Edmonton is definitely one of the best places to live in Canada. If this is where you consider moving, read on to learn more about living in Edmonton to understand whether it can be your ideal destination in Canada.
The pros and cons of living in Edmonton
We could go on and on about some of the positive aspects of living in Edmonton. There are quite a few pros, but you will also want to consider the cons before moving to Edmonton.
The pros of living in Edmonton
1. All those festivals
In fact, more than 40 family-friendly festivals are held year-round( YES even in winter). One of the more famous ones is the Fringe, the largest of its kind in North America.
2. Culture and arts
Edmonton’s vibrant culture and art scene mean that there is no shortage of things to enjoy. Edmonton has something for every taste, whether you enjoy rock concerts, orchestral music, ballets, live theatre or museum tours.
Buying season tickets is an excellent way of taking advantage of the many live performances.
3. High income
The perk of living in Alberta province is that you enjoy a higher average salary compared to the rest of the country. Besides, Edmontonians enjoy the highest average household income in Alberta and the most disposable income.
There is more affordable housing, with the average house costing $316,000.
Fuel prices are the lowest in Alberta. The great news is Provincial Sales Tax does not exist in Alberta. Wahoo!
4. A paradise for outdoor lovers
The lifestyle in Canada is all about being active. If you want to enjoy the great outdoors, Edmonton has the highest area of parkland. The existing parkland is 22x bigger than New York City’s Central Park.
The river valley is home to the longest stretch of connected urban parkland. Many newcomers get quite excited at seeing their first deer in the river valley area. Easy access to the multi-use trails is provided from many neighbourhoods.
5. Amazing food choices abound
Since many ethnicities have made Edmonton their home, there is great diversity in the restaurants. The Independent called Edmonton Canada’s most exciting culinary city, saying that food in the Albertan capital is “increasingly inventive and experimental”.
6. Great opportunities for a career in the tech industry
Edmonton has a strong technology sector that supports a diverse economy with the University of Alberta rapidly becoming a leader in artificial intelligence.
7. Good education
Edmonton’s reputation of being one of Canada’s premier education centres is supported by the three school boards and over ten post-secondary schools. Edmonton has many colleges, technical institutes and highly respected universities.
The cons of living in Edmonton
1. The weather extremes
The weather in this northern city is extreme with excessive seasonal temperatures. Temperatures can reach as low as minus 40 Celsius in the winter months. Thunderstorms and hailstorms are common occurrences.
2. The crime rates
The crime rate is over 20% higher than Vancouver and over 40% higher than Calgary. Edmonton’s reputation of being the homicide capital of Canada, though, is exaggerated. Crimes of social disorder seem to be the biggest threat.
3. Bad roads
Pothole season is a real thing in Edmonton. Some years, the city has set up a pothole hotline to report nasty potholes. You know the ones that will take out your wheel axle. Get used to road construction.
Cost of Living in Edmonton
Edmontonians enjoy a relatively low cost of living. Rent prices when compared with London, UK are 62% lower. Expect to pay around CA$1,000/month for a one-bedroom apartment.
If you wish to purchase a place in Edmonton, you can expect to pay CA$2500- $3500 per square meter. Restaurant prices are similarly 18% lower in Edmonton when compared to London.
A meal for two at a mid-range restaurant will cost around CA$80.00. Basic utilities for a mid-sized apartment will roughly cost CA$250 a month, not including internet.
How much do you need to live in Edmonton comfortably?
A family of four would need approximately CA$4,200, not including rent. This does not include the purchase of a car or a house.
If you decide that buying a car is better for your family, you would have to budget for insurance and car maintenance.
Also not included are childcare costs. This estimate depends on how much you eat out, how much you spend on entertainment, use of public transportation.
A single person would need about CA$1,200, not including rent. This allows for a monthly bus pass costing CA$100.
If you are a great cook, you have the advantage of eating out less frequently. It is far cheaper to cook at home.
Of course, if you need business attire, you may have to spend more on your wardrobe. Good companies may give you a clothing allowance though.
It’s worth looking at how much money you need to live comfortably in Canada, on the whole, to see that the comparison is in Edmonton’s favour.
What is a good salary in Edmonton?
The average median salary in Edmonton is CA$125,000, which means that 50% of employees earn CA$125,000 or less. The salary range is from CA$31,600 to CA$560,000.
Physicians and senior project managers are at the top of the list, with pharmacy managers coming in third.
A job in the healthcare sector or information technology will earn you the big bucks. Two to five years of experience will make you, on average 32% more than a junior just starting out.
Things you should know before moving to Edmonton
- Edmonton and, in fact, all of Alberta is rat-free and has been for a long time.
- Summertime is mosquito season, but you don’t need to worry about any diseases.
- Edmontonians are very proud of their hockey hero Wayne Gretzky who unfortunately has moved to the USA but won 4 Stanley Cups for the Edmonton Oilers hockey team.
- A visit to Fort Edmonton is highly recommended if you want to check out the history of Edmonton. Nestled on the river valley banks, this accurate replication of Fort Edmonton offers an interactive and highly memorable experience.
- The Northern Lights can be easily seen. You will spend many nights watching them dance across the sky.
- What is that plug-in on the front of most cars? No, these cars are not electric vehicles, but due to the severe cold in the wintertime, most cars in Edmonton are equipped with block heaters to keep the engine block warm so that it does not crack.
Best areas to live in Edmonton
Glenora recently toppled Strathcona as a favourite, and it has long been one of my favourites. If you are retired and have big bucks, Glenora will suit you.
It has been voted as one of the best-preserved garden city suburbs. You will understand why once you look at the gorgeous fountain and beautifully restored homes in Alexander Circle.
Its close proximity to the trendy shops on High Street and the North Saskatchewan River banks makes for active living.
Strathcona is a quaint neighbourhood filled with historic charm. Its close proximity to Whyte Avenue, the downtown core and the University of Alberta makes it a favourite for young artistic people. It is home to the Fringe Festival and a great indoor farmer’s market.
3. Hazedean district
Hazedean district in southeast Edmonton is an excellent choice for families. It has one of the strongest school districts and has easy access to Mill Creek Ravine with amazing multi-use trails.
4. Strathern district
This is another district on the North Saskatchewan River banks. The natural scenery will attract you, but the excellent sports and leisure facilities will have you staying.
Ritchie is an up-and-coming neighbourhood amid redevelopment. The cafe and cycling culture will attract young professionals in their 20’s.
6. The downtown
The downtown core also has a lot to offer for young professionals working in the business area. There are a few nightclubs, restaurants and street cafes.
Churchill square is usually bustling with various activities throughout the year, and not to be missed are the many art galleries. The high-end condos offer the best views, but there are other housing options available.
Areas to avoid
You do not want to be alone at night in the downtown area, especially around Chinatown,which is more like a ghetto.
The Coliseum and area off Yellowhead Trail areas are notorious for drug-related crimes and just generally being dirty.
Beverly is another area to avoid with serious alcohol-related problems.
North downtown district, including Boyle street, has numerous homeless people that wander the streets.
Schools in Edmonton
There are three school boards in Edmonton, the public school board, the francophone school board and the Catholic school board.
The public school system is the largest in Edmonton and offers alternative and special needs programs. It accepts all students who meet age and residency requirements.
Every home address has a designated public school. Resident students may attend their designated school if they register no later than April 15. Students who are changing schools may attend any division school with space.
Two of Edmonton’s top academic performing schools are Old Scona, located in the Strathcona district, and Mount Pleasant school, which offers an alternative program for students willing to work harder.
The Catholic schools in Edmonton are fully funded by taxpayers. Registration is open to all who want to enrol their children in the Catholic school system.
However, the Catholic schools prioritize enrolment of Catholic students within their catchment area. Ecole J.H. Picard Catholic school in the Hazeldean area is the only Catholic school in western Canada that offers complete French immersion from kindergarten all the way through to grade 12.
Francophone schools are only open to students who meet specific eligibility criteria, one of those being that French is the first language learned. Edmonton has eight Francophone schools in total.
It is important to note that French immersion is a program available in the public school system, so depending on your learning requirements, you may wish to enrol the student in the public school system. If you are undecided, this resource may help.
You can read more about the difference between Francophone and French Immersion programmes on the local government website.
Living in Edmonton – summary
Life in Edmonton is a great one.
Nature is right out your backyard with the river valley. Family-friendly festivals year-round offer a variety of entertainment.
Genteel culture is at its best, with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra performing at the Winspear Hall or the Alberta Ballet Company performing The Nutcracker during the Christmas season.
Fort Edmonton Park is worth several visits. Many people buy a yearly pass.
As with any big city, there is crime, there are schools and neighbourhoods that are not great. Do your research before the big move. Oh and don’t forget to buy warm winter clothes!
You might find useful:
- Living In Canada – a detailed guide for expats on moving and settling down in Canada;
- Best Places To Live In Canada;
- Canada Visa – How To Move To Canada As A Skilled Person;
- Visit our Canada Country Guides page for more information on living in Canada.