Moving to Calgary?

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Moving to Calgary

Are you thinking about moving to Calgary? Then you must be curious about neighborhoods and housing opportunities in this Alberta city, as well as interested in Canada’s visa regulations. The InterNations Expat Guide informs you about these and further topics connected to a move to Calgary.
The Bow and Elbow Rivers make for great scenery, but also pose a potential flood risk for Calgary!

At a Glance:

  • Calgary’s population growth is the highest in all of Canada, and the city has a very diverse population.
  • Flooding is a high risk in Calgary, as shown by the 2013 floods, so you can use the Flood Hazard Map to assess the safety of different areas.
  • If accepted onto the new Express Entry Program, expats could be invited for permanent residency.


Calgary has come quite far since its modest beginnings as Fort Brisebois in 1875. It was officially declared a town in 1884, and its population increased eightfold in just ten years. As a result, Calgary was granted city status in 1894. Since then, the city has enjoyed a mostly continuous growth, as well as a strong economy.

Nowadays, this Canadian city at the Bow and Elbow Rivers is Alberta’s most populous city, trumping even the province’s capital, Edmonton. The current population of Calgary is 1.2 million (2017). It also regularly ranks among the top five most livable cities in the world, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Ranking, making it to fifth place in 2017.

A Young and Diverse Population

Expats moving to Calgary can look forward both to a city that is fairly young in history and a population that is relatively young in age: in 2016, the local median age was only 36 years. Calgary’s population growth rate is the highest in all of Canada. Admittedly, these were not all expatriates — 54% of people moving to Calgary came from international markets in 2014. 

However, people from all over the world are drawn to move to Calgary in particular or Canada in general.

Hip to Residential: Calgary’s Neighborhoods

The city is divided up into four quadrants (northwest, northeast, southeast, southwest) and 14 different wards, with downtown situated fairly in the center. The wards, in turn, consist of numerous neighborhoods, so-called communities.

For expats moving to Calgary, it is advisable to avoid the northeast in order to stay clear of the airport. Similarly, most people prefer not to relocate to the northern part of the southeastern quadrant, despite its proximity to Downtown Calgary. This is because of the area’s mostly industrial character and its somewhat higher crime rate when compared to the rest of Calgary.

Popular residential neighborhoods are, for example:

  • Northwest: Arbour Lake, Varsity, Brentwood, Hillhurst, Hounsfield Heights-Briar Hill, Bridgeland-Riverside
  • Southwest: Beltline, Kelvin Grove, Elbow Park
  • Southeast: Acadia, Bowness, Lake Bonavista

However, as the severe floods of 2013 have shown, some parts of Calgary are in real danger of flooding when heavy rains in the area combine with melting snow from the Rocky Mountains. You can use the Flood Hazard Map, as provided by the Government of Alberta, to gauge the flood risk of different areas.

Finding Your Perfect Home

The majority of households in Calgary own their home, with only about one-fourth renting instead. There are no or hardly any restrictions on property purchases by foreigners. However, most expats who are moving to Calgary end up renting for the duration of their stay.

When it comes to the types of accommodation, most Calgarians live in houses. Nevertheless, there are also plenty of apartments, condos, penthouses, etc. available, especially in the more central neighborhoods and particularly in Downtown Calgary.

When looking for your new accommodation before your relocation to Calgary, check the classifieds section of local newspapers like the Calgary Herald or the Calgary Sun, or simply browse through one of the many housing portals on the internet. Alternatively, you can, of course, always look for a real estate agent to help you with your search.

When moving to Calgary and renting your new home, be prepared to pay a security deposit of typically a month’s rent. Also make sure to inform yourself early on about what is included in the rental costs, such as utilities, appliances, etc.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

If there’s something you’re still not sure about, check out the InterNations Forum.

Andrey Vasilyev

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