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Nice View of Edmonton Skyline
View of the Edmonton skyline

Are you thinking about moving to Canada? If you are, one of the biggest decisions you will have to make is what city you are going to live in. Canada is a vast country, and the city you choose to call home will have a large impact on your lifestyle, cost of living, and career.  If you are thinking of moving to the province of Alberta, Edmonton is a top city to consider.

Within Alberta, many people choose to live in Edmonton or in Calgary. So you need to research both cities to learn about the local economy and housing market. These two factors are vital to your financial success. 

We have you covered with helpful information about living in Edmonton.

About Edmonton, Alberta

Edmonton is the capital of Alberta and the second-largest city in the province. It lies on the North Saskatchewan River and in the centre of the Edmonton Capital Region. It is unique because it is an urban centre surrounded by wilderness. The city has roots dating back to the 1700s. In 1875, Fort Edmonton was established. And, it was in 1904 that the city was incorporated. Over the years the city has grown rapidly and merged with several surrounding towns, including Strathcona, North Edmonton, West Edmonton, Beverly, and Jasper Place. 

Because of the massive oil, gas and oil sands reserves in Alberta, Edmonton is called the “Oil Capital of Canada”. It is also referred to as The Festival City of Canada because of the events held in the city year-round. 

Its growth, job opportunities, low Alberta taxes, and ethnically diverse population make this city an attractive destination for immigrants from across the world.

How Many People Live in Edmonton, Alberta?

In 2016, Edmonton’s population was 1,062,643 (Statistics Canada Census). And today it is closer to 1.4 million. It is growing at a rate of about 2% per year. About one-quarter of the population are visible minorities. It is estimated that close to 330,000 residents are immigrants and the city welcomes between 35,000 and 45,000 new immigrants each year.

According to The State of Immigration and Settlement in Edmonton – Annual Report 2021 published by the City of Edmonton, 50% of Edmontonians will be immigrants by 2050.

Office towers in downtown Edmonton

How to Find a Job & Build a Career in Edmonton

Edmonton’s Local Economy

Edmonton is proud to be one of the fastest-growing economies among the large Canadian cities. It also has the fifth-highest Gross Domestic Product of all Canadian cities. Since 96% of Canada’s oil reserves are in Alberta, Edmonton’s economy naturally focuses on the petrochemical industries. Oil supply and services, as well as technology research and development, ensure Edmonton’s prosperity.

The top industries in Edmonton are:

  • Oil and gas
  • Energy
  • Manufacturing
  • Tourism
  • Financial Services
  • Technology.

Major Employers in Edmonton

Edmonton is home to major employers across a variety of industries. Some of the top employers in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region are:

  • Alberta Health Services
  • Alberta Motor Association
  • IBM
  • General Electric
  • DynaLIFE
  • BioWare
  • Telus
  • Lilydale
  • Afexa Life Sciences Inc.
  • West Edmonton Mall
  • University of Alberta.

Career Pathways in Edmonton

Many immigrants in this city came to Alberta from other Canadian provinces. However, over the past decade, the number of international immigrants is increasing.

The city is experiencing growth because of the good job opportunities and the quality of life that it offers. About 31% of the population comprises people between 25 – 45 years of age who are in their prime working, consuming, and spending years. And with this age profile, Edmonton expects further economic growth.

The labour market is projected to grow by more than 3% in 2022 and 2023. It is projected to experience growth to 2030 and beyond. As of November 2021, the unemployment rate was 7.6% and is on the decline. It is down from 11.5% compared to November 2020. 

New immigrants can look for employment through local recruiters such as KPM Staffing, Executrade, Manpower Professional, David Alpin Group, and Robert Half. Canada’s job bank is also a great place to search for opportunities. Read more at Canada’s Job Bank | Your Vital Research Tool.

The Edmonton Housing Market

If you are planning to move to Edmonton, finding adequate housing is a priority for newcomers. As the population grows, more housing and neighbourhoods are being developed. Edmonton offers diverse neighbourhoods for people looking to rent or buy. Short-term accommodations are also available while you settle into the city.

Is Housing Expensive in Edmonton, Alberta?

Real estate costs are on the rise in Edmonton, like other large cities across the country. Many new immigrants choose Edmonton over Calgary because it is more affordable to buy a home. Edmonton ranks as the 9th most expensive city to live in Canada, making it one of the most affordable big cities in the country. 

The neighbourhood you choose to live in will also affect your costs. Some of the more affordable neighbourhoods for new immigrants are Rideau Park, Wellington, Lauderdale, Carlisle, Prince Charles, and Athlone.

Finding a Place to Rent in Edmonton 

Rental rates are more affordable than in other major cities. The average cost to rent an apartment in Edmonton is $837 for a Bachelor, $948 for a 1 Bedroom, $1159 for a 2 Bedroom, and $1355 for a 3 Bedroom.

Use Rentals for Newcomers to search for rental units in Edmonton. Here, you can also find current rental prices which is helpful as prices can change often.

When renting a home, condo, apartment, it’s also important to consider buying renter’s insurance. Even though it is optional, most property owners require tenants to show proof of insurance as part of their lease agreement. 

Consult the Landlord and Tenant Advisory Board to get advice and information about your tenant rights and obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act. For more information about renting a home, see: Renting in Canada: What Newcomers Need to Know

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Buying a Home in Edmonton 

Home prices in Edmonton are much more affordable than in other major cities, even Calgary. Again, this is another enticing factor for new immigrants to consider.

The median price to buy a home in 2021 was $431, 500. This is a 9.7% increase from the previous year. The median price for a detached single-family home is $470,400, an 11.1% increase, and the median price to buy a condo is $194,700. The price decreased by 3% year over year. Find out more about buying your first home in Canada: First Time Home Buyer: Newcomer Tips

Edmonton Transit Services
Edmonton Transit Services operates Light Rail Transit and buses

Driving & Public Transit in Edmonton

Driving in Edmonton, Alberta

The Yellowhead Highway connects Edmonton to British Columbia and Saskatchewan. The Queen Elizabeth II Highway (QE2 Highway) connects Alberta’s capital to Calgary.

Edmonton has the lowest gasoline and diesel prices in Canada and most Edmontonians use their cars in the city. The roads in this city form a grid system with streets running from north to south and avenues running from east to west. 

The city is ivided into three quadrants: northwest (NW), southwest (SW) and northeast (NE) and the street names include the quadrants.

The winters here can be challenging for drivers. Hazardous road conditions, frozen drifts and black ice are common. Even though winter tires are not mandatory in Alberta, they are important for the safety of everyone on the road. Even the best all-season tires are not as safe as a set of snow tires. For information on how to get an Alberta driver’s license see Driving in Alberta.

Edmonton Public Transit

Edmonton has an efficient public transit system. The Edmonton Transit System (ETS) operates Light Rail Transit (LRT) and buses. The LRT connects Northeast, Downtown, Government Centre, University and South areas. Buses on some routes to industrial areas or remote suburbs are infrequent and some routes do not operate Sundays. 

Learn more about the Transit System in Edmonton.

Get more information about driving in Canada:

Driving in Canada: 10 Essential Facts to Know

Driving Test in Canada: A Full Guide

Tips for Winter Driving to Ensure Your Safety

Community Support for Newcomers

As a diverse city that welcomes new immigrants, there are many pre-arrival settlement and employment services in Edmonton. The Welcome Center for Immigrants (WCI) is an umbrella organization that provides newcomers with information and resources. It is a one-stop service for settlement and job-related information in the region.

Newcomers can also use the services such as the Edmonton Immigrant Services Association, Alberta Association of Immigrant Settlement Agencies, and Changing Together: A Centre for Immigrant Women. For more information about settlement agencies, read Services in Canada to Help Newcomers Settle.

Language Support in Edmonton

Language support services help new immigrants learn English and get better adapt to their new community. Organizations offering language support in Edmonton include Cultural Connection Institute, Edmonton Community Adult Learning Association, Welcome Centre for Immigrants, and many others.

Personal Finance & Banking

Having a strong personal finance plan is important for all newcomers. Getting a Canadian bank account is a foundational first step to help you get your finances in order. 

All local banks in Edmonton have programs to help newcomers open a bank account and get a credit card. You can also get access to other financial products such as a mortgage or line of credit. Visit a local bank branch to start the process. 

Get more banking tips for newcomers:

Top 10 Financial Steps to Take Before You Leave for Canada

Move to Canada | Transferring Cash & Valuables

Open a Bank Account Before Arriving in Canada

University of Alberta
The University of Alberta is a Top 5 University in Canada and one of the top 150 in the world.

Edmonton’s Education System

Edmonton offers a diverse education system for people of all ages. Children have the choice to go to public, catholic or French immersion elementary and high school. A private school is also a possibility. The city also offers an array of post-secondary education programs through many excellent colleges and universities.

Elementary and High School Education

Kindergarten and grades 1-12 in Edmonton are provided by three publicly funded school boards (districts).

The largest one is Edmonton Public Schools. It is one of the few Alberta jurisdictions that require all students to study a second language for six years – between Grade 4 and 9. This school board offers bilingual programs in Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), German, Hebrew, Spanish and Ukrainian. They also offer courses in Cree, French, Japanese, Punjabi and American Sign Language.

The Edmonton Catholic School District operates 84 schools. They offer English as a Second Language (ESL) programs as well as bilingual programs to children of immigrants and to international students. Students in the bilingual programs receive 50% of their instruction in the chosen language in kindergarten or grade one and 35% at the secondary level. 

The Edmonton Catholic School District also offers French Immersion Programs and French as a Second Language courses. The Greater North Central Francophone Education Region No.2 is the largest French-language school board in Alberta.

Post Secondary Institutions

Edmonton has highly respected universities, technical institutes, and colleges. The University of Alberta is a Top 5 Canadian university and one of the Top 150 in the world. It is the largest research institution in the province. And more than 38,000 students are enrolled in over 200 undergraduate and 500 graduate programs. 

Other universities in Edmonton are Athabasca University, Grant MacEwan University, Concordia University College of Alberta, The King’s University College and the Edmonton campus of the University of Lethbridge. The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) offers more than 200 credit programs. Other post-secondary institutions include NorQuest College and Yellowhead Tribal College.

Technology and biotech sectors are closely tied to Edmonton’s research and education centres. Leaders in research are the University of Alberta, Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures and the National Institute for Nanotechnology.

Read more about education in Canada:

Schooling in Canada | A Look at the Education System

Higher Education Offers Benefits to Newcomers

Where to Get Medical Care in Edmonton, Alberta

The Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP) covers most medically necessary health services in Edmonton. For prescription drugs and medical services not covered by AHCIP, Albertans can get supplemental health insurance. You can pay for added individual health insurance plans. Some employers offer medical benefits as part of your compensation package. 

In case of an emergency call 9-1-1. This number is the same no matter where you live in Canada. You can get medical care at one of several hospitals in the city – University of Alberta Hospital, Royal Alexandra Hospital, Misericordia Community Hospital, Grey Nuns Community Hospital, and others.

How to Find a Family Doctor In Edmonton

Finding a family doctor once you arrive is a vital step to maintaining your health. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta offers an online search tool that you can use to find a doctor. You may be placed on a waiting list if no doctors are currently accepting new patients. But, if you don’t have a family doctor, you can go to one of many general non-emergency walk-in clinics. Get more information about health care in Canada: Steps to Access Free Health Care in Canada

What is Day to Day Life Like in Edmonton?

Things to Do in Edmonton

There is no shortage of things to do in the city, and the West Edmonton Mall is one of the prime attractions. It is the biggest shopping mall in North America and until 2004 it was the biggest mall in the world. It is a great place for indoor activities in the cold winter months. 

Some of the attractions of the Mall are Galaxyland, the world’s largest indoor amusement park, which features more than 24 spectacular rides. As well, the mall is home to World Waterpark, which boasts the world’s largest indoor wave pool, the tallest indoor permanent bungee tower, more than 17 waterslides, and Marine Life, an underground aquarium.

Public Spaces & Attractions 

Edmonton is often called “The Festival City” because of the many festivals that take place, most of them in Sir Winston Churchill Square in the Downtown Art District. You can also find the Citadel Theatre, Art Gallery of Alberta, Stanley Milner Public Library, City Hall and the Francis Winspear Centre for Music, home of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. One of the biggest theatre events in North America, the Fringe Theatre Festival takes place in Edmonton.

The largest living history museum in Canada is Fort Edmonton Park. Costumed interpreters bring visitors back in time, showing the original and rebuilt historical structures.

Restaurants & Nightlife

You can find ethnic cuisine at many fine dining restaurants in the downtown core, southside or near West Edmonton Mall. Downtown is the main area for nightlife and dining.

Nature & Natural Landscapes

If you enjoy outdoor activities, Edmonton has much to offer. Check out Elk Island National Park, Strathcona Wilderness Centre, and many parks in the area. Edmonton is also only a car ride away from world-class skiing in Banff and Jasper in Canada’s Rocky Mountains.

Sporting Events & Concerts

The city is home to professional sports teams including the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League (NHL) and Edmonton Elks of the Canadian Football League. The city is also a regular stop for international musicians and events. 

Edmonton Sikh parade in Mill Woods neighbourhood
The annual Edmonton Sikh parade celebrates the birth of Sikhism. (CBC)

Culture & Diversity In Edmonton

Diversity

Edmonton is a diverse city and continues to become more so each year. There are well over 300,000 immigrants making up one-quarter of the population. Of the immigrants that chose to move to Edmonton, 54% were economic immigrants (skilled workers), 29% were sponsored by family, and 17% were refugees.

New immigrants primarily have South Asian, Chinese, Black, Filipino, Latin American, Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern, Korean, and Japanese backgrounds. There are more than 125 different languages spoken in the city. 

First Nations Aboriginal people account for just over 5% of the population.

Places of Worship

In Edmonton, there are places to worship for every major religion. There are churches, mosques, synagogues, Hindu, Sikh, and Buddhist temples.

The Weather in Edmonton

Edmonton is one of the sunniest Canadian cities. For example, it receives 2,299 hours of sunshine per year. It has a dry climate with low precipitation. Nevertheless, summers are cool, and winters can be very cold. 

The average daily temperatures range from ─11.7◦C in January to 17.5◦C in July. In summer temperatures can exceed 30◦C and in winter they can fall below ─20◦C for an average of 28 days.

For about 141 days per year, snow depths are greater than 1 cm – compared to about 88 days in Calgary and 65 days in Toronto.

In summer, thunderstorms and large hail are not unusual; however, extreme weather events are rare. Tornadoes are rare and weak.

Common Questions Immigrants Ask About Living in Edmonton

What are the Pros and Cons of Living in Edmonton?

Edmonton has much to offer new immigrants. There are local immigrant communities to help you adapt to the city. As well, there are available jobs in many industries and the cost of living is lower compared to other major cities in Canada. One of the potential drawbacks of living in Edmonton is the winter weather.

Is Edmonton Good for Immigrants?

Edmonton is an ideal landing place for new immigrants. It has a diverse population and offers helpful support services for newcomers. As well, jobs are readily available for people with all types of skills and abilities.

Is it Cheaper to Live in Edmonton or Calgary?

If you are planning to move to Alberta, many newcomers choose between Edmonton and Calgary. But, be sure to consider living expenses. The cost of living is comparable to Calgary. The price of food, transit and other daily living costs are similar. However, Edmonton has more affordable housing options.

Is Edmonton a Safe Place to Live?

Edmonton is a safe city to live in. Like other cities, there are areas where crime is more prevalent. The south side of the city is the most family-friendly and safe.

For more information, tools, and free webinars about living in Canada visit our Settling in Canada resource page. We’ll help you to settle successfully!