Calgary

Old Mar 23rd 2014, 7:11 pm
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Default Calgary

Hi there,


I'm after some info regarding life & work in Calgary...My boyfriend & I consider relocating from London to Alberta as he has excellent work opportunities over there. I've been currently researching travel sector which is my field as well as if the quality of life in Alberta/Calgary is better indeed to compare with UK.
The move has been motivated hugely by a desire to escape the rat race and have more of a balanced life style and consequently bring up a family in more peaceful environment. Having read couple of threads on Calgary (both positive/negative) I'm keen to find out more...

-how is Calgary to compare with London in terms of work/life balance? i.e. long hours, constant lack of time, or perhaps it offers a balanced life style?
-how is the interaction between people within local communities? Looking at the 'google maps' all neighbourhoods seem to be extremely residential with no distinctive town centres, the way we know in the UK i.e. local cafes, patisserie, restaurants...?
-what are the negatives about Calgary.. apart from obvious cold, distance and lack of European feel?
-if we decide to leave we would like to buy a property there. How long does it normally take to settle for a mortgage in terms of building a credit history, etc.? We've heard that you can get more for your money?

Thank for your help.
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Old Mar 23rd 2014, 7:20 pm
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Default Re: Calgary

Hi,

My comments in red,

Originally Posted by k111 View Post
-how is Calgary to compare with London in terms of work/life balance? i.e. long hours, constant lack of time, or perhaps it offers a balanced life style? Depends entirely on your job, not the city. People in Calgary like to relax, but they're quite regimented about it. Leisure is much more seasonally-orientated than London.

-how is the interaction between people within local communities? Looking at the 'google maps' all neighbourhoods seem to be extremely residential with no distinctive town centres, the way we know in the UK i.e. local cafes, patisserie, restaurants...? Welcome to North America. Calgary is HUGELY suburban. Downtown is utterly deserted after 7pm and at weekends.

-what are the negatives about Calgary.. apart from obvious cold, distance and lack of European feel? You are a slave to your car.

-if we decide to leave we would like to buy a property there. How long does it normally take to settle for a mortgage in terms of building a credit history, etc.? We've heard that you can get more for your money?

Thank for your help.
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Old Mar 24th 2014, 12:41 am
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Default Re: Calgary

Originally Posted by k111 View Post
Hi there,


I'm after some info regarding life & work in Calgary...My boyfriend & I consider relocating from London to Alberta as he has excellent work opportunities over there. I've been currently researching travel sector which is my field as well as if the quality of life in Alberta/Calgary is better indeed to compare with UK.
The move has been motivated hugely by a desire to escape the rat race and have more of a balanced life style and consequently bring up a family in more peaceful environment. Having read couple of threads on Calgary (both positive/negative) I'm keen to find out more...

-how is Calgary to compare with London in terms of work/life balance? i.e. long hours, constant lack of time, or perhaps it offers a balanced life style?
-how is the interaction between people within local communities? Looking at the 'google maps' all neighbourhoods seem to be extremely residential with no distinctive town centres, the way we know in the UK i.e. local cafes, patisserie, restaurants...?
-what are the negatives about Calgary.. apart from obvious cold, distance and lack of European feel?
-if we decide to leave we would like to buy a property there. How long does it normally take to settle for a mortgage in terms of building a credit history, etc.? We've heard that you can get more for your money?

Thank for your help.
Hi there I'm 28 and moved to Calgary when I was 21 and I've enjoyed my time here although I am moving home soon to be with family.

Calgary is a great place with friendly people, lots of different ethnic groups here but it is hugely suburban. Lots of people I know have no clue who their own neighbours are. Lots of urban sprawl in Calgary.
Downtown has lots to do but the transit system I think is crappy (especially compared to London) do you do need a vehicle unless you live and work downtown. It's expensive in Calgary, food, utilities, going out to eat and drink is pricey.

It's close to the mountains which is awesome and beautiful.

Credit...I'm not sure. It took me a while to build it. I got a credit card and just built it that way but I was a lot younger too so I wasn't interested in buying a house back then.
House prices are going up pretty quick here and it's expensive to live. Don't move to the NE or some parts of the SE that are closest to the north. It's not a nice area and most of the crime happens there. The other quadrants of the city are much nicer.

You get a lot of house for your money compared to England but it is pricey.
That's all I can think of for now. Sory if there's typos, I'm on my phone

Oh one other thing, jobs are easy to come by!
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Old Mar 24th 2014, 6:34 pm
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Default Re: Calgary

Originally Posted by k111 View Post
-how is Calgary to compare with London in terms of work/life balance? i.e. long hours, constant lack of time, or perhaps it offers a balanced life style?
Depends on your job but frankly the longest vacation I've taken since I've moved to Calgary is six days, and that was three days one week, three days the other. A whole entire week off? Oooh. Definitely long hours, there is a labour shortage.

-how is the interaction between people within local communities? Looking at the 'google maps' all neighbourhoods seem to be extremely residential with no distinctive town centres, the way we know in the UK i.e. local cafes, patisserie, restaurants...?
Calgary is one monolithic block, doesn't have suburbs really, except maybe Airdrie and Okotoks and a couple of other small towns but they're microscopic compared to Calgary. Community interaction... lot of recent immigrants but then I suppose there are in London too. People are very friendly and polite I find but getting to know people in depth is harder than in the UK. There is a town centre, it's called "downtown", have a look at Stephen Ave. People don't walk around and mingle though, (a) it's cold and (b) Calgary is very car dependent, like most N American cities but especially in Calgary.

Helps a lot if you're Catholic.

-what are the negatives about Calgary.. apart from obvious cold, distance and lack of European feel?
Very isolated so people are a bit, um, unsophisticated. Can get frustrating because everything seems to move at a glacial pace. Takes way longer for anything to get done but that is also partly because of the weather and the labour shortage. It's not as bad as it was because so many people have moved to Calgary in the past ten years but if it wasn't for the people from back east the whole place would grind to a halt imo.

-if we decide to leave we would like to buy a property there. How long does it normally take to settle for a mortgage in terms of building a credit history, etc.? We've heard that you can get more for your money?
Depends on what you define as "more", caveat emptor. Be damn sure before you buy anything you're okay with it. Especially insulation. They're putting up houses at a very rapid clip.

Housing is totally different from housing in the UK, there is no comparison really. Often I hear expat British people complaining about there being no radiators, well they'd freeze solid, so everything is forced air. For example. Or everything is wood-framed, well it has to be, brick is not a good insulator. But then they use wood frames and the insulation is often total crap.

Building standards are far from UK standards, lost count of say, big holes in the sidewalk that have a bit of warning tape stuck to a plank of wood stuck into them. Yeah, that'll stop people from falling in, in the dark.

But anyway compared to London, going to Calgary you're moving out to the sticks. That has positives and negatives. Or rather a total lack of sticks as well because you're on the prairies. A lot of people from Europe find that a bit disconcerting, no trees.
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Old Mar 24th 2014, 6:37 pm
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Default Re: Calgary

Originally Posted by Wagaress View Post
Don't move to the NE or some parts of the SE that are closest to the north. It's not a nice area and most of the crime happens there. The other quadrants of the city are much nicer.
The myth continues.

If it ever was true it won't be true for much longer because if you drive around the NE ring road that's where a lot of the new houses are going up.
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Old Mar 24th 2014, 7:56 pm
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Default Re: Calgary

Originally Posted by k111 View Post
Hi there,


I'm after some info regarding life & work in Calgary...My boyfriend & I consider relocating from London to Alberta as he has excellent work opportunities over there. I've been currently researching travel sector which is my field as well as if the quality of life in Alberta/Calgary is better indeed to compare with UK.
The move has been motivated hugely by a desire to escape the rat race and have more of a balanced life style and consequently bring up a family in more peaceful environment. Having read couple of threads on Calgary (both positive/negative) I'm keen to find out more...

-how is Calgary to compare with London in terms of work/life balance? i.e. long hours, constant lack of time, or perhaps it offers a balanced life style?
-how is the interaction between people within local communities? Looking at the 'google maps' all neighbourhoods seem to be extremely residential with no distinctive town centres, the way we know in the UK i.e. local cafes, patisserie, restaurants...?
-what are the negatives about Calgary.. apart from obvious cold, distance and lack of European feel?
-if we decide to leave we would like to buy a property there. How long does it normally take to settle for a mortgage in terms of building a credit history, etc.? We've heard that you can get more for your money?

Thank for your help.
Work life balance will depend on your job and company, but expect the norm to be 40 hour weeks and 2 weeks holiday. One place I worked I wasn't entitled to holiday in the first year (had to accrue it). Taking long holidays is not the norm here. Camping on the weekend after May long until around Thanksgiving (weather permitting) is much more a standard thing to do (in my observations). We do have a long weekend almost every month, but we only get Good Friday off at Easter.

I am now in Airdrie, in an older part and I have spoken to my neighbours both on either side and out the back - we have a laned home and see people hanging out in the garages in the summer. Winter is not an overly social time especially when it's cold. When I lived in Calgary, I knew my immediate neighbours but that was it. The way the new houses are - especially those with attached garages - means there is little interaction as you go from house to car without going outside. In general though it's a friendly place, just don't expect to build great friendships.

You can find it possible not to leave your little area of the city if you find the right place close to work. Each neighbourhood tends to have a strip mall or something near by with everything you could wish for. As mentioned, downtown isn't the focal point - except maybe around Stampede.

Negatives for me about Calgary (after my 8 years here) are; long winters that seem to be getting longer! Having more snow on the ground now it is Spring than there was in true winter months (not true this year as we were hit hard with snow); being landlocked; the fact it seems to take FOREVER to get anywhere - extreme S to extreme N Calgary is about a 45 minute journey in no traffic. Too many people; the possibility of more flooding like last year.

Not got any advice on buying a house. The process was too long ago for me to remember and the rules have changed since then any way.

The only way to know if it is for you is to come and experience it for yourself. Nothing to lose by trying.

HTH
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Old Mar 24th 2014, 8:04 pm
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Default Re: Calgary

Originally Posted by Steve_ View Post
The myth continues.

If it ever was true it won't be true for much longer because if you drive around the NE ring road that's where a lot of the new houses are going up.
Steve there's no myth, it's the truth. Simply look at the city's statistics. Hell, even go for a drive around certain areas and you can see it. I've lived in the NE, never again.
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Old Mar 24th 2014, 8:11 pm
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Default Re: Calgary

Originally Posted by k111 View Post
The move has been motivated hugely by a desire to escape the rat race and have more of a balanced life style and consequently bring up a family in more peaceful environment.
Forgive me for playing devils advocate, but if that is your main motivation for the move, then why not just move to a more rural part of the UK? Would save you £20k or so too.
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Old Mar 25th 2014, 7:00 pm
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Default Re: Calgary

Originally Posted by Wagaress View Post
Steve there's no myth, it's the truth. Simply look at the city's statistics. Hell, even go for a drive around certain areas and you can see it. I've lived in the NE, never again.
These are the city's crime statistics: http://crimemap.calgarypolice.ca

Look up theft, break-ins, there is no concentration in the NE. Look at homicide and sex offences - most of them are downtown or in the NW.

There are parts (and we do means parts) that are working class, it doesn't mean they're crap. And we're talking about a quarter of the city, is Martindale for example that bad of a place? Or Coral Springs, or Saddle Ridge?

It is a myth, people say, "where is the crap part of Calgary" and people automatically say "the northeast". There are some crap areas which are technically the NE near downtown but 90% of the NE is just like the rest of Calgary, suburbia.

Believe me, I've worked in some truly crap places in the UK and the US, there is nothing in Calgary that even vaguely approaches them.

It concerns me because these myths can become a self fulfilling reality, I do not want a quarter of the city I live in written off because of people badmouthing it. I mean, a lot of people think the East Village is one of the worst places in the city, and that's in the SE. Do we write off the entire quadrant because of that?

Anyway it's academic because that's where a lot of the new houses are being built so you don't really have a choice, given the housing shortage.
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Old Mar 25th 2014, 7:05 pm
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Default Re: Calgary

Originally Posted by TanieBird View Post
Negatives for me about Calgary (after my 8 years here) are; long winters that seem to be getting longer!
Well looking at this forum over the past few years I get the impression that people who move to Calgary and have some vague "it's better" view of it don't last more than a couple of years. They get through the first winter and put up with it, then after the second winter the novelty has worn off and it sinks in the rest of their life will be like that and they leave. Or, they carry on putting up with it until they get citizenship and then they leave.

If you're going to move here you need some specific reasons to do it, not just, a bigger house, less crime, lower taxes - fluffy reasons like that.

A lot of people move here for one reason - they got a job, then the job ends and they leave or they can't hack it any longer and they leave.
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Old Mar 25th 2014, 7:36 pm
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Default Re: Calgary

Originally Posted by Steve_ View Post
These are the city's crime statistics: http://crimemap.calgarypolice.ca



Believe me, I've worked in some truly crap places in the UK and the US, there is nothing in Calgary that even vaguely approaches them.
You may have worked in some crap places..so have i and i also lived in New Cross SE London and it doesnt really get much crapper than that...at least it was an entertaining kind of crapness...Calgary just bores the shit out of you and has to be one of the least humourous places i have lived...be warned!
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Old Mar 25th 2014, 7:37 pm
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Default Re: Calgary

Originally Posted by Steve_ View Post
These are the city's crime statistics: http://crimemap.calgarypolice.ca

Look up theft, break-ins, there is no concentration in the NE. Look at homicide and sex offences - most of them are downtown or in the NW.

There are parts (and we do means parts) that are working class, it doesn't mean they're crap. And we're talking about a quarter of the city, is Martindale for example that bad of a place? Or Coral Springs, or Saddle Ridge?

It is a myth, people say, "where is the crap part of Calgary" and people automatically say "the northeast". There are some crap areas which are technically the NE near downtown but 90% of the NE is just like the rest of Calgary, suburbia.

Believe me, I've worked in some truly crap places in the UK and the US, there is nothing in Calgary that even vaguely approaches them.

It concerns me because these myths can become a self fulfilling reality, I do not want a quarter of the city I live in written off because of people badmouthing it. I mean, a lot of people think the East Village is one of the worst places in the city, and that's in the SE. Do we write off the entire quadrant because of that?

Anyway it's academic because that's where a lot of the new houses are being built so you don't really have a choice, given the housing shortage.
You obviously love Calgary very much. I love Calgary too, that's why I've been here for as long as I have but I'm not going to kid myself into thinking MOST of the NE of this city is really rough.
I read the paper everyday and most of the bad things that they report on happen in Dover, Forest Lawn, Temple etc. The neighbouring areas also get the overspill so if someone new to the city dosent know this then I'm going to tell them. I would much rather live in a nicer area of Calgary and not worry so much about my car being stolen or drug gangs (which run rife in the NE)
There's a reason that houses are so much cheaper in the NE.
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Old Mar 25th 2014, 7:39 pm
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Default Re: Calgary

Originally Posted by cheeky_monkey View Post
You may have worked in some crap places..so have i and i also lived in New Cross SE London and it doesnt really get much crapper than that...at least it was an entertaining kind of crapness...Calgary just bores the shit out of you and has to be one of the least humourous places i have lived...be warned!
You have a good point. The lack of humour here infuriates me. I actually went to Broken City last night to see a comedy show and the audience is just so blah! No heckling, the guy made a couple of low brow jokes and people just gasp, it's pathetic really. I wanted to scream 'it's an effing joke'
I really miss british humour. Even my mum says to me sometimes 'what's happened to your sense of humour' ;/ time to go home me thinks lol.
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Old Mar 25th 2014, 8:11 pm
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Default Re: Calgary

Originally Posted by Wagaress View Post
You have a good point. The lack of humour here infuriates me. I actually went to Broken City last night to see a comedy show and the audience is just so blah! No heckling, the guy made a couple of low brow jokes and people just gasp, it's pathetic really. I wanted to scream 'it's an effing joke'
I really miss british humour. Even my mum says to me sometimes 'what's happened to your sense of humour' ;/ time to go home me thinks lol.
Yep already beaten you to it..im going back to London for good end of April
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Old Mar 25th 2014, 11:19 pm
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Default Re: Calgary

Originally Posted by Steve_ View Post
Well looking at this forum over the past few years I get the impression that people who move to Calgary and have some vague "it's better" view of it don't last more than a couple of years. They get through the first winter and put up with it, then after the second winter the novelty has worn off and it sinks in the rest of their life will be like that and they leave. Or, they carry on putting up with it until they get citizenship and then they leave.

If you're going to move here you need some specific reasons to do it, not just, a bigger house, less crime, lower taxes - fluffy reasons like that.

A lot of people move here for one reason - they got a job, then the job ends and they leave or they can't hack it any longer and they leave.
That's very true. I was ready to leave after 4 years, but always told myself I would stay to get citizenship so I have options - at that time I hadn't even applied so I stuck it out.
I have never been a winter loving person, so quite why I thought coming to Canada and Alberta in particular, was a good idea I couldn't tell you. I had dreams of taking up winter sports - that never happened as I didn't have the money or the time to try (also ended up without use of my left arm for 11 months my first time trying snowboarding so not in a hurry to try that again!).
I had no particular reason to move, other than wanted to experience something different from UK life. There was the (naïve) hope that the ex hubby would be able to advance his career by moving (HA!). Wish I had been in charge of that research and not him. Coming here with a PR visa in hand, knowing no-one and having no jobs to come to, landing as the housing market went crazy - eating up more of hard saved cash than we had anticipated - not finding jobs paying what we needed until being here for a few years and having to use any spare money that generated to pay off the debts that had been run up and the eventual end of the marriage, I am surprised I am still here and still happy
March is always a bad month for me. I see pictures on Facebook from friends in England showing green grass and spring flowers as I gaze out onto my snow covered yard, but come summer I love being here and getting out to the Mountains.
One day I will move somewhere where there isn't snow on the ground in March. I don't know when that day will be, I am quite confident in saying Calgary isn't my forever home. Where I will end up next is anyone's guess.......
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