Calgary is the largest city in the Canadian province of Alberta. Based on its population of around 1.3 million, Calgary is also the fourth-largest metropolitan area in Canada. Calgary is situated on the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers, with the great Rockies in the backdrop.

Calgary has consistently been ranked among the world’s most livable cities, making it a worthy consideration for people interested in moving to a different city. Often referred to as the gateway to the Rocky Mountains, Calgary lies only a short distance from Banff, one of the most beautiful places in the world.

By and large, the economic activity in Calgary revolves around the energy industry, tourism, and agriculture. Alberta’s oil reserves are second only to Saudi Arabia, and it captures the majority of the Canadian oil industry.

Calgary is a great place to live with a strong economy, beautiful natural scenery, and high quality of life. It offers a range of amenities and cultural activities, a friendly community, and outdoor recreation opportunities. Cold winters are offset by a vibrant economy and overall attractive living conditions.

Whether you’re considering moving to Calgary or just want to know more about life there, this guide will provide you with an in-depth look into the advantages, disadvantages, and everything in between to answer the question “Is Calgary a good place to live?”

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Is Calgary a good place to live?

Calgary is known for its wonderful quality of life, thanks to its growing economy and diverse range of amenities. The cost of living in Calgary is fairly low, with housing prices, in particular, being quite affordable compared to other cities in Canada. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly home or a luxurious condo, you’re sure to find something that suits your needs. Job opportunities in Calgary are plentiful, with many local and multinational companies based in the city.

Calgary also offers a range of educational options from kindergarten through to post-secondary studies. There are numerous public and private schools, as well as universities and colleges offering a range of courses. The city has excellent public transportation, making it easy to get around town. There’s also no shortage of shopping and dining options, with plenty of local businesses and international chains.

Calgary is also home to a variety of cultural attractions, including museums, galleries, and theatres. The city is known for its vibrant music and art scenes, and there are plenty of festivals and events throughout the year. With its stunning natural beauty, Calgary is a great place to explore the outdoors, with plenty of parks, trails, and outdoor activities to enjoy.

Image by Chris Amat via Travel Alberta
Olympic Plaza

Pros and cons of living in Calgary

Here are some of the pros and cons of living in Calgary:

Pros of living in Calgary

Here are a few reasons why people think Calgary is a good place to live.

Calgary was named the world's 3rd most liveable city

Despite Toronto and Vancouver is known as the greatest cities in Canada, Calgary has emerged to be the top city of choice for living this year. With its unparalleled amenities, diverse culture and progressive economy, it is no surprise that Calgary stands out from all other Canadian cities in 2022!

Calgary has achieved its highest-ever ranking on the world’s most livable cities list, taking third place alongside Zurich in Switzerland. Canada’s third largest city by StatCan, Calgary has jumped 15 spots since 2021 due to its effective pandemic restrictions and is now considered one of the best places to live worldwide.

Proximity to vacation destinations

Calgary lies close to some of the best vacation destinations in the world. This includes Banff National Park, Edmonton, and Canmore. All these places lie a day’s travel away. If you’re interested in a road trip, you can head to Vancouver and reach there in about 10 hours. The Glacier National Park is also just 3 hours away.

how to move to Banff

Excellent healthcare

One of the biggest reasons people want to move to Calgary is the promising healthcare city has to offer. The Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan is sought after by many citizens and provides excellent coverage for serious health issues and general health and well-being. It is also interesting to note that the city has more physicians per capita than the national average.

Female stood on Calgary bus

Robust public transit system

Calgary has a dependable, affordable, convenient, and environmentally friendly transit system that significantly assists citizens in moving from one corner of the city to another. Its C train system is powered by clean wind farm energy, and the stops are spread across the city. Besides trains, the city also has an extensive bus network, making it possible for people to travel green without a personal vehicle.

Low sales tax

Another attractive feature of Calgary is the absence of provincial sales tax in Alberta. Apart from saving on gas, you can also save money on these taxes. The only taxes you have to pay in Calgary are the Federal Goods and Services Tax. This perk makes Calgary one of the most affordable cities in Canada.

Calgary Stampede

The annual Calgary Stampede is one of the biggest events in the city every year. This 10-day event has a lot to offer, including traditional rodeo competitions, concerts, festival activities and so much more.

Calgary stampede rodeo

Good nightlife

Calgary’s nightlife is vibrant, diverse and energetic. With more than 700 bars, pubs and nightclubs scattered throughout the booming city, there are plenty of opportunities to explore and find new friends in Calgary. Whether your preference is laid-back lounges, chic cocktail bars or thumping downtown Calgary dance clubs, Calgary has something for everyone.

Cons of living in Calgary

Here are a few reasons you might not want to move to Calgary.

Increasing unemployment rate

We discussed earlier that a petroleum-based economy goes through boom and bust intervals. As is everywhere, the oil and gas industry is going through a decline in Calgary, which means that the unemployment rate is higher than the national average.

However, if you’re a skilled professional, you will find promising career opportunities in the agriculture, finance, IT, and architecture sectors.

Calgary houses

Housing costs

The median price for a single-family home in Calgary is $455,000 CAD. Rent isn’t much cheaper either, with the median two-bedroom apartment renting for $2,000/month. If you’re looking for affordable housing, Calgary might not be the best option.

Traffic and congestion

Calgary’s traffic and congestion problems are only getting worse as the city continues to grow. According to TomTom’s Traffic Index, Calgary is the ninth most congested city in Canada with an average commute time of 33 minutes. If you’re looking for a city with efficient transportation, Calgary might not be for you.

Traffic in Calgary

Where is Calgary?

Calgary is located in western Canada, in the province of Alberta. It lies in the foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains about 80 km (50 mi) east of Banff National Park. The city itself is a vast area of over 800 square kilometres, with an elevation ranging from 1,048 meters (3,438 ft) to 1,680 meters (5,510 ft).

Calgary weather

What is the weather in Calgary like?

Calgary has a continental climate with warm summers and cold winters. The average temperature ranges from -10°C (14°F) during the winter months to 20°C (68°F) during the summer months. Winters are typically long and snowfall can last from late November until late April. Summers are typically warm with occasional thunderstorms.

The city of Calgary experiences a wide range of weather conditions throughout the year. In the winter, temperatures can drop to -30°C (-22°F) and snowfall can be heavy. In the summer, temperatures can reach up to 30°C (86°F) and the city can experience severe thunderstorms with hail and strong winds. Calgary is also known for its Chinook winds, which can cause temperatures to rise quickly.

Cost of living in Calgary

Is Calgary a good place to live in terms of the cost of living?

The cost of living in Calgary is relatively low compared to other cities in Canada. The prices of goods and services are generally lower than in other major cities, while the city’s real estate market is quite affordable.

In downtown Calgary, expect to pay an average of $1,600 per month for a one-bedroom apartment and up to $2,800 per month for a three-bedroom unit. Step outside of the city center and rent prices drop significantly – with one bedroom averaging at around $1,300 per month and three bedrooms costing approximately $2,100 each month.

Transportation is also quite affordable in Calgary. The city has an extensive public transit system, with monthly passes costing around $90 CAD. There are also many bike paths and trails throughout the city, making it easy to get around without a car. Additionally, the city has a number of ride-sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, which can be used to get around at a reasonable cost.

Overall, the cost of living in Calgary is quite reasonable, making it an attractive option for those looking to move to a new city. With its low prices and excellent public transportation system, Calgary is a great place to live and work.

Image by Chris Amat via Travel Alberta
Couple walking outside of The Livery Shop in Calgary

Calgary housing

Rentals

Buying a house in Calgary

Calgary neighbourhoods

Calgary is divided into four quadrants, each corresponding to a different kind of neighbourhood. The four quadrants are the northwest, southwest, northeast, and southeast.

Northwest is best suited for students, young professionals, and families with older students, due to the presence of the University of Calgary and a very college-oriented vibe to the neighbourhood.

On the other hand, the southwest quadrant is better suited for people without children. The downtown city centre and the surrounding neighbourhoods lie close to workplaces and the choicest accommodations.

Southeast quadrant houses industrial and commercial units, making it the city’s industrial center. The southeast has a lower cost of living but might not be the best choice for a comfortable living experience.

The northeast quadrant offers low-cost living too since it also houses commercial operations and the Calgary airport. There is little in terms of city life.

Image by Chris Amat via Travel Alberta
calgary neighbourhoods

Job opportunities in Calgary

Is Calgary a good place to live in terms of job opportunities?

Calgary is home to many large corporations and industries, including oil and gas, technology, finance, and manufacturing. This means there are plenty of job opportunities available for professionals in various fields. In addition, the city’s economy is growing rapidly thanks to its booming tech industry. This has led to an influx of jobs in the area, making it a great place to find employment.

The city of Calgary also offers a variety of incentives for businesses, such as tax breaks and grants, which can help businesses grow and create more jobs. Furthermore, the city is home to a number of universities and colleges, providing a highly educated workforce for employers to draw from. With all these advantages, Calgary is an ideal place to find a job and start a career.

Education options in Calgary

Is Calgary a good place to live in terms of education?

The city has a strong public school system, as well as private and Catholic schools. In addition to traditional classroom-based education, there are also alternative education options such as charter schools and homeschooling.

For post-secondary education, Calgary is home to several universities and colleges, including the University of Calgary, Mount Royal University, and SAIT Polytechnic, offering a wide range of programs in fields such as business, engineering, arts, and sciences. In addition, Calgary also has a growing technical college system and private career colleges that offer specialized training in a variety of fields.

Public transportation in Calgary

How good is Calgary’s public transport?

Calgary’s public transportation system is reliable and efficient. The city is served by buses, light rail transit (LRT), and an airport express bus. There are also numerous taxi companies that make getting around easy and affordable. All of these transportation options make it easy to get around the city quickly and conveniently.

The Calgary Transit system is the main provider of public transportation in the city. It operates a network of buses, light rail transit, and an airport express bus. The buses are frequent and reliable, and the LRT system is a great way to get around the city quickly. The airport express bus is a convenient way to get to and from the airport.

Image by Mike Seehagel via Travel Alberta
calgary train

Shopping and dining options in Calgary

Is shopping and dining in Calgary good?

Calgary offers a variety of shopping and dining options for residents and visitors. The city is home to numerous shopping malls and centers, including the popular Chinook Centre and Southcentre Mall, as well as numerous boutique shops and specialty stores. In addition, there are also several outdoor shopping areas, such as 17th Ave and 4th St, which offer a mix of independent retailers, restaurants, and cafes.

For dining, Calgary is known for its diverse food scene, with options ranging from casual cafes and ethnic restaurants to fine dining establishments. The city is especially known for its steak and barbecue offerings, reflecting its close proximity to the nearby cattle-ranching regions. In addition to traditional sit-down restaurants, there are also many food trucks and street vendors offering a variety of cuisines.

Whether you’re in the mood for shopping or dining, Calgary has something to offer for everyone.

Recreation opportunities in Calgary

Is Calgary a good place to live in terms of recreational opportunities?

Calgary offers a wide range of recreational opportunities for residents and visitors. The city is home to the bow river and numerous parks, including Fish Creek Provincial Park and Prince’s Island Park, which offer outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and picnicking. It is also a great place if you are a runner due to all the trail running available. In addition, Calgary is known for its close proximity to the Rocky Mountains, offering opportunities for outdoor recreation such as skiing, snowboarding, and hiking.

Calgary is also home to several cultural institutions, including the Glenbow Museum, the National Music Centre, and the Calgary Opera, providing opportunities for visitors to learn about the city’s history and culture. The city also has several sports teams, including the Calgary Flames (NHL) and the Calgary Stampeders (CFL), providing opportunities for fans to enjoy live sports events.

For those interested in indoor recreation, Calgary offers a variety of options, including several fitness centers, community centers, and swimming pools, as well as numerous art galleries, theatres, and libraries.

Arts, music, and events in Calgary

Is Calgary a good place to live in terms of art, music and events?

Calgary has a thriving cultural scene, with plenty of events and exhibitions throughout the year. The Calgary Opera House is one of the most popular destinations for music and theatre performances, while art galleries such as the Glenbow Museum offer a variety of exhibitions. The Calgary Folk Festival is an annual event that brings together local and international artists in a celebration of music and culture. For sports fans, there’s always something happening at the Scotiabank Saddledome – home of the Calgary Flames hockey team.

The city also hosts a number of festivals throughout the year, including the Calgary International Film Festival, the Calgary International Jazz Festival, and the Calgary Fringe Festival. There are also plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy, such as hiking, biking, and camping in the nearby Rocky Mountains. With so much to do, Calgary is a great place to explore and experience the city’s vibrant culture.

Image by Chris Amat via Travel Alberta
friends drinking beer at a bar in calgary

Nightlife in Calgary

Is the nightlife in Calgary good?

Calgary is a vibrant nightlife scene for residents and visitors. The city is home to numerous bars, clubs, and music venues, offering a range of entertainment options, from live music and DJ sets to stand-up comedy and trivia nights.

Some popular nightlife hotspots in Calgary include the Beltline neighbourhood, 17th Ave, and Kensington, which are known for their diverse mix of bars, clubs, and restaurants. In addition, the city also has several casinos, including the Elbow River Casino and the Grey Eagle Resort and Casino, providing opportunities for gaming and entertainment.

Whether you’re looking for a lively bar scene, a night of live music, or a quiet place to have a drink with friends, Calgary has something to offer for everyone’s nightlife preferences.

Visa options to live in Calgary

If you are looking to move to Calgary for a short amount of time, there are some options. Temporary work permits allow new residents the opportunity to live in this vibrant city. Youth from over 30 countries participating with International Experience Canada can take advantage of a Working Holiday Visa in Canada too. Additionally, if local staff cannot be found for an open vacancy, employers may obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) which will enable them to issue the required permit.

For those dreaming of making Calgary their forever home, Permanent Residency options are available and make this dream a reality. Canada’s Express Entry system offers immigrants an opportunity to apply for skilled immigration programs, such as Canadian Experience Class, the Federal Skilled Worker Program, and the Federal Skilled Trades stream.

The Alberta Advantage Immigration Program (AAIP) presents an immense opportunity for individuals to migrate permanently to Calgary, by providing provincial immigration options. These can be availed by workers, graduates and entrepreneurs alike who are interested in settling here.

Moving to Calgary frequently asked questions

Conclusion

I hope we have helped you understand “Is Calgary a Good Place to live?”

Calgary is one of the best places to live in the world. Moving to Calgary can be an exciting and rewarding experience. With plenty of activities, attractions, restaurants and events around the city, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city. It is important to do your research beforehand so you know what to expect when settling into life in Calgary. Taking advantage of all the local amenities such as parks, libraries, museums and more will help make the transition easier.

Additionally exploring visa options available can provide a pathway towards making Calgary your home if that’s part of your dream.


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.

Learn more about Calgary

You will find helpful information about setting up in this vibrant and lively city.

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