10 things you need to know about moving to Calgary from Toronto

A couple of years ago, we decided that we’d leave our big city lives in Toronto (aka the 6ix) and settle down over 3,000km’s away. Never having been to Calgary, this was a bit of a risk but there was something telling us to go West.

Here are 10 things to consider if you’re debating taking the plunge:

  1. You will need a buy a car

Living in downtown Toronto for a number of years, owning a car was not necessary. Everything you need is in close proximity or easily accessible via public transportation or Uber. This is not the case in Calgary. Even if you work and live downtown, it’s highly recommended that you get a car especially if you plan on exploring and heading to the mountains.

2. Buy new things instead of shipping your stuff (if you can afford it)

Both of us shipped our belongings to Calgary, and regretted it. At the time, it was hard to part with some of our belongings, but dealing with slow (and expensive!) moving companies wasn’t worth it. You’re better off starting fresh, if you can.

3. Your expenses will be higher

Coming from the centre of the universe, you tend to believe that it’s the most expensive city in Canada which may be true, but there are a number of higher costs in Calgary which we were very surprised about. We found that our living expenses were higher not only due to a car, gas and insurance, but because groceries, food and rent are more expensive. Even beauty services like waxing are $20 or so higher here.

4. If you’re moving for work, you will likely get extra $$ back during tax season

Make sure to claim your moving expenses if you’ve moved out West for a gig. Add a calendar invite to remind yourself to do this during tax season.

5. Be prepared for a vastly different nightlife 

Unlike Toronto, downtown Calgary shuts down pretty early on weeknights and on weekends. We’ve been told that the city has made significant headway on building a bigger night scene, but it’s nowhere near the Toronto scene. Given the proximity to the mountains, (we assume) most people are resting so they have the energy to have active weekends.

6. Strangers will talk to you 

And it’s great! Calgary is a very friendly city, so don’t be surprised if your elevator companion strikes up a conversation. Let down your walls and meet some strangers 🙂

7. Pedestrians always have right of way, keep your eyes peeled

While there are designated crosswalks throughout the city, traffic comes to a halt whenever a pedestrian is around. Calgary drivers seem oddly willing to stop on a whim for anyone who looks like they may want to cross the road.

8. It’s a renters market

There was a time when you needed to bring your chequebook to viewing appointments, the demand was that high. One of the positive aspects of the recession is that there’s high vacancy right now, so there’s less competition trying to find a place. Plus, landlords are likely willing to negotiate on price and throw in some added incentives, like a year of free cable and internet.

9. You will need to buy tons of moisturizer, lip balm and hand cream

Calgary has a dry climate, and we noticed the change immediately. Dry lips, cracked hands, not pretty. We found ourselves going through lip balm and moisturizer quicker than ever. Plus, drink lots of water to stay hydrated. The silver lining? No more frizzy hair days.

10. Plan to embrace the Wild West!

Calgary, also known as Cow Town, is home to “the greatest outdoor show on earth”, The Calgary Stampede. During these 10 days in July, Calgarians can be seen wearing cowboy boots, cowboy hats, and Western Wear. We recommend buying an authentic pair of cowboy boots (we love Alberta Boot Company) and learning how to two-step like a pro.

There’s a lot more to Calgary than Stampede too. One of the things we fell in love with is the proximity to the mountains. Some of the most beautiful sites you’ll ever see are just an hour away. Make sure to take time to explore everything Calgary (and Alberta) have to offer.

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We have no regrets moving to Calgary as it’s been a wonderful adventure. We’re excited to continuing exploring this amazing place. Are you new to Alberta? How do you like it?

xo, late & lovely




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