Calgary, Alberta’s most populous city, is perhaps internationally best-known for hosting the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”, aka the Calgary Stampede, each July. But there’s a heck of a lot more to Cowtown than rodeos, two-steppin’, and the best donair found west of Halifax.
The business hub of western Canada and home to 115 head offices, Calgary is recognized as a global leader in energy and engineering with GDP growth nearly double that of Canada’s largest cities (at 6.3 per cent projected in 2018, compared to 3.6 per cent in Toronto, and 3.4 per cent in Vancouver).
While a dependency on the oil and gas industry (which accounts for 70-per-cent of Calgary-based businesses) can cause employment volatility and exposure to boom-bust cycles, residents earn more on average than other Canadian cities, with a weekly take-home pay of $1,156.86 each week, compared to $1,015.31 and $950.74, in Toronto and Vancouver, respectively.
One of Canada’s Healthiest Cities
It’s also a family-centric natural wonderland, filled with parks, North America’s longest connected bike trail system, and proximity to the majestic Rocky Mountains; close access to the some of the world’s best trails, rivers, and green spaces make Calgary a mecca for those who enjoy an active lifestyle. It has also garnered it a top-five ranking on the Economist’s “Most Livable Cities in the World” list each year since 2009, and second place by the Conference Board of Canada for healthy lifestyle and life satisfaction.
How Affordable is the Calgary Real Estate Market?
Another reason to love this slice of Wild Rose Country is Calgary real estate, which is very affordable in comparison to Canada’s priciest markets. Unlike Toronto and Vancouver, where home prices have far outpaced wages, Calgarians earning the city’s median household income have a wealth of housing options to choose from, located in every quadrant of the city.
Factoring in the benchmark in each of Calgary’s eight main districts (City Centre, North East, North, North West, West, South, South East, and East), and assuming a 20-per-cent mortgage down payment, a recent study from Zoocasa found that, with the exception of City Centre, households earning a median dual income of $115,403 can afford any type of housing priced at the city’s benchmark, in any neighbourhood.
Households earning the median single income of $53,342 also have the opportunity to own property in Calgary, affording a benchmark-priced apartment in all eight districts, a semi-detached home in five, and a rowhouse within six.
In fact, even an individual earning the minimum wage of $26,327 (based on $13.43 per hour, a 40-hour work week and 49 working weeks per year) can afford a rowhouse located in the city’s eastern neighbourhoods. In comparison, single- and low-earning individuals are effectively priced out of the Toronto and Vancouver housing markets altogether.
Home buyers in Calgary also pay among the lowest land transfer fees in the nation, at an average of just $269 per transaction, compared to the whopping $20,076 and $25,162 paid in Vancouver and Toronto.
*Source: Calgary Economic Development