20 Things You Should Know Before Moving to Calgary

Yes, you might have to buy a warmer winter coat and stock up on mittens.

No, you do not need to own a pair of cowboy boots.

Now that I’ve gotten the stereotypes out of the way, let me be the first to tell you that you’re going to fall in love with us, much like the way John Green describes falling in love, “slowly, and then all at once.”

We’re like the little sister, gradually following in our cooler older siblings foot steps. We might not have the ocean and same cultural scene as Vancouver, and we might not be #1 like Toronto according to Metropolis Magazine (#whatever), but moving here means you get to be a part of something grand – YYC’s growth into a more urban and sophisticated metropolis.

So here’s why you should be excited about moving to Calgary:

We want to see local thrive.
Whether it’s specialty coffee, a local magazine, or the newest jewelry designer, we are one another’s biggest cheerleaders. If you’re a young entrepreneur or have a dream to be a part of something big, this city offers tons of opportunity and support. Oil may run our world, but we’re not a one trick pony anymore.

We take advantage and appreciate every single sunny day.
If it hits above 10 degrees the patios will be open, and they will be packed. We may be bundled up in scarves, but sunglasses will be on and drinks will be had.



We don’t like Edmonton. At all.
This goes beyond the Flames vs. Oilers rivalry. After the age of 9 when the mall with the water park was no longer appealing, we stopped liking it altogether.

The mountains are in our backyard.
Not only do they make our skyline and sunsets extra gorgeous, they’re only an hour drive away. This means that if you enjoy skiing, snowboarding, climbing, camping, hiking, or just drinking beside a lake, you’ll have plenty to do on your weekends.

Banff Candy Store.
Even if you don’t ski or snowboard, or if you’d rather stay away from physical activity altogether, the Banff Candy Store is more than a good enough excuse to make a Sunday road trip.

We’re very sunny.
Even in the dead of winter, the sun will more often than not be blinding you on your way to work. In fact, we are the sunniest city in Canada. (Sunshine makes you happier incase you didn’t know). We also get a lot of Chinooks, so stock up on Advil.

You have to get up twenty minutes earlier in the winter months.
Scraping the ice off of your car counts as your morning workout. Another upside is that shovelling an entire driveway means you don’t have to feel guilty about the four extra tacos you ate on Tuesday.

We’re scenic.
Some of the prettiest views in the city include Scotsman’s Hill, Crescent Heights, and The Peace Bridge, all showing off our glittering downtown skyline.

Photo: Shutterstock

No one is from here.
There’s a lot, and I mean a lot of people from Ontario here (I really like you guys by the way). Ask the few of us that are ‘born and raised’ how often we get a comment of surprise when we tell people, “Yes, I’m from Calgary.” Especially during The Calgary Stampede.

Speaking of Stampede, there are a few things you should know:
a) Half of us locals love Stampede; we love it so much that we’d choose it over Christmas. The other half despise it; they either leave town or remain in a terrible mood for the first half of July. Try and get a feel for the person you’re talking to before you squeal ‘OMG STAMPEDE IS ONLY 3 MONTHS AWAY!!!’
b) Depending on ‘who you know’ and what industry you work in, you should probably set aside an extra $2000 of spending money that week. A drink will cost you no less than $10 and getting into one of the popular tents will either cost you a week’s pay, or seven hours of your life (plus cover).
c) No work gets done the entire time. As I’ve gotten older, those 10 days have slowly and steadily turned into two full weeks. Canada Day always falls right before, so the partying usually commences that night and simply doesn’t stop.

Where the cool kids hang out (I think).
Many bachelorette and birthday parties have been spent bar hopping down 17th Avenue SW. Now there’s always a new trendy restaurant or shop popping up. Whether it’s the nightlife you’re after, or looking for a nice Sunday stroll, 17th is always a great option. 10th Avenue SW holds a strip of beer halls (meat markets) that upon opening, quickly turned into the place to be. While the beautiful Stephen Avenue is one of the city’s most unique streets to meander down in my opinion.

It won’t blow your bank account to buy a house here.
If you want to be at the heart of all the inner-city action, the Beltline should be your home. Which is good news, ‘cause the average property value in 2015 in the Beltline was just $324,000.

We’ve gotten really into spin the last couple of years.
Amazing spin studios are popping up in every area of the city. If our winter weather is keeping you indoors for your workouts, check out one of these great studios: YYC Cycle in Kensington or Marda Loop, One Cycle in Mission, The Sweat Lap in Aspen, or Peloton on 10th Avenue SW.

It takes twenty minutes to get everywhere.
This might change as we continue to grow, but even if you choose to live in suburbia, you can easily make it across town in twenty minutes. We also have a variety of unique neighbourhoods that offer amazing walkability. More and more of us are giving up our cars and opting in for Car2Go (And we’re getting Uber soon!!).

Stairs are the best workout in the city.
Located on McHugh Bluff, The Memorial Stairs is the mother of all workouts. You will hate every minute of it. The great view (and how great your butt will look if you do these consistently) is the silver lining, though.

The greatest way to ruin your workout is Village Ice Cream.
No matter the weather – a hail storm or -30° – it’s always busy. It’s a cool feeling, walking down the fairly quiet and secluded street in Victoria Park, and then turning the corner to see the warm welcoming lights of Village and a crowd of happy Calgarians waiting for their scoop.

Your best entertainment and lifestyle guide will be ItsDateNightYYC.
What can I say? This is your best resource for everything happening in the city. With tons of date ideas for every occasion, from “The I’m Sorry Date” to “The Burger Date”, no matter what you feel like doing or how much money you don’t have, you’ll want to keep this website on your favorites bar and have the app on your home screen.


We’re high up on the list of best cities in the world.
Our big sisters Vancouver and Toronto may be ahead of the game in terms of culture and fashion, but we’re getting there. Forbes put us in 5th place as one of the World’s Most Livable Cities, something we’re mighty proud of.

What we lack in ocean we make up for in river.
Ok so we don’t have an ocean, but we do have a couple of rivers. In the summer, both the Elbow and the Bow are packed full of people spending evenings and weekends floating downstream, usually hiding beers in their tubes. If you prefer a lazy float, go with the Elbow. If you want an adventure and a little more screaming, choose the Bow River.

Safety first.
One of the few things I remember from college – we are geologically one of the safest places you could live on EARTH. Except we did have that giant flood. But besides that, super safe.

So there you have it. There’s plenty to explore when you arrive – the mountains, an ever growing selection of cocktail bars and restaurants, a great nightlife, and a variety of trendy neighborhoods to stroll through. It won’t take you long to fall in love with us and our sunny disposition, no matter what the weather or economy throws at us.

Photo: Calgary Casa

Cover photo courtesy of Robbie Willmann Photography.