Last updated on Feb 02, 2023
Summary: The approximate population of Calgary, Canada is 1,392,609. People describe Calgary as a vibrant, modern city with a strong economy and a great quality of life. Expats love the city's outdoor activities, cultural attractions, and friendly people. The weather in Calgary is generally mild with warm summers and cold winters. The average temperature in the summer is around 68°F (20°C) and in the winter it is around 22°F (-5°C). The average cost of living in Calgary for an expat is around $2,500 USD per month. The cost of a one bedroom apartment is around $1,200 USD per month and a two bedroom apartment is around $1,500 USD per month.
What do I need to know about living in Calgary?
When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Calgary, they said:
"When considering retiring in Calgary it is important to research the cost of living, quality of medical care, activities and attractions in the area, and availability of services and amenities. It is also useful to research the weather and climate in Calgary in order to determine whether the city would be a suitable retirement location. Additionally, looking into the tax implications of retiring in Calgary is recommended, as well as researching the various housing options available, such as condos, apartments, single family homes, and more. Finally, consider the transit system in Calgary to ensure it will meet your needs when it comes to getting around the city," explained one expat living in Calgary, Canada.
"Before retiring in Calgary, it is important to consider the climate. Winters in Calgary can be cold and long, with average temperatures ranging from -1C to -15C in January and February. Additionally, it is important to consider the cost of living in Calgary. While housing prices are lower than many other Canadian cities, there are certain costs to factor in, such as transportation and taxes. It is also important to research the healthcare options available in Calgary, as there are several hospitals and clinics that offer medical services. Lastly, it is beneficial to explore the recreational activities in Calgary. With its close proximity to the Rocky Mountains and the abundance of outdoor activities and cultural attractions, Calgary can make for an enjoyable retirement destination," said another expat in Calgary.
What do I need to know before moving to Calgary?
When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Calgary, they said:
"Calgary is a great city to move to, and there are some important things you should know before you make the move. Firstly, the weather can be both extreme and unpredictable, with summers reaching up to 30°C and winters dipping down to -20°C or lower. Calgary also experiences many days with snow and rain throughout the year, so make sure you're prepared for any kind of weather. Secondly, the cost of living in Calgary is slightly higher than the national average. While there are plenty of affordable housing options, rent, groceries, and other living expenses can be higher than other cities in Canada. Thirdly, the city of Calgary offers plenty of recreational activities for residents to enjoy. Hiking, skiing, fishing, snowboarding, and a variety of festivals, events, and attractions all make Calgary a great place to live. Lastly, Calgary is home to a diverse population and has a welcoming atmosphere for newcomers. With welcoming locals, friendly public transportation and a vibrant culture, Calgary is an excellent city to call home," remarked another expat who made the move to Calgary.
"Do your homework! Calgary is a beautiful city, close to the mountains. Anything you could want you can find here. There aren't really very many high crime areas here, just driving through a neighborhood will give you a feel if you want to live there," explained one expat living in Calgary, Canada.
How do I find a place to live in Calgary?
We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:
"There are a wide range of housing options available in Calgary. You can find rental accommodation through online websites such as Craigslist or Kijiji, or through local newspapers and magazines. You can also find listings for houses on local real estate websites or agents. In addition to this, there are a number of public and private housing programs that provide subsidized housing for those who are on a low income. Finally, for those who are looking for more long-term housing solutions, it can be beneficial to speak with a local realtor to help identify potential properties, houses or farms for rent or sale," said another expat in Calgary.
What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Calgary?
"Expat homes and apartments in Calgary tend to vary according to their price point and location. Generally speaking, most expat spaces feature modern, open-plan designs, with plenty of light and airy rooms. Higher-end apartments often include a different level of luxury, along with impressive views and amenities, including swimming pools, gyms, and other leisure facilities. Popular areas for expats when looking for housing in Calgary include downtown and the surrounding neighbourhoods, as well as 17th Avenue and the suburbs of Airdrie and Okotoks," added another expat in Calgary.
"Live in a Condo so I don't have to worry about yardwork. Some expats live in houses and apartments, there is a wide variety to choose from," remarked another expat who made the move to Calgary.
What is the average cost of housing in Calgary?
If you are thinking about moving to Calgary, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:
"The average cost of housing in Calgary varies depending on the location, type of property and size of the property. Generally, the average cost of a home in Calgary is around $500,000," wrote a member in Calgary.
"Housing costs are definitely lower. Paid 140 for a 1200 foot condo, its only four years old so it's all like new," commented one expat who made the move to Calgary.
How do I meet people in Calgary?
When we asked people living in Calgary about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:
"There are many ways to meet people in Calgary. The fastest way is to join online communities or social media groups which are specific to Calgary. Going to local events, such as festivals and networking events, is another great way to meet new people. You can also join local organizations, such as sports teams, book clubs, and volunteering groups. Another way to meet people is to attend classes or workshops at a local university or community center. Lastly, try getting out and exploring your city; you never know who you’ll meet," said another expat in Calgary.
"Calgary has many events and activities that offer opportunities to meet people. There are many public gatherings such as festivals, concerts, and other local events, which are great ways to meet people who share similar interests. Joining clubs, taking classes, and volunteering are also excellent ways to meet new people. If you're interested in joining a sports team, there are a variety of options available, ranging from recreational leagues to professional teams. Another great way to meet people is through networking events specifically designed to bring like-minded individuals together. Additionally, there are social media sites and dating sites where you can meet people as well," added another expat who made the move to Calgary.
What should I bring when moving to Calgary?
People living in Calgary were asked what three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They wrote:
"Essentials such as clothing and shoes, bedding, towels, toiletries, kitchen supplies, and personal items should be packed when moving to Calgary. Depending on the season, heavy coats, hats, gloves, and salted boots are recommended, as Calgary experiences cold winters. Important documents, such as a driver's license, health card, and birth certificate, should not be forgotten. Recreational items, such as bicycles and sporting equipment, can be included for warmer months," added another expat who made the move to Calgary.
Where should I setup a bank account in Calgary?
We asked expats in Calgary what banks they use and there advice about banking. They advised:
"There are numerous options for setting up a bank account in Calgary. Popular financial institutions in the area include ScotiaBank, TD Canada Trust, RBC Royal Bank, BMO Bank of Montreal, and Servus Credit Union. Each of these institutions have branches throughout the city and will be able to assist with the setup of a new bank account. Additionally, Calgary also has a wide selection of online and digital banking platforms, including Wealthsimple, Simplii Financial, and Tangerine, which offer easy setup of new accounts," remarked another expat living in Calgary, Canada.
"There are a variety of banks in Calgary that offer a variety of banking services, including setting up accounts. Options include major Canadian banks such as TD, RBC, BMO, CIBC, Scotiabank, as well as credit unions like ATB Financial, Servus Credit Union, First Calgary Financial, and Steppenwolf Credit Union. Each institution may offer different account features and rates, so it is important to research your options and find the best one for you," added another expat in Calgary.
Will I be able to find a job in Calgary?
When we asked people about industries and career opportunities in Calgary, they reponded:
"Yes, Calgary is a thriving city and the job market is quite robust. There are many opportunities for individuals looking for work, ranging from entry-level positions to the higher-paying professional positions. With an active job market, the city of Calgary should offer plenty of opportunities for finding the right job for you," remarked another expat who made the move to Calgary.
"Jobs aplenty. Gas and oil are big here. Look in the aper and I am sure you will find a job," explained one expat living in Calgary, Canada.
What is life like in Calgary?
When we asked people living in Calgary what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:
"Living as an expat in the area can be enjoyable and exciting. The local people generally have a welcoming attitude towards foreigners and are willing to help them acclimatize to the new culture. The area has a diverse cultural mix, making it a great opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds and learn about their lifestyles and culture. As an expat you also have access to a variety of amenities and facilities which, combined with the area's good transport links, make everyday living convenient. The local economy is quite stable and there are plenty of job opportunities available for expats. Ground travel can sometimes be quite congested and expensive; however, the international airline companies offer great discounts on tickets and packages, making it easy to explore the region. Overall, life as an expat in the area can be rewarding, offering plenty of opportunities to experience and explore," remarked another expat living in Calgary, Canada.
"Life as an expat in this area can be both exciting and challenging. It is a great opportunity to experience a new culture and expose yourself to different experiences. The cost of living is generally lower than in many other parts of the world and access to goods and services is generally good. On the other hand, it may be difficult to integrate into the local culture due to language and cultural barriers. It can be difficult to find permanent employment and it is not always easy to make friends. That being said, the expatriate community is generally a welcoming one and it is possible to find fulfilling work and make friends if you put in the effort," added another expat in Calgary.
What do expats in Calgary appreciate most about the local culture?
"Expatriates in Calgary generally appreciate the city's laid-back yet metropolitan vibe, openness to diversity and culture, and friendly locals. The city's proximity to some of the most beautiful natural places in Canada and the United States, its wide range of vibrant neighbourhoods, and its vibrant arts and entertainment scenes are also major draws for the expatriate community in Calgary. The city's commitment to outdoor recreation, education, and entrepreneurship is also highly valued. In addition, the large international and multicultural population in Calgary has helped to create a thriving and vibrant atmosphere with numerous festivals, events, and activities that appeal to many different types of cultures and interests," added another expat in Calgary.
What do expats find most challenging?
"Expats can often find it challenging to adjust to a different culture and language, particularly when it comes to finding employment, understanding local customs, obtaining housing, and dealing with government bureaucracy. Additionally, expats may find it difficult to make friends with locals when coming from a considerably different background. Depending on the region, expats may also struggle to obtain quality healthcare and find reliable transportation networks. Furthermore, expats often experience homesickness, longing for family and friends or the familiar comforts of home," said another expat in Calgary.
"Expats often find it challenging to adjust to a new culture, environment, language and customs. Furthermore, establishing a support network of friends and professionals can be very difficult and require extra effort and dedication. Other common struggles include finding a suitable job, managing finances in a foreign currency, obtaining the right visa and navigating a complex healthcare system. Additionally, dealing with administrative paperwork, learning how to find affordable housing and mastering local transportation can be difficult and time-consuming," added another expat who made the move to Calgary.
Is there a lot of crime in Calgary?
We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:
"There is some crime in Calgary, however, it is generally considered to be one of the safest cities in Canada. Calgary police services strive to keep crime rates low and the overall rate is lower than the national average," explained one expat living in Calgary, Canada.
Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Calgary accepting of differences?
"Calgary is known for its highly diverse, multicultural population. According to Statistics Canada, the city is home to people from over 200 countries who collectively speak over 150 languages. This population diversity is further celebrated at events such as GlobalFest, an annual multicultural celebration. In terms of acceptance of differences, while Calgary is not immune to discriminative attitudes, in general, many locals are welcoming and accepting of cultural, religious and other forms of diversity," remarked another expat living in Calgary, Canada.
"There is a lot of diversity in Calgary. The city has a population of over 1.4 million and over 200 cultural backgrounds, making it one of the most diverse cities in Canada. People in Calgary are accepting of differences, with multicultural activities and neighbourhoods providing a haven for different cultures," added another expat in Calgary.
What are the schools in Calgary like?
"Calgary has a variety of school options, including public, separate, charter and private schools. Public schools are funded by the government, while separate schools are Catholic-affiliated. Charter schools, which are public schools that provide alternative styles of learning and teaching, are a recent addition to the scene. Calgary also supports a variety of private and alternative schools, offering a range of religious, artistic, and academic programs," explained one expat living in Calgary, Canada.
"In Calgary, there are a wide variety of schools offering a range of educational opportunities. The public system is managed by the Calgary Board of Education and consists of over 200 elementary, junior/middle and senior high schools. The Catholic sector is managed by Calgary Catholic School District and consists of 173 schools from k-12. Private and independent schools are also available in the city. These preschools, daycare programs, private, and independent schools offer a variety of teaching styles, educational philosophies, and curriculum options for parents to choose from," said another parent with children at in Calgary.
About the Author
Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.
Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.