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Calgary vs. Edmonton | Moving to Alberta

Well with the Rocky Mountains just next door, low taxes, a strong economy, relatively low cost of living and an abundance of sunny days, it’s no surprise that you might feel like making a move to Alberta. But where should you live?


Calgary and Edmonton are our 2 major cities here in Alberta. Calgary is the largest city in the province with a population of around 1.4 million people, and Edmonton just trailing behind at about 1.1 million. Size wise, in terms of land they’re fairly similar, with 820 square kilometres in Calgary and Edmonton's 765 square kilometres. Although, with the lower population in Edmonton, it does have a lower density of people in the city with an average of about 1,300 people per square kilometre, compared to Calgary’s 1,600 people per square kilometre.

Being about 3 hours north of Calgary, Edmonton is known for having slightly colder and longer winters than Calgary, and you don’t get the chinooks in Edmonton like we experience in Calgary. The Chinooks can be really good to break up the winter, have some warmer days, and melt the snow here and there throughout the winter months. In edmonton, the snow typically just sticks around until spring.

Now, Calgary is the windiest, but also the sunniest large city in Canada, and its even bright in the winter. In terms of sun though, edmonton isnt really that far behind. Ultimately it’s just sunny days out here in Alberta, about 92% of the time anyway.

Ultimately, much of the day to day cost of living in the 2 cities, being in the same province, is very similar. Things like food costs, gas prices, utility costs, and things like, they fluctuate but aren’t really enough of a difference to note. Where we see the biggest difference in cost of living is the housing markets. Calgary has much higher rental and housing prices compared to Edmonton.

Looking at rentals first in both cities, on average a 1 bedroom in Calgary will cost about $1,800 per month compared to about $1,200 in Edmonton. A 2 bedroom in Calgary will be around $2,100 per month, where as in Edmonton you can find one around $1,500. Lastly, if you’re looking for a 3 bedroom rental, in Calgary on average you’ll be around $2,500, compared to $1,700 in Edmonton.

So, you can see rental prices are definitely lower in Edmonton by about 30% or so.

For the sales market starting with detached single family homes. In Edmonton the benchmark price is currently $500,000, compared to $690,000 in Calgary. For semi-detached homes, Edmonton is at $383,000 compared to Calgary’s $616,000. For townhomes Edmonton is at an average of $268,000, and in Calgary we’re currently at $400,000. For the apartments, in Edmonton they’re at an average of $195,000, compared to Calgary’s $305,000.

You can see based on that, Calgary is quite a bit more to purchase real estate compared to Edmonton, but it doesn’t exactly paint the whole picture as it is a very general way to look at it. Keep in mind, Calgary does have a lot more high luxury areas and homes, which will tend to skew the market up a bit compared to a city like edmonton that doesnt have as much of that.

If you are a buyer and looking to get your home search underway, I would love to help! Click the button below to go fill out my buyer consultation request form!

As far as amenities, both cities have all the retail and entertainment amenities you could need, but we’re going to go over some of the key differences between the two. First up, as far as living in Calgary goes, the city is actually widely considered the cleanest large city in the world. Continuing on with Calgary, it is the closest to the Rocky Mountains, which means there are plenty of homes here with beautiful mountain views right out the windows of your home. When you can see them that close, it means that they’re only gonna be about a 45 minute drive to those mountains, from the west side of the city. So, whether you like hiking, fishing, skiing, or any of the other activities you can do in the mountains, for the outdoorsy type, Calgary may be the PERFECT place to call home!

Of course we can’t discount the perks of living in a city with one of Canada’s primary international airports. This means that there are many more flights from the Calgary airport that you will not need to connect at another airport to get to where you’re going. I mean who doesn't prefer a direct flight! To give you some quick numbers around this, the Calgary airport flies to 25 cities outside of Canada and the US, with direct, non-stop flights. Compared to Edmonton's Airport which flies to 11 cities direct outside of Canada or the US. This can make a big difference if you find yourself travelling a lot!

Edmonton prides itself on its cultural diversity, with many festivals throughout the year geared toward different cultures, including The Edmonton Heritage Festival, which is labeled the worlds largest Celebration of Multiculturalism.

In addition to that festival there are countless others throughout the year cantered around music, food, literature, and other arts. This is the reason why Edmonton has acquired the name “Canada’s festival city”. With over 50 festivals in the city each year, there’s going to be something for everyone here!

Also, Edmonton beats Calgary in terms of their major arena. With Rogers place being a new entertainment stadium, it’s better equipped to handle more shows and events, and you’ll find there are many big concerts that will go to Edmonton and not Calgary, giving people from Edmonton more opportunities for high demand shows and events. That’s because the Saddledome is now about 35 years old, and just isn’t very good for acoustics. But that being said there are plans for a new arena in Calgary in the near future!

Unfortunately in the crime category we do have a clear winner and loser in terms of crime.If we look at the Canada Crime Index numbers. Knowing that higher means more crime, and lower is less crime, the Canadian average is at about 85. So, looking at these 2 cities next to that average, Calgary is actually lower than average at 77.6, and Edmonton is higher than average at 110.7. Now, that’s the overall crime rate, so now let's look at violent crimes and property crimes. For violent crimes, again our Canadian average is an 85 on the index. Calgary ranks at 79.7, which is slightly below average, but Edmonton is all the way up at 126.7. Looking at property crime specifically, and for this one we have a couple charts to pull up from April 2023.

You can see in the Edmonton region, Edmonton and surrounding areas are all around 2.5 to 4.5, but on the Calgary region chart you can see that Calgary is around 2.7, but all the surrounding areas are all 1 or lower. This definitely shows that property crime is a bit more of an issue in the Edmonton area, by about 2-3 times more than in the Calgary area.

In summary, Calgary is known for its diverse economy and its proximity to the Rocky Mountain and has a lower crime rate than Edmonton. However, Calgary’s housing market is significantly more expensive than Edmonton’s, making it less affordable for both buying and renting. Edmonton, on the other hand, offers a more affordable cost of living. The city also has a thriving arts, culture, and festival scene. Edmonton’s winters are a bit colder, but overall, all Albertans enjoy soaking up the sun much more than other Canadian provinces.


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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