Over the years, we have had the privilege to meet and help many people who were moving to Calgary from abroad. Our first contact with newcomers was often when they first planned to visit Calgary. Many were still in the orientation phase of moving and asked us about Calgary real estate as well as the best ways to explore Calgary and surroundings. Therefore, we compiled some tips and suggestions on where to go in and around Calgary, for people with the intent to someday move to Calgary.
We could write a complete travel guide with endless information. However, let’s start small. Here is a modest guide to start your exploration of Calgary and area. We hope that these tips and suggestions will help you with some big decisions about moving to Calgary!
Cruise the city with our free map and app!
Before you start cruising Calgary, download our app and community map. The map is a guide to all the communities. The app gives valuable information such as pricing of homes you see. It also orients you to different home prices in different communities.
Quadrants and communities in Calgary
Ask any Calgarian where s/he lives, and s/he will give you either the quadrant or the name of the community. Calgary is divided in four quadrants: NW, NE, SW and SE. For the most part, the Bow River and Memorial Drive divide the north from the south, and Centre Street/Macleod Trail divide the east from the west. Each quadrant has its own characteristics, just like every community in Calgary has its own features and character.
8 real estate zones
Only for the purpose of real estate, the map with all Calgary communities is divided in 8 sections. The following links go to any of these 8 sections and show all the communities per section. North West, North, North East, East, South East, South, West and City Centre.
How to choose a community
Calgary has almost 200 communities, so there is plenty to discover. Why do people choose their community? There may be several reasons:
- Where people work: many like to stay near their workplace to avoid long commutes.
- Their budget: closer to the core tends to be more expensive.
- Close to schools for the children.
To read more about how to choose a Calgary community in which to live, visit Choosing a community in Calgary.
Average real estate prices in Calgary
As for real estate pricing, in general, homes in the inner city are more expensive. Real estate further out, into the suburbs, give more square footage per dollar. Many Calgary communities offer a mix of single-family homes, townhouses and apartments. To see what fits your lifestyle, for now and in the future, you can get familiar with these Calgary home styles.
Real estate in Calgary’s suburbs vs older communities
Many communities closer to downtown offer a mix of older and newer homes. Some of these older, inner city communities also show brand new homes. These are called infills. Infills are ‘skinnier’ homes, usually semi-detached. They are built on a lot that that was divided in two lots, a lot that originally held a single bungalow. These infills are often custom build by smaller builders.Calgary’s newer communities, the ‘suburbs’, are constructed by developers and a select group of large building companies. These homes are often built on small lots and mostly on spec. Often these homes all look the same and are referred to as ‘cookie cutters’.
Buying a home in a walkable area
Calgary has a few walkable areas with many shops and restaurants. Consider visiting Marda Loop, the 17th Avenue district, historic Inglewoodor Kensington during your orientation. These walkable and popular areas are all located in Calgary’s inner-city.
Downtown Calgary is always a must-visit. Office towers, residential towers and shops are built to impress. While you are downtown, visit the Calgary Tower for fantastic views of the city and the mountains. The C-train is free in the downtown area. You can hop on and off along 7th Avenue. It is great way to explore downtown!
Want to live near a park in Calgary?
A few Calgary parks are amongst the largest inner-city parks in all of north America! Fish Creek Park is the largest urban park in North America. Nose Hill Park is the fourth largest urban park in Canada. There are many more beautiful parks in Calgary. If you want to live in a community near a park, visit Find homes for sale near Calgary’s greatest parks. Get a sense of all the biking, hiking, fishing, picnicking, and bird watching you can indulge in, close to your own home!
The Bow River is also worth a mention. The Bow flows right through the city of Calgary. Along the Bow is the Bow River Pathway for endless biking and walking. Be amazed by all the wildlife you will see!
Fun Fact: With more than 1000 km of pathways, Calgary has the most extensive urban pathway and bikeway network in North America!
Want to live in a Calgary lake community?
Calgary has 8 lake communities. These lakes provide summer and winter activities. These lake communities charge a (nominal) mandatory fee but offer great value to the family. If you would like to live in a lake community, visit homes for sale in Calgary’s lake communities.
Want to live near a C-train station?
Calgary’s public transportation system is, in our opinion, great. There are many bus routes, including ‘speed line’ buses and there is a C-train. This C-Train, also called the LRT, has 45 stations, and goes in every direction. To find homes for sale near a C-Train, visit real estate for sale near a C-Train station. Both bus and C-train offer an app for your convenience.
Need to live near a hospital in Calgary?
Calgary has 4 large hospitals. Real estate around hospitals is usually in demand for those working in a hospital, or for investors who rent out units to hospital staff. If you want to live near a hospital, visit our webpage showing all homes for sale near a Calgary hospital.
Want to live close to a university or school?
If you want to live near a school, we recommend you visit the website from CBE, the Calgary Board of Education. This website offers all required information about every Calgary public school, designated to a certain area or community. The Calgary Catholic School District has its own website. The City of Calgary also has some private schools. The city offers the most complete list for private schools in Calgary.
Malls in Calgary
Calgary has many different shopping experiences. There are a few large malls such as Chinook Mall and Market Mall. There are many more (open air) shopping areas throughout the city. Westhills and South Trail are a couple of examples. To find real estate near a shopping area, visit homes for sale near Calgary’s shopping areas.
Visit Open houses
Open houses are a great way to explore Calgary’s real estate. We offer a complete overview with all open houses in Calgary. Open houses are usually held on the weekends, and often from 2:00 to 4:00pm, although times may differ.
Before you decide to visit an open house, read some important information about visiting open houses.
Visiting new built homes and show homes.
Usually in the afternoons on weekdays, home builders open their show homes to the public. This is a way to discover real estate. Just be aware that staff in show homes are salespeople, not Realtors. Salespeople do not fall under any law of ethics, the way realtors do. To learn more about visiting these show homes, read bring your own realtor to a show home.
Explore smaller towns north and northwest of Calgary
Smaller towns around Calgary usually offer slightly cheaper real estate over the big city. However, if you work in Calgary your commute will be longer. The roads to and from Calgary tend to be busier in the summer due to summer travel and road construction. Wintertime can bring bad weather conditions that can also make commutes longer. Our app works outside Calgary of as well!
Discover real estate in Airdrie, Cochrane, Okotoks, Chestermere and Bragg Creek
North and Northwest of Calgary are the City of Airdie and the Town of Cochrane. South of Calgary is the Town of Okotoks. Just East from Calgary is the City of Chestermere. Chestermere has a huge lake called Chestermere Lake which is great for boating in the summer. (add a map) Go west of Calgary to visit the Hamlett of Bragg Creek. On the way to Bragg Creek, just outside of Calgary’s city limits, are many communities with large, high-end homes. These homes are mostly on minimum 2-acre lots. Elbow Valley, Elbow Valley West, Stonepine and Lott Creek Estates are a few examples. North of Calgary is Bearspaw, also an acreage-community.
Real estate in Bragg Creek only consists of acreages. Long driveways keep many homes private and out of sight. However, with our real estate app you can still have a peak at the homes for sale in Bragg Creek.
Routes to discover smaller towns around Calgary
Take Deerfoot (Hwy 2) to Airdrie. On your way to Airdrie you can visit the Cross Iron Mills Mall, the second biggest mall in Alberta after West Edmonton Mall. After exploring Airdrie, you can take the 567 towards Cochrane.
From Cochrane you can go south on Hwy 22, also called the Cowboy Trail to visit Okotoks. However, first make a pit stop in Bragg Creek, a cute cowboy town. West Bragg Creek is the place to go for physical activities, year-round: hiking in the summer, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and fat biking in the winter. Take the drive along the east side of Bragg Creek and drive until you hit the parking lot of this area. Near Bragg Creek, on the east side of town, is the gateway to the Kananaskis with campgrounds and more trails and waterfalls to enjoy.
From Bragg Creek, you can take Hwy 22 towards Turner Valley and Black Diamond. Turner Valley is a small town where the first oil was found in 1914. Black Diamond, also named for the oil rush, offers some cute shops and fine coffee places. Cowboy Trail (Hwy 22) takes you along to the hamlets of Millarville and Priddis and across gorgeous country with farms and acreages. From Black Diamond you can take Hwy 7 towards Okotoks.
This entire route, a roundtrip from Calgary via Bragg Creek, Black Diamond and Okotoks and Chestermere takes you about 3 hours without stops and is about 240 km’s.
In our humble opinion, Hwy 22 takes you through some of Alberta’s most beautiful country. From Okotoks, you can take different routes to visit Chestermere. The quickest route from Okotoks to Chestermere is via Hwy 2 and Stoney Trail (201).
Explore Calgary’s backyard, the Rocky Mountains
Drive an hour west, out of Calgary and you are in an entirely different world, the natural world of the foothills and mountains. When you explore Calgary as a possible place to live, a visit to the mountains must be on your to-do list. Take Hwy 1 and visit Canmore, Banff and Lake Louise. Realize that this is your ‘back yard’ when you live in Calgary! Go for a day, or a weekend, and you will return to Calgary with your spirit lifted.
If you like winter sports, don’t forget to check out Sunshine Winter Village. Sunshine Winter Village is your closest option for skiing when you live in Calgary besides, of course, our own Olympic Park in Calgary.
We hope you enjoy your explorations in and around Calgary. If you ever have questions, reach out to us, and we can help plan your ventures as part of your move to Calgary.
And if you ever require more information about buying real estate in Calgary or any of the smaller towns around Calgary, contact us any time! Call 403 630 5190 or visit our website www.FindCalgaryHome.ca.