HOW TO: Convince Your Friends to Move to Calgary

HOW TO: Convince Your Friends to Move to Calgary

Calgary has grown in popularity as both a tourist destination and as a city to settle (or re-settle in) in recent years. But, the city that people see as tourists can often look and feel different than the city that Calgarians experience every day. Tourists typically flock for big ticket items like the Calgary Stampede and the mountains - but there is so much more to the city. As someone who moved *back* to Calgary after 8 years in Vancouver, I was pretty convinced that there wasn't much more to the city than meets the eye: Calgary Stampede, the mountains, and the oil/energy industry... I have been so pleasantly surprised since moving back in 2021 to learn that the city is so much more. Ever since, I have made it my personal mission to share all that Calgary has to offer - yes, I share my experience living in Calgary on social media, but I also ensure to tell friends and family how much I have come to love Alberta. I have even gone so far as to convince friends from Vancouver to make the move too... If you want to convince your friends too, here are some tips!

1. Invite them to visit Calgary, of course. When? Literally anytime except during the Stampede, and ideally during the winter. Hear me out...

  • One of the things that Calgary boasts are crisp, cold, blue skied winter days full of sunshine. It is no secret that Calgary is known for freezing sub-zero temperatures as low as -40 degrees celsius. But the fact that Calgary also gets 333 days of sunshine per year is often overlooked. The result is many refreshing and absolutely stunning winter days - the sun will be shining, warming up cold faces. There is nothing quite like it, and never fails to both surprise and delight visitors who are used to overcast skies in Vancouver or Toronto.
  • Avoiding the Stampede fan-fare and shenanigans is a must. While the event attracts people from all over the world for 10 days of country music, line dancing, carnival food, and novelty food items, Calgary does not shine its brightest during this time. The festival can act as a downright repellant for anyone who isn't into western wear or country music - including myself. This aspect of Calgary is placed in a disproportionate light. For the rest of the year's 355 days, this is a small portion of the city's large personality. 

2. Make sure they have appropriate clothing and outerwear, no matter the season. Access and enjoyment of the outdoors simply requires a little preparation.

  • Dressing for the weather is an absolute must, but what does that really mean? Calgary offers a wide array of weather season over season. Make sure that your visitors come prepared. Here's what they will need. 
  • Summer
    • Summers are generally hot (upwards of 30-35 degrees celsius) and dry in Calgary, however, it is not uncommon to have fleeting afternoon rain and thunderstorms. Shorts and a t-shirt during the day are usually a good bit - but a true Calgarian knows that the weather can change in a heartbeat. Pack a raincoat and an umbrella. Evenings can be cool so be sure that they pack a mid-weight sweater! If they forget, you can always grab one of ours here. 
  • Autumn
    • One of my favourite things about Calgary autumns (September and October) is that they are often an extension of the summer. While the temperatures don't get quite as hot during the day, the mornings and evenings are cool as the sun rises/sets later. During this time, less rain can be expected. Calgary's autumn is usually characterized by beautiful foliage - trees turn to incredible yellows, oranges, and reds and trees like Larches attract visitors from all over. Visiting Calgary during autumn can, however, be hit or miss. September and October can either be trailing summers or early winters - it depends on the year. I hate to say it, but my packing recommendations really depend. It's possible to experience all 4 seasons in 1 weekend. Be sure to check the weather forecast before sharing any packing tips with your guests!
  • Winter
    • The name of the game for Calgary winters is LAYERS. While Calgary is known for being mostly a driving city (as opposed to a pedestrian-centric city), being dressed for the cold definitely makes life outside during cold winters more accessible and enjoyable. As mentioned above, the 333 days of sunshine mean that sunny winter days are inevitable. Make sure your friends pack their sunglasses - often overlooked when planning winter travel! When it comes to layers, a base layer (thin long sleeve or turtleneck), a mid-weight sweater, a down vest, and warm coat are all good places to start. A lot of people from more damp climates like Toronto or Vancouver may not have a "warm coat" as they usually prioritize having waterproof layers. That said, many of them may have down coats or heavy layers that they can fit under a rain coat - this works too! I'd definitely recommend a toque, scarf and gloves as well. On the bottom half, my biggest recommendation is on footwear. While not everyone has warm winter boots, finding a warm pair (or pairs) of socks can help immensely. Warm feet will keep people happy, even at the city's coldest. 
  • Spring
    • Similar to autumn, Calgary springs can be fickle - either lovely, and a warmly welcomed early summer, or a trailing winter. Being prepared for all 4 seasons is definitely advisable, as March through May can be unpredictable. 

3. Emphasize Calgary's walkability. Get some fresh air, get some steps in, and explore the city's many walkable neighbourhoods.

  • Calgary is often criticized for being more car-centric than pedestrian. While this is largely true given the city's large sprawl - there is undoubtedly a need for highways and large roads. That said, there are quite a few neighbourhoods that are walkable and interconnected. Some of my favourites are Inglewood-Ramsay, Bridgeland-Riverside, Kensington, Marda Loop, the East Village, and the 17th Avenue/Mission area. In each of these areas, there are tons of shops, coffee shops, and restaurants to explore. Explore one at a time and have them experience each area for themselves. Each has a distinct vibe, and it's fun to help sheppard folks as they try to understand where they feel most comfortable and in sync.

4. Emphasize access to the mountains. This one is a no-brainer, but the mountains mean something different to everyone. 

  • Visitors flock to the Rocky Mountains - to places like Banff and Canmore - for various reasons. The outdoor lovers typically seek hiking, mountain biking, skiing/snowboarding, snowshoeing, and much more. There are endless opportunities. For others, the appeal is not the thrill of sports and a raised heart rate, but the calming nature of the a picturesque mountain view enjoyed from the indoors over a cup of hot tea or a craft cocktail. For some others - its both! Figure out what your guests are most interested in, and serve them up some activities that will resonate. If you can sell them on the mountains based on their preferences, access to them will jump to the top of their list of reasons to make the move to Calgary.

5. Calgary is as beautiful as it is affordable - especially in comparison to Toronto and Vancouver, when looking at cost of living. One of the things people measure most is housing affordability and the ability to purchase property. Highlight this!

  • Calgary's real estate market is highly attractive to many in Canada, which is one of the many reasons people are looking to re-settle with their families in this bustling Albertan metropolis. On any given weekend, there will be no shortage of open houses for you to dip in and out of as you wander those walkable neighbourhoods I mentioned above. If you want to get into a more detailed exploration, I'd recommend reaching out to a realtor who specializes in the areas you love, or who specializes in relocation. There are no shortage of realtors who are keen to share their love of Calgary and educate you on your house purchasing options along the way! Friendly reminder that reaching out to a realtor does not incur a fee - it is free to look and leverage them as a resource. 

6. Be sure to showcase Calgary's awesome (and ever-expanding) food scene. 

  • When moving back to Calgary from Vancouver, the food scene and access to my favourite cuisine was one of my biggest apprehensions. As someone who loves food from all over the world, my very limited experience with new and exciting restaurants in Calgary as a child, left me feeling nervous I'd be without. I've never been so happy to be wrong! When I arrived back in Calgary, I had a list of 100+ restaurants in hand, and a dedication to try a new one every week. I'm still slowly working through this list, but I've been to some absolute gems that I continue to visit again and again.
  • Many of Calgary's new and hottest restaurants are found in the walkable neighbourhoods mentioned above - you're sure to encounter one that looks enticing as you stretch your legs and explore!

There are so many things to love about Calgary - but these are just a few tips that I've found helpful when convincing friends and family of all that my city has to offer. What's not on this list that can help people fall in love with Calgary? Share your thoughts in the comments!



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