Let’s be honest: who doesn’t want to be young, beautiful, and full of energy?
And who doesn’t want to live somewhere that has all of those things too? We know it’s not a contest, but if it were, Calgary would be a front-runner for the best city in Canada. Especially for young professionals (YPs).
If you’ve only been as a tourist, you might find it hard to believe, but this is the kind of place that grows both on you and with you the more time you spend here. So if you’ve ever thought of shaking things up and making a move, here’s our case for choosing the New West.
Make More, Spend Less
Let’s get this one out there in front: the quality of life in Calgary is on the level of great. Global surveys measuring “the most livable cities” almost always include Calgary these days, and that has a lot to do with the financial side.
While housing prices are on the rise again, homebuyers and renters are both getting more bang for their buck than they are in Vancouver and Toronto.
They key point here is that mortgage payments on a benchmark home would eat up 62 per cent of your income in Vancouver, 42 per cent in Toronto, and just 23 percent in Calgary.
The tax structure is favourable, too, both on your income and the things you buy. Alberta is the only province where PST or HST just doesn’t exist, which means even if you’re buying clothes you’re paying eight percent less than you are in Toronto, seven per cent less than Vancouver, and just shy of 10 per cent less than Montreal.
This part may be hard to buy if you’ve heard that Calgary’s rapid population growth has created some of the country’s worst urban sprawl.
You may also have heard that the transit system hasn’t fully caught up with the rapid growth of the city. And while those facts are nothing to be proud of, situate yourself in or around the centre of the city and you won’t even notice.
If you’re reading this right now and considering a move to Calgary, the chances are very good that your new job will be located somewhere within a ridiculously small area of 1.2 square kilometers.
When the workday is finished and you’re in need of some nightlife, all of the very best restaurants and venues are all within another kilometer or two, max.
This means your work or play commute is probably going to be less than 20 minutes on foot, bike, transit, or your choice of hired car.
More sleep on both ends of the day is definitely a plus in the quality of life department.
Another feature of Calgary that you might not expect is an impressive system of public parks and trails. With the development of the East Village came a picture-perfect RiverWalk that meanders along the Bow River, and connects to trails along the Elbow River heading south.
Whoever named Sandy Beach might have been exaggerating, but it’s still a really great place for a lazy Sunday workout.
Skating parties at Bowness Park, Folk Fest at Prince’s Island, picnics in Fish Creek Park, and dragonboat races at South Glenmore Park are just a few of the other surprising ways Calgarians are growing the city’s park culture.
Now if only we could get Nenshi to let us have a beer while doing it…
The Mountain Playground
And while we’re talking about natural beauty, here’s a no-brainer for you: Calgary’s real skyline is the Rocky Mountains.
Think about that for a second.
Skiing, hiking, photography, mountain biking, and romantic weekends are all made better by having these in our backyard. By about 1000x.
This is a massive draw for active types, which we think contributes to the general physical attractiveness of the city’s YPs.
It’s Like One Big Job Fair
Another no-brainer: the career opportunities are unparalleled
No matter what makes you a professional, you’d probably make more money doing it in Calgary.
We can hear your argument now: there’s a compromise to be made working in the oil and gas industry. Let’s face it though: it’s not going anywhere, so brilliant, forward-thinking innovators have the potential to improve the industry from the inside while benefitting their own career at the same time.
Also, while it’s true that resource-related employers do seem to dominate the landscape, there are a surprising amount of other industries making their home in the New West. From tech startups to design and architecture firms, as well as construction jobs as the city continues to grow, everyone’s looking for a discerning YP just like you.
Food for Thought
Calgarians love restaurants (partially because they can afford to eat at them). And while there might not be hyped-up Mexican-Korean fusion tiki bars opening weekly, some of North America’s top chefs are still being drawn to the vibrancy and opportunity that the boom has created in the city’s food culture.
Staples like Charcut, River Cafe, and Model Milk frequently make national “must-try” lists, and newcomer Black Pig Bistro is hot on their heels after being nominated for enRoute’s prestigious list of best new spots.
We’re not sure if it’s the prairie hospitality or the fact that so many of Calgary’s YPs were once “new in town” at some point recently, but there’s a real inclusivity about the social scene here.
Making friends is pretty easy to do and you’ll find a generally kind vibe most places you end up.
It could also be the 333 days of sunshine that keeps smiles on our faces – even if some of those days are sunny and -20.
2012 was Calgary’s turn to be named Canada’s Culture Capital, which essentially meant a bunch of cash pumped its way via pipeline into the arts scene. That’s done wonders for expanding opportunities for enjoying visual and performing arts, but also for artists who are looking to make their big break.
The Alberta College of Art and Design is located here, and the National Music Centre is under construction as we speak. So if you consider yourself to be the artsy type, you might want to take a second look at a city that’s historically been known more for rodeo than Renoir.
Now, we know we’ve left out lots of reasons to love Cowtown, but we did that on purpose….
Tell us: why did you move to Calgary? What keeps you here? Why do you love it? Let us know and we’ll follow this up with another list soon.
Cover photo: istock.com/jewhyte