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Moving to Calgary

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    You’ve decided to move to Calgary, Canada – how exciting! Read our International Moving Guide for advice on managing your international relocation

    Calgary is the fourth largest city in Canada by population, with over 33.5 million residents. It is located within the province of Alberta, surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, lush rivers and is a beautiful mix of commerce and nature.

    Calgary tends to be rather windy due to its prairie location, however, with a high elevation, Calgary is lucky to get blue skies and sunny days quite regularly. January is Calgary’s coldest month, with an average of -8.9 degrees celsius, whilst July is the warmest month with an average of 16.2 celsius.

    People of Calgary

    Half of Calgary’s population are aged between 25 and 54 and about a quarter are foreign-born, with many hailing from India, the UK, China, Pakistan and the Philippines. Canadians are renowned for being kind, family-focused and extremely hospitable towards new arrivals so it is a great place to meet Canadians and people from other parts of the world.

    An image of Calgary sign in winter at a local attraction

    Public Transportation

    Calgary transit looks after Calgary’s bus and rail services. With 37 stations and two main routes respectively, there are plenty of ways to get around the city. Maps and routes can be found online. Tickets or monthly passes online, in convenience stores or book shops around town. 

    Outside of the main routes, Airdie Transit runs buses amongst the suburbs of Cochrane and Cardinal Coach runs commuter buses in Strathmore. If you’re moving with your family, you’ll be pleased to know that Calgary Transit also offers student fares for pupils.

    Driving

    Given the size of Canada and the distances between different states and cities, having your own vehicle will certainly be a lot more convenient than relying on public transportation. If you are only staying in Calgary for up to a year or are from the US, England, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Wales, Scotland, Japan or South Korea, you will be able to drive around with your home license and an International Driving Permit. If however, you are planning to stay for longer or have established residency, you will have to get an Alberta driver’s license. 

    To get an Alberta driving licence, you will need to find a registry agency either by consulting your telephone directory or searching here. You will need to do a theory and practical driving test and make sure to bring your existing driver’s licence, a bank card, birth or marriage certificate and work visa or resident card. If English is not your first language,  the theory test is now available in 10 languages

    As in the majority of Canada, keep in mind the driving conditions and the potential for whiteouts and black ice during winter in and around Calgary. If possible, opt for a 4-wheel-drive vehicle to increase your safety on the road. Calgary car parks also have engine heaters available so your car can start again after being left in the cold all day. There’s a lot to know about safely driving in Calgary, so we’d suggest that you explore more information on the road conditions site.

    Calgary Centre bridge at a sunset viewed from the riverbank

    The Expatriate Community

    There are several expat groups in Toronto which is great for newcomers. With an excellent standard of living and being rated one of the best places in Canada for expats, it’s no wonder how popular the city is for international visitors. You can meet up with like-minded individuals who are also new to the city. There are several ways to connect with other expats, but a great place to start is with Meetup.com

    We’d also suggest joining local clubs and mingling with other expats who might work for your company. Finding a group of similar friends is one of the first steps towards settling in a new place, which can be a challenge as a newcomer and expat.

    Housing

    When moving to Calgary, it’s always a good idea to enlist the help of a real estate agent. MLS Website is a great place to start, followed by newspapers and magazines such as the Home Publishing Group, Calgary Gerald homes section or Renter’s guide

    There are a variety of suburban homes, apartments and houses in Calgary. Given its climate, there is a high demand for homes with garages – particularly those with ‘plug-in’ facilities to warm up a vehicle. The city is split into four quadrants: Northwest, Northeast, Southwest and Southeast. The Southwest quadrant includes places such as Silverado, Garrison Woods and River park. Auburn Bay, Inglewood and McKenzie Towne are located in the Southeast. Northwest has a variety of towns including Kincora, Sherwood and University Heights, whilst the East portion is made up of Taradale.

    Short term housing

    Are you only moving temporarily? There are quite a few short-term stay options in Calgary, available for anywhere between a matter of days and over a year. Check out Canada Rentals, Alberta HomeRent, Imperial Suites and Premier Executive Suites.

    Schools

    Alberta is Canada’s highest educated population, where pupils constantly over-achieve Canada’s average. Science and Math are always the lead subjects – helping Alberta to rank in the top 5 countries globally. CBE – The Calgary Board of Education manages the whole public education system in Calgary, for over 100 thousand pupils. 

    Public and Private Education

    Children begin attending school when they are five – starting with kindergarten and progressing up to grade 12. They have tests in core subjects in Grade 3,6 and 9 and diploma exams in their final year. There are both standard and religious public schools – all managed by Alberta Education.

    Alternatively, there are two types of private schools – accredited and registered. Accredited schools follow the Alberta Program of Studies – allowing students to earn credits similar to 12th-grade graduation. Registered schools, on the other hand, are free to follow any program they wish.

    International schools

    Alternatively, there’s always the option of an international school in Calgary – either taught in English or another language. A couple of examples of private schools include Calgary French & International School, Lycee Louis Pasteur, Chinese Academy and Swedish School of Calgary. Not sure what would work best for you? Explore the International Student Program

    Preschools

    In Canada, Children can attend “junior kindergarten,” from the age of four and play schools are for children up to the ages of five. By the age of six, all children in Calgary have to attend grade 1. For more information on pre-schools, explore the Canada Child Care Directory or the Calgary Board of Education. 

    Do you need more information on choosing a school for your children in Canada? Our blog, Relocation tips: How to choose the right school for your kids in a new country, has plenty of information to assist you. 

    An image of Calgary Public Library

    Interested in information on another country? Take a look at our other International Relocation guides.

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