Calgary — Many people know Calgary only as an Olympic city from 1988, when the Winter Games were held there. Calgary is known for its friendly and hospitable people, music and open-air events as well as the Calgary Stampede. The latter is considered the world’s largest open-air event and attracts more than 1.5 million visitors to Calgary in July each year. This makes it one of the premier tourism destinations in Canada, alongside Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal. The proximity to the Rocky Mountains leads to possible sudden climate changes. This is down to the Chinook wind. Vital to understanding Calgary is understanding its history. Rapid development in the 70s as a result of a booming oil industry brought this prairie town into world contention.
This article is part of our series on top Canadian real estate destinations. For a full overview, check Canadian Property – Real Estate Market Explained.
Calgary: Money in the Prairie
As a highly developed city in Canada’s West, Calgary finds the balance between modernity and tradition. While Calgary is still in the lowlands, the Rocky Mountains rise impressively only 1.5 hours to the west. That means skiing, awe-inspiring hikes, and mountain bike tours, are no problem for Saturday afternoon leisure. It is a multi-cultural city, with over 120 languages spoken here. It also has great shopping districts, great restaurants, nature with rivers and hiking trails in the center and enough sights. East Village and Inglewood have been developing rapidly in recent years. East Village is undergoing a complete transformation – once a dark corner, the whole town is now drawn there to eat at the Charbar and walk along the river. Soon the National Music Center and a new library will be added.
- Over 120 languages
- 1.5 hours from Rocky Mountains
Development in Cowtown
The largest city in the western Canadian province of Alberta, With its approximately 1.4 million inhabitants, Calgary is the 4th largest city in Canada. Calgary has the longest urban bike lanes in North America at 700 km. The most important economic sector in Calgary is the oil and gas trade. Additionally, Canadian immigration law imposes certain strict restrictions. Anyone wishing to work in Canada abroad must meet requirements that are recorded in a central points system and evaluated accordingly. Infrastructural improvements and social projects have clearly been transforming the district for a long time. The city had a population of 1,285,711 in 2019, with a massive GDP of USD$97.9 billion.
- No Provincial Sales Tax
- GDP: USD$97.9 bio.
- Pop. 1.29 mio.
Economic Slope… Upwards
Many large corporations have their headquarters for Canada in Calgary. Sales and organization of petroleum products and natural gas play the main role. Despite the diversification that has been pursued since the 1980s, Calgary’s economy is still heavily influenced by the gas and petroleum industries. This is reflected in the median income of CAD103.400. Companies such as BP, Canadian Natural Resources, EnCana, Imperial Oil, Pembina Pipeline, Petro-Canada, Shell, Suncor Energy, Precision Drilling and TC Energy are headquartered in Calgary. Scientific and research institutions and an increasingly differentiated service industry prepare an increasingly broad spectrum of economic sectors and professional fields.
- Median income CAD103.400
Property Investment: State of the Art
Of the total GDP growth experienced in Canada, over 50% were a result of real estate. In Calgary, the boom in the oil industry provoked a construction boom. When what is under construction is completed, office space in Calgary will grow by about 16 percent to 5.8 million square meters. This points to rapidly growing vacancies and declining rents. In the graph below, you can see the typical choice in real estate for Calgary home-owners. The most popular type of housing in Calgary is a single-detached home with 5084 dwelling starts. This is 241% more than apartments at 2106. The median house price in Calgary is CAD415.000.
- Single-Detached homes most popular
- Median house price CAD415.000.
Map: Prairie and Mountains
Drone: Cinematic Calgary
A view of downtown Calgary gives a peak into the beautiful inner city.
Districts: Mix and Match
Calgary, like most cities in Canada, has a wide span of cultures and communities. Much like Toronto, these thrive in a city which has its economic center in its downtown. The city is split by the elbow river, leaving many waterside parks and buildings. Few cities are as modern, while still remaining true to its culture and history.
Inglewood: Canada’s Brooklyn
Calgary’s oldest neighborhood, just east of downtown, is home to numerous antique and book stores, home furnishings stores, a popular record store, restaurants, bakeries and custom boutiques. Much like New York‘s Brooklyn, this is probably the hippest and most creative neighborhood in the city, there are cool stores beyond the mainstream and many restaurants & cafes. You won’t find many mansions or villas here, but new-age penthouses and lofts with high ceilings and modern atmosphere.
Altadore: Multi-Million Townhouses
Altadore is one of the trendiest quarters of the city. The eclectic character of the neighborhood is reflected in the streets themselves, with million-dollar fill-ups being built next to a variety of character houses. Marda Loop is a popular shopping destination, while the indie cafes and restaurants are popular with gourmets and hipsters alike. While there are a variety of nightlife options in and around the neighborhood, there are also inconspicuous options in Elbow River, River Park or Sandy Beach Park. Both excellent places for dog walks, picnic lunches and a leisurely weekend lunch.
East Village: Industrial Chic
“The East Village wasn’t always the kind of place that decent folk wanted to be seen,”
East Village is one of its up-and-coming areas. But hte now trendy hispter district owns it and not only owns it, wears it as a badge of honour. Old buildings in industrial style show that it is one of Calgary’s oldest neighbourhoods and provide a stunning contrast against modern condo complexes, hotels, and public art.
Brentwood: Warm and Friendly
This beautiful northwestern neighborhood wins many points for its strategic location, between Nose Hill Park, Shaganappi Trail, Crowchild Trail and the LRT line, which allows residents to get away from it all by car or on foot if they feel like it, and ensures that downtown is still just a quick drive away. A family-friendly neighborhood, this time in the northwest quadrant of the city, Brentwood, is very popular with students. It is known in the city as the recreational hub, is the perfect neighborhood for sporty families and active students. Brentwood has also frequently been on the list of top neighborhoods. There are good transportation links that make it easy to get around the city. At the same time, the neighborhood will make sure you never want to leave.
- 6,941 inhabitants
Kensington: In the Hustle-and-Bustle
Kensington is over 100 years old and remains a great downtown shopping area for tourists and a popular destination for locals to date and hang out. Calgary’s hip “village within the city” invites you to drink a latte, eat in one of the many ethnic restaurants or watch a movie in the historic Plaza Theater. Although it is a small business district, about four blocks by four blocks, shaped like two sides of a square, so it’s easy to walk around and see everything. This quarter has about 270 stores and services. There are some cool historical buildings combined with modern architecture. It has a cool and often bizarre impression of the variety of stores and public art.
Calgary: Large Scale Sights
Calgary is unique from its neighbours for its culture, high-end and prestigious offerings, and major money history. Most important parts of these are The Calgary Stampede, the Calgary Olympic Park, and The Calgary Tower.
The Stampede – Cowboys in the 21st Century
The Calgary Stampede is held every July, and is the largest rodeo event and agricultural exhibition in the world. For ten days, the city is transformed into a Mecca for Western fans. It attracts over one million visitors. International cowboys compete in the rodeo, covered wagon races are held and with many musical events, the Calgary Stampede is the annual highlight for locals and tourists alike. All this ensures that the festival lives up to its reputation as the “Greatest Outdoor Show in the World”.
Skiing, Bobsled, and Apres-Ski… in Downtown
The sports facilities of the 1988 Winter Olympics can still be visited today. For example Win Sport’s Calgary Olympic Park with the Olympic ski jump and the fastest rope slide in North America, which you can see on your left hand side when leaving the city towards Banff National Park. Located within the city, just a few minutes drive from pretty much anywehre in downtown. You can also go on a breakneck ride in the ice channel in a bobsled. For skiing and snowboarding there are 4 km of slopes available. 2 lifts transport the guests. The winter sports area lies at an altitude of 1,130 to 1,246 m.
Calgary Tower – Iconic Views
The Calgary Tower is 191 m high and thus West Canada’s highest observation platform (i.e. excluding buildings). Right in downtown Calgary, it rises above the rooftops of the city and offers a 360-degree panoramic view. The floor is made of glass so you can look straight down. For people with a fear of heights, a major challenge. Often confused for the similar (but smaller) CN Tower in Toronto, the entrance fee to this monument also includes a multimedia tour that uses state-of-the-art technology to tell you about Calgary’s history, landmarks and future design.
Calgary Short Trip
The most important infos for a short trip to Calgary.
Flight: The nearest airport is Calgary International Airport (YYC). Most flights from Europe arrive at Calgary International Airport around noon, as does ours. It takes a while to have your luggage and entry stamp. The drive to the city center takes only 20 minutes. The following routes will take you into the city:
- The Calgary Transit Bus 300 (Route 300 – BRT Airport / City Centre) will take you to the city center for $9.50
- From the airport to the city center you can take a cab for about 40$. Don’t forget: 10-15% tips are common in Canada.
Train: Traveling by train is unusual and expensive in Canada. The railroad is aimed more at tourists than at normal travelers with its offers. In spring and summer ‘The Canadian’ of VIA Rail Canada runs the Toronto-Winnipeg-Edmonton-Jasper-Vancouver route. All trains arrive at Pacific Central Station (intersection of Main St & Terminal St, Skytrain Station: Main Street).
Car: You can reach Calgary via the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway Two, also known as the Queen Elizabeth II Highway. The Trans-Canada Highway runs from coast to coast and connects Calgary with Banff National Park, for example. The Queen Elizabeth II Highway runs north to Edmonton and south to the border with the USA
Accommodation: Hotel Le Germain across from Calgary Tower is a classic and chic destination. For a more traditional taste, the regal Fairmont Palliser. If you have an early flight, check out the “in-terminal” hotel, Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel.