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Vancouver, Edmonton, or Calgary?

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In your opinion, which one of these cities is the best to live in and raise a familiy?? Also please describe the standard of living. For example, an average sized house here in Texas is $120,000 US.

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    I live in Edmonton, so my choice is obvious - Edmonton!!

    Vancouver is a beautiful city, in a gorgeous setting between the coastal moutains and the sea.
    However, the house prices are among the highest in Canada. I haven't seen the latest figures, but an average single family house in Vancouver sold at twice (at least) the price of your average Texas house (adjusting for the difference in currency). Naturally, the nicer and more desirable the area, the more expensive the house.
    The traffic is horrible during rush hour (common to many big cities but exacerbated by the lack of a good road grid etc. - it seems as if there was no planning to the way the roads and freeways were built).
    Of course, the weather is the balmiest of all three cities that you mentioned, there is a rainy season but not a "true" winter (in the Canadian sense of lots of snow and cold cold temperatures). Some people have a difficult time with all the rain, especially prairie people who "retire" to Vancouver only to move back a few years later because "the rain was depressing".

    Calgary is also a very nice city - it is probably the most "Texan" of the three. It's chief attractions are the booming economy (good jobs, especially in the oil and gas sector), and proximity to the Rocky Mountains (a one hour drive).
    The house prices in Calgary tend to be higher than average (for Canada that is - I believe - if it hasn't changed recently - that the three most expensive cities in Canada are Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary, in that order). The last time I looked, an average Calgary house will be about 30% to 40% more than your average Texan house (currency adjusted). Because Calgary is so attractive to business etc., and people were moving to the city looking for jobs, recently there was a housing crunch in Calgary.
    Calgary has very changeable weather, it can be very hot or very cold; it can snow in July or rain in December when a chinook (warm wind off the mountains)blows through. Calgary has three and a half seasons - autumn, winter, an in-between week between winter and summer, and then summer!!! Autumn in Calgary is glorious.
    Traffic in Calgary can get bad too, but not as bad as Vancouver, and as an added benefit your commutes will be relative short (usually half an hour or so).

    Edmonton is undervalued and truly a hidden treasure in Canada (no bias there :S- !! ). It is usually described by visitors as being "very pretty". There is a lovely river valley park system with walking and cycling trails(and cross-country skiing in winter) that winds its way through the city - even past the downtown core - along the green aspen/birch and evergreen woods along the North Saskatchewan River.
    Edmonton has four seasons - a cold but usually sunny winter (not as much snow as in the eastern part of the continent), a spring which is very variable, a hot (usually dry) and sunny summer, and a beautiful (warm) colourful and sunny autumn. It is (as are all three cities that you mentioned) never as hot and rarely as humid as Texas!! "Really hot" would be temperatures of 85F and a bit higher. Normal summer temperatures are in the range of 75F to 77F.
    House prices in Edmonton are in the same range as your average Texan house (currency adjusted). Recently they have increased by quite a bit - it used to be significantly cheaper than that.
    Edmonton is a city of nearly one million people (Calgary is slightly larger, and the Vancouver area has double that number).
    Edmonton is the capital city of the province of Alberta, so a large proportion of government offices are here. The University of Alberta (third largest in Canada after the big ones down east) is located in Edmonton, as is the petrochemical industry in Alberta. So those would be the three largest sectors for jobs.
    Edmonton is only 3.5 hours away from the Rocky Mountains, which makes it an ideal vacation destination. In winter, Edmontonians generally fly to Hawaii for holidays, and some retirees flee the cold temperatures by going to Phoenix.

    Alberta (both Edmonton and Calgary) is the best place to raise children, by all standard achievement tests students in Alberta routinely rank number 1 in Canada.
    Both Calgary and Edmonton are relatively safe places for children, and have lots of child oriented activities and places to see.
    Edmonton has the Odyssium (previously called the Space and Sciences Centre), the Alberta Provincial Museum (focus on natural history i.e. animals, plants and the geology of the province plus special exhibits), Fort Edmonton Park (a historical village including a replica of the original fort that established the city) and a real old-fashioned steam engine train that you can ride on, and of course West Edmonton Mall with a year round skating rink, a wave pool, and an amusement park with all sorts of kiddie rides (as well as scary adult ones).

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    Oops - my answer must have been too long because it got cut off - so here's the rest:
    Edmonton is mostly described as a great place to live, and not usually as a tourist destination (which Calgary and Vancouver can be).

    I hope that this has given you a start into your exploration of the three cities. This is unfortunately only "dipping your toe into the water" - there is so much more that can be said about all three cities.
    Personally I would not live in Vancouver because of the earthquake threat and the congestion and high house prices, and I would hesitate about living in Calgary because it is the migraine capital of Canada (perhaps due to the rapid changes in air pressure associated with the elevation and the chinooks).

    Enjoy your exploration of all three cities!!

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    I agree with Borealis. Excellent review of all three cities However, having lived in both Edmonton and Calgary I'd say that they are equally troublesome for triggering migraine. The mild but grey sky winter in Vancouver is depressing as migraine.

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    everittp - sorry to hear that you suffer from migraines. Having family memebers who suffer from the condition I know exactly how disabling they can be. However, my comment was not based on personal experience, but on medical statistics. Apparently Calgary has the highest rate of migraines in Canada, although the reason for this has not been established.

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    I've lived in all 3 cities. (And I suufer from migraines).

    You cannot beat Vancouver for beauty and weather and lifestyle. But it is the most expensive city in Canada. Average house price is somewhere around $450,000. Traffic is bad and commute times can be long, as people move further out of the city centre due to housing prices. The population in the province of BC is the most active in Canada. We do not get a typical Canadian winter - the grass is green all year round, some flowers bloom, and it rarely snows. It rains during the winter. Spring comes very early and it is glorius, with blossoms everywhere. There is a big gap here between rich and poor; homelessness is a problem. Politics here are interesting too - people seem to be really right wing, or really left wing - not much in between and it seems harder to get things done. There's still a kind of leftover hippie mentality. Vancouver has a varied and vibrant immigrant community, with somehwere around 40% of its residents not born in Canada.

    Calgary has the next best winter weather. The Chinooks make winter bearable. They did not affect my migraines at all. It has a thriving economy; people there on the whole seem to have more disposable income. It's very close to the mountains. There's a very nice walking/cycling path that runs along the Bow River, through the city. Its downtown is vibrant. It's way more affordable than Vancouver but house prices are still higher than in many other Canadian cities. Calgary seems friendlier to me and the pace seems slower than in Vancouver.
    Early autumn is the best season in both Alberta cities. Brilliant sapphire blue sky forever.
    Edmonton has the worst winter weather. It's furthest from the mountains. It has very nice parks in the river valley running all through the city but watch out for the mosquitoes. Housing prices are the most affordable out of the 3 cities. Traffic isn't much of a problem either. The people are friendly. The downtown, though, seems tired and depressing. Malls are the thing in Edmonton - fine if that's your kind of thing too. And did I mention the bone-aching cold in winter???

    I choose to live in Vancouver. If I had a family to raise I would definitely consider moving back to Calgary. I visit Edmonton every couple of years but would never move back.

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    In spite of the personal anecdotal evidence that a lot of people use to describe their opinions of cities and areas, please note that there is statistically not much difference in weather between Edmonton and Calgary. If you are coming from Texas, you really wouldn't notice the difference.

    The chinooks do make the winters seem milder, but they are only marginally milder than Edmonton. It can get, and frequently does get, as cold or colder in Calgary as it does in Edmonton.
    Calgary is at a higher elevation, the nights are cooler, it has first frost sooner in the autumn and last frost later in the spring, and combined with the freeze-thaw of chinooks, makes a much harsher climate for plants.
    Gardens do not do well in Calgary as compared to Edmonton. I have friends in Calgary who have despaired of any type of interesting gardening after decades of trying. Only the hardiest of perennials will survive.
    Calgary is in the grassland area of the prairies, it's open and hilly. From many areas of Calgary (especially in the northwest) there is a lovely view of the Rockies on the western horizon.

    Edmonton is in an area known as aspen parkland (it's a transitional area between grasslands and boreal forest) - lots more woods and small forests (native to the area rather than planted). The river valley is much deeper than Calgary's, and has many more trees, and is very picturesque. The river valley park system is the largest stretch of urban parkland in North America, and has 150 km (~ 94 miles) of trails (usable in all four seasons for various activities).

    For some photos (and more info about Edmonton), take a look at these websites:

    By the way - there is a well-known rivalry between Edmonton and Calgary which is especially evident in (mostly good-natured but occasionally mean-spirited) discussions about our major league sports teams (hockey and football).

    The two cities are less than 300 km (183 miles) apart!!!

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    TexOctWed: I am a Texan who has made brief visits to all 3 cities; however I was in Calgary for only 12 hours, so I won't count that.

    My visit to Edmonton was 7 or 8 years ago. I found it to be quite pleasant. We spent a lot of time shopping at the "famous" big mall (which surprisingly was not too crowded). The people we talked to were all very nice.

    Last week, my 2 teenagers and I visited Vancouver. Frankly, I would not feel particularly safe living there. We spent most of our time in "public" places -- shopping, sightseeing, riding the Skytrain. Everywhere we turned, there were panhandlers. Perhaps they can spot the tourists and leave the locals alone, but we were hit up numerous times for "spare change." One guy in the Skytrain station would step in front of people trying to buy tickets, offering to help, in hopes of getting their change. Another couple on the Skytrain informed me they were going to get off at our stop and show us around. When I told them "no, thanks," the guy turned to my teenage son and started talking about drugs and where to obtain them! I'm afraid if I lived in Vancouver, I would be afraid to let the kids out of my sight!


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    Here's my bottom line. If the idea of the same little snowflake that fell in late October still being around in early April doesn't bother you and if basically middle of the road Restaurants and cultural activities are fine with you then choose Edmonton because it does have all the other amenities mentioned above.

    And if the chances of snow in late June or early September and heavy hail all summer with wild swings in winter weather as a result of chinooks doesn't bother you then Calgary should be pretty good. It does have better restaurants and cultural activities as well as being only an hour and some from Banff.

    And to be fair both Calgary and Edmonton have amazingly low crime rates especially when compared to the US and both cities are very clean, (except for the dirty snow), and healthy to live in. Taxes are the lowest in Canada and the services are some of the best. There is very little racial tension and while the community standards are a little less tolerant than other big Canadian cities they would still rank extremely high in comparison with US cities.

    But honestly, the only true drawback to Vancouver is the wet dank winters and the high cost of housing. Unless you want to live in the centre of the city the house prices are perhaps only twice as high as Alberta's. Even the legendary wet winters are not as bad as advertised and when the sun comes out in the winter, as it does at least a couple of days a week, the glorious snowcapped mountain and sea vistas can make a grown man choke up. But still the high cost of housing and wet weather is a tradeoff for living in one of the most cosmopolitan and ethnically diverse cities in North America and without a doubt the most beautiful with virtually every type of otdoor recreational activity within a half hour of the city core. There is some racial tension, (not from the European communities but between the East Indian and Asian communities), and there is a great deal more homelessnbess, (if you're going to be homeless better Vancouver than Edmonton), and taxes are higher and services aern't as good.

    So really if you're looking for clean healthy living on a moderate income then Alberta is better than BC. Unfortunately as a born and bred Vancouverite there's noplace else on earth, (and I have been around the globe a few times), that I'ld rather live. well, maybe Sydney Australia but I don't think I could get used to driving on the wrong side of the road so that's out.

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    I think we're seeing a bit of the rivalry Borealis mentioned.

    December and January average temperatures in Edmonton are statistically about 10 degrees F. colder than in Calgary, which can feel like a whole lot of difference. Of course Calgary can get cold, sometimes colder than Edmonton. But the chances of having a protracted cold spell in Calgary are less than in Edmonton. The saving grace of a cold spell in Calgary is seeing that Chinook arch in the west and knowing that you'll get a break. It's not uncommon for it to be close to 50F in the midst of winter.
    However, that also means that sometimes the snow melts and the city looks pretty drab and brown.

    The gardening situation IS a challenge in Calgary because of the fluctuations in temperature. But since I'm used to gardening in a Zone 8 plus, neither Edmonton nor Calgary is appealing for gardening.

    We forgot to mention provincial sales tax, which most certainly can affect buying power. Alberta has none. BC has a sales tax of 7.5%. The whole country pays a Goods and Services Tax of 7.5% on most purchases; that means BC residents pay 15% tax on most purchases.

    One other thing not mentioned was that all three cities suffer from appalling urban sprawl. The outer suburbs in all 3 cities are hideous.

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    TexOctWed, I shudder when someone asks questions such as the ones you've asked. First of all, they're not about travel (as the Fodors rules request) and secondly they can make it a bit challenging to maintain a tone of civility (as the Fodors rules also request).

    Be that as it may, I have some comments to add to those that already have been made. As they cover a wide range of topics, I'll try to separate them out into different posts. As far as the more sensitive topics are concerned, I'll try to be as civil as possible, and hope the powers that be don't delete my posts.

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    First of all, let me please say that, from my experience, vacationing in a place gives one only a tiny indication of what it might be like to live there. Even living in a place as a single person or a member of a couple does not give one a true picture of what it?s like to live there with children. It is when one has children, and one needs to get vaccinations for them and they go to the local school, etc., that the rubber really hits the road.

    I found this out for myself when, after having lived in Cincinnati for a year (as a 17 / 18 year old student) and after numerous vacations in the U.S. (and countless business trips to the U.S., including Houston, on the part of my husband), we relocated to Houston for eighteen months with our children. It was really different experiencing the school system and all of the other aspects of the local infrastructure from the point of view of a parent.

    Even the experience of living in Houston was different for my husband than it was for me. He commuted to a highrise office that he experienced as being very similar to his Calgary highrise office. I, on the other hand, was the parent who had the primary interface with the local school system and other aspects of the community, and I found those elements to be rather different from their Calgary counterparts.

    Mercer is an international human resources company that does an annual quality of life survey of cities around the world. On its most recent survey, Vancouver came in as the best overall city in Canada and the third best city IN THE WORLD (after Zurich and Geneva and ahead of Vienna, Auckland, Bern, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Sydney, Amsterdam and Munich -- which were the other cities that qualified as the top ten).

    On the other hand, Calgary was first in the world (so obviously also the first in Canada) when it came to health and sanitation. I haven?t been able to find Calgary?s overall standing across the board, but I seem to recall a newspaper article saying it came in at 16th in the world. I?m sorry, I can?t remember what Edmonton?s overall standing was, but I would guess that Calgary and Edmonton would receive similar scores on that type of survey.

    Mercer?s quality of life surveys are done with expats in mind (people who are temporarily relocated by their governments or multi-national corporations). Therefore, I don?t feel that its surveys are ENTIRELY accurate in reflecting what it would be like for a family that was handling its own relocation (without an employer?s assistance). Nonetheless, the Mercer quality of life surveys have the benefit of objectivity, which obviously is somewhat lacking amongst those of us who have our pet cities.

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    TexOctWed, I don?t think your Texas house price comparison is entirely valid. From my experience, your house prices differ enormously between your large cities and your small towns. Our Houston house was way more expensive than my husband?s cousin?s house in Tyler, for example. That?s the way it is in British Columbia and Alberta too. If you were prepared to live in a small town, you could get a very reasonably priced house here too, but then the small towns don?t have as many employment opportunities as the cities do. So it?s a trade off.

    As I understand it, Calgary?s housing currently is going for about C$150 per sq ft (US$114.64 at today?s exchange rate). (Although Canada has gone metric in almost every other respect, we still tend to "think" in square feet when it comes to real estate.) So, on average, a 1,600 sq ft house in Calgary would go for C$240,000 (US$ 183,435). But, what is not counted in that Calgary square footage, and which is thrown in as an extra, is the basement. Every house in Calgary and Edmonton has a basement. Typically the central heating furnace and hot water heater are in the basement, but they usually are confined to a small utility room. The rest of the basement is available for storage and, in many cases, for a family room or children?s rumpus room and extra bedrooms.

    When we moved to Houston, we were in a state of shock while we tried to decide where to store the stuff that had been in our Calgary basement. We managed to get some of it, but not all of it, into our "Texas basement," the attic above our garage. Mind you we didn?t use some of the items (like our snow shovels!) while we lived in Houston.

    But there are other reasons why it?s difficult to compare apples and oranges when it comes to the cost of living. For example, our property taxes in Calgary are way lower than they were in Houston. For a house that, above ground, is about the same size as our Houston house was (but that has a basement thrown in for good measure), our property taxes in Calgary are about a third of what they were in Houston. Also, our medical insurance premiums here are orders of magnitude lower than they were in Houston. But then our income tax is higher in Calgary than it was in Houston.

    One could go on and on saying this costs more in Houston but, on the other hand, this other thing costs more in Calgary. Our experience has been that you can have the same standard of living in Calgary that you can have in Houston if you earn in nominal Canadian dollars what you earned in nominal American dollars. So, say your income in Houston is US$80,000 a year (just as an example). Well, our experience has been that you can live at about the same standard in Calgary on C$80,000 a year (US$ 61,146).

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    In the interests of precision and accuracy, here are some climate data for Edmonton and Calgary:

    For January, the coldest month for both cities, the average daily high and low temperatures (in degrees F) are:

    Calgary 26F 4F
    Edmonton 19F 3F

    Extreme temperatures recorded in each of the cities are:

    extreme high = 61F
    extreme low = 48 below zero (F)

    extreme high = 53F
    extreme low = 48 below zero (F)

    This data is for the city centres as opposed to outlying areas. The data that is often quoted for Edmonton is not for the city, but for the international airport which is some 35 km (21 miles) south of the city centre in a low lying area (notorious for trapping colder air).
    The city itself creates a "heat island" and the temperature is usually several degrees warmer than in the surrounding countryside, which is especially noticeable in the wintertime. By the way, all cities create heat islands, the bigger the city the more significant the effect.

    Note that this data is directly from Environment Canada (our official Canadian meteorological service), and you too can find it and review it by searching the website below:

    You can use the same site for weather related information about Vancouver too, as well as any other city in Canada.

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    Although you may not notice that much of a difference amongst Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton if you?re coming from Texas, in my opinion, Calgary is the most sterile of the three cities from what I would call a "soul" point of view.

    The head offices of oil companies dominate Calgary?s economy, society and culture. This is good in one sense. The city has a higher proportion of people with university degrees than the Canadian population in general has. This produces an overall level of intellectual awareness that can be useful in some respects. Before you get too excited about that, though, consider that most of those degrees are in engineering, geology, geophysics, commerce and information technology. Sorry to all of you scientists, accountants and computer buffs out there, but a city dominated by technical people does not necessarily produce a culturally and spiritually vibrant atmosphere, in my experience.

    That said, Calgary has come a long way from where it was when we moved here in the late 1970s. Back then most restaurants were steakhouses. If you wanted something "different" and "ethnic," your other choices were Italian and Chinese restaurants. In the intervening years, ethnic restaurants of every stripe have sprung up. Back then, "culture" meant the Calgary Stampede (annual rodeo festival). Since then, the city has given birth to additional annual cultural festivals, such as a Caribbean one. There now are many more art house movies, avant-garde plays and other artistic events than there used to be.

    Edmonton is the provincial capital and also the home of the University of Alberta, as Borealis said. That attracts a critical mass of educated people to Edmonton too. Yet Edmonton also is a base for companies that provide services to the oil industry (as opposed to the oil companies themselves). This means that Edmonton has a substantial base of blue-collar workers. In my opinion it is those blue-collar workers who introduce a kinder, gentler element to politics. The people in the head offices in Calgary tend to think they have the world by the tail. It is the blue-collar workers who are more likely to get injured on oil rigs, who appreciate the value of workers? compensation schemes, and so on. So, while Edmonton has its share of political conservatives, it has a few more centrists and a few more left-wingers than Calgary has. I think it?s healthier to have some political debate and not to walk in lock step.

    Of the three cities, Vancouver probably has the most soul of all (in the sense of having more cultural variety, more avant-garde artistic offerings, and so on). However, I wonder how much of that a family with young children and an average income is able to access on a regular basis, given that such a family would be more likely to live in one of the distant outer suburbs. That said, even a family living on an average income can gain access to the natural beauty with which geography has favoured Vancouver.

    I have not lived in Vancouver. I?ve only visited it as a tourist. Albertans who have lived on the west coast and the prairies have told me that they enjoyed spending a few years in Vancouver when they were single or a member of a couple, but they relocated back to Calgary or Edmonton when they had children, for some of the reasons that already have been mentioned.

    My husband loves Calgary, and wants to continue living here even after retirement. For the moment Calgary in any case is the best spot for him because his career relies on the oil industry. If I wasn?t taking into consideration anyone?s opinion but my own, I would do substantial research into the idea of relocating to Vancouver Island.

    Okay, that's it from me. I hope our various insights have managed to help you (even if they've confused you a bit too).

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    Good point Judy - the cost of health care is different in Canada from the US.
    For the most part this is a difference in the way each country handles its health care concerns.

    In Canada the cost of health care is covered by taxes and, in Alberta, by a small health care premium (fee). This covers basic services and hospital stays, but doesn't cover eye care, prescription drugs, dentist care, physiotherapy (unless the treatment meets some very narrow guidelines). Surprisingly (in Alberta) it does cover chiropractor services.
    In many cases the employeer will provide extra coverage in the form of benefits for eye care, dentists, etc.

    In my working experience I haven't had to pay out of pocket for these extra benefits (but it depends who you work for; I have worked mostly in the private high tech sector where the benefits are usually much better than the norm).

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    Judy has some really good points about the souls of the cities, but I find that Vancouver is in many ways lacking in soul. There's a big gap between haves and have-nots. In lots of neighbourhoods (like mine), people are very insular and don't interact - some of this is might be due to a big influx of new arrivals in the last decade or so. And we've lost so many of our community-type events and neighbourhood fairs lately.

    One thing I do notice relates to the urban sprawl problem. Edmonton seems to be more and more dominated by strip malls and chain restaurants. Calgary has this happening in its newly-developed neighbourhoods. It's less evident in many parts of Vancouver, probably because space is at more of a premium within the city itself. Vancouver council is disallowing "big box" development like Wal-Mart and Home Depot on a regular basis, in favour of smaller, non-chain merchants.
    I won't argue as to whether this is good or bad. But it can affect the "look" of a city. Suburbs of Vancouver like Surrey and Langley are full of big box stores and (maybe coincidentally) have an urban sprawl problem.
    BTW I found different weather stats for Edmonton (city centre) vs. Calgary (city centre), on 3 other sites, that show a significantly greater temperature difference in January than the Environment Cda site does. However I don't think a contest over a few chilly degrees is what TexOctWed is after. Winter in Alberta, no matter which city, is still colder than in Texas.
    Having spent a number of years in both cities, I would still rather live in Calgary any day than in Edmonton. That's me. But it's nice that Borealis likes Edmonton so much, since he/she lives there.

    And when my camellias are out in bloom next February I'll spare a thought for the residents of both Calgary and Edmonton, who will still be waiting at least another 2 months before spring arrives.

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    It's a curious thing that almost everyone I have ever talked to intensely dislikes "big box" stores, but they seem to do a booming business :-? !!
    It's actually the "big box" areas that are growing in Edmonton; strip malls have been around for a long time - at least the last half century, as far as I can remember.
    I agree - "big box" areas are ugly and cause traffic congestion, are not environmentally friendly (try to get to one of these areas by bus and to shop in a variety of stores by walking from one to the other - impossible!!).
    But they are not unique to Edmonton; in fact, most major cities (and even some smaller ones) in Canada and the US have their share of these horrid developments.

    The chain restaurants with "plastic food" are another abomination as far as I am concerned. All cities seem to have these. Not unique to Edmonton at all.
    Edmonton also some very good restaurants, everything from ethnic cuisine of various origins (the best Greek food in canada is to be had at Koutouki resturant). Fine dining is not a stranger to Edmonton either - we (meaning my hubby and I) have absolutely no trouble spending a lot of our hard-earned money on eating out at these establishments :-) !!

    Another aspect to the quality of life in Edmonton are the wall-to-wall festivals over the summer months. This includes festivals for alternative theatre (The Fringe - the first and largest iin North America), a children's festival, festivals for jazz, folk music, ethnic heritage, classical music, street performers, art, food, history, even a Caribbean festival (Cariwest). The very long summer days (sunsets past 10 p.m.) make it easy to enjoy all of these activities.

    And of all three cities, you are most likely to see the northen lights (Aurora Borealis) in Edmonton - we are far enough north that we regularly get beautiful displays.

    For quality of life and cost of living, Edmonton is the place to be !!!

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    I lived in Vancouver and North Vancouver for 34 years, have spent the last 14 years living on Bowen Island, a 40 min. commute from downtown Vancouver, and have not lived in either Edmonton or Calgary although I have family and friends who have/do.

    I think all three cities would be desirable homes to raise a family (I have two sons, now 12 and 17).

    For our family, the deciding issues are: 1. proximity to the ocean; 2. weather (moderate in both winter and summer); 3. multi-culturalism. The Lower Mainland (Vancouver and suburbs) is very expensive but, while we're both working and raising our kids, my husband and I wouldn't live anywhere else - we're willing to literally pay the price of enjoying those three criteria.

    We talk about perhaps moving to one of the northern Gulf Islands when we retire (if we ever do!), but I know we'll always have a foothold in Vancouver, perhaps by way of liveaboard sailboat.

    TexOctWed, you also might want to look at Victoria and the Comox/Courtenay area on Vancouver Island.



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    OK Borealis you win the pi**ing contest.
    Fine dining! Festivals! Greek food! Wow. Obviously I'm wrong to prefer the other cities, as are a lot of other people if population statistics are to be believed.

    Edmonton is a fine place to live. I've lived in all 3 places and still prefer the others. You don't - great. Since this has the potential to degenerate further into an argument about Edmonton rather than a discussion of the merits of the cities that TexOctWed was asking about, I'm going to bail. I've got far better things to do than debate about a place that I'll never live in again.

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    TexOctWed -
    Canadians have interesting relationships and opinions about their cities. I often wonder if this is true of other countries in the world?? (. . .in my experience which includes several European countries, it is not - there the "tribalism" seems to be country-related or even region-related rather than city related. . . ).

    To get to my point, Canadians seem to "pick" cities that they hate, and others that they love.
    The most obvious example is Toronto. This huge city seems to be almost universally hated by Canadians living in other cities, many of whom have never been there. Cynical comments disparaging Toronto as a "self-absorbed centre of the universe" are typical.
    Ottawa is another city which seems to get panned more often than not. Here the criticism is that it is a drab boring government town.
    And Edmonton gets routinely knocked, usually with misleading comments about its weather.

    None of this is useful, and doesn't do anything to give you information about the relative merits of any one of these places.

    I've lived in Toronto for a number of years, and have family living in Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa - so I'm very familiar with all of them. There are pros and cons to every city (most of them man-made!!), but I'll bet that your overriding consideration when you make your choice will be economic (as in - where are the jobs??).
    Currently I live in Edmonton, and I will never hesitate to strongly encourage anyone to at least come and visit the area, and even to move here!! It's the kind of place that gives you enough opportunity to arrange a wonderful quality of life while giving you enough time and resources to "stop and smell the roses" ;;) !!

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    Well, TexOctWed, you have gotten some really great replies here with alot of info on all 3 cities. I think maybe at this point, it would be helpful to know more about your particular interests, and line of work in order to better answer your questions.

    All 3 cities you are inquiring about would be great places to live in and raise a family and all for different reasons. Your lifestyle, interests, children's interests, type of education etc. would be the determining factors in my opinion.

    I would not discount any of these cities because they all have alot to offer, just depends on what you want.

    If you care to share some more info, perhaps it would be easier to narrow down which city fits your requirements.

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    WOW! I didn't mean to cause arguments...

    I have asked the same question on another forum and my fiance and I have sat down and really talked it out. First and foremost, we are going to begin the immigration process as it could take us a long time to have status.

    Overall, we prefer Edmonton, but will still consider the others. Vancouver is our second choice. Fi is being laid off this year so that's why we chose to pick up and move to a place we love. It will mostly likley be semi-permanent; meaning we probably will come back to Texas. We do not have children at the moment, but will probably move back to Texas in time for our children to start school. We are young and just want to experience other areas. We have the time and oppurtunity now, and we won't have that again. I luckly am in a field where I can find work. He on the other hand is different. You guys have provided a lot of great info and only God know what's our future holds. I will keep you updated. Thanks again!

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    TexOctWed, the president of the Canadian division of an American owned oil company, who obviously has a good sense of humour about himself, tells a joke at his own expense. The joke is a true story. His promotion to his current, Calgary-based job involved a transfer from Texas, where he had spent his entire career up to that point.

    When he arrived in Calgary, he met with the department heads and managers of the Canadian division, so they could brief him on the working conditions here. The first thing he found out was that the timing of the exploration cycle was different from what it was in Texas. The ground in northern Alberta and northern British Columbia is too wet to support drilling rigs in many places, so much of the drilling waits until the ground is frozen and continues as long as the ice can support the weight of the rigs. Then, during "spring breakup," when the melting starts, much of the drilling stops.

    Just to make sure he understood what he'd heard, the new president repeated all of the above, then said, "Now let me see, is there a special name for this drilling phase?"

    One of the managers replied with a dead pan expression, "We call it winter."

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    You are a young couple with no children, and no plans to have them in Canada? I doubt that Edmonton is the place for you. Reconsider both Calgary and Vancouver (if you can afford Vancouver, I can't imagine a better place to live for a couple of years). If you had kids I would strongly reccomend Edmonton.

    Why not take a trip up here and take a look before making your decision? You could take an awesome 2 week trip seeing these three cities and the Rockies. Bringint it back to travel . . .

    On another note "stats", and especially averages can never discribe the differences in weather between Calgary and Edmonton. There is no doubt that they are quite different, but you'd have to live through both to beleive it.

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    Just a much delayed additional thought. When someone says that the prices in a particular city are WAY higher, there is usually a reason. If you can somehow afford to purchase a home in that "preferred" area, you'll usually find that when you get ready to sell years later, you're value has increased at an even greater rate than in the other places. So if you consider buying a home an "investment" it is often the wisest choice to go for the places that have the highest housing costs.

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    Just my two cents worth haveing spent the first half of my life in Calgary and the second half in Edmonton.
    Calgary has the worst climate in Canada (maybe the whole civilized world). You cannot look at "average temperatures" to tell the story.
    Calgary summers are atrocious. As soon as the sun sets the temperature plummets, precluding those glorious outdoor patio evenings we get in Edmonton in the summer when the sun doesnt set until 11 pm.
    And if it is not cold it is windy (30 degrees celcius with a howling wind is not pleasant, but it brings the "average temperature" up).Or there is a thunderstorm. Or whatever. It is just never pleasant there.
    Winters have a higher mean temperature because of those chinooks. Then the snow melts, it turns muddy and ugly, and you cannot keep your car or house clean, and the entire city is brown. Then the cold returns and all the mud puddles freeze and you break your neck walking anywhere and smash your car on the icy roads.
    I once saw and article comparing Canadian major cities, looking at paramaters that acutually mattered for lifestyle, rather than "mean" temperature. Things like frost free days, days without wind, days without rain or thunderstorms,average hours of daily sunshine, average humidex indexes etc. It was surprizing, but Edmonton came out very close to one of the most pleasant climates in Canada, the only major drawback being the long cold winters (which give the place an undeserved bad reputation).But there are ways of dealing with those- take the money you save not living in Vancouver and fly to Hawaii for two weeks, for example.And when Calgary gets a chinook, Edmonton gets the tail end of it, so the temperature moderates, but not to the point of turning the city into a slush pot.
    Having said that, the weather here (in Edmonton) can really suck too. This has been one of the worst summers I can ever remember. Nothing but rain, wind, and cool temperatures. Must be "global warming ' again. Probably from the pollution from those Calgary industries.

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    I'm very happy having our kids grow up in Vancouver. They have gone to excellent public schools and the cultural and nature and public infrastructure are great. But if I had to live in the suburbs or even in a different area of Vancouver my opinion might be quite different. Note that if you have to buy a home in Vancouver right now the price will probably shock you judging by the posted Texas price. You can get more house for your money by a long shot if you choose Calgary or Edmonton. If you are considering a particular district in the Vancouver area, post about it and I will give my opinion.

    When I visited Calgary in the winter on several occasions, it was probably just luck but I really enjoyed the sunny, cold climate as compared to damp, miserable rain and grey skies. The climate from November to June in Vancouver is not my favorite. But for at least several months the Vancouver climate is quite splendid.

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    Hello again, TexOctWed
    I'd be interested to know whether you have made any decisions since you stirred this up.
    I am surprised that no one commented on the significant political differences between BC and AB. Certainly these differences impact our lives in many ways.
    One of the downsides (which some might term "soul") to having the best climate is that it attracts all kinds and all vote. Politics in BC is chaos. It has an atmosphere of entitlement which does not exist in AB.
    You should be aware: in BC, do not say the words "softwood lumber". In AB, do not say "BSE". There is much outrage in these provinces about US trade practices.
    I'd try Edmonton primarily because its the easiest to get around but it is difficult to imagine a Texan in Edmonton in February.
    Welcome, let us know how it works out.
    Mariposa in Calgary

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    Thank you. You make me feel really welcome to Edmonton!!

    We have not made a decision but will be visiting Toronto in November and Vancouver in February. I'll make sure we skip over to Edmonton to see if we can hack it! :)

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    This is great! Canadians are SO tribal! I'm also a vet of all 3 cities. And they do all have appalling suburbs, on that I agree. ;)

    Edmonton has a unique and strong sense of community and very nice people. Great for families. Huddling together for winter survival has it's rewards. ;)

    Calgary's chinooks are the most incredible phenomenon and will spoil you forever. It's like God is breathing on you. And I think it's the safest of the three.

    A nice summer day in Vancouver on the seawall is absolutely unbeatable. There is a reason most of the world lives on the sea.

    Good luck to you TexOctWed! I also agree with the person who suggested visiting all three. And bring your "American by birth, Texan by the Grace of God" bumper sticker because that's just the best sticker ever (grin).


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    Where are you TexOctWed? I have thought of you many times.
    In the early fall, a rookie on the local pro football team (Stampeders)who was from Texas was quoted in our major newspaper (Herald) as saying that he had had "no concept it could get so cold".
    During the US election, we became a minor campaign stop due to the 80,000 Americans who reside in Calgary. Many of them were also interviewed and most, even those from Texas appear to acclimatize very well. We actually got off quite lightly until Christmas but it's been a grunt since.
    I believe I can welcome you to Canada and Alberta wherever you end up. Best of luck, Mariposa

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    Well, Edmonton is cold! At least to a Texan it would be. Even my Finish friend from Helsink finds Edmonton cold!
    Calgary gets more Chinook winds and warms up once in a while.

    Vancouver is fog. So I hear.
    But the climate is milder.
    How about Victoria. More British than London! But it is really dark in January!

    Lovely place, however. Real estate there is high.

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