Calgary vs. Vancouver: 5 Things to Consider Before Moving

Posted by Justin Havre on Thursday, May 23rd, 2024 at 8:21am.

Is Calgary Better Than Vancouver to Live In?

It's a big decision to move to a new city. If you're stuck choosing between living in Calgary and Vancouver, there's so much to consider, from housing to employment to the weather. Calgary's job market thrives in energy and agribusiness, while Vancouver excels in tech and tourism—but that's just one point of comparison. In the end, the choice may come down to your priorities.

Main Comparisons

  • Vancouver has a higher cost of living than Calgary due to housing, food, and personal care expenses.
  • Calgary offers lower housing costs and tax rates compared to Vancouver.
  • Calgary has a robust energy-centric job market, while Vancouver excels in tech and tourism.
  • Vancouver has milder temperatures and more rain, while Calgary experiences colder winters and more snowfall.
  • Both cities have efficient public transit, with Calgary emphasizing cycling infrastructure.

Cost of Living

When comparing the cost of living between the two cities, Vancouver's expenses generally surpass living costs in Calgary, though the affordability gap has been shrinking in recent years.

Vancouver is renowned for being one of the most expensive cities in Canada, especially in terms of housing. Calgary generally has lower tax rates than Vancouver, and its residents also save on everyday purchases by avoiding a provincial sales tax.

When deciding between Calgary and Vancouver, it's essential to carefully consider your budget and lifestyle preferences to make the best choice for your financial well-being.

Housing Market

Hidden Valley Residential Neighbourhood in North Calgary

One of the starkest contrasts between Calgary and Vancouver is their typical housing costs. For instance, the average price for homes in Calgary is typically in the $600s, while Vancouver's average is closer to $1.3 million. Calgary also shines in rental affordability, with average rent ranging from $1,500 to $1,800 compared to Vancouver's average of $2,300 to $2,600.

While there are abundant condos in Calgary, the Albertan city's housing landscape is mainly composed of single-family detached homes, providing a suburban feel with spacious living options. On the other hand, Vancouver presents a diverse range of housing choices, from high-rise condos to charming townhomes, that contribute to its reputation as a vibrant city with something for everyone.

While Calgary may offer more affordable homeownership opportunities, Vancouver's varied housing market may appeal to those seeking a bustling urban environment with a plethora of choices.

Employment Opportunities

Calgary is Canada's third-largest city, and while Vancouver's city population is the eighth-largest in the country, its metro area population puts it in the top three. There's no shortage of employment opportunities to explore in both cities.

Calgary boasts a strong job market in industries such as agribusiness, transportation, engineering, health, and manufacturing, but it's mainly known as a hub for careers in the energy sector. By comparison, Vancouver shines in the tech industry, film and TV, finance, construction, and tourism sectors, to name a few.

Alberta's oil and gas industries heavily influence Calgary's employment landscape, while Vancouver's job market centers around the tech sector and other diverse industries. When considering employment opportunities, it's essential to weigh your career aspirations.

Climate and Weather

Calgary is Colder Than Vancouver, But Vancouver Gets More Rain

Calgary and Vancouver showcase contrasting climates, especially regarding their average temperatures and precipitation levels.

Vancouver boasts milder temperatures thanks to its coastal location and low elevation, enjoying an average annual temperature of 11.0°C; Calgary averages 16.5°C in July and −7.1°C in January. This contrast is particularly evident in winter when Calgary experiences much colder temperatures than Vancouver.

In terms of precipitation, Calgary gets more snowfall annually than Vancouver, making it a winter wonderland for snow sports. Despite the temperatures and snowfall the city experiences, most of the top things to do in Calgary occur outdoors. Conversely, Vancouver is known for its high annual rainfall, earning nicknames like "Rain City" and "Raincouver." This precipitation contributes to the lush greenery Vancouver is famous for, while Calgary's snowy winters paint a picturesque scene.

One unique weather phenomenon Calgary benefits from is the Chinook winds. Originating from the Rockies, these warm, dry winds can bring sudden temperature increases of 20°C or more during winter months. This natural occurrence adds an element of unpredictability to Calgary's winter weather, offering residents a break from the typical winter chill.

In contrast, Vancouver's more consistent and mild climate provides a different charm, making it ideal for those who prefer a more temperate and rainy climate.


Calgary's public transit system, Calgary Transit, offers an extensive network for residents and visitors alike, with buses, CTrains, shuttles, and specialized services making it convenient to get around the city. Calgary also takes pride in its extensive cycling paths, providing ample opportunities for cyclists to commute while enjoying the scenery.

Meanwhile, Vancouver's transportation network consists of the TransLink system, which includes buses, SkyTrains, SeaBuses, and the West Coast Express commuter railway. Overall, Vancouver offers a well-connected transportation system.

When comparing transportation between Calgary and Vancouver, it's crucial to consider how transit contributes to everyday life, from commute times to parking availability. This is a particularly significant consideration for those who commute to Calgary's City Centre. While Calgary may have a more extensive cycling infrastructure and less traffic congestion on the whole, Vancouver's public transportation system is still robust and efficient.

Both cities offer reliable transportation options, but the choice between Calgary and Vancouver may depend on individual preferences regarding cost, convenience, and lifestyle.

Choosing a New City to Call Home

It can be tough to decide between Calgary and Vancouver—they both have pros and cons. Calgary's best neighbourhoods are vibrant, and the city offers a lower cost of living and more affordable housing options; Vancouver, on the other hand, provides a more temperate climate and a diverse job market. With these and many other factors in mind, the decision between the two cities should come down to your priorities and preferences.

If you're interested in Calgary real estate, contact Justin Havre Real Estate Team with eXp Realty with Calgary Homes at (403) 217-0003 to get in touch with a local real estate agent who can help you find your Calgary dream home today.

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