How expensive is life in Canada? A 2019-2020 cost of living review by province and territory

Chapter 7: Cost of living in Alberta

Published: 30-12-2019

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Pvtistes.net

Cost of living in Alberta

Cost of living varies between cities—rent prices have been high in Calgary since the oil boom, but Edmonton is cheaper. However, there’s no PST and taxes are lower making the province a fairly good deal when it comes to shopping and entertainment.

Average wages in Alberta

As of October 2018, the minimum wage is $15 per hour and it also applies to tipped employees.

Alberta 2018 average hourly wage
Average hourly wage (total employees all industries) $30.76
Management $48.21
Business – finance and administration $29.75
Natural and applied sciences $43.29
Health $33.64
Education – law and social – community and government services $35.50
Art – culture – recreation and sport $25.26
Sales and service $19.60
Trades – transport and equipment operator $30.64
Natural resources – agriculture $32.32
Manufacturing and utilities $30.71

You can also use ALIS, a tool from the Government of Alberta to find wage and salary information for occupations in Alberta based on the 2017 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey.

Cost of living in Calgary

Rent prices

Calgary’s economy is closely tied to the oil industry—when it booms, everything is expensive, then it crashes and the circle eventually starts again (until we use solar power and other clean energy sources?). According to the CMHC, a bachelor apartment is $879 per month and a one-bedroom apartment is $1050 per month. For PadMapper, a bachelor apartment is $974 per month and a one-bedroom apartment is $1125 per month. As for RentSeeker, the estimate is $1070 per month for a one-bedroom apartment.

RentSeeker data November 2019 PadMapper data November 2019
Bachelor apartment N/A $975
One-bedroom apartment $1070 $1125
Two-bedroom apartment $1221 $1360
Three-bedroom apartment $1398 $1550

In several neighbourhoods, large houses are sometimes surprisingly cheaper than a two-bedroom apartment. You may want to consider living with roommates for a better deal!

Public transportation

Calgary Transit operates buses and a light train system, the C-Train:

  • Single trip, cash fare: $3.40 ($3.50 in January 2020)
  • Day pass: $10.75 ($11 in January 2020)
  • Monthly pass: $106 ($109 in January 2020)
  • Airport service (with all-day access to buses and the C-Train): $10.75

For more information, read Fares and passes.

Entertainment

  • Restaurants: a meal and a non-alcoholic drink sets you back $15 (plus tax and tip). Fancier restaurants are around $60-$100.
  • Bars: a beer is $7-$14 and your favourite cocktail $10-$15
  • Movie theatre: a ticket is $13.50
  • Cigarettes: $15 for a pack of 20

Cost of living in Edmonton

Edmonton feels off the beaten path for many WHV holders but it’s an interesting, cheaper option in Alberta.

Rent prices

Rent prices are fairly similar to what you’d find in Calgary. According to the CMHC, a bachelor apartment is $862 per month and a one-bedroom apartment is $1017 per month. For RentSeeker, a bachelor apartment is $995 per month and a one-bedroom apartment is $1124 per month.

RentSeeker data November 2019 PadMapper data November 2019
Bachelor apartment $986 $850
One-bedroom apartment $1124 $970
Two-bedroom apartment $1306 $1199
Three-bedroom apartment N/A $1395

In the Edmonton city centre, the cheaper neighbourhoods are Hudson’s Bay Reserve and West Edmonton . Rent is higher in Downtown Edmonton and around the university. On the outskirts, Jasper Place and Millwoods are more affordable—generally speaking, you’ll pay less if you venture North and North-East of Edmonton.

Public transportation

The Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) operates bus and light rail systems:

  • Single trip cash fare: $3.50 (exact fare only)
  • 10 single-trip tickets: $26.25
  • Day pass: $9.75
  • Monthly pass: $97

For more information, read ETS Fares.

Entertainment

  • Restaurants: a meal and a non-alcoholic drink sets you back $20 (plus tax and tip). Fancier restaurants are around $70.
  • Bars: a beer is $7-$12 and your favourite cocktail $7-$11
  • Movie theatre: a ticket is $14
  • Cigarettes: $14 for a pack of 20

Food

Food tends to be slightly less expensive in Edmonton than in many Canadian cities—produce prices are average but you’ll pay less for meat, dairy products and eggs.

Cost of living in ski resorts (Banff, Jasper and Canmore)

Many WHV holders head to Alberta’s world famous ski stations during the winter for work opportunities in a stunning setting. It’s typically a “hidden” job market where positions are found through networking. For more info, read Finding a job and working in Canada.

It’s hard to give an estimate on the cost of living in Banff and Jasper, for instance, because in the food or hospitality industry employers tend to rent directly to employees. Indeed, accommodation is hard to find and rent prices are high—expect to pay $1200 and up for a bachelor in Canmore or Banff. Food is also more expensive than in Calgary or Edmonton and you will need a car if you want to get around easily.

Chapter 7 of 10

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