What to know before your move to Alberta
Moving Within Canada
Canada Alberta

Alberta is Canada’s western province primarily comprising mountain ranges, coniferous forests, prairies, and over 600 lakes. It has several cities brimming with opportunities and is an overall great place to settle into.

Moving to any new city or province is a pretty stressful endeavor, especially if you aren’t caught up on what to expect. It is important to consider all factors before moving to Alberta to ensure it matches your lifestyle and goals. 

This article will provide you with an essential checklist of everything you need to know about moving to Alberta

Moving to Alberta: Everything to know and do

What to know before your move to Alberta

1. First steps before moving to Alberta

Finding a job 

In September 2023, Alberta’s unemployment rate was 5.7%. This is only a 0.3% increase compared to September 2022. In September, the most popular age of unemployment was between 15 and 24 years old with a percentage of 13.5. 

Alberta has a high demand in many sectors including registered nurses, registered psychiatric nurses, transport truck drivers, retail and wholesale trade managers, retail sales supervisors, accounting and related clerks and heavy-duty equipment mechanics, to name a few. Find out more about the labour market in Alberta

When finding a job in this city, it is important to look for employment vacancies and use internet job postings. Indeed and LinkedIn are examples of well-known sites.

Government of Alberta (Sept 2023)

Getting there 

You may make an informed decision on how to move to Alberta by looking into these options for transportation. 

Flying is the most convenient way to move to Alberta. You can book your flight to get there, for example through its major airport, YYC Calgary International Airport.

If you prefer an alternative mode of transportation, numerous cities in Alberta offer bus services by companies like Greyhound and regional bus operators too.

Traveling via train is a great option too, Via Rail Canada is the country’s main train service provider, or you can drive your car and plan your trip.

Must dos before your arrival 

You may find it exciting and challenging to move to Alberta. You will be more prepared for your new life in the city if you are aware of these things beforehand.

  • Even though Alberta is one of the sunniest provinces in Canada,it still has colder months. Be prepared for the snow and rain by checking weather forecasts and packing accordingly for your move. 
  • If you are moving from outside of Canada, ensure you have the necessary visa or residency status. This might include a work permit, study permit, or permanent residency application through Express Entry or the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program.
  • If you have children, be sure to research your new area in Alberta and find the appropriate academic institutions for your little ones. Same goes for future College and University students. Learn more about the Alberta school system

2. Upon your arrival in Alberta

Must dos right upon your arrival

  • Get familiar with your neighborhood, and make sure to take note of the important emergency numbers.
  • Change all your officially listed addresses. Start by downloading an Alberta address change checklist or accounts that need to be canceled. Instead of having to notify all the relevant public and private organizations individually (which can be time-consuming), MovingWaldo can help you update your address in five minutes with every service provider, in a few clicks. 
  • Locate the essential facilities like the nearest hospital, police station, and fire department for your safety and in case of emergency.
  • Once you have handled all your administrative tasks, you should also get yourself a local phone number if you come from outside of Canada.The most popular phone services in Alberta include Bell, Rogers and Telus. Find out more information on how to change your address with your telecom provider.

Exchanging your driver’s licence

If you are living in Alberta permanently, you must exchange your current driver’s licence within 90 days of becoming a resident. This must be done at a registry agent. They will ask you for proof of residence and proof of legal status in Canada in order to obtain a driver’s licence.

According to the province’s official website, it takes a minimum of 3 years to get a full licence if you do not already have one. If you are simply updating your address, you must update your driver’s licence or vehicle registration within 14 days of a change of address. Keep in mind, the registry agent will require both your physical and mailing address within Alberta. Failing to update your address on time could result in a fine from a registry agent.

Find out more on how to change your address in Alberta.

Setting up a bank account 

Upon arriving in Alberta, it is crucial to set up a bank or credit union account for security and financial needs. The main banks you can find in Alberta are Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), ScotiaBank, TD Canada Trust, BMOandCIBC with multiple locations across the province. 

Certain banks may offer the option to set up an account in Canada prior to your physical arrival. It is important to keep in mind that there may be associated fees and compare rates across different financial institutions.

Getting health insurance

Getting health insurance in Alberta can be obtained through the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP) or private health insurance.

In order to apply, you must download the AHCIP Registration form and bring it to the nearest registry agent office. Afterwards, the health card will then be processed within the next 5 days. Just like the rest of Canada, healthcare is free in the province of Alberta, as well. 

3. Best places to live in Alberta

Bes places to live in Alberta

Alberta is the fastest growing province in Canada in terms of population. In recent years, international migration in Alberta has boosted considerably, aided in part because of the province’s low unemployment rates and growing opportunities. The following are some of the best cities for you to settle in.

Neighborhood

Characteristics 

Edmonton

Province’s capital city 

Calgary

Alberta’s biggest metropolis and third-biggest city in Canada

Red Deer

One of Canada’s fastest growing cities 

Lacombe

Full of family-friendly neighborhoods 

St. Albert

Perfect for nature lovers with over 85 km of hiking trails

Setting up home services 

As for electricity, there are around 30 electricity providers across Alberta. However, two of the best electricity retailers are ENMAX and ATCO. In order to set up utilities for the first time in Alberta, it is advised to contact your chosen energy provider and they will be able to schedule appointments accordingly. 

Compared to the electricity retailers, there are fewer natural gas providers in Alberta. The best natural gas companies are ATCO Gas and AltaGas. The water and sewer services in Alberta are provided by the Province of Alberta. The application can be done via their website or get in touch with their customer service for assistance.

Alberta offers their residents affordable internet services through companies like TekSavvy and Oxio. Learn more about the best internet providers in Alberta.

Should you rent or buy?

As of August 2023, the median cost of buying a property in Alberta is $439,871; as of October 2023, the median rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Calgary, AB is $1,890.

Trusted websites such as Redfin, Apartments.com and Zumper are often used to find available apartment listings and property or engage with real estate agents for assistance.

CREA (August 2023) & Zumper (Oct 2023)

How do Alberta Leases Work?

There are two types of leases available in Alberta — Periodic Tenancy and Fixed Term Tenancy.

Periodic Tenancy is one which doesn’t include an end date. As such, the tenant may continue living there on a month-to-month or week-to-week basis until either the tenant or landlord gives notice.

Fixed Term Lease is one in which the tenant leases the place for a specific period of time such as 6 months or 1 year. Such a lease cannot be ended early by either the tenant or landlord.

The lease should adhere to the Alberta Residential Tenancies Act and include information such as contact details of the parties involved, address, amount of rent and due dates, security deposit, amenities included, responsibility for maintenance, etc.

4. Cost of living in Alberta

Alberta is one of Canada’s most reasonable and affordable provinces to live in. For example, the average housing cost for buying a property in Calgary is $553,800 and the average housing cost for buying a property in Edmonton is $374,100. 

Cost of Living: Comparison Between Edmonton and Calgary

Category

Edmonton

1 bed apt rent outside city center

$1,125.04

Groceries

Numbeo’s grocery list 

$319.36

Utilities

Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage

$294.97

Internet with 60 Mbps

$86.41

Transit pass

$100.00

Entertainment 

Meal, taxi, movie

$96.00

Gym membership 

$63.01

Provincial Taxes

About 5%

Total

$2,084.79

 

Category

Calgary

1 bed apt rent outside city center

$1,509.55

Groceries

Numbeo’s grocery list

$331.52

Utilities

Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage

$347.20

Internet with 60 Mbps

$96.25

Transit pass

$112.00

Entertainment 

Meal, taxi, movie

$113.50

Gym membership 

$76.78

Provincial Taxes

About 5%

Total

$2,586.80

There is no Provincial Sales Tax (PST) applicable in Alberta. As such, the sales tax in Alberta is just 5%, compared to most other provinces in Canada where the collective sales tax (PST + GST) can be as high as 15%.

Numbeo (Sept 2023) & Numbeo (Sept 2023)

5. The weather in Alberta

According to Travel Alberta Canada, Alberta is the sunniest province in Canada with 312 days of sun per year. If you were to experience summer in Calgary, you can expect 10 hours of sunlight per day with a high of 21°C and a minimum temperature average of 7°C. 

As for the Winter season, if you were to reside in Banff, you can expect 4 hours of sunlight per day with a maximum temperature average of -2°C and a low of -12°C. In comparison to Spring and Fall, Edmonton forecasts a maximum average temperature of 10°C and a minimum average temperature of -13°C in the Fall and a minimum of -1°C in the Spring. You can expect 7 hours of sunlight per day in the Spring and 6 hours of sunlight in the Fall.

6. What to do as a local in Alberta

Residents of Alberta take pleasure in going on weekend getaways to their well-known towns of Edmonton, Banff and Calgary. When moving here, people adopt and immerse themselves in the local culture. 

Alberta is known for its beautiful mountains and nature loving terrains. Be prepared to take part in activities like ice skating, dog sledding and snowshoeing in the Canadian Rockies! 

Albertans also enjoy watching sports games, often attending games to support their favorite teams like the Edmonton Oilers or the Calgary Flames. 

If you are looking to spend time catching up with friends at a coffee shop, Edmonton has got you covered. Locals love to enjoy their morning coffee and breakfast at Lock Stock Coffee to start their day off on the right foot!

7. Fun facts about Alberta

  • Alberta is home to the world’s longest beaver dam. The dam is located in Wood Buffalo National Park and measures 850 meters in length.
  • The town of St. Paul in Alberta also features a UFO Landing Pad and information center.
  • Calgary has an annual outdoor festival called the Calgary Stampede that runs from the 5th to 14th of July. During this festival, Calgarians serve and consume over 200,000 free pancakes every year.
  • Over 80% of all Albertans engage in some form of volunteer work.
  • In Calgary, the city’s honorees receive a white Smithbilt cowboy hat instead of a key.

Conclusion

Moving to Alberta is an exciting experience that promises a unique experience. It offers an appealing lifestyle, making it attractive to individuals, young professionals, and families alike. The province has several family-friendly neighborhoods to offer to its new residents.

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Ann Nacario

The author

Meet Ann – our head writer with a knack for making moving and city living a breeze. From the many details of moving to picking the perfect moving company, she’s your guide. Ann has a friendly yet detailed approach to ensure your move goes off without a hitch. When she’s not writing about relocation, it will always be on her mind, but you’ll catch her spending time with her three furry friends.

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