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Is Calgary an Affordable Place to Live?

Nestled in the beautiful province of Alberta, Calgary stands out as a vibrant city known for its booming tech sector alongside its traditional strength in oil and gas. But with housing markets across the country experiencing significant shifts, it’s natural to wonder; is Calgary an affordable place to live? 

This blog aims to provide a clear picture of Calgary’s current affordability landscape. We’ll delve into housing costs and explore other expenses that factor into a comfortable life. By the end, you’ll be equipped to decide if Calgary aligns with your financial goals. Let’s dive in!


Affordability Compared to Other Major Canadian Cities


One of Calgary’s biggest draws has always been its housing market. Calgary offers a significant advantage compared to other major Canadian metropolises like Toronto and Vancouver. According to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), the national average home price in April 2023 was a staggering $723,900. In Calgary, however, that number drops considerably to $529,800 – a difference of nearly $200,000! This disparity becomes even more pronounced when looking at Vancouver and Toronto, where the average home prices hover around $1.1 million, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver and the Toronto Real Estate Board.

Another factor sweetening the deal is Alberta’s lack of a provincial sales tax. Unlike most other provinces in Canada, Albertans only pay the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 5% on most purchases. This translates to savings on everyday items and can make a noticeable difference in your overall cost of living.

While Calgary boasts clear advantages in housing and taxes, it’s important to consider other factors that can impact affordability.


Learn the Pros and Cons of Buying a Newly Built Home or Buying an Existing Home here 

How Affordable is Calgary?


While Calgary shines in comparison to Toronto and Vancouver’s housing market, it’s important to acknowledge some recent trends that can influence affordability.


Calgary’s Rental Market


Calgary’s affordability extends beyond home purchase prices mentioned before. Rental costs also tend to be lower compared to Toronto and Vancouver. RentCafe reports that the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Calgary sits around $1,250, while similar apartments go for closer to $2,000 in Toronto and Vancouver according to and Padmapper.

Resources like Rentals can help you stay up-to-date on current rental rates.


Transportation in Calgary


Calgary’s public transit system, Calgary Transit, offers a network of buses and LRT lines. 

Though it’s expanding, it isn’t as robust as those in Toronto and Montreal. Many Calgarians rely on personal vehicles for everyday commutes, which can add to living expenses due to gas prices and car maintenance.

However, it’s important to note that Calgary is investing heavily in its cycling infrastructure and expanding its CTrain light rail system. This could lead to a future where residents have a more affordable and convenient transportation option.

Also, learn if Buying a Home vs. Renting an Apartment is Best for You.



Food and Groceries in Calgary


The cost of groceries can vary depending on your shopping habits and dietary needs. However, Calgary generally offers a competitive grocery market with a good selection of stores to suit different budgets. Here’s a breakdown of Calgary’s grocery landscape:

Major Grocery Chains


National chains like Sobeys, Save-On-Foods, and Calgary Co-op dominate the landscape, offering a mix of national brands and private-label products at competitive prices. You can find weekly flyers and promotions on their websites:

Discount Grocers

Warehouse-style stores like Costco and Real Canadian Superstore offer bulk-buying options at potentially lower prices but require memberships.

Ethnic Grocery Stores

Calgary boasts a diverse population with numerous ethnic grocery stores catering to specific needs. These stores can be a great source of specialty ingredients at varying price points.


Farmers Markets

Several farmers markets operate throughout the city, offering fresh, local produce at seasonal prices. These are a great way to support local farmers and enjoy high-quality ingredients You can find a list of markets through the Calgary Farmers’ Market website.


Here are some resources to help you compare grocery prices in Calgary:

  • Numbeo

    This website allows you to compare the cost of groceries in Calgary to other cities you might be familiar with. 

  • Local grocery store flyers

    Most grocery stores offer weekly flyers online or in print, showcasing current prices and promotions.


Best Shopping Strategies


Using several strategies like these can help you save on groceries in Calgary.

1). Consider shopping at discount grocers like No Frills or Aldi.
2). Plan your meals to minimize food waste.
3). Take advantage of loyalty programs offered by grocery stores.

By employing these strategies and exploring the variety of grocery options available, you can keep your food costs manageable in Calgary.



Here’s a breakdown of the main utilities in Calgary:

  • Electricity

    Electricity is provided by various retailers in Calgary. The Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) website allows you to compare electricity rates from different providers.


  • Natural Gas

    Natural gas is the primary heating source for most Calgary homes. Prices can fluctuate, so it’s wise to monitor rates offered by various retailers. Again, the AUC website can be a helpful resource for comparison.


  • Water

    Water bills are typically charged based on metered usage. Calgary’s water utility, EPCOR, provides information on water rates and water-saving tips.


  • Internet and Phone

    Calgary offers a competitive internet and phone service landscape. Several providers compete for your business, so it’s important to shop around for the best deals.


The cost of utilities in Calgary can vary depending on several factors, including:

  • The Size and Type of your House

Larger homes naturally require more energy for heating and cooling. Additionally, detached houses tend to have higher utility bills compared to apartments, where some utilities might be shared.


  • Your Energy Consumption Habits 

Practices like adjusting your thermostat, using energy-efficient appliances, and minimizing hot water usage can significantly impact your utility bills.


  • Seasonality in Calgary

Heating your home during Calgary’s cold winters will likely be your biggest utility expense.

While it’s difficult to provide an exact figure for utility costs in Calgary, resources like MovingWaldo suggest a ballpark range of $150 CAD to $250 CAD per month for a typical two-bedroom apartment. This figure can increase for larger dwellings or during peak heating/cooling seasons.

By understanding the factors affecting utility costs and implementing energy-saving practices, you can keep your utility bills under control in Calgary.

Learn if Buying a Home will Help your Credit Score here.

Final Take Away

Compared to other major Canadian cities, Calgary boasts significantly lower housing costs, both for purchase and rent. The absence of a provincial sales tax adds to the savings potential.

Of course, affordability is just one piece of the puzzle. Calgary also offers a dynamic job market, a beautiful natural setting with endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, and a friendly, welcoming community.

Ready to make Calgary your home? 

Partnering with a trusted home builder can ensure a smooth and successful transition into your new life. Jenga Homes has a long history of building dream homes for families in Calgary and surrounding areas.  Our commitment to quality, affordability, and exceptional customer service makes us a valuable partner in your homeownership journey.

Whether you’re a young professional, a growing family, or someone seeking a dynamic and affordable city, Calgary deserves a strong look. With its affordability and exceptional quality of life, the possibilities are endless in this welcoming and energetic city!



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