Edmonton vs Calgary: Where Should You Choose to Live?

September 7, 2023

Edmonton versus Calgary: Where Should You Choose to Live? - Featured Image

Are you considering a move to Alberta? Chances are, you’ve narrowed down your decision-making process to the province’s two major cities – Calgary and Edmonton. But which one is right for your needs? In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of Edmonton versus Calgary so you can make an informed decision about where to live in Alberta.

From cost of living to job opportunities, culture and social life, and real estate markets – we will cover all bases in deciding whether Edmonton or Calgary should be your new home!


Population and Climate

Edmonton and Calgary are the two major cities in the province of Alberta, Canada. Although they share similar landscapes and natural beauty, their climates can be quite distinct. Being further north, Edmonton has a colder overall climate with long winters and shorter summers, whereas Calgary has a more temperate climate with milder winters and hot summers.

When it comes to population, Calgary has a larger population of over 1.6 million people, whereas Edmonton’s population is just over 1.5 million. Both cities boast booming economies with thriving industries such as oil and gas, agriculture, and technology. Overall, Edmonton and Calgary are cities that offer unique experiences and opportunities in a picturesque setting.

Housing Market

When it comes to the housing market, Calgary and Edmonton both offer a variety of options. In terms of affordability, Edmonton holds the edge over Calgary due to its lower median house prices. Edmonton’s median house price is currently around $368,576 whereas in Calgary it is approximately $490,134.

It’s also worth noting that rental costs in Edmonton tend to be lower than those in Calgary. 

Both cities also have excellent real estate markets with a wide selection of properties available, ranging from starter homes to high-end luxury dwellings.

Edmonton is slightly more affordable compared to Calgary, however, both cities offer great investment opportunities due to their strong economies and job markets. 

Calgary downtown

Cost of Living

Living in a bustling city can be a dream come true for some, but it can also come with a hefty price tag. When comparing the cost of living between two cities, there are several factors to consider. 

Firstly, housing costs can vary greatly depending on location, size, and amenities. Transportation costs can also differ, with some cities having more extensive public transportation systems while others rely more heavily on personal vehicles (more on this below!).

Taxes also impact the cost of living, with some cities having higher property or sales tax rates than others. Lastly, food prices can fluctuate based on the availability of local produce and the popularity of certain cuisines. All of these factors contribute to the overall cost of living in each city, and it is important to consider them when deciding where to call home.

To find out more specific numbers for your personal cost of living in Edmonton vs. Calgary, try out our Cost of Living Calculator.

Job Opportunities

When it comes to job opportunities, both Edmonton and Calgary have a lot to offer. However, the type of job opportunities available vary considerably between the two cities. 

Edmonton, being the capital of Alberta, houses several government offices and institutions, which means there are numerous opportunities in government services and administration. Additionally, Edmonton has a strong retail sector and is home to many large shopping centers offering numerous jobs in retail management and sales. The city also has a steady healthcare industry, as it hosts some of the largest and most advanced medical facilities in the country.

Calgary, on the other hand, is famously recognized as a hub for the oil and gas industry. Though the sector has seen ups and downs, it nonetheless provides a significant number of jobs. Meanwhile, Calgary’s strategic location near the Rocky Mountains, its beautiful landscapes, and numerous recreational activities make it a popular tourist destination, leading to a thriving hospitality and service industry. Notably, the city’s push towards diversification has also seen a rise in jobs in the technology and renewable energy sectors.

While both cities have strong job markets, your personal interests and career goals might make one city more appealing than the other. Whether it’s government services and retail in Edmonton, or oil & gas, and hospitality in Calgary, each city has unique opportunities. Ultimately, the best city for you will depend on the type of work you’re seeking and your long-term career goals.

Canadian school


When evaluating the educational opportunities in Edmonton and Calgary, both cities stand out with their diverse offerings and high-quality institutions, but there are some differences worth noting.

Edmonton is home to some of Canada’s top-ranking institutions. The University of Alberta, located in Edmonton, is renowned for programs in areas of humanities, sciences, creative arts, business, engineering, and health sciences. Moreover, MacEwan University and Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) offer a variety of programs in areas such as trades, applied research, and business. For families, Edmonton’s public and private schools are known for their strong academic programs and support services, making it an ideal place for raising children.

On the other hand, Calgary is not to be overlooked when it comes to providing quality education. The University of Calgary is well-known for its innovative programs in engineering, business, and medicine. Similarly, Mount Royal University and SAIT Polytechnic provide a wide range of programs designed to meet the changing needs of today’s workforce. Calgary’s primary and secondary schools are highly regarded, with many offering specialized programs to cater to diverse learning needs and interests.

Regardless of the city you choose, both Edmonton and Calgary value education and provide numerous resources for students of all ages. The decision ultimately depends on your specific educational needs and career goals.

For more information on school options in Edmonton, check out our guide to the best Edmonton schools

Edmonton Street Performers Festival

Quality Of Life And Amenities

When considering the quality of life and available amenities, both Edmonton and Calgary have a plethora of options to offer.

Edmonton, often referred to as Canada’s Festival City, is known for its vibrant arts scene. With various festivals like the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival and the Edmonton Folk Music Festival happening throughout the year, there is always something exciting to look forward to. The city’s pride, the West Edmonton Mall, is more than just a shopping destination—it’s a major entertainment hub that has everything from water parks to ice rinks.

The city’s river valley is another highlight, offering over 20 parks and various outdoor activities, making it a haven for nature lovers. Edmonton’s public transportation is also commendable, with its light rail transit (LRT) system, buses, and bike paths.

Calgary, on the other hand, is renowned for its high quality of life and top-notch amenities. It’s home to the Calgary Stampede, an annual rodeo that draws people from all over the world for its rich showcase of culture and entertainment. The city’s proximity to the Rocky Mountains means easy access to outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, skiing, and mountain biking.

Calgary also boasts one of the most extensive urban pathways and bikeway networks in North America for cyclists and pedestrians. The city also houses several world-class facilities like the Calgary Zoo and Telus Spark Science Centre, providing educational and fun experiences for all ages.

Both cities are home to professional sports teams as well:

Calgary train

Public Transportation And Traffic

When comparing the public transportation options between Edmonton and Calgary, both cities present commendable and efficient systems. Edmonton’s public transportation system, primarily the Edmonton Transit Service (ETS), provides a comprehensive network of buses and a light rail transit system, which is known as the LRT. It traverses the entire city, ensuring easy access to all key areas. Also noteworthy is the city’s bike path network, ideal for those who prefer greener and more active commuting options.

Calgary’s public transportation, on the other hand, is operated by Calgary Transit. Their CTrain light rail system is one of the busiest and most extensive light rail systems in North America. The city’s bus service complements the CTrain, expanding its reach to most parts of the city. Calgary also boasts a well-mapped out and extensive bikeway network, making it a dream city for cyclists.

In terms of traffic, both Edmonton and Calgary face the usual rush hour congestion typical of large cities. However, each city manages traffic flow quite effectively. Edmonton’s well-planned road network, including the Anthony Henday Drive ring road, helps distribute traffic across the city, reducing congestion. Calgary, with its grid system and numerous multi-lane roads, helps maintain a steady flow of traffic even during peak hours. Both cities also boast several park-and-ride facilities, encouraging the use of public transit and reducing the number of vehicles on the road. 

In summary, both Edmonton and Calgary offer rich, fulfilling lifestyles with unique offerings in education, culture, amenities, and public transportation. Each city presents a distinctive charm and diverse opportunities that cater to various lifestyles and preferences. Ultimately, the choice between Edmonton and Calgary will depend on your personal needs, interests, and priorities. 

If you decide that Edmonton is the place for you, why not contact Sterling Homes today? We’ll be happy to assist you in finding a home that fits your lifestyle and budget. From affordable starter homes to family homes with plenty of space, we have something for everyone. 

Originally published November 10, 2022, updated September 7, 2023

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About the Author:

At Sterling Homes, our mission is to provide the opportunity for affordable homeownership without compromise. Over the last 70 years, Sterling Edmonton has quickly become one of Edmonton’s most popular builders. We bring more than seven decades worth of exceptional customer service, superior design and unparalleled craftsmanship to the greater Edmonton area. As a member of the Qualico Group, Sterling Homes focuses on greater Edmonton’s finest family communities, while being able to offer some of the region’s most family friendly prices thanks to volume purchasing power for materials, trades and land. This has not only made Sterling one of Edmonton’s bestselling, move-up builders, but also one of the industry’s most respected home providers. It is through our uncompromising commitment to our customers that we proudly deliver the Sterling Advantage – that’s why each and every home we build includes a 10-year home warranty, a completion guarantee and new home warranty excellence rating. Our Advantage is our pledge that, when you build your dream home with Sterling, we will deliver a timely, well-built home you’re sure to enjoy for years to come.

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