Pros and cons of living in Calgary


Choosing where you settle down is probably the most important decision in anyone’s life. Finding that ideal location that meets all your requirements can be an uphill task. Everywhere you go will have a number of great features but also some not-so-great things about it. That is why an honest review can go a long way in helping you decide, and I am here to help. I have made a detailed list of all the pros and cons of living in Calgary so you can easily decide if it’s the right place for you! 

Calgary is a cosmopolitan city in the province of Alberta in Canada. The city covers a total area of 825.3 km² and has a population size of almost 1.336 million. Calgary has been ranked as the most livable city in North America for two years in a row by The Economist Intelligence Unit. What are some of the pros and cons of living in this city? 

Pros 

1. Clean city 

Everyone appreciates a city that is clean and green. Luckily, Calgary is one of the cleanest cities in the world according to Forbes Magazine. The city takes the matter of cleanliness very seriously and can impose a 500-100$ fine for littering.  The city has good infrastructure to maintain its clean outlooks such as a good sewerage system, clean water, and an efficient recycling program. 

2. Low cost of living 

When comparing Calgary to similar metropolitan cities, the cost of living is actually lower. For example, Vancouver and Toronto both are 8% and 13% more expensive respectively than Calgary. Moreover, due to the competitive housing market, certain neighborhoods can offer cheap housing options as well. 

3. Good healthcare 

Healthcare is an important point to consider for anyone when choosing which city to live in. A great pro of the city is its state-of-the-art healthcare facilities. Not only will you find the most reliable and well-qualified family doctors here but there are a number of great health insurance options as well. By moving to Calgary, you can be sure that you and your loved ones will be adequately taken care of in case of health problems. 

4. No sales tax 

Although Canada imposes a general sales tax on goods and services on a federal level, Alberta has an extremely low level of tax. Living in Calgary you will only have to pay 5% sales tax. Compared to other provinces like Ontario that have almost 15% sales tax this is quite low.  A low sales tax can help you save money depending on your socio-economic status. 

5. Outdoor activities and entertainment 

If you love sports and the outdoors then Calgary is definitely the right fit for you. The city is located in close proximity to rocky mountains and so offers several opportunities for outdoor activities and entertainment. The city has an Olympic Park which is even used by professional athletes. In the winter you will find a number of skiing and snowboarding options. The city also has a huge expanse of parkland which is ideal for trekking, running, and cycling.  All these features are a great attraction to consider when moving to the city. 

6. Great Location 

Calgary is in close proximity to a number of great locations. It is a three-hour drive away from Edmonton, the US border, and the Glacier National Park of Canada. All these locations have a lot of amazing attractions for tourists and visitors such as the water park and shopping centers in Edmonton. So living in Calgary you can definitely take a few day trips to see some sights. 

7. Food

Calgary is a city that’s home to restaurants from around the world. There are plenty of places for you to eat and drink.

If you’re looking to try new cuisines, there are restaurants to suit every taste. Calgary is not just about contemporary Canadian food – it also has a vibrant wine and beer scene as well as an array of ethnic eateries that will satisfy any craving.

8. Diversity

Calgary has a huge multicultural community with different backgrounds and cultures which makes it a very vibrant place to live. It’s always an interesting experience when you’re learning about new things.

9. Calgary Stampede

The Calgary Stampede is a ten-day annual event that takes place in July. It’s the biggest outdoor rodeo and chuckwagon racing festival on earth, with over one million people attending each year!

10. Several Parks

Calgary has over 100 parks and green spaces that are perfect for outdoor activities. Each park has different amenities available for use, including picnic areas, sports fields, playgrounds, and hiking trails. There is something for everyone to enjoy.

11. Plenty of Sunny days

Calgary is one of Canada’s sunniest cities, averaging more than 2300 hours of sunshine a year. Its clear skies and lack of humidity make for some amazing days out in the sun.

Cons 

1. Traffic problems 

Traffic and transport are a big factor when considering a move to another city. Unfortunately, traffic is a significant issue in Calgary and can get quite bad in rush hours. This means you can get stuck in traffic jams for long periods of time. The public transport facilities within the city are not much better. Although the city has a metro system it is pretty underdeveloped when compared with other metropolitan cities. However, the government of Alberta is working on improving this issue and has allotted funds to upgrade the traffic system. 

2. Unemployment 

The recent recession in the country has severely impacted the employment rate of the city. Calgary experienced the highest employment rate in the country at 10.2%. The city is heavily dependent on oil and gas in terms of the economy and so when these sectors take a hit the entire city ends up suffering. 

3. School system 

Whether you are planning for the future or are moving with your kids’ schooling is an important factor to consider. All parents want the best school system for their children so that they can have greater opportunities moving forward. However, due to the overpopulation in the city, the number of schools in proportion to the children has decreased. So, it is highly possible that your children might not be able to go to school in the neighborhood that you live in. Overcrowding in the schools is also a serious problem that the city has been facing. In some cases, the class limit is above the provincial guidelines and schools are having to hold lotteries to choose which kids to give a slot at their school. 

4. Bad weather

 If you are someone who enjoys warm weather and loves to tan in the sun then Calgary may not be the best fit for you. Although the winter days are not as bad as most areas in Canada, they can still get below freezing. Even in the hottest summer months, the weather will be balmy at the most.

5.Not much to do in Downtown

Downtown Calgary is not the most lively area in Calgary, it accommodated for business. The majority of Downtown is composed of office buildings, a couple of shopping centers, and other commercial areas. Calgary is trying to revamp the downtown area by building condos and high-rises, adding more restaurants to the mix.

Downtown also offers some interesting architecture, though it’s not as impressive as Vancouver’s skyline nor Toronto’s grandeur if that’s important to you;

Is moving to Calgary a good idea?

Calgary, Canada is a wonderful place to live. It has the perfect blend of urban and rural life. There are many reasons why people choose to move here from other provinces or states in North America.

Hopefully, after reading this list of pros and cons you will be better informed about what life is like in the city of Calgary. At the end of the day, the decision to move depends on your interests and preferences but overall Calgary provides some good economic incentives, lots of outdoor sporting options, and the best healthcare which make it a good place to set up roots. 

Thais R

I moved to Canada in 2016. This was the best decision that I ever made. I created this website to share what I’ve learned with anyone who’s thinking of moving or travelling to Canada.

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