What to know before your move from Toronto to Calgary

7 Things to know and do before moving from Toronto to Calgary

Moving from Toronto to Calgary, also known as “Cowtown”, is like embarking on an exciting adventure. It’s new, but can be overwhelming without proper planning and information.

Calgary is a relatively young city situated at the meeting point of the Bow River and Elbow River in the southern province of Alberta. It acts as the financial and administrative center of Canada’s petroleum industry. While it’s the most populous city in Alberta, with over four million people, it’s not as large as Toronto with over six million people.

When you move to Calgary, you’ll find a welcoming community, economic opportunities, and low taxes that enhance the high quality of life. Its natural beauty and a vibrant culture makes it a great place to live in the heart of Alberta.

Get Ready for Your Move to Calgary

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1. First steps before moving to Calgary

Finding a job

Calgary, Canada, offers diverse job opportunities across industries like oil and gas, technology, healthcare, and education. To secure a job in this thriving city, update your resume, utilize online job search platforms like indeed and local networking events. Tailor your applications to employers in Calgary, and be prepared for interviews.

Getting there 

To travel from Toronto to Calgary, the quickest option is to take a direct flight from Toronto Pearson International Airport to Calgary International Airport, which typically takes about 4 to 5 hours. 

Alternatively, you can consider a longer train journey with VIA Rail (lasting 2 to 3 days). Note that your trip may involve an intermodal connection at Edmonton, where you’ll need to book your train trip from Toronto to Edmonton separately, and then book your motorcoach trip from Edmonton to Calgary.

You can also choose a long bus journey with companies like Greyhound, or drive the approximately 3,400-kilometer distance by car (which will take several days). If you’re feeling adventurous, you might even opt to ride a motorcycle or bicycle, although this will require careful planning.

What are the Best Movers from Toronto to Calgary?

Packing your things to move to a new neighborhood is already a handful. With Calgary being almost 3,400 km from Toronto, renting a moving truck is a more complicated option, but it is still possible. If you want to make the move easier; you need a long distance moving provider to do it for you. 

Skip the long hour searching for long-distance movers online and the stress of sorting them from the best to the worst. Choose the best long distance moving companies in Toronto to assist you from start to finish. 

Some movers even offer full value moving coverage, packing, unpacking, loading, unloading, custom crates, short term, and long-term storage services. Most have online tracking, so you can monitor your packages, making it safe and convenient. 

Keep your eye open for movers with excellent reputation, accreditations and awards, and overall good reviews.

Must dos before your arrival in Calgary

  • Update Your Address: Changing your address is a crucial step when moving. You can easily complete this process using our free change of address service. To ensure you don’t miss any essential information, refer to our comprehensive change of address checklist in Alberta.
  • Housing Arrangements: Ensure a smooth relocation by securing temporary lodging and exploring long-term housing options.
  • Cost of Living Analysis: Make informed decisions by conducting thorough research on living expenses, including housing, groceries, transportation, and healthcare in advance.

2. Upon your arrival in Calgary

Must dos right upon your arrival

  • Get familiar with your neighborhood and note important emergency numbers.
  • Locate essential facilities like the nearest hospital, police station, and fire department for safety in emergencies.
  • If you plan to move around the city for work or leisure, consider purchasing a daily transit pass to save money.

The simplest way to get around Calgary is by using its public transit, which includes buses and the CTrain, with tickets available at CTrain stations, online, through the transit app, or city stores. 

Payment options at CTrain stations include cash and credit cards, while buses only accept cash without providing change. A single fare is valid for 90 minutes, and passes cover a full day. 

Type of fare

Rate

Single ticket

$3.60

10 Tickets

$36.00

Daily pass

$11.25

Monthly pass

$112.00

Calgary Transit (Sept 2023)

Exchanging your driver’s license

When relocating to Calgary, it’s important to promptly update your driver’s licence and vehicle registration through Service Alberta. You are required to change your address within 14 days of any personal information update. To complete this process, make sure to gather the necessary supporting documents. When you visit a local registry agent, be prepared to present documentation that verifies both your physical and mailing address within Alberta, ensuring a smooth and compliant transition.

For more information, check out our article on how to change your address on your driver’s licence in Alberta.

Setting up a bank account 

When moving from Toronto to Calgary, it’s essential to establish a local presence by setting up a bank account. You can open one in person at a financial institution after providing the necessary identification. Before selecting a bank, it’s crucial to compare institutions for the best returns, lowest administration costs, and the option to open your account remotely before arriving in Calgary. 

Some banks have a presence in both cities, you need to ask in advance how to change your home branch. Examples of such banks include the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD Bank), Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank), and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC).

Getting health insurance

Having health insurance is like having a safety net for your health. It helps you avoid big bills when you have medical emergencies. If you reside in Calgary, Alberta, the public healthcare system called the AHCIP (Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan) will cover you.

It covers doctor visits, diagnostic procedures, and hospital stays, but it doesn’t include dental care, alternative treatments, or hearing aids. If you need more comprehensive coverage that includes these services, you can consider getting private health insurance or using the plan provided by your employer.

Here are the approximate healthcare costs in Calgary:

Type of healthcare

Cost

Employer-sponsored health insurance

$63.00

Non-employer-sponsored health insurance (average cheapest)

$50.00-$250.00

Gym

$76.78

Numbeo (Sept 2023), Hellosafe (2023) & Insurance Business (Apr 2023)

3. Best places to live in Calgary

Calgary offers a variety of neighborhoods, each with its unique charm and advantages. Deciding where you should live in Calgary depends on your preferences, lifestyle, and needs. 

Here we made a list of the best areas to live in the city:

City

Characteristics 

Beltline

Central, Vibrant, Nightlife, trendy for young professionals.

Downtown

Business, Shopping & Entertainment, ideal for young professionals

Chinatown

Unique cultural experiences at the Chinese Cultural Center and diverse Asian cuisine

St. Andrews Heights

Popular among students due to its proximity to schools and institutions.

Setting up home services 

In Calgary, whether you own or rent, your utility bills play a key role in your budget. Natural gas holds a crucial place in Alberta, serving as a primary energy source and economic engine. Numerous homes in Calgary rely on natural gas for cost-effective heating. Alongside this, it’s essential to consider your internet services. Some of the major internet providers in Calgary are TELUS, TekSavvy, Shaw and Bell. 

Utilities

Cost

Basic

(Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 915 sq ft Apartment

$347.20

Internet

(60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL)

$96.25

Total

$443.45

Numbeo (Sept 2023)

Should you rent or buy?

The cost of a house in Calgary generally is around $553,800. If you’re considering renting, a typical 1-bedroom apartment outside the city center costs approximately $1,509.55.

Calgary’s housing prices are considerably more affordable than those in Toronto. In fact, the cost of living in Toronto is higher. Additionally, car insurance rates in Calgary are lower than those in Toronto, but they can still be relatively high compared to using public transport. Calgary only has a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of about 5%, which is significantly lower since Alberta does not impose provincial taxes.

Cost of rent in Calgary

Area/Neighborhood

1-bed apartment

3-bed apartment

Calgary (Outside of Center)

$1,509.55

$2,386.41

Numbeo (Sept 2023)

Cost of buying a property in Calgary

Area/Neighborhood

Average home price 

Calgary

$553,800

CREA (Aug 2023)

4. Cost of living in Calgary vs. Toronto

Calgary’s cost of living

Category

Monthly cost

1 bed apt rent outside city center

$1,509.55

Groceries

Numbeo’s grocery list ($82.88 multiplied by 4)

$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

Total

$2,586.80

Numbeo (Sept 2023)

Toronto’s cost of living

Category

Monthly cost

1 bed apt rent outside city center

$2,280.60

Groceries

Numbeo’s grocery list ($88.59 multiplied by 4)

 $354.36

Utilities

Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage

 $208.67

Internet with 60 Mbps

$76.09

Transit pass

$156.00

Entertainment 

Meal, taxi, movie

$104.00

Gym membership 

$72.73

Total

$3,252.45

Numbeo (Sept 2023)

5. The weather in Calgary

The weather in Calgary features a semi-arid and dry climate, characterized by four distinct seasons. Summers are quite warm, with temperatures ranging from 20 °C to 30 °C, while winters are cold, with an average temperature of -4.6 °C. Due to its dry climate, you can be assured that summers won’t be as harsh as in some other cities, and winters won’t be as freezing either.

6. What to do as a local in Calgary

People who have lived in Calgary all their lives typically have many activities and attractions to enjoy in the city. They can attend the famous annual Calgary Stampede, visit museums like Heritage Park to learn about the region’s heritage and have fun with their families, and make the most of the natural beauty. 

Calgary is situated near the Canadian Rockies, making it a great spot for outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, and cycling. It’s the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts.

7. Fun facts about Calgary

  • Calgary is known as the “Stampede City” due to its famous Calgary Stampede, one of the largest rodeos in the world.
  • The city hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics, and many of the facilities built for the event are still in use today.
  • Calgary is home to the world’s largest outdoor skatepark in Canada since 2000, Shaw Millennium Park, covering over 75,000 sq ft.
  • It’s one of the sunniest cities in Canada, typically has over 2,400 hours of sunshine annually, and it enjoys about 333 days of sunshine per year.

The Benefits of Moving to Calgary from Toronto

  • Calgary’s cost of living is cheaper compared to Toronto. Apart from having no provincial taxes, some neighborhoods can offer affordable housing options due to a competitive housing market. 
  • Calgary offers a wide variety of activities to do during your free time. It is not as bustling as the city in Toronto, you can still enjoy outdoor activities and entertainment. There’s the Olympic Park where professional athletes train. Since Calgary sits close to the Rocky Mountains, it is ideal for running, cycling, and trekking.
  • When it comes to the city’s transport network, Calgary’s public transit system is reasonably good, with networks of trains and buses available.

Pros and Cons When Planning to Move from Toronto to Calgary

Pros

Cons

  • Calgary is one of the cleanest cities globally.
  • There are over 100 parks in Calgary with different amenities. Whatever outdoor fun you have in mind, there is undoubtedly something for you to enjoy.
  • The cost of living is cheaper than in other bigger cities.
  • Overcrowding in schools is also a problem in Calgary. If you are moving with your children, find schools where they can get better academic opportunities. 
  • Calgary’s downtown does not offer that much fun as other cities do. The downtown generally houses office buildings and other commercial areas.

Conclusion

Making the move from Toronto to Calgary brings a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle of city life. Calgary not only provides a lower cost of living, allowing you to save more, but it’s also a perfect fit for those who crave an active, outdoor lifestyle.

Once you get the hang of everything, and know what to expect when moving to Alberta. You’ll see that Calgary is a great place to call home, with its beautiful surroundings, friendly community, and plenty of opportunities, making the move from Toronto a great choice.

Are you moving soon? Discover the best Calgary movers.

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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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