Calgary is the largest city in Alberta. It sits between the foothills of the Canadian Rockies and the Canadian Prairies and is surrounded by vast and beautiful national parks. Calgary is one of Canada’s wealthiest cities due to its oil industry. It is said that its oil sand reserves are second only to Saudi Arabia’s.
If you are considering moving to Calgary, the various costs listed below will help you make an informed decision on what costs are involved when moving to and living in the home of the famous Calgary Stampede.
Quick Calgary Facts:
- Population: 1,336 million (2017)
- Official Language: English (de facto) with many other languages being spoken, including French, Urdu, Spanish, Punjabi, Bengali, Mandarin, Cantonese and Russian.
- GDP Per Capita: C$79,885 (2021)
- Strange Law: A law is still in existence that states when you are released from jail, you must be provided with a gun and a horse so you can make your way safely out of town.
- Currency: Canadian Dollar ($, CAD). As of early 2023, $1 USD = C$1.36, €1 EUR = C$1.44, £1 = C$1.64, $1 AUD = C$0.91
1. Moving and Shipping Costs to Calgary
Below are sample international container shipping rates to Western Canada from various countries around the world.
2. Calgary Housing Costs
Compared with other major cities in the world, house and flat prices in Calgary are affordable, especially as salaries are generally high in the city. Prices obviously vary from area to area, but the figures below will give you an indication of what’s available at what price.
Monthly Rental Prices in Calgary:
- 1 bedroom flat (apartment) in City Centre: C$1,500+
- 1 bedroom flat outside the City Centre: C$1,200+
- 3 bedroom flat in City Centre: C$2,700+
- 3 bedroom flat outside the City Centre: C$2,100+
Calgary Home Purchase Prices:
- Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy in City Centre: C$5,400+
- Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy outside City: C$3,900+
Calgary Housing Cost Comparison:
This is how rents in Calgary compare with other cities around the globe.
- London is 50.2% more expensive
- New York is 67.2% more expensive
- Toronto is 32.5% more expensive
- Los Angeles is 55.7% more expensive
- Sydney is 41.6% more expensive
- Paris is 23.9% more expensive
- Dubai is 33.5% more expensive
How to Save on Housing Costs:
- Share a Flat or House: Over a quarter of properties in Calgary are rentals and the majority are detached houses. There is a selection of apartments and condos, mainly towards the centre of the city. Calgary is a city which offers both house and flat shares. With a house/flat share you will have your own room, or, for a cheaper option, you can share a room. Remember a shared flat or room usually means a shared bathroom as well. Have a look at the following sites to find house or flat share which suits you – Room Rental, Roommates and Roomiematch.
- Different Areas – Different Prices: Calgary is conveniently divided into four quadrants – NW, SW, NE and SE. The highest rents are in the northwest and southwest suburbs as they are closest to the Rockies and many have incredible views. Recommended southwest suburbs include Bankview, Killarney and Mount Royal. For those who want to live close to the University of Calgary, then move to the northwest quadrant, to neighbourhoods such as Hillhurst, Sunnyside, Tuscany, Edgemont, County Hills or Kensington. The southeast quadrant is mainly industrial with little housing available. Downtown Calgary is expensive but, if you can afford it, it has upmarket apartments and is close to the nightlife and restaurants of the city. The northeast quadrant is also industrial and has an airport. There are cheap residential areas in this quadrant but many feel the areas are unsafe.
3. Calgary Food, Grocery and Restaurant Costs
Calgary has a wide selection of good restaurants, bars and pubs which showcase food from around the world.
- Inexpensive Restaurant: C$20.00 – C$25.00
- Takeout Coffee: C$5.10 – C$6.00
- Bottle of Coke: C$2.40 – C$2.70
- 1L of Milk: C$2.30 – C$3.00
- Loaf of Bread: C$3.00 – C$3.45
- 12 Eggs: C$4.15 – C$5.00
- 1kg Chicken: C$14.40 – C$21.99
- 1kg Beef: C$18.50 – C$20.00
- 1kg Apples: C$5.20 – C$6.40
- 1kg White Rice: C$3.50 – C$5.00
This is how restaurants and food prices compare with other major cities in the world.
- New York restaurants are 32.1% more expensive and groceries are 35.4% more expensive than Calgary.
- London restaurants are 11.1% more expensive and groceries are 21.6% lower than Calgary.
- Toronto restaurants are 10.4% more expensive and groceries are 2.7% more expensive than Calgary.
- Los Angeles restaurants are 23.5% more expensive and groceries are 14.4% more expensive than Calgary.
- Sydney restaurants are 13.2% more expensive and groceries are 15.1% more expensive than Calgary.
- Paris restaurants are 1.4% more expensive and groceries are 11.2% more expensive than Calgary.
- Dubai restaurants are 5.3% more expensive and groceries are 34.4% cheaper than Calgary.
Bonus Tips for Cheaper Food, Restaurants and Groceries:
- Know Your Supermarkets: Calgary has a number of independent food stores as well as the usual supermarket chains. It also has a good selection of grocers selling organic and fresh produce as well as farmers’ markets. Italian Supermarket sells all things Italian. The Light Cellar is for those who love health shops and superfoods. The Real Canadian Superstore is a chain offering Canadian customers a wide selection of foods at good prices.
- Find Cheap Eats: With a little bit of research, you will find restaurants which offer good but inexpensive food, either every day or at certain times of the day. Have a look at the following sites for inspiration – Avenue Calgary, Trip Advisor, Yelp, Daily Hive and Global News.
4. Calgary Alcohol Costs
Calgary has an excellent selection of bars, clubs and restaurants. There is something to suit everyone’s taste and pocket. The following is a list of basic prices of beer and wine from the supermarket and restaurants.
- Pint (0.6L) domestic beer at a restaurant/pub: C$7.00 – C$8.00
- Bottle of imported beer at a restaurant/pub: C$8.00 – C$9.00
- Pint (0.6L) domestic beer at a supermarket: C$3.50 – C$3.75
- Bottle of imported beer at a supermarket: C$4.50 – C$5.00
- Mid-range bottle of wine at a supermarket: C$16.00 – C$20.00
How To Drink For Less in Calgary:
- Keep an eye on the local papers, billboards and websites for specials.
- There are many bars, clubs and restaurants that offer cheap drinks at certain times of the day or week. Have a look at the following sites to see what’s on offer in Calgary – Yelp, Avenue Calgary and Culture Trip.
5. Calgary Transportation Fares
Calgary has a good public transport system, run by Calgary Transit. It consists of buses, the C-train and community shuttles. Note that the C-Train stations are not enclosed which makes for very chilly waiting times during the winter months.
Here are some example ticket costs.
- Adult single – C$3.60
- One-day pass – C$10.00
- Monthly season ticket for bus, subway, streetcar and train – C$112.00
- Airport special – C$10.00
How To Save Money on Public Transport:
- Group and family day pass available at weekends and public holidays
- The C-Train is free downtown
- Buy a bike. There is a good system of cycle lanes in Calgary
- Walk. If you live close to where you work, then enjoy the walk.
6. Cost of Internet in Calgary
Internet in Canada is more expensive than in the UK but cheaper than in the US. Pay-as-you-go plans are generally much more expensive in Canada than in other countries and, service providers often charge you for incoming calls. Here are some sample broadband internet prices from early 2023 for unlimited downloads, based on a 12-month contract:
- Bell: C$55.00 a month (Fiber broadband up to 10Mbps)
- Virgin: C$40.00 a month (Standard broadband up to 50Mbps)
- Primus: C$41.95 a month (Standard broadband up to 100Mbps)
7. Cost of Clothing, Personal Items, Gym and Leisure
July is the hottest and sunniest month in Calgary with an average high of 17°C, although the temperature can go up to 30°C. The coldest month is January with an average high of -7°C. June is the wettest month with an average of 80mm of rain falling.
Here are some clothing prices, together with other useful prices.
- Pair of Jeans: C$75.00 – C$80.00
- Summer Dress: C$60.00 – C$65.00
- Running Shoes (Trainers): C$100.00 – C$120.00
- Business Shoes: C$145.00 – C$200.00
- Short Doctor’s Visit (15 mins): C$95.00
- Deodorant: C$4.50
- Shampoo: C$6.50
- Toilet Paper (4 rolls): C$3.00
- Gym Membership: C$70.00 – C$99.00 per month
- Movie (cinema) Ticket: C$16.00
Source: Numbeo and Expatistan
8. Cost of Owning a Car and Driving a Car in Calgary
Everyone in Canada drives on the right. Many people drive to and from work in Calgary. The rush hour is busy but nowhere near as busy as other major cities around the world.
If you’re moving to Calgary from within Canada, your Canadian license is valid for 90 days. After that time, you must apply for an Alberta driving licence. If you are moving to Calgary from another country, then you may be able to exchange your license without taking a driving test. This depends on which country you are relocating from. If your country isn’t on the list then you will need to take a driving and theory test.
Another route is to get International Driving Permit (IDP) before you leave your home country. IDPs are valid for 12 months and your license will be in English and French.
Here are some other sample costs of owning and operating a car in Calgary:
- Volkswagen Golf: C$28,500
- 1 litre (¼ gallon) of Gas (petrol): C$1.59
- Vehicle Permit: C$32.00
- Other Fees: Go to other costs for details of other fees, many of which depend on the type of car you own
Source: Expatistan, CAA
Ways To Save Money on Driving in Calgary:
- Car sharing or pooling is one way to save money. Try Carpoolworld, Calgary Downtown, Kangaride and Rideshare.
- Taxis can sometimes be a cheaper option, especially if you are going to have to park all day. Try Uber.
9. Taxes in Calgary
No matter where you live in Canada, you will pay Federal Tax and then you will pay Provincial Tax which varies from province to province. To learn more about the different taxes go to the Canadian Revenue Agency.
Government Sales Tax is only 5% in Alberta, as the province does not charge PST or HST. GST is added to most goods and services throughout the country. It is not included in the marked price. Tax is added at the checkout and itemised at the bottom of your bill.
If you decide to buy a house or flat in Calgary, you will be subject to Alberta Land Transfer Tax based on the area in which you live and the size of the property you live in.
10. Flight Costs from Calgary
If you do make the move to Calgary, here’s approximately how much it will cost to fly to other major world cities based on lowest, one-way fares from Skyscanner as of early 2023:
- New York: C$300
- Los Angeles: C$190
- London: C$650
- Vancouver: C$35
- Dubai: C$1,100
- Sydney: C$1,100
- Melbourne: C$1,100
- Cape Town: C$900
- Hong Kong: C$1,100
Other Tips on Moving to Calgary:
The costs and pricing above should give you a good idea of the cost of living in Calgary but perhaps the following extra tips will make your move go smoothly.
11. Moving to Calgary Alone
Moving anywhere can be a lonely experience, but moving to a new city can be rather daunting. Here are a few tips about settling into Calgary.
- Meetups: Calgary has lots of free meetup groups you can find at Meetup. Find groups for nature lovers, exercise enthusiasts, baby boomers, salsa dancing and more.
- Attend Local Events: There’s always a lot going on in Calgary. Discover local events through sites such as Trip Advisor, Travel US, Visit Calgary and Vacation Idea.
12. Moving to Calgary with a Family
Calgary has a lot to offer families. It has skiing, other winter sports and national parks right on the doorstep, plus the city hosts many cultural activities.
Here’s some extra food for thought.
- New Parents (or parents-to-be): Have a look at the following site to see what groups are available for new parents or parents-to-be – Alberta Health Services.
- Live in a Family-friendly Area: Parkland is recommended for families with young children. The local Community Association is very active here and organises a lot of events for children up to the age of 14 and beyond. One of the best areas for schools is Tuscany, with lots of real estate within walking distance from these excellent schools. Discovery Ridge has lots of green spaces and natural playgrounds for kids to enjoy. Arbour Lake is only 20 minutes from Downtown but has good schools, parks, recreation facilities and all amenities within the neighbourhood.
- Find Things To Do With The Kids: To Do Canada, Family Fun Canada and Family Days Out all have great ideas for activities and events your kids will love.
13. Moving to Calgary for Work
Moving to a new city for work is one of the most common reasons people choose to move. While it is possible to move without a job, it makes sense to ensure there are jobs in your field before you make the move.
Jobs in Calgary are centred around the petroleum industry, tourism and agriculture. There are also opportunities in healthcare, education and the financial sector and other service industries.
Here are a few things to consider when moving for work:
- Salary: Salaries in Calgary are high for Canada and the cost of living is comparatively low. The costs we outlined above should give you a rough idea of how much more you’ll want to be making to make the move worthwhile. You can also check salary ranges on sites such as Glassdoor and Payscale.
- How to Find Work: If you want to have a job lined up before you move to Calgary, but aren’t sure where to begin, the following sites are good places to start: Monster, Indeed, Workopolis, Job Bank and Wow Jobs. You may also want to Google recruiters in your industry, as they can often help land you some initial interviews as well.
14. Moving to Calgary from Australia
There are fellow Australians living in Calgary. Here are a few things to consider if you are thinking of joining them.
- Size Comparison: If you compare the population size of Calgary with the size of a city in Australia, the closest would be Adelaide.
- Join Expat Groups: Both Internations and Meetup offer ways of meeting up with other Australians in Calgary.
15. Moving to Calgary from the United States
There are a fair number of Americans living in Calgary. Here a few bonus tips for those of you considering joining your fellow Americans.
- Size: If you look at the population of Calgary and compare it with a city in the States, the closest in size is Dallas.
- Expat Groups: If you want to meet up with fellow Americans, have look at the following sites – Internations, Expats Blog and Expat.com.
16. Moving to Calgary from the United Kingdom
Like most cities in Canada, there’s a large British community living and working in Calgary. If you’re considering it, here are a few bonus tips:
- Size: If you compare the population size of Calgary with a city in the UK, you would be looking at Birmingham.
- Expat Groups: If you would like to meet other Brits living in Calgary, have a look at the following sites – Facebook, Internations and British Expats.
Hopefully, the tips and costs above are helpful. If want to get started pricing out how much it will cost you to move to Calgary you can start by comparing moving quotes here.