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Moving to Edmonton?

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Edmonton at a Glance

Moving to Edmonton

Combining urban buzz, scenic beauty, excellent public services and a high standard of living, Edmonton is a popular destination for expats. InterNations has lots of useful information on moving to Edmonton, from life in the city to visa regulations.

The city offers a warm, friendly welcome for newcomers, and this is reflected in the fact that City Hall hosts a special Citizen and New Arrival Information Center specifically aimed at welcoming people moving to Edmonton and helping them to get settled in the city as quickly as possible.

About the City

Edmonton is the capital city of Alberta, a province of Canada located between British Columbia to the west and Saskatchewan to the east. The province also borders the Northwest Territories, and at its southern edge it meets the northern border of the United States.

Edmonton is Canada's fifth largest municipality, and is the second largest city within Alberta, with a population of close to 878,000. The population of the Edmonton metropolitan area is an estimated 1,328,300, making it is the most northerly city within North America to have more than a million metropolitan residents.

Edmonton is also ranked as Canada's nineteenth most dangerous city in terms of crime. However, this should be seen in the context that Canada as a whole has generally low levels of crime, significantly less than the United States and lower than many European countries.

Known as the oil capital of Canada, Edmonton is an important location for natural resources, operating as a staging post for large-scale oil, gas and diamond mining projects to the north. Consequently, the largest major industry is petrochemicals, but there is also a significant number of IT, banking and biotechnology jobs. The area's employers have typically attracted many workers from abroad, and the city has worked hard to advertise itself as an attractive and welcoming destination for foreigners. Edmonton is also a significant regional center for education and government, as well as the focus of a great many cultural festivals and events throughout the year.

Visas for Canada

Work permits and visas are required to work temporarily in Canada, with the exception of certain occupations. Business visitors, for example, who journey to Edmonton to conduct business activities within Canada, do not require a work permit if they are not part of the Canadian labor market.

The system for foreign workers is made more complex by the requirement for a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) for certain jobs. This will often be dependent on your nationality, the status of your Canadian employer, whether you have been nominated by your province for permanent residence, and whether you have been transferred to Canada by an international company.

For skilled expats looking to move to Edmonton permanently, it may be worth looking at the newly introduced Express Entry system. The initial application is free of charge, and you will be assessed on your language skills (English or French), educational attainment and work experience. Periodically, the top scoring candidates from the pool of applications will be invited to apply for permanent residence in Canada.

Exptas planning a move to Edmonton can find more in-depth information on the various ways to apply for permission to live and work in Canada on the website of the Canadian Immigration & Citizenship service (CIC).

Finding Accommodation in Edmonton

Edmonton benefits from lower cost housing than Calgary, Vancouver or Toronto. As in most cities, rentals are now predominantly advertised online, with popular local property sites including RentEdmonton and RentFaster, along with the classifieds sites like Kijiji.

Typical monthly rental costs for living in the city obviously vary depending on location, size, and luxury, however, a one bed apartment in the center usually sets you back around 1,000-1,200 CAD  and a similar apartment outside of the center around 800-1,100 CAD. If you are looking for something bigger, three bed apartments in the center are on average available from 1,400 CAD onwards, with costs in the city center significant higher than further afield.

The price to purchase apartments is around 3,200 CAD per square meter in the center and 2,400 CAD per square meter outside the center. Home prices in Edmonton average around 371,000 CAD with increases of around 4% per year.

In general, the city's south western neighborhoods are considered to be amongst the most desirable and family friendly. Areas such as Ogilvie Ridge, Haddow and Henderson Estates enjoy the lowest crime rates and the highest affluence. In contrast, the area of Mill Woods has rather a negative reputation for experiencing higher crime rates. However, within Mill Woods it is still possible to find desirable neighborhoods such as Greenview, Jackson Heights and Menisa. If you prefer to move to a more central neighborhood in Edmonton, Strathcona, Garneau, and Westmount seem to be popular destinations.

InterNations Expat Magazine