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Airdrie vs. Cochrane



Airdrie is directly north of Calgary on Highway 2, while Cochrane is more on the North West corner of the big city. In relation to Calgary, Airdrie is closer, being only about 7-8 minutes edge to edge, compared to Cochrane that’s more like 13-14 minutes.

A big pro to the location of Cochrane, is how close you are to the Rocky Mountains. Depending on where you are in Cochrane, you could be just 45 minutes from the Nakiska Ski Resort or just 1 hour from Banff! As compared to Airdrie where you’ll be more like an hour and a half from Banff, and about an hour and 15 minutes from that ski resort.

Now on the flip side, Airdrie’s split right down the middle by the major highway, so whether you’re going south to Calgary or North to Edmonton, it makes the trip that much quicker to get to where you’re going. Keep in mind the Calgary international Airport is in Northeast Calgary, so if being reasonable close to the airport is important for you, then thats a big plus for Airdrie.


Cochrane's population is right around 35,000 people right now, and Airdrie is now over 80,000 people. So, if you prefer a smaller population or a larger population this could become an easy choice. Cochrane has about 1,020 people per square kilometre, while Airdrie is more like 880 people per square kilometre. I really wasn’t expecting this because honestly inside the 2 towns, Airdrie feels like it has more population density, but according to the stats, looks like it doesn't!

As for the average age. Cochrane has an average age of 39 years old, and they have 21% of the population being 14 years old or younger. Airdrie’s average age is 34, so about 5 years less than Cochrane, and here the under 14 crowd makes up 25% of the population. So, in general Airdrie’s population is younger than Cochrane’s, and there’s a lot more kids!


Both cities have all the basic day to day needs that you want in your city. Big and small grocery stores, and other big stores like Canadian tire, Walmart and things like that. Cochrane does lack a large home improvement department store like Home Depot or Lowes, but all in all, your day to day needs are covered well by both cities. As for restaurants, both areas have quite a few chain & local restaurant options, but you’ll find a lot more variety of options in Airdrie, with a lot of different styles of foods as well.

In Airdrie we have one of the biggest malls in the country, Cross Iron Mills mall, just a few minutes outside of Airdrie and there you’ll also find Costco as well. If you live in Cochrane, the closest mall and Costco will both be in the city about 20-25 minutes away.

For the classic rec centers with things like swimming, gymnasiums, sports fields, and fitness centers, both cities have rec centers of course, but Cochrane definitely wins on this one. They just had a huge $45 million expansion of their rec center in 2017, which gave them an incredible facility for a town of cochranes size. Now, remember Airdrie is about two and a half times the population, but still only has 1 rec center. So although it is a very nice facility, its definitely become more and more busy over the years. To put this into perspective, Cochrane's facility is 325,000 square feet servicing 35,000 people and Airdrie’s is 450,000 square feet, serving over 80,000 people. So, Airdrie’s facility is 38% bigger but serves 228% more people. More recreation space is much over due for Airdrie, but the good news is we do have a rec center starting construction next year in the SW corner of Airdrie!

Both cities of course have public libraries as well, but another amenity Airdrie has in the works is a 73,000 square foot multi-use library building which is currently under construction and coming along nicely!


There is a good amount of environmental reserve and park space in Airdrie, which is great considering the amount of families in the city, and a lot of the newer communities put a big emphasis on creating walking paths through the neighbourhoods as well. So I’d say the pro for Airdrie is the amount of dedicated outdoor activities, such as playgrounds, outdoor ice rinks, pickle ball courts, ball diamonds, and walking paths. The biggest con for Airdrie for outdoor amenities is we don’t have a proper river running through town. There is nose creek that runs through Airdrie, which you can fish in and stuff like that, but you aren’t able to swim in it. So for me thats the biggest lack in Airdire, is swimmable water nearby.

Now as for Cochrane, there’s also plenty of outdoor play areas such as playgrounds, and things like that, but a huge pro for Cochrane here is the Bow River running right through the middle of town. This means TONS of pathways in the trees, and lots of opportunity for fishing or swimming in the summertime.


So starting with apartments. The benchmark price for an apartment in Cochrane is $278,900. Compare this to the benchmark price in Airdrie of $265,000,o so Airdrie is a bit better priced for condos. In terms of how available apartments are it's about the same in both areas. In Cochrane condos make up about 9% of the total residential homes, and in Airdrie they make up about 10% of housing in the city. Most of the condos in both areas will be the 3-4 story style buildings, and a lot of them will have underground parking.

Moving onto row homes or townhomes. The benchmark price for these in Cochrane is $416,000, as compared to $354,000 in Airdrie. So again Cochrane is more expensive for the row homes as well, and by quite a lot!

Looking at semi-detached homes or those duplexes. The benchmark price is $476,300 for Cochrane and $476,000 for Airdrie. This one I thought was very interesting. Row homes have such a huge gap, but the semi-detached are dead even in their benchmark price.

The detached benchmark price in Cochrane is $636,400, and in Airdrie it’s $610,400. So again we see Cochrane being a little bit more expensive than Airdrie in home prices.

We don’t have great data in Alberta around actual rented prices for homes, but a quick search of available inventory shows that the rental prices in Cochrane are actually slightly cheaper than in Airdrie but a couple hundred dollars or so it seems.


Airdrie is a fairly busy little city, with a lot of people always going here and there. It definitely has a small CITY feel to it and not as much of a “small town” feel. Unless you’re coming from a big city, then it may feel more small town to you. In the residential areas you’re bound to see plenty of kids out playing just due to the number of young families we have in the city. Overall Airdrie has been and will continue to be a great place for families to live due to all the amenities we have currently and have planned for the future, and it’s great for anyone that wants to be close to Calgary and the calgary airport without being right in the big city.

Now looking at Cochrane. The feel here is definitely that of a smaller town. The town is placed in and above a river valley, so there’s a lot of elevation changes that helps make the town feel more spread out and slower paced. This town is a great option for someone who is looking for that smaller town feel, while still having most of the amenities you need, and not too far from the bigger city of Calgary. If you prefer to be closer to nature, and have the Bow River running through Cochrane, being only half hour from the mountains will definitely be a major pro for you when looking at Cochrane. There’s also some incredible views from some of the houses in the town.


Check out my YouTube video below where I go over everything in this blog post and subscribe to my channel if you want to see more Airdrie related content!

- Brad Walker


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