Expats moving to Calgary will find themselves in the largest city in the Alberta province and a destination often described as being 'the most American' of Canadian cities, with its 'cowboy character' and relatively conservative social policies. There is no doubt that the great attraction of living in Calgary is its proximity to the Rocky Mountains, the wonderful views and outdoor lifestyle opportunities that the majestic range has to offer.
Traditionally, Calgary's oil industry was the backbone of the economy and contributed significantly to the city's expansion. That said, since the oil crash of a few years ago, unemployment has risen and the city's economy was forced to diversify considerably. Low taxes in the city encouraged many businesses to set up operations in Calgary so skilled expats should be able to find opportunities in a diverse range of fields including engineering, geology, financial services and IT. Agriculture and tourism are also significant employers. The job market is super competitive though, and we recommend expats secure employment before relocating here.
Calgary is often considered as lacking some of the rich history and multiculturalism of other Canadian cities such as Toronto and Vancouver. This perception is changing rapidly, though, as areas such as International Avenue grow in status and popularity. Calgary also boasts a thriving theatre industry, a heritage of country folk music, and hosts several annual festivals, with the most exciting being the Calgary Stampede. Held every July, it is one of the biggest rodeos in the world and offers a wonderful opportunity for expats to experience the true character of Calgary and its people.
Living in Calgary is, by all accounts, much more of a pleasure than a chore. Expat reports do indicate, though, that in recent years the city's infrastructure has been battling to keep up with its incredible growth. Increased traffic congestion, a lack of affordable housing, and a shortage of space in schools and childcare programmes do not help. It is important to note, however, that these concerns are being addressed.
Calgary remains blessed with an extremely low crime rate, a reliable public transport system, great healthcare, and a wonderful network of urban park areas. Moreover, the unique +15 Skyway network – a network of pedestrian walkways built 15 feet above the ground – links almost every building in the core downtown area to every other, effectively turning Calgary's city centre into a massive shopping mall. The +15 walkways are heated, which is a true godsend in winter when, despite the freezing temperatures outside, pedestrians can go about their daily business without the need for a coat or boots.