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Living in Edmonton vs Calgary: Which is better?

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The Economist Intelligence Unit considers these two Alberta cities as one of the most livable in the world! And if you are wondering about moving to this province, this comparison of living in Edmonton vs Calgary must have crossed your mind.

In this detailed guide, we will share our take on both cities – from a local, immigrant, and tourist perspective. 

Living in Edmonton vs Calgary | The Battle of Alberta’s Popular Cities

Living in Edmonton vs Calgary

Oh, Canada. The land you might call your home. Relocating to Canada is a good idea for many reasons, like safety and employment. However, where exactly will you decide to settle?

Once you’ve decided to move to Canada, there’s probably a list of factors you’re looking at. If you’re a parent, schooling is necessary. Employment is an essential factor for anyone. And crime rates are crucial if you want to live in a safe place.

Living in Edmonton vs Calgary

If you are struggling to decide where exactly to settle, this guide is here to help. Alberta is quite a popular province for immigrants and expats, and its most famous cities are Calgary and Edmonton. 

Whatever your reason for moving to Canada, we’ll help you decide between these two cities

Calgary vs Edmonton at a glance

Let’s dive into the basics of living in Edmonton vs Calgary. 

By gathering the pros and cons of the famous cities of Calgary and Edmonton, perhaps you might find your forever home in one of these gorgeous cities.

Living in Calgary

Calgary is the largest city in the province of Alberta and is much larger than Edmonton.

It’s sort of the gateway to the Rocky Mountains due to its proximity to this beautiful attraction. The mountains give a gorgeous backdrop to Calgary.

Calgary one of the best places to live in Alberta
Calgary downtown views

Known as the Texas of Canada, Calgary is known for its business in the oil and gas industries and has a business-friendly environment.

Calgary is diverse, with one in three residents born outside of Canada. The city has roots in country music and is very proud of it. And if you’re a sports fan, Calgary offers a variety of recreational sports for you to partake in from cross country skiing to hockey and badminton.

Real estate or housing costs in Calgary are some of the most affordable in Canada. Due to the low price of oil and the economy, housing costs have also dropped. 

Compared to Toronto in 2020, where an average home costs around $1.2 million, average houses in Calgary can go for between $420,000 and $470,000.

As of June 2021, housing prices have increased, and in May 2022, an average house in Calgary would cost you $520,000. This is still considerably lower than the areas around Calgary. 

On top of that, bills are still affordable, costing between $200 and $250 per month for heat and electricity. Utilities in Toronto start at around $225 per month. 

The cost of living is lower, though, as compared to Toronto, consumer prices, including rent for the same size bedroom apartment, are 14% lower in Calgary.

Stephen Avenue walk in one day in Calgary itinerary
Stephen Avenue Walk

There are also many amazing attractions in Calgary, from the Stephen Avenue Walk, Calgary Zoo, and Eau Claire Market to Heritage Historical Park (one of the world’s largest living history museums). When exploring the city, be sure to visit the Calgary Tower and the Calgary Stampede. 

Being a fun outdoor rodeo experience with bull riding and barrel racing, the Calgary Stampede is something you cannot miss. The Canadian Rockies are just an hour’s drive away from Calgary! 

Nightlife is comparatively better in Calgary vs Edmonton. 

Living in Edmonton

Edmonton is a gorgeous urban area located in the wilderness of Alberta province. Although it’s in a very unique and contradicting location, Edmonton has become a popular settling place for immigrants and expats.

Edmonton downtown views

As of September 2022, housing costs in Edmonton are 18% lower than in Toronto. It’s also significantly lower than in neighboring Calgary. 

An average price for a 3 bedroom home in Edmonton would cost you around $417,000 as of April 2022. This is an all-time high for Edmonton and is still competitive compared to major cities like Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal.

Utilities are higher in Edmonton than in Calgary and Toronto, though. As of 2022, utilities in Edmonton will cost you $318 a month, whereas in Toronto they are $225. 

Family-friendly neighborhoods in Edmonton

The cost of living is still lower in Edmonton compared to Calgary and Toronto. Consumer prices, including rent, are 18% lower in Edmonton. And when compared to Calgary, consumer prices, including rent, are 4% lower.

A fun fact about Edmonton is you can catch the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) here during the wintertime. There is also some intercity rivalry with its neighboring city of Calgary.

Known as the City of Festivals, you’ll have a range of activities to choose from in this little city. And if you want something unique, you can catch the World’s Largest Cowboy Boot here. Or visit the Art Gallery of Alberta!

You also need to visit West Edmonton Mall, North America’s largest shopping mall. And, of course, you can’t be in Edmonton without going to the provincial parks. 

Elk Island National Park Sunset tours
Elk Island National Park

Elk Island National Park is the closest to the city, and the largest park of the Canadian Rockies – Jasper – is located about 4 hour drive away. 

Calgary is definitely the city to touch down if you wish to explore Banff, whereas Edmonton might be perfect for a road trip from Jasper to Banff National Park via the Icefield Parkway (one of the most scenic drives in the world)!

5 pros of living in Calgary

From the cost of living to the fantastic healthcare, Calgary city has many pros that will appeal to anyone looking to move here. Here are some pros of living in Calgary vs Edmonton.

Cost of living

If you compare Calgary to other metropolitan cities in Canada, the cost of living is lower than, for example, Vancouver. 

Housing in Calgary (winter)

Consumer prices, including rent, are approximately 19% lower in Calgary compared to Vancouver in 2022. Rent itself is 40% lower in Calgary.

Because of the current competitive housing market, even specific neighborhoods in Calgary can offer cheap housing. If you’re moving to Canada on a budget, then Calgary is one of the best options.

The world’s cleanest city & the most livable city

Everyone enjoys breathing in some nice, fresh air every once in a while, and Calgary is one of the best cities to enjoy this.

Forbes magazine ranked Calgary as the World’s Cleanest City in 2007, and that title still rings true today. Calgary retains its title through heavy fines for littering, recycling systems, and proper street cleaning every spring.

There’s not much air pollution, and Calgary has excellent sewage systems. There is also good quality drinking water.

Calgary has been named the fifth most liveable city globally by The Economist Intelligence Unit!

Healthcare

Healthcare is probably one of the top priorities when deciding on a place to live. Calgary has excellent healthcare facilities that will keep you and your family covered in an emergency.

Family doctors are easy to find in Calgary and have a reputation for being well-qualified and reliable. The national average of physicians per 100,000 people is 115; however, in Calgary, the standard is 141.

Many treatments will be free if you have an Alberta Health Insurance card. However, it takes some time from when you arrive in Alberta until you get one. Luckily, the healthcare insurance options in Calgary are excellent and will keep you covered until then.

Low sales tax

Provinces such as Ontario have a 15% sales tax on goods and services. In Calgary, the sales tax is 5%.

The reason for this is the province of Alberta does not have a provincial sales tax, so you’ll only be paying federal tax.

Goods and services cost less in Alberta because of the low sales tax, which is a win for both Calgary and Edmonton.

Public transportation system

Compared to Edmonton, the Calgary public transit system is reasonably good. A network of buses and trains will take you where you need to go, and they’re all relatively affordable. A big plus is that Calgary’s CTrain covers the downtown area for free.

In keeping with the city’s promise of cleanliness, the CTrain in Calgary is a system of light railways powered by wind farms instead of regular old electricity. This system reduces carbon emissions by 56,000 tons a year.

Pro Tip: When moving to Calgary, you may also consider some of the bedroom communities like Airdrie, Cochrane, etc. 

5 Pros of living in Edmonton

Edmonton has stable employment and good schooling, perfect for a family looking to move to Canada. Here are some pros of living in Edmonton vs Calgary.

Edmonton has a long list of cultural attractions

For a reason, Edmonton is known as Festival City—you will never be bored when you’re here. Some events take place every month. 

Music festivals, culinary extravaganzas, and literature events are just some fun attractions you can partake in for a while in Edmonton.

Food festival in Edmonton (with the Legislative Building in the backdrop)

There are also amazing attractions, like River Valley and West Edmonton Mall. River Valley Parks has many trails that can be used for hiking, it is also home to the longest stretch of urban parkland in entire North America.

The Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton North is also a fantastic place to visit.

Stable white and blue collar jobs and high income

Alberta has a reputation for having a higher income rate than other Canadian provinces, and it shows in Edmonton. Residents have the highest income rate in Alberta and the most disposable income.

On top of that, Edmonton has a lot of large corporations and businesses, so job opportunities in the business sector aren’t hard to come by. 

One of the largest employers in the city is the public sector – particularly the provincial government and health services unit, so definitely check out their jobs board if looking for employment. 

The city’s located in the heart of the oil and gas industry, so Edmonton’s great if you’re looking for employment in this sector. 

There’s also a demand for drivers, moving assistants, loaders, and engineers. We see that getting a job in Edmonton is not too hard.

The technical industry in Edmonton is booming, so if you work in this sector, Edmonton is worth taking a look at.

The rent is low

Compared to major cities like Toronto, the rent in Edmonton is relatively low. It’s even lower than its neighboring city of Calgary. There’s nice affordable housing here.

Housing in Edmonton

In 2022, the rent in Edmonton is a whopping 43% lower than in Toronto. And compared to Calgary, rent’s 17% lower in Edmonton.

With high income rates and low rent prices, Edmonton seems like a paradise for anyone looking to save money.

National parks

Edmonton may have a lot of cultural attractions and festivals, but another pro of living here is the proximity to three national parks.

Only 45 minutes away from Edmonton, you will find Elk Island National Park. The Cree and Métis hunted and lived here, and today, it’s the perfect place to have a picnic and enjoy watching some bison run past.

There’s also Banff National Park, about 4 hours away from Edmonton. Go camping in the Canadian Rockies while experiencing the views of scenic valleys, gorgeous forests, and beautiful glaciers.

Pyramid Lake Island Jasper
Pyramid Lake Island Jasper National Park

Last, there’s Jasper National Park, the biggest national park in the Canadian Rockies. It forms part of UNESCO’s Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site. So take a drive to Jasper from Edmonton and enjoy the magnificent wildlife and gorgeous views while you’re here.

Good schools

Edmonton has one of Canada’s best schooling and education systems. With three school boards and over ten secondary schools, not to mention the colleges, universities, and technical institutions, Edmonton is a great place to give your children a good education.

For more detailed information, check out the pros and cons of living in Edmonton.

Pro Tip: There are some amazing bedroom communities near Edmonton (great for schools, and buying properties). These include Leduc, Devon, Saint Albert, Sherwood Park, Stony Plain, Beaumont

3 Cons of living in Calgary

Unfortunately, Calgary also has its cons. The crime rate and unemployment issues can be deal breakers if you want to move here. Here are some of the cons of living in Calgary vs Edmonton.

Unemployment

Unfortunately, the recession has hit some places quite hard, and Calgary is one of them. It had the highest unemployment rate in Canada at 10.2% in 2016. In 2022, it was lowered to 5%; however, the issue is still prevalent.

Calgary’s economy relies on the oil and gas sectors. When these industries take a hit, the city’s economy falls, and unemployment grows. 

People don’t get raises or bonuses, have to take pay cuts, or even get laid off. Job opportunities in Calgary are also few and far between.

The good news is that if you do manage to get a job in the oil sector, you will be among the highest-paid citizens of Calgary.

The crime rate

There has been a significant increase in crime in Calgary in recent years. Before 2015, the crime rate kept dropping until it jumped up to 29%. In 2022, the crime rate index is about 36%.

According to Canada Statistics, the most common crimes in Calgary include car theft, vandalism, breaking and entering, and burglary. However, even with its crime rate index, Calgary is the safer of the two cities.

If you’re considering moving to Calgary, be aware that the crime rate has risen significantly due to the economy. If the economy improves, the chances are good that the crime rate might drop.

School overcrowding

As a parent, schooling is essential to look at when moving. The best education gives your child a greater chance at career opportunities.

Overcrowding in the Calgary school system is so bad that schools even have lotteries to see which kids will get a spot in their school. 

The Calgary Board of Education is working on possibly building more schools to cope with the demand.

Luckily, online schooling has become more popular due to recent events, so that’s another option that you can look into.

3 Cons of living in Edmonton

Freezing winters and a high cost of living can hit the brakes on your decision to move to the capital of Alberta. Here are some of the cons of living in Edmonton vs Calgary.

The winters can be cold

Edmonton may not be the best place to start if you’re not used to cold temperatures. The winters can be harsh and long, with temperatures sometimes dipping below -7°F or -20°C.

Edmonton best places to visit in Canada in Winter
Edmonton Canada in Winter

Snowfall is also from November to March, and the roads can be slippery due to ice. It’s definitely the colder of the two cities.

The upside, though, is that there are many winter festivals in Edmonton to keep your spirits up. And in December, it’s time for Christmas festivals, where you can warm up by drinking some eggnog.

The crime rate

Edmonton has a relatively high crime rate. Compared to Vancouver, the crime rate index in this city in 2022 is 44% compared to Vancouver’s 38%. And when compared to Edmonton, Calgary has a very low crime rate of 36%.

The crime rate in Edmonton has been increasing by 8% every year, with the most common crimes being car theft, vandalism, assault, and armed robbery. There is also a high number of drug users in the city.

Luckily, this depends on the area of Edmonton. Some very sketchy regions need to be avoided. 

Also, be sure not to leave essential belongings in your car, and invest in home security just to be safe.

Cost of living

When it comes to smaller cities, Edmonton is quite expensive. The cost of living isn’t as high as in Toronto or Vancouver; however, it’s still quite a pricey area.

Electricity, utilities, transportation, and insurance are the main reasons for the high cost of living. With Edmonton’s low rent prices, something’s got to give. 

When comparing the cost of living in Calgary vs Edmonton, Calgary wins this one.

So which one is better? Edmonton vs Calgary

Calgary and Edmonton are both popular among immigrants and expats for good reason.

There is no way to say which city is better, as it depends on the person’s needs. 

Comparing living in Calgary vs Edmonton can help you make your decision by knowing the facts. However, it is your choice.

If you’re a single person looking to find greener pastures, then you may prefer Calgary. Edmonton is a great choice if you have a family or you’re looking for a place to settle down. 

The winter months might seem longer in Edmonton, but you will be able to find a suitable government job. Or prefer the warm Chinook winds in Calgary (instead of extreme cold)!

It’s all up to you and where you want to go. But you can’t go wrong with either!

Depending on what you want, Calgary and Edmonton have pros and cons, and these two cities will appeal to different people. 

And when you have decided, it’s time to set up your moving to Canada checklist.

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