Understanding the four quadrants
While Calgary can definitely be broken apart into separate neighborhoods, it's more common to see this city first divided into 4 separate quadrants that include the SE, NE, NW and SW. In general, the southwest and northwest quadrants don't have industrial or commercial zoning nearby, which makes them very desirable. That is not to say, however, that there aren't beautiful residential neighborhoods located in the southern part of Calgary as well.
The northeast part of Calgary is generally where you'll find single-family homes and condos at a lower price. If you're a first-time home buyer you may end up purchasing a home here due to the affordability factor. If you do, you'll end up living in close proximity to some of the big box stores and will be close to the Calgary airport.
In the southeast, you'll need to travel quite a bit south to find the neighborhoods but once you do they are incredibly beautiful. A number of the neighborhoods have built up communities around artificial lakes, which adds a touch of peace and quiet tranquility to the community.
The SE and NE quadrants are closer to the mountains, which makes for a fast escape back to nature.
The downtown core
Most people with families that are just starting out look for housing away from the downtown area. Generally speaking, the prices are higher the closer you get to downtown and become lower as you head off into suburbia. The downtown core is best suited for people that want to live in an urban type of lifestyle.
The commuter towns
There are plenty of commuter towns circling Calgary and they are within a 30 minute drive of the city limits. While they are towns that are self-contained, they also offer the advantages of country living while being close in proximity to the big city. If you plan on traveling often, Strathmore and Airdrie are the closest towns to the airport. If you're a recreational sort of person and plan on spending a lot of time in the mountains, Okotoks and Cochrane are the communities to look at. Chestermere is a lake-side town that also offers a fast commute into Calgary.
Calgary offers fast train transit or bussing commutes from any part of the city into the downtown area. There are also a number of biking trails that will get you anywhere you want to go. Fortunately, there aren't any significantly "bad" areas in Calgary that you'll need to avoid. The best thing that you can do is to check with your real estate agent to find out the recent crime statistics in the area that you're interested in. This will give you a general idea of the safety factor of the community that you're considering as your next place to call home.
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