One of the most common question that I see popping up on most discussion boards and social media is from people who are newly moving to the City of Calgary. The interesting thing about Calgary is that it is not a huge city like Toronto or Vancouver. It is however, a well planned city, which still maintains its small town charm. To help you decide where to settle in Calgary if you are new in the city, read on for some points to keep in mind and suggestions.

This post was written in November 2021. Please review City of Calgary‘s website for most updated information.

Where to Settle in Calgary if you are new in the city

1. Will You Have Your Own Transport?

Calgary is not the most easy to commute city, when it comes to public transport. Reasons being smaller population leading to less frequent services. It is a simple case of demand and supply.

If you will be settling in Calgary with your own transportation mode, then you have many options. However, if you will not have your own transport, then taking time to understand the Calgary Transit system will save you stress later on. The Calgary Transit website gives you ample information on how to plan your trip. Some key points to help you:

  • If you are a new Immigrant, you may want to see which communities offer buses to downtown Calgary, as most New Immigrant Services are located there.
  • Calgary Transit offers Express Routes for most in-demand routes.
  • If you plan to work in Downtown, you can simplify your commute by checking which communities offer Express Bus to Downtown.
  • The Calgary Transit also offers Express Buses for High School students to their designated schools. They can be found here.
  • Download the Calgary Transit App on your smartphone for easy commute.
  • You can always call their helpline on : 403-262-1000 or 403-262-8087. Their team is helpful and will be glad to offer support for your queries.

If you plan to have your own transport, you may want to live in a location which offers covered or underground parking, to avoid that early morning snow cleaning of your car. If that is not an option, give yourself ample time in winter to get up early and clear your windshield. Remember, driving with a car with snow not cleared, is a hazard to yourself and others. Also, you can be fined for it.

Another factor worth mentioning is that many newly immigrant families have one car, so the person staying at home should be able to access public transit easily, if car is not home. Calgary, like all other Canadian Cities, has all public offices, shops and services open during the day time and may close by 6pm. One cannot always delay tasks for the evening, as places will be closed by that time.

2. What Is Your Family Structure?

Once you have an idea on your transportation, your next criteria may be determined by your family structure. Single people and young couples have flexibility to live closer to downtown which has a rich nightlife.

If you are a new immigrant, resources like Service Canada, CIWA and more are available in downtown. Even if living in downtown is not an option, having easy transport to downtown would also work.

Parents of younger kids may want to live in communities with parks and elementary school access. Parents with University going kids may decide residence again based on commute factors.

A great tool to explore the available schools is by using the Calgary Board of Education School Finder.

3. What Is Your Budget?

Calgary is home to more than 100 communities, which range in rent and purchase price. If you are new in city, it is always a good idea to rent in the beginning, so as to better experience the area. This will also help you decide if you would like to settle in the same community down the road.

Some high end communities in Calgary are Upper Mount Royal, Bayview, and Parkdale. More info on these neighborhoods is available on this post.

Publications like Avenue Calgary have also published Best Neighborhood’s listing.

I would suggest that you read these lists with a pinch of salt. You may find that these lists don’t rank always to your needs. Decide based on your budget, and the accessibility of required services.

Overall, remember that Calgary is divided in four quadrants: NW, SW, NE and SE. You may want to consider factors like certain ethnic population in specific communities, when you are an immigrant in Calgary.

This is my take on the quadrants and is wholey my own opinion:

  • NW is home to a rich Asian Community in communities like Hamptons, Ranchlands, Evanston, Kincora, Panorama, Sage Hill, Nolan Hill, Royal Oak, Rocky Ridge and Sherwood. Most households are white-collar workers or business owners.
  • SW is more up scale and is populated by more Arab Community. More popular communities are Glamorgan, Signal Hill, Cranston (deep south), and Richmond.
  • NE is an older section and is richly populated with Asian community. It is popular for all shopping and eating spots for ethnic food. If you are looking to stay closer to places of interest for Asian community, then this is popular option.
  • SE is diverse. The section closer to NE is industrial area and usually not favored by immigrants. Move more south and you will see beautifully designed communities of Auburn Bay, Cranston and Mahogany which are home to many South Asians.

Overall, as I said before, there are more than 100 communities in Calgary. To discuss and name each is not possible. However, if you are someone from Pakistan origin, who is moving to Calgary, I invite you to join Calgary Pakistani Ladies Forum on Facebook for support.

Let me know if you want any other questions.

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