Home to more than a million people, Calgary has a lot to offer as a city for expatriates planning a move. Located in Alberta, a province in Western Canada, Calgary is part of an eclectic landscape that encompasses mountains, prairies, desert Badlands and vast coniferous forests. It has more than 600 lakes, and rich mineral deposits.
Calgary is a cosmopolitan Alberta city with numerous skyscrapers, and it owes its rapid growth to its status as the centre of Canada’s oil industry. However, it’s still steeped in the western culture that earned it the nickname “Cowtown,” evident in the Calgary Stampede, its massive July rodeo and festival that grew out of the farming exhibitions once presented here.
Having been host to the 1988 Winter Olympics, Calgary is one of Canada’s most famous cities, and we have researched what it is like to both live and work in this stunning city.
In 2007, Forbes magazine ranked Calgary as the world’s cleanest city and, since then, Calgary has received the same honour several times from a variety of institutions. The city boasts clean sewage systems, good water drinkability and availability, and there’s not much air pollution. It's worth noting that there are heavy fines within the city for littering, with fines from ranging from $500 to $1,000.
There are also a host of recycling programs in place throughout the city, along with its spring street clean across all the road networks.
Calgary has an extensive covered skywalk system for pedestrians called the Plus 15 Skywalk – named for the fact that it’s mostly 15 feet above the ground. It is the world’s biggest collection of footbridges connected to buildings, totalling some 16 kilometres in length.
The Plus 15 enables you to walk to various downtown buildings and stores without having to go outside. Because it is heated, you can walk around in it during the winter in shorts and a T-shirt, and Calgary weather does get cold, so this is a real asset to the city.
The Calgary 'public transit' is reliable and environmentally friendly, with a network of trains and buses designed to get people downtown in the mornings and back again in the evenings. Keeping with the city’s focus on cleanliness, Calgary’s light railway — called CTrains — is powered by electricity from wind farms. It is the first wind-powered public transit system in North America.
Outside of the central downtown area, there are park-and-rides for the buses and trains. One benefit they provide is free plug-ins for block heaters in your car, which helps make your car easy to start after its been sitting outside in the cold Calgary winter. In downtown Calgary, the CTrain is free. If you rely on public transit, Calgary is a easy city to get around in.
Being in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Calgary is the perfect location for anyone who loves the outdoors. No matter what activities you love doing, Calgary offers it.
For starters, the city is home to Canada Olympic Park, which is used by both professional athletes and the general public. You can also ski and snowboard right in the city thanks to the park, that also offers public skating and bobsledding. Outdoor activities aren’t only confined to winter sports, summertime activities such as mountain biking, mountaineering and zip lining are all popular.
Calgary is also home to 8,000 hectares (nearly 20,000 acres) of parkland. If you’re a runner or a cyclist, the city offers 800 kilometres of pathways for you. It’s the most extensive network of urban pathways and bikeways in North America.
There are a few other outdoors destinations close to Calgary that are worth visiting. Banff is about an hour away by car and offers some of the best downhill skiing in the world. Jasper, at about a five hours drive, also has excellent skiing, and both locations are home to national parks that are wonderful places to camp and hike in the summer months. They additionally offer great opportunities for sightseeing at their icefields and glaciers.
Calgary is within striking distance of other places to see. Edmonton is only a three-hour drive away to the north. There’s great shopping and a water park at the West Edmonton Mall and it offers plenty of museums and galleries in the city to explore with family and friends.
The US border is a three-hour drive away from Calgary in the opposite direction. You can visit Glacier National Park, which is a United Nations World Heritage site. It’s home to more than 1,000 different species of plants, and hundreds of different kinds of animals.
A longer drive at more than 10 hours is Vancouver. It’ll take you a day to travel, but, once there, you are able to visit the ocean or enjoy the city’s culture.
While some people may feel Calgary is a bit of an island because, unlike Toronto, there aren’t any major cities right beside it, it’s not nearly as isolated as you might think. There are places worth the road trip to if you don’t mind putting a bit of gas in the tank. The other option is to fly.
For those who need to commute, it's worth recognising that, despite its green travel credentials, Calgary also has a reputation as being a bad city to drive in due to traffic jams. The government is also pouring funding into improving roads in Alberta, which may help, so it’s a good thing that Calgary has a reliable public transit system.
Calgary can be a great city to live and work in, especially for expats looking for an active, outdoorsy, clean city to call home.
If you are considering a move to Canada, Cadogan Tate will assist you every step of the way – from your first enquiry to unpacking at your new home, we are here to help and advise you. For more details about Cadogan Tate’s specialist international removals services from London, click here.