Canada is, in our opinion, the best country in the world. Alberta, the best province in Canada. Calgary, the best city in Alberta. Every year, Calgary welcomes many newcomers from other provinces or other countries. Most newcomers have the same question: how to find your ideal community in Calgary?
Choosing a new Calgary neighborhood that suits your needs and wants is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in the home buying process. Here are some thoughts on how to find the best community for you in Calgary.
Things to consider when finding a community in Calgary
Calgary has around 200 communities, and every community has its own style and character. As realtors, we can never decide for you which community to choose. However, we are able to guide newcomers, by listening to their wants and needs and by giving them some indicators on how to choose a community in which to live in Calgary.
Here are some indicators that may help a newcomer choose a community in which to live in Calgary.
- What can you afford? This is always the first question. You must get qualified for a mortgage to determine your first important set of boundaries.
- What home style are you looking for? A single-family home, a townhouse or a condo? What suits the needs of you and your family now and in the future? Knowing your budget in combination with the type of home you are looking for is already a big step and makes the search much easier.
- Where do you work and how is the commute in both summer and winter? Working from home became very popular, and your new home should give ample accommodation. Or perhaps work takes a daily commute making a short driving time important.
- How about schools for your children? Calgary has many schools, public and private, two universities and several post-secondary institutions. Every newcomer should check for any available schools before deciding where to live.
- Are you depending on public transit? The city of Calgary offers an extensive network of bus and C-train routes. It may be important to understand the available routes in a neighbourhood to any destination for work, school, etc. Perhaps you want to live close to a C-Train station.
- In which communities are family and friends living? If you like them close by, that helps with any decision.
- Are there special amenities you need? Shops, playgrounds, churches. Perhaps you want to live close to a hospital or close to a mall.
Needs vs hopes, wants and desires in a home
For most people, finding the right community starts with the more pragmatic questions as mentioned above. The next questions focus on the wants, desires, hopes and wishes in a community. The Calgary communities have many varied options to offer. Here are a few.
- Do you like living with a lake in the community? Calgary has a handful of lake communities that are exclusive to the residents in those communities. Lakes give residents lots of joy both in summer and winter.
- Love living near a park? Walking, hiking, birding, biking… Calgary offers many great parks. In fact, two of the largest parks in north America are right in Calgary: Fish Creek Park in the south and Nose Hill Park in the northwest.
- Would you like a view of the mountains? The Rocky Mountains always impress. Many communities let you enjoy the mountains, if perhaps only a sneak peek from your window.
- Do you like older established neighbourhoods such as those in the city centre area? Or a new(er) home in one of the many suburbs in Calgary? Both have their pros and cons. (new article idea)
- Safety in a neighbourhood is a very important consideration for people. What safety means is different for everyone, often based on someone’s home country. The Calgary Police publishes a fantastic crime map which shows statistics for every community.
- Perhaps an income suite is important in the form of a legal basement suite. Some communities have more options for (legal) basement suites than others.
- Not a big “city slicker”? Several smaller towns surround the city of Calgary: Chestermere, Okotoks, Airdrie and Cochrane are just a few towns which also offer a high quality of living.
How to get a sense of a community in Calgary
There are many ways to find out more about a community in Calgary. It may take some time, but the decision to choose a community in Calgary should not be taken lightly.
- Visit any interesting communities. Drive around in the car, get on the bus, take walks or go biking in the communities. Take your time to familiarize yourself with an area on the weekends, as well as during a week day and week night.
- Talk to people! Calgarians are a friendly bunch, and most people are willing to help. Ask for their experience in their neighbourhood. What do they like or dislike about the community? What was their reason for picking the community?
- Ask any family, friends and colleagues what they know about the communities you are interested in. Even though Calgary is a big city, there is a great sense of community.
- Discuss your wants and needs with a realtor. Ultimately, a realtor cannot decide for you, but a realtor knows the city and can give you certain pointers to help you choose a community.
- Check out the amenities the community has to offer. Is public transportation readily accessible? Are there schools, churches, parks, or grocery stores within reach? Learn what is important for you and your family.
- Visit open houses. Open houses are mostly held on the weekends. Visiting open houses is a great way to get a sense of the different types of homes. Also, the hosting realtor may be able to give you pointers about the community. However, before visiting open houses, read this first
- Contact the city via 311 and ask about local land use and zoning. Are there any plans for the area? Are the plans good for the future of the community, or are the plans not beneficial?
Google maps is your ‘friend’
When searching for a new community, Google Maps is your friend. Google Maps starts with an overview of the entire city. Once focusing on an area, the map gives an overview for important pillars such as schools, main roads, parks, shops, hospitals etc. Google Streetview lets you ‘walk through the streets’ and gives a really good indication of the type of housing in an area. Also, when a certain community piques your interest, our website offers every single property for sale in every Calgary community, in every quadrant. This is another way to get an impression of a neighbourhood. For transportation, again, Google gives routes instantly. So, when looking for a new community, Google is one of your best helpers.
The art of eliminating
Talk to people! Calgarians are a friendly bunch!
Make a list and visit some homes
Once there is a short list of potential communities, find some homes to visit. During showings, a realtor is able to answer many questions about the neighbourhood. Also, that can help answer the questions about what home style works for you and your family.
The quadrants in Calgary Real estate
Calgary is divided into 4 quadrants, the NW, SW, SE, NE. However, the Calgary Real Estate Board divided Calgary into 8 sections, making Calgary more defined and easier to navigate for the public and for realtors. Check the full overview of the 8 different real estate regions.
Best community in which to live in Calgary
Every year ‘Avenue Magazine’ publishes the best neighbourhoods in Calgary. A panel of ‘judges’ gives a serious swing at determining the best communities in 13 different categories. It is a fun read, but very limited at the same time. Per category, only one community is chosen, as well as one or two communities are suggested as runners-up. Overall, only about 36 communities are praised, and we feel that many more communities, out of the 200, deserve credit.
‘Judgemental maps’ give entertaining looks at Calgary
The “Judgemental Map” is also a fun tool to look at. There are a few different versions around and displayed on the internet. Just google ‘judgemental map of Calgary’. These maps certainly contain some truths about Calgary. However, they are called judgemental maps, and that is what they are.
What we think is the best community
What do we think is the best community in Calgary? Calgary truly has many great communities, but, then, Calgary is a great city. That sounds biased to some, and that is what we are. We chose Calgary when we moved from the Netherlands, in 2004, and haven’t look back for one second. We love it here, with the mountains in the back yard and the prairies in the front yard.
Still, the best community in Calgary is different for everyone. Different budgets, different stages in life, different needs in style of housing, job requirements, needs for amenities such as schooling or a C-Train station nearby are just a few examples.
Every year, the City of Calgary is voted as one of the most livable cities in the world.
Every year, the City of Calgary is voted as one of the most livable cities in the world.
We are all ‘neighbourhood specialists’
Many realtors profile themselves as being the specialist of a neighbourhood. This term, the neighbourhood specialist, is, to say it politely, slightly bogus. A realtor specializes in an area for marketing purposes. Eventually, every realtor in Calgary can offer any kind of guidance and opinion about every community in Calgary. Also, many agents know the small towns around Calgary well enough to answer any questions.
What we as realtors can offer
Over time, we have helped many newcomers buy homes in great Calgary communities. It really helps if buyers take the time to sit down and lay out all their needs, wants and wishes in a home and community. And that is usually the best advice. Whenever you are ready, get in touch with us.
Some helpful links when finding the perfect community
- Calgary Board Of Education – Find schools, where new schools are being built and much more.
- City of Calgary – A very informative site on almost anything a Calgarian needs to know, living in Calgary.
- Calgary Areas – A guide to local communities and associations in Calgary.
- Calgary Police – Informs about crime in all Calgary communities.
- Calgary Transit – All transportation routes and lines.
Discover more about Calgary real estate, average pricing on real estate, different types of homes, surrounding towns around Calgary and more.
Questions? We have answers!
We are Tanja van de Kamp and Ariette van Pelt, working as a team, both buying and selling homes in Calgary. Calgary has been our home since 2004, and real estate our full-time profession since 2009. Tanja was a lawyer in The Netherlands for 12 years, and learned how to negotiate strategically, and to work in the best interests of her clients. Thanks to our honest and transparent approach to real estate and towards our clients, we have built our business.
It’s been a privilege to work with our clients. Over the years, many clients, through their many referrals, have shown their appreciation of us.
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