A special thank you to Michael Brophy for his help with updating this article.
What are the best neighbourhoods in Calgary? Where is the best place to live in Calgary for young singles or young families? Where to live in Calgary depends on your preferences and particular needs, so in this article we outline the most common neighbourhoods for newcomers to the city.
Calgary is divided into four quadrants, and the quadrant in which a place is situated is reflected in its street address, which ends in NW, SW, SE or NE. Avenues typically run east-west, while streets run north-south. Once you adjust to this system, navigating your way around the city becomes very easy.
The public transport system in Calgary isn’t as comprehensive as those seen in other large Canadian cities. That doesn’t mean that you need a car here, but it’s very beneficial to be living in relatively close proximity to your workplace. Travelling between quadrants (e.g Southwest to Northeast) can be tricky on public transport, and heavy traffic congestion is also common if you have to drive across bridges during rush hour. The morning and evening commute shouldn’t be your only consideration when choosing accommodation however. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of each of these four Calgary quadrants.
Calgary is one of the most geographically dispersed cities in the world. Rather than high-rise multi-story apartments, housing in Calgary generally consists of separate, detached dwellings.
The city, like Alberta in general, relies heavily on the oil and gas industry, thus generating regular ‘boom’ and ‘bust’ cycles. The city is recovering from recession at the moment, and there’s plenty of house building taking place across the city. New condominium (condo) units are popping up across Calgary, boosting an already steady supply of residential properties.
As with most cities, neighbourhoods that are closer to downtown tend to be more expensive, and neighbourhoods that are further out tend to be less expensive. Bear this in mind when researching where to live in Calgary. Downtown locations, such as the Beltline and Kensington, are becoming increasingly popular however, because there’s no need for residents to splash as much cash on public transport or hefty parking costs.
The suburbs of Calgary are typically newer and, with an ever-sprawling city, many larger homes have been built in the suburbs. Houses in desirable inner-city neighbourhoods tend to retain value and appreciate more than houses in the outer suburbs.
When selecting the best place to live in Calgary, you may also be influenced by your age and lifestyle. For example, if you have a young family, the best neighbourhoods in Calgary for you may be in the suburbs, where your kids can walk to school and participate in sports.
If you have university-aged children, you may want to live in the NW quadrant, in which the University of Calgary (U of C) is situated, or SWS where Mount Royal University is situated.
If you are single, or if you have a partner but no kids and want a more urban lifestyle, perhaps the downtown core is the best place to live in Calgary. Some neighbourhoods close to downtown, like Inglewood, are experiencing a revival and draw in lots of young adults from around Canada and further afield.
It’s generally accepted the best neighbourhoods in Calgary lie in the northwest and southwest suburbs. These are closest to the Rockies with attractive mountain views.
Much of Calgary’s commercial and industrial enterprises are situated in the southeast quadrant of the city. Rents are typically higher in the northwest and southwest quadrants, and closer to facilities such as U of C. Rentfaster and Kijiji are two of the most popular websites for accommodation listings in Calgary, and both are regularly updated with new houses, apartments and condos.
Southwest (SW): the best neighbourhoods in Calgary
Bankview, Killarney, Mount Royal are among the best neighbourhoods in Calgary’s Southwest quadrant. The Southwest, along with the Northwest is seen as the best place to live in Calgary, so naturally this area has higher rent and home prices.
The northern part of the Southwest quadrant offers easier access to the C-Train Blue Line, which makes for a much easier commute downtown. The Southwest also includes many of the most popular downtown accommodation locations, such as the Beltline. You’ll be paying a little bit extra for housing in this prime location, but it’s one of the better places to be if you want to experience the nightlife buzz more regularly.
17th Avenue in the southwest is a short walk from downtown. It has an eclectic mix of bars, restaurants and shops. 12th Avenue to 30th Avenue is a popular area for young singles and couples. This is due to its close proximity to 17th Ave and the downtown core.
If you go a little further out from downtown, there are many popular neighbourhoods such as Haysboro, Acadia, Sundance and Chinook Park. These areas are all serviced with ample amenities, and with Macleod Trail and the C Train, all have excellent access to downtown.
The further west or south you look in the Southwest quadrant, the more important it becomes to have a car. This is where a lot of popular, new neighbourhoods are popping up, places which are more suitable for young families rather than Calgary newbies looking for a bit more excitement.
Where to live in Calgary's Northwest (NW) quadrant
Arbour Lake, Hamptons and Edgemont are regarded as some of the best neighbourhoods in Calgary, and are in prime location for commuters seeking to hit the road for the Rockies on a regular basis. Calgary’s Olympic Park, the scene of the 1988 Winter Games, remains a popular recreational facility too, and is located close to the large and popular neighbourhood of Bowness.
The Northwest is slightly better served by the C-Train than the Southwest, with the Red Line offering easy downtown access for residents near the University of Calgary, Kensington and further into the suburbs. The vast expanse of Nose Hill Park in the Northwest also offers a wonderful countryside feel, a welcome escape from busy city life.
Kensington has eclectic mix of cafes, pubs, bistros, boutiques, arts and crafts shops. It’s generally a fun place to hang out for a few hours and just a short walk from downtown. This neighbourhood, along with nearby Crescent Heights, are becoming increasingly popular amongst younger residents, and newcomers to Calgary.