Calgary and Vancouver are two of the most popular cities in Canada. Located on opposite sides of the country, they have vastly different climates and cultures, yet each is attractive to both locals and visitors alike.

Calgary is situated in Alberta’s rolling prairies, a naturally beautiful landscape with plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy. With its mild summers and cold winters, it makes a great destination for those who enjoy winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. The city is also home to some of the country’s best shopping and dining experiences, plus its proximity to the Rocky Mountains ensures breathtaking views no matter where you go.

Vancouver on the other hand is situated in British Columbia’s lush rainforest. It is known for its mild climate and mild winters, making it a great destination to visit year-round. Vancouver is also home to spectacular scenery, with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and majestic mountains surrounding it. The city boasts a vibrant cultural scene with many popular attractions like Stanley Park, Granville Island Public Market and the Museum of Anthropology.

Whether you’re looking for exciting outdoor activities or a vibrant cultural experience, Calgary and Vancouver have something for everyone. From skiing in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains to exploring the hustle and bustle of downtown Vancouver, both cities offer an array of experiences that will keep you entertained and delighted. No matter what you choose to do, Canada’s two largest cities will be sure to provide an unforgettable experience. Let’s take a look at living in Calgary vs Vancouver.

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Calgary overview

Calgary, a stunningly beautiful city in the province of Alberta, Canada, is nestled within the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. Not only does it boast an impressive population as the third-largest urban center in all of Canada, but its idyllic setting also draws outdoor enthusiasts from far and wide for activities such as hiking, skiing and camping.

Boasting a robust economy powered by the oil and gas industry, Calgary is heralded for its many key businesses in the energy, finance, technology, and healthcare. The city houses some of Canada’s most significant corporate entities related to these industries – making it an essential hub for Canadian Oil & Gas corporations.

The gorgeous city of Calgary is best known for the prestigious University of Calgary, renowned for its cutting-edge exploration in energy, environmental science and health fields. It isn’t just a hub for education but also culture, with plentiful museums, galleries and theatres that bring art alive to citizens. Every year they host an event full of joyous celebrations -The legendary Calgary Stampede- proudly highlighting their Western legacy!

Calgary is renowned for its affluent lifestyle, with housing prices that remain relatively affordable in comparison to other cities in Canada. Furthermore, the city’s diverse inhabitants and expansive amenities make it a highly desirable place to call home or pursue one’s career.

Image by Chris Amat via Travel Alberta
Prince's Island Park

Vancouver overview

Vancouver, a beautiful city in the province of British Columbia, Canada, is located on the West Coast and surrounded by nature. With its vibrant culture and breathtaking landscapes, it’s no wonder why Vancouver is one of the most desirable cities to live in in North America.

Vancouver has a moderate climate with warm summers and mild winters. It is also home to several iconic landmarks and attractions, such as Stanley Park, Granville Island Public Market and the Museum of Anthropology. It is known for its world-class shopping and dining experiences, with many of Canada’s top restaurants located in the city centre.

Vancouver is a major economic hub in Western Canada, boasting a robust economy that is driven by the technology, tourism and film industries. The city also boasts some of Canada’s most coveted educational institutions, including the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and BCIT.

Vancouver offers an expansive range of amenities to its diverse citizens, making it one of the most livable cities in North America. With its beautiful landscapes, world-class dining and shopping experiences and robust economy, Vancouver is an ideal place to call home!

vancouver skyline

Calgary vs Vancouver economic comparison

Calgary and Vancouver are two of Canada’s most iconic cities, each offering its own unique economic opportunities. Calgary is recognized internationally for its strong oil and gas industry. This sector remains one of the most important drivers of the city’s economy, creating plentiful job opportunities and a high quality of life.

Vancouver is known to be one of the world’s most livable cities due to its pristine beauty and vibrant culture. The city’s strong economic base consists of its robust technology, tourism and film industries that continue to attract people from all over the world.

Both cities have been recognized as two of the most livable cities in the world for several years. In fact, a recent survey conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit awarded both Calgary and Vancouver a perfect score. This means that Canadian citizens living in these cities enjoy high standards of living and access to exemplary healthcare, education, housing and infrastructure.

Cost of living

Calgary and Vancouver are two popular cities in Canada, each with its own unique charm and appeal. However, when it comes to cost of living, the two cities can vary significantly. According to Numbeo, a website that compiles cost of living data from around the world, the cost of living index in Vancouver is currently 25% higher than in Calgary.

One of the biggest differences between the two cities is housing costs. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the average rental rate for a one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver is currently around $1,600 per month, while in Calgary it is around $1,200 per month. Similarly, the average cost of a detached house in Vancouver is around $1.5 million, while in Calgary it is around $600,000. This means that in terms of housing, Vancouver is much more expensive than Calgary.

Other expenses that are generally higher in Vancouver include transportation, groceries, and restaurant prices. The public transportation cost is relatively high, and the fuel cost is also higher in Vancouver. The cost of food is also slightly more expensive in Vancouver, which can make a difference in your budget if you’re someone who enjoys eating out.

On the other hand, salaries and wages tend to be higher in Vancouver as well, which can help offset some of the higher living costs. According to Statistics Canada, the average hourly wage in Vancouver is around $25, while in Calgary it is around $22.

Overall, while both Calgary and Vancouver have a lot to offer in terms of culture, recreation, and job opportunities, the cost of living in Vancouver is generally higher than in Calgary. However, this will vary based on factors such as personal lifestyle, occupation and a number of other factors. It’s always best to research and compare the cost of living in each city before making a decision.

Sought X Found Coffee Roasters
Image by Jeremy Fokkens via Travel Alberta

Housing market

Calgary and Vancouver are both major Canadian cities, but their housing markets have some significant differences. Historically, Vancouver’s housing market has been much stronger and more expensive than Calgary’s. In 2021, the average home price in Vancouver was around $1.5 million, while in Calgary it was around $500,000.

One of the main reasons for this is the difference in population growth and economic activity between the two cities. Vancouver is a major tourist destination and has a much stronger economy, driven by industries such as technology, film, and tourism. Calgary, on the other hand, is heavily dependent on the oil and gas industry.

Another factor that has affected the housing market in these cities is interest rates. Low interest rates make it easier for people to buy homes, and this has led to increased demand for housing in both cities. However, this has had a greater impact on Vancouver’s housing market, which is already much more expensive than Calgary’s.

In summary, while both Calgary and Vancouver have similar housing markets, Vancouver’s market is generally considered to be stronger and more expensive due to the population growth and economic activity in the city.

Job market

Calgary and Vancouver are two of Canada’s largest cities, with distinct economies and job markets. The economy of Calgary is primarily driven by the oil and gas industry, while Vancouver’s economy is more diverse, with significant contributions from the technology, film and television, tourism, and real estate industries. Both cities are also experiencing a shortage of skilled workers in certain fields, such as construction and technology, which is expected to continue in the coming years.

It’s also worth noting that both cities are actively working to diversify their economies and create new job opportunities. For example, Calgary has been investing in new industries, such as technology and renewable energy, while Vancouver is focusing on growing its technology sector and tourism industry.

Overall, it’s worth considering the specific industries and job opportunities that interest you when deciding between Calgary and Vancouver. Both cities have their own unique strengths and challenges, and it’s important to research and compare the job markets in both cities before making a decision.

Ghost Consultant

Calgary vs Vancouver quality of life comparison

Both cities offer a high quality of life, but they also have some significant differences.

Safety

Calgary and Vancouver are both considered to be safe cities, but there are some differences in terms of crime rates and safety concerns.

In terms of crime rates, both cities have relatively low crime rates when compared to other major cities in North America. According to statistics from the Canadian government, both cities have lower rates of violent crime and property crime than the national average. However, Vancouver tends to have slightly higher rates of certain types of crime such as drug offences and theft.

In terms of safety concerns, both cities have similar issues such as homelessness and panhandling, but it might be more prevalent in Vancouver. The city has a higher population density and a larger homeless population, which can lead to more visible street-level issues such as homelessness and panhandling. Calgary also has a homeless population, but the city’s more dispersed population and more suburban layout may make these issues less visible.

Both cities have dedicated safety and security teams that work to keep the public safe and address safety concerns. This includes regular patrols by police and security personnel, as well as programs and initiatives to address specific issues such as homelessness and drug addiction.

In summary, while both Calgary and Vancouver are considered to be safe cities, Vancouver tends to have slightly higher rates of certain types of crime and some visible safety concerns such as homelessness and panhandling. Both cities have dedicated teams working to keep the public safe and address safety concerns. Ultimately, it is important to research and be aware of the specific neighbourhoods you’re considering, as crime rates and safety concerns can vary widely within a city.

Family biking in St. Patrick's Island Park.
Image by Chris Amat via Travel Alberta

Weather

Calgary and Vancouver are both located in Canada, but they have different climates. Calgary has a continental climate with cold winters and warm summers. The average high temperature in January is -8°C (17.6°F) and the average high temperature in July is 22°C (71.6°F).

Vancouver has a milder climate with temperatures that are generally cooler than those in Calgary. The city experiences a maritime climate, with mild winters and cool summers. The average high temperature in January is 6°C (42.8°F) and the average high temperature in July is 22°C (71.6°F). In general, Vancouver receives more rainfall and snowfall than Calgary.

Amenities

Calgary and Vancouver are both major cities in Canada with a wide range of amenities. However, they have some notable differences in terms of culture, climate, and specific amenities.

Calgary is known for its proximity to the Rocky Mountains, which offer a wide range of outdoor activities such as skiing, hiking, and camping. The city also has a strong cowboy culture, which is reflected in events like the Calgary Stampede, along with the Calgary Flames and the Calgary tower.

Vancouver, on the other hand, is known for its natural beauty, with mountains, oceans, and forests all within a short distance of the city. It’s also a major tourist destination and offers a wide range of cultural amenities, including museums, art galleries, and theatres, as well as the Vancouver Canucks.

Overall, both cities offer a wide range of amenities, but the specific amenities will depend on your interests and priorities.

playing ice hockey in the mountains
Image by Phil Copithorne via Travel Alberta

Transportation

Calgary and Vancouver both have well-developed transportation systems, but they have some notable differences.

Calgary has a public transportation system (Calgary transit) that includes buses, C-Trains (light rail), and a bus rapid transit (BRT) system. The city also has a well-developed road network and is known for its low traffic congestion.

Vancouver has an extensive public transportation system that includes buses, SkyTrains (light rail), and a SeaBus (ferry service). The city is also home to a bike-sharing program, and it has a well-developed network of bike lanes and paths. Additionally, Vancouver is known for its high walkability and livability scores.

Both cities also have airports that offer domestic and international flights, with Calgary International Airport being the fourth busiest airport in Canada and Vancouver International Airport being the second busiest airport in Canada.

Overall, both cities offer a wide range of transportation options, but the specific options will depend on your needs and priorities.

Calgary vs Vancouver conclusion


Nicola Wightman

Nicola Wightman is a regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) under the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC). Her professional immigration consultant number is R706497.

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