- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Calgary Guide (PDF)
With its cowboy character and well-preserved frontier history, Calgary is recognised as the ‘most American’ Canadian city. Expats moving to Calgary will enjoy picturesque views and exciting outdoor adventures, thanks to the city’s proximity to the Rocky Mountains.
Living in Calgary as an expat
Living in Calgary is, by all accounts, more of a pleasure than a chore. Calgarians enjoy a wide range of outdoor winter pursuits such as skiing and snowboarding, while summers are usually for mountain biking, fishing and horse riding.
Calgary is often considered less cultural than other Canadian cities such as Toronto and Vancouver. Although, this perception is rapidly changing as areas such as International Avenue grow in popularity. Calgary also boasts a thriving theatre industry and a rich heritage of country folk music.
Since the oil crash in 2014, unemployment in Calgary has unfortunately risen, forcing the city to diversify its economy. The job market in Calgary is notoriously competitive, so it is recommended for expats to secure a role before relocating. That said, low taxes have stimulated the city's economy by incentivising many businesses to set up shop in Calgary. Skilled and qualified expats should be able to find opportunities across many fields, including engineering, geology, tourism, agriculture, financial services and IT.
Professionals looking to commute needn't worry, as Calgary boasts an extensive and efficient public transport system consisting of the CTrain and buses, making getting around a breeze.
Cost of living in Calgary
The cost of living in Calgary has been impacted by the exorbitant cost of accommodation, driven by a growing population and a lack of adequate infrastructure to support the growth. Childcare is another significant expense facing working expat parents. Fortunately, permanent residents and expats on work or residence visas are eligible for Alberta's highly subsidised health insurance scheme, allowing expats to reduce their expenses.
Expat families and children in Calgary
Calgary is a wonderful city for raising a family. Education in Calgary is generally excellent and there are plenty of options to suit expats from all walks. Moreover, public schools in Calgary are free to attend for expats who are permanent residents and those on work visas. Expat parents will also have the option of sending their children to private or international schools.
Owing to Calgary’s fantastic green spaces and mountainscapes, expats moving to Calgary with children will always have something new and fun to explore. The annual event calendar in the city is also jam-packed with festivities for the whole family to enjoy. Parents may also benefit from joining one of the many lift clubs and playgroups for extra support.
Climate in Calgary
The weather in Calgary is categorised as a humid continental climate. The summers in the city are warm, while winters are ice-cold with lots of snowfall. The only reprieve for residents in winter comes from the occasional warm winds called Chinooks. The city's weather also fluctuates considerably.
Expats moving to Calgary will soon find themselves falling in love with the city's energetic yet peaceful way of life, with many choosing to settle permanently.
►Find out more about your medical entitlements as an expat living in the province of Alberta in Healthcare in Calgary
►Our Banking, Money and Taxes page contains all the essential information expats need to manage their finances in Canada
"I love the small-town feel of Calgary and the fact that we are so close to the Rocky Mountains. Calgary is a very family-friendly city and there is a great community feel."
"The biggest adjustments here involved the drastically different climate. Coming from sunny South Africa to snowy Canada can be quite a shock to the system. Winters are very cold and with the snow you need lots of layers, jackets, mittens and boots, and this was a huge adjustment for our kids, who were used to running around barefoot most of the year."
Read more of South African expat Catherine's experiences in Calgary.
Are you an expat living in Calgary?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Calgary. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
If you’re thinking about taking out private health insurance, our trusted partner Cigna Global is very aware of all the difficulties that expats can face when it comes to healthcare in a new location, so they have created a range of international health insurance plans specifically designed for expats, which you can tailor exactly to the needs and ensure access to quality care for you and your family.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.