250 secular public schools in the city. It serves more than 130,000 students in grades K through 12. There is a wide variety of programs and opportunities for students at all age levels in the city, so parents should do some careful research when shopping for a home. The school district provides a web-based Find a School app to search for schools in specific neighbourhoods.

The Calgary Catholic School District serves more than 60,000 students in 118 K–12 schools. The boundaries of CCSD extend slightly beyond the Calgary city limits.

The Southern Francophone Education Region No. 4 also operates in Calgary. It's a much smaller school district than the others and serves French first-language students across the entire region.

For secondary education, the most well-known option is the University of Calgary. It has a student population of more than 36,000 undergraduate and post-graduate students. The Department of Geosciences trains students who often go on to work in Alberta's oil and gas industries. This public university is also known for its Faculty of Law, the Haskayne School of Business, and the Cumming School of Medicine. 

Getting Around Calgary

Traffic & Public Transit in Calgary

Traffic, commute times, and access to public transportation are always concerns for people moving to a new city. Calgary's workers do have to wrestle with rush hour traffic every weekday, as in all large cities. The city has a bus rapid transit system and light rail to help commuters get to work on time. Just keep in mind that Calgary covers a large geographic area—more than 860 square kilometres—so it takes some time for newcomers to figure out the best ways to get around the city.

Traffic in Calgary

The morning rush in Calgary lasts from about 7:00 to 9:30 a.m., and the evening rush is from about 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. The bridges crossing the Bow River from the northern half of Calgary into Downtown Calgary are the areas that see the most congestion during these times. The average commute time within the Calgary city limits is just over 24 minutes, which is one of the quickest commutes in any major Canadian city. The Calgary Travel Times website is a good place to check before starting a commute, to see whether there are any major delays.

The Calgary Parking Authority manages all the city's parking permits, fees, and ticketing. There are metered parking spots in the downtown area that are free to use after 6:00 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and all day on Sundays and holidays. Multiple parking lots and parkades are available in Downtown Calgary, to the north and south of downtown, and in Kensington, Beltline, and Inglewood. Some parts of the city have Residential Parking Zones where permits are required to park.

Calgary Public Transportation

Calgary Transit operates both the city's bus system and the light rail service. There are about 150 bus routes serving all major areas of the city, including the airport, the university, Downtown Calgary, and all the outlying neighbourhoods. Calgary Transit also operates 120 dedicated bus routes that are just for high school students to get to and from school each day. In addition, there are 11 Express Bus routes. These routes only operate during peak (rush hour) times of the day. The Express Buses run in one direction in the morning and the opposite direction in the afternoon.

More than 225,000 riders use the CTrain light rail system in Calgary every weekday. There are about 60 kilometres of tracks running through Calgary on two rail lines—the Blue Line and the Red Line. A third Green Line is expected to open in stages between 2026 and 2030. There are more than 45 train stations across the city to help commuters quickly get to work. In Downtown Calgary, the train runs in a free-fare zone to help tourists and workers quickly get around. The costs for fares and passes are identical whether a commuter rides the train or the bus in Calgary. 

Calgary Climate

Calgary has a sub-arctic prairie-steppe climate. Winters tend to get very cold, but the summers are very pleasant due to lots of sunshine and very low humidity. 

Every winter, there are an average of 88 days when Calgary gets more than one centimetre of measurable snow—and sometimes a lot more than a centimetre! Snow usually falls between October and May, but it can happen almost any month of the year. January is usually the coldest month of winter, with temperatures hovering around -9 degrees, but it’s actually March that typically sees the most snowfall.

Temperatures start to climb above freezing in late April. By May, the daytime high temperatures will climb to around 16 degrees. In July and August, the highs are around 23 degrees. The city usually gets a little bit of rain during the summer, but Calgary enjoys an average of 333 days of sunshine every year. The summers are definitely the most pleasant and comfortable time of year to pay a visit to Calgary.

How Are Winters in Calgary?

If you’re comparing winters across various Canadian cities, you’ll hear a lot about Calgary’s Chinooks. While Calgary winters get cold, the Chinooks keep them from being relentless.

Due to its location on the prairie in southern Alberta, the city will usually experience a Chinook multiple times throughout the cold season. These warm winds can raise the outside temperature by about 30 degrees in just a few hours, and they last anywhere from a few hours to several days.

Ready to Move to Calgary?

Calgary stands out as a top choice for relocating due to its blend of big-city attractions and natural outdoor appeal. Its friendly community and plethora of opportunities create an inviting atmosphere for newcomers. Moving to Calgary means embracing a unique lifestyle like nowhere else in Alberta, so get your boxes ready.

Are you ready to move to Calgary? Call The Justin Havre Real Estate Team with eXp Realty at (403) 217-0003 to talk with a local real estate agent who can help you discover your dream Calgary home.

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