Calgary Residential Areas

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  • Update as of October 7th, 2008:
  • Unfortunately the format of that map has changed. It no longer shows neighbourhoods in the way that it did. Therefore the MLS map references have been removed from this article. Search for 'Calgary' and refine your search by zooming in or selecting other neighbourhoods.
  • However, you can find the location of a given neighbourhood by looking at the map on the home page of the Federation of Calgary Communities website. Click on the quadrant of interest (northwest, southwest, southeast or northeast), and then click on the name of the relevant neighbourhood.

Better and worse areas

  • Traditional thinking suggests that the more desirable areas in which to live in Calgary are the northwest, southwest and far southeast quadrants.

  • Broadly speaking, the areas to avoid are the northeast and close-in southeast quadrants.

  • The reason to avoid the northeast is to get away from airport noise and to avoid a part of the city that has a relatively higher crime rate by local standards.

  • The reason to avoid the close-in southeast is its proximity to an industrial area and its relatively higher crime rate.
    • On the west side of the Bow River, you're okay in Acadia and southwards from there.
    • On the east side of the river, you're okay in Douglas Glen and southwards from there.
    • It is worth noting, though, that Inglewood and Ramsey (which fall into the generally undesirable close-in part of the southeast quadrant) are classed by some as upcoming/desirable areas.

Commuting to downtown

  • Okay, so now you're left with the NW, SW and far SE as the more desirable areas in which to live. Within those areas, the commute to downtown usually is shorter and quicker the more centrally located you are. The further out you live, the longer your commute, on average.
  • These are broad brush strokes. When you study transportation corridors in detail, you find exceptions. But, if what you initially want is a thumb nail sketch of Calgary, it's fair enough to say that there is a correlation between distance from the downtown core and commuting time.
  • While it's nice for downtown office workers to live centrally, it’s expensive to do that. The further out you live, the longer your commute (if you work downtown), but the lower the cost of housing. So everyone makes the best compromise they can between convenience and cost.
  • Often couples with families want to live in a single family home, that is, a detached house with a yard (garden). In order to be able to afford that kind of space, they usually have to buy out in the suburbs.
  • Single people or couples with no children or pets can manage with less space. They have more flexibility in deciding if they want to be close to downtown, in a smaller place, or if they want to be further from downtown, in a larger place.

Centrally located neighbourhoods

  • Practically downtown: Eau Claire (at the northern edge of downtown, overlooking the Bow River) and Downtown West End (sometimes referred to as Mewatta).
  • South of downtown: Connaught (popularly known as Beltline), Cliff Bungalow, Victoria Park (rough, but undergoing gentrification), Sunalta, Lower Mount Royal, Mission and Erlton.
  • North of downtown: West Hillhurst, Hillhurst (popularly known as Kensington), Sunnyside, Rosedale, Crescent Heights, Bridgeland (modest area, has potential for gentrification), and Regal Terrace / Renfrew (modest, has potential).
  • East of downtown: Ramsay and Inglewood are a little rough around the edges, but are being gentrified.

Satellite towns

  • Towns that are some distance from Calgary are popular with some people. Although there are satellite towns in all directions from Calgary, for example, Airdrie to the north and Strathmore to the east, the most popular satellite towns are Cochrane to the northwest and Okotoks to the south. The reason that Cochrane and Okotoks are popular is that they are closer to the Rocky Mountains, which are located to the west of Calgary.
  • People sometimes ask if it’s feasible to work in Calgary and live in Canmore, which is just outside of Banff National Park. In the opinion of this author, Canmore is too far from Calgary for daily commuting. For someone who wanted to live outside of Calgary and be closer to the mountains, Cochrane would be a more practical solution.

Commuting to Foothills Industrial Park

  • If you work in Foothills Industrial Park, it would be convenient to live in the far SE quadrant. Chestermere, a satellite community to the east of Calgary, also has good access to Foothills Industrial Park.

Selecting YOUR neighbourhood

Consider renting at first

  • You might consider renting for the first 6 - 12 months, until you are more familiar with Calgary's neighbourhoods.
  • If you want to buy as soon as you arrive, it is suggested that you proceed as follows:

Real estate information

  • Look at the Realtor website to get an idea of house prices, and figure out what you can afford.

Mortgage information

  • If you need assistance in figuring out how much house you can afford to buy on a given income, read the How much can a I borrow? section of the Wiki article on Mortgages.

Variety of factors

Ask yourself:

  • What kind of commute do you want to have, within the limitations of what you can afford?
  • Would you like to live in the suburbs, where there are lots of amenities for young families?
  • Would you like to live close in, where you would be closer to downtown and closer to restaurants, sidewalk cafes, etc.?
  • Would you like to live in a satellite town like Cochrane and Okotoks, so that you could have the feeling of being "away from it all" during the weekends (in exchange for a longer commute to the downtown core on weekdays)?

Commuting times

  • To figure out commuting times from a specific neighbourhood to your job, use Google Maps.
  • You may not yet know exactly where you'll be working but, if you think it's going to be in the downtown core, you could use a landmark, like the Calgary Tower at 101 - 9 Avenue SW, as a hypothetical destination.
  • If you think you may live in a certain neighbourhood, do an Internet search for a business, such as a dry cleaner, in that community. For example, an Internet search for DRY CLEANER + DALHOUSIE + CALGARY, brings up a dry cleaner at 5005 Dalhousie Drive NW. That's good enough for the purposes of our research.
  • When you're on the Google Maps site, click on Get Directions. Into the Start Address box, type 5005 Dalhousie Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta. Into the End Address box, type 101 - 9 Avenue SW, Calgary, Alberta.
  • An enquiry done on June 11th, 2008 came up with a driving time of 18 minutes.
  • The driving times that Google Maps provides are for off peak hours.
  • If you're going to be doing the drive during rush hour, it is strongly suggested that you multiply the estimated driving time that Google Maps gives you by a factor of 1.5 or 2, depending on the bottlenecks you may or may not experience. (For example, there tend to be more bottlenecks if you're driving from the far south into the downtown core than there are if you're driving from the northwest to the downtown core. In the case of the NW, you might consider multiplying the Google Maps time by 1.5 during rush hour. In the south -- say south of Glenmore Trail -- you might consider multiplying the Google Maps time by 2.)
  • On a cold, snowy, winter day, the rush hour commute tends to be longer still. On a day like this, you might multiply the Google Maps time by a factor of 2 for the northwest and by a factor of 3 for the southwest. However, there tend to be only half a dozen days or so in any given winter when extremely cold conditions slow down traffic that badly.

Crime statistics

  • Have a look at the Calgary Police Service's Crime Reports. Person crimes probably are more relevant than property crimes. Sometimes there's a parking lot near a shopping mall that attracts car break-ins, or something of that nature that does not really reflect on the quality of life in the nearby neighbourhoods. Person crimes, on the other hand, do tend to reflect the quality of life in a given neighbourhood.

Fraser Institute's School Report Cards

  • Take a look at the Fraser Institute's School Report Cards. Even if you don't have children, this is a relevant factor. A good school can enhance the value of a neighbourhood and therefore enhance the resale value of your house.
  • There are members of the BE forum who discount the Fraser Institute because it's a right wing think tank. Well, right wing think tank or not, there is a high level of correlation amongst the Fraser Institute's School Report Cards, Community Crime Statistics, and forum members' personal experience of various Calgary neighbourhoods.

Personal investigation

  • If your real estate agent takes you to a house that you like during the daytime, you should return and walk around the neighbourhood on your own in the evening. Check out the vibe of the neighbourhood. Are there people out walking their dogs? Are their children playing in the playgrounds?
  • Research on the Internet can accomplish only so much. At some point you need to check out neighbourhoods in person.
  • You should not buy a house sight unseen, and you should not buy into a neighbourhood sight unseen either.

Other useful links

  • Almost every community in Calgary has a community association and a website about that community. To find the website for any community that you're interested in, go to the website of the Federation of Calgary Communities.
  • If you are thinking about housing, you also may be interested in the British Expat Wiki articles on:
  • This is one of a series of British Expats Wiki articles about Calgary.