Living in Calgary, Alberta

Calgary skylineCalgary is a diverse and prosperous city in the province of Alberta. It sits in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, where the Bow and Elbow rivers meet, and is framed by fresh air, open spaces, parks and pathways, and mountains and rivers.

Calgary enjoys more days of sunshine than any other major Canadian city and is less than an hour’s drive from the majestic Rockies.

A number of immigrants are attracted to Calgary, because of the lowest tax rate in the country, strong oil and gas and agriculture industries and above all, affordable housing. Continue reading

Society

According to the 2013 municipal census, Calgary has a population of 1,149,552, a 2.6% increase over its 2012. It is a young city, with the median age being 36.0 years.

Calgary is the third-most ethnically diverse city in all of Canada; according to the 2011 National Household Survey findings, it has one of the highest visible minority rates in Canada, behind only Toronto and Vancouver.

Most Calgary residents are of European origin. In 2011, this group accounted for 64.5 per cent of the city’s population. Calgarians whose ancestors hailed from England, Scotland, Germany, Ireland and France make up a large percentage of the population. That being said, the city is host to a broad range of other ethnic minority groups.

5.6 per cent of Calgary’s total labour force is visible minorities with Chinese, South Asian, Filipino and Arab/West Asian being the largest individual ethnic groups (2006).

26.2 percent of Calgarians identify themselves as immigrants, and 28.1 per cent are included in a visible minority group. (2011)

Economy

Calgary has had the strongest performing urban economy in Canada for the past 10 years, and is expected to stay at the top – or close to it – through 2017.

The city is recognized as the capital of the Canadian oil and gas industry, as well as a leader in economic expansion. It is home to many of Canada’s oil and gas producers, and is the decision-making hub and head office location of every energy company doing business in this country. As well, Calgary is becoming a global energy centre, with a strong representation of coal companies, and organizations working in alternative energies, green power and environmental technologies. Many financial businesses have grown up around these energy companies. Small business and self-employment levels also rank amongst the highest in Canada.

Some large employers with Calgary head offices include Canada Safeway Limited, Westfair Foods Ltd., Suncor Energy, Agrium, Flint Energy Services Ltd., Shaw Communication, and Canadian Pacific Railway. Canada’s second biggest airline, WestJet, is headquartered close to the Calgary International Airport.

The city has also invested into non-energy related areas such as high-tech manufacturing and tourism, and is known for its famed Calgary Stampede and cowboy culture.

Finding a home

Finding a home in Calgary shouldn’t be too difficult, as there are plenty of options, and purchases costs are less than in larger cities like Vancouver or Toronto. Interestingly, rental costs are quite high compared to other Canadian cities.

Average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Calgary is $1,409 per month; average home sale prices are $479,609.

To find rental apartments, you can check your local newspaper classifieds or online sites like Craigslist.

To purchase a home, contact a realtor in the area, who will guide you through the home-buying process.

Medical

Calgary has four major adult acute care hospitals and one major pediatric acute care site: the Alberta Children’s Hospital, the Foothills Medical Centre, the Peter Lougheed Centre, the Rockyview General Hospital and the South Health Campus.

Calgary is also home to the leading cancer centre in Alberta, the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. The four largest Calgary hospitals have a combined total of more than 2,100 beds, and employ over 11,500 people.

In addition to these centres, you will find many other care centres, as well as hundreds of smaller medical and dental clinics operating in the city.

One of the first steps you need to take after arriving in Calgary is finding a family doctor or specialist who has experience with a specific condition.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta provides a very handy online search tool that you can use to find a doctor in Calgary.

If you are unable to find a family doctor, you can go to one of many general non-emergency walk-in clinics in the city and also register with the Primary Care Network for Calgary for assistance.

Education

Calgary offers a wealth of options when it comes to schools in the city: public, Catholic, francophone, bilingual, language immersion, private, charter, religious, sports-focused, arts-focused, music-focused, science-focused.

The city offers as well child care and pre-school options. If you have a lower income, you may be eligible for some government help to cover the costs of childcare.

To find Calgary day cares, pre-schools, family day homes, out of school care or group family child care, the government has a great child care search tool.

As home to more immigrants than any other community in Alberta, Calgary offers many English as a second language (ESL) schools in the city. Most immigrant-serving centres and organizations also provide ESL classes, while there are programs in place for younger students within both the public and Catholic school systems.

Recreation

The Calgary Public Library is the city’s public library network, with seventeen branches loaning books, e-books, CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, audio books, and more.

Calgary is the site of the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium performing arts, culture and community facility, which is the resident home of the Alberta Ballet Company, the Calgary Opera and a number of other cultural ceremonies. The city is also home to a number of theatre companies.

Calgary hosts a number of annual festivals and events, such as the Calgary International Film Festival, the Calgary Folk Music Festival, the Greek Festival, Wordfest: Banff Calgary International Writers FestivalExpo LatinoCalgary Pride, and many other cultural and ethnic festivals. The city has a number of multicultural areas where you can find a variety of ethnic restaurants and stores.

The city is best-known for the Calgary Stampede, which is an annual event occurring each July since 1912. It is one of Canada’s largest festivals, with over 1 million people visiting it every year.

In large part due to its proximity to the Rocky Mountains, the city has traditionally been a popular destination for winter sports. And after hosting the 1988 Winter Olympics, Calgary has also welcomed a number of major winter sporting facilities such as Canada Olympic Park and the Olympic Oval

The city also has a large number of urban parks including Fish Creek Provincial Park, Bowness ParkEdworthy Park, the Inglewood Bird SanctuaryConfederation Park, and Prince’s Island Park, and Nose Hill Park, which is the largest municipal park in Canada.