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a VirtualTourist member asked on Nov 13, 2016


Picking a large Canadian city to move to. Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, Edmonton?

Hey guys, so I'm considering moving to the big city for school to experience it. I live close to Calgary, about 4 hours away so that's what it's looking like. But at the same time I want to go either further west or further east to experience a different part of Canada.

To be honest, I've heard realllly bad things about Toronto from the family that I do have who've lived there. They say there's way too many people, the people there are very rude, it's dirty, it's just all around a crappy place to live. I want to be in a big city, and if I am going down east it's most likely going to be to Toronto. Online it looks good, it's multicultural, it has lots to do, etc. Which is what I want. But from the people I know who actually have experience living there, they hated it.

Vancouver is not even really in the question either. It's simply way too expensive for me. As a student, I can't afford on a part time job to pay $1000 a month minimum just on rent. That's crazy to me, and unrealistic. But I do have family there who love it. (Extremely wealthy family so they actually are able to be there comfortably.) Everybody seems to love it there, though.

I'm from Alberta and have been to Calgary tons because 99% of my family live there and I really like it there. It's big, the people are nice, and it's a little more affordable than Toronto/Vancouver. The only reason I'm hesitant to move there is because I've already been there soooo many times before. I want to go somewhere new and experience different things.

Don't know anything about Edmonton. I've heard it's just like Calgary but colder.

Any ideas? Thanks [VT member 93f85].

11 Answers

answered on 11/13/16 by
a VT member from Hollywood Beach

If you are about to become a serious college student, you should be far more concerned about the curriculum excellence of your intended major. Various universities may excel or stand out in different fields of endeavor and that should be your prime guide in selecting a school of higher education. I fortunately received an academic scholarship to a particular close in-State University with a good reputation but later sought my private Graduate School education several states further away based on their excellence of curriculum reputation and the professors there, and applying for and receiving an assistance-ship there. That is the important thing-decide what field you want in a higher education and then investigate reputations of the school and it's professors.

answered on 11/13/16 by
a VT member

Thanks but that doesn't really answer my question.... I've looked into all of those things already and have narrowed it down to 4 choices, and I would like opinions which is what I came here for. Lol

answered on 11/13/16 by
a VT member from Minsk

Vancouver is a often used by global economists when discussing things like unsustainability and cost of living. A monthly bus pass that costs $140? Are you kidding me??? With that said, if you can afford the city (rich family), Vancouver also ranks in the top cities in the world to live (quality of living)

Toronto is a bit of a concrete jungle. While it's a distinct skyline, it feels claustrophobic. The summers are hot and the winters are cold. However, it has a New York-esque feel to it. Any given weekend there's a cultural festival of one kind of the other. The city is never boring (by Canadian standards anyway)

I think the future of Canada is in the middle, more specifically Alberta. Low taxes and cost of living are attracting more young, educated Canadians as well as qualified and experienced immigrants.

In the end, you're asking whether chocolate, vanilla or strawberry are the best flavours. Some people will say A, others will say C. While you already shot down the idea of picking the best school, forgive me for saying this; you need to go to the place which will give you the best education.

answered on 11/13/16 by
a VT member from Lents

Any city has issues. Parts of Vancouver are dirty and obnoxious too. However, it is also quite compact and in some cases you get away from that by just walking a few blocks away.

Vancouver also has housing issues because so many people want to move there.

answered on 11/13/16 by
a VT member

Thanks! I totally agree with you.

answered on 11/13/16 by
a VT member from Lents

If possible, it would be god to visit the places you are considering. For me, it was a pretty vital part of deciding I didn't want to go to a particular place.

answered on 11/13/16 by
a VT member from Province of Ontario

I've traveled quite extensively in Canada and have spent a fair bit of time in all those cities (as well as others). Every city has its good and less good areas, so avoiding the "bad" areas after dark is probably all you really need to worry about when it comes to safety. I wouldn't have a problem living in any of those places, but from a weather / climate standpoint Edmonton would certainly not be my first choice.

When it comes to costs, my daughter lived in Toronto for four years while she attended the University of Toronto. She shared an apartment with three other students, so a $1500 / month.apartment ended up costing $500 each (kitchen, living room and bathrooms were shared), and this was right downtown. The son of one of our friends is doing exactly the same thing in Vancouver.

Another point to consider is the premium out of province student costs. Many institutions have lower fees for students that are resident of the province and there are residency time rules. As you come from Alberta, this could be an important consideration. The "commute" back home would also be lower as the distance you need to travel would not be all that far.

As others have suggested, the program / institution is also an important part of the decision process. When I chose the university I attended, this was also an important consideration.

I personally don't find Edmonton at all similar to Calgary. While it is the provincial capital, it is more of a working city with a lot of oil company services (including refineries) located there. The terrain is a bit more interesting than Calgary, but you can't see the Rockies in the distance either. Calgary is a "richer" city as many head offices are located there. I haven't been to either since the bottom fell out of the oil market, so I can't say what things are like now.

answered on 11/14/16 by
a VT member from London

As luck would have it I am currently writing tips about Edmonton which I use as my base for summer road trips round AB, BC and SK. I do like it as a city, it has a nice vibe to it but the weather is certainly an issue as it goes to -50 in winter sometimes, there is just no way I could stand that. If you can stand the cold weather it is a great city. I have only been briefly to Calgary but from the little I have seen, I would prefer Edmonton. If you like multi-cultralism there is certainly no shortage of that. I wrote a tip about a Lebanese supermarket not an hour ago!

[original VT link]

Good luck with the search.

answered on 11/14/16 by
a VT member from Toronto

Toronto and Vancouver are both expensive places to live in. Public transportation in Toronto is getting worse, with more and more people cramming into the buses, streetcars, and subways in rush hours. I live in Toronto - housing and transport are my main concerns. There are lots of rental possibilities near Ryerson and U of T downtown with the condo boom in recent years. People in Toronto are generally friendly and it is very multicultural. I'm sure every city will have "rude people and dirty places".

I was in Calgary a couple of months ago. Food (grocery and dining out) in general is more expensive and has fewer options than in Toronto.

I think you do have considered your major and what financial options are available to you as an out-of-province student.

answered on 11/16/16 by
a VT member from Vancouver

Have you thought of Halifax? I have been told it is an amazing friendly city.
Students get a discounted Transit Pass in Vancouver but rents are quite high

answered on 11/17/16 by
a VT member from Toronto

I assume you are talking about going to a University/College.
What exactly are you interested in studying?
Have you selected a University/college that may offer a program that you are interested in?.
Have you looked at the curriculum and staff at the Univ/Coll that you are interested in?
It is important.
Does the faculty/department at the univ/college you are interested in have a graduate program?
That also is important.
Are your marks high enough to be accepted at any University/College?
That's will determine what you can choose from.
Some people like to attend University/College in small cities.
Both of us went to university in big cities , UofT and McGill.
We make an attempt to visit university/college campuses just to see what is there.
We cannot imagine what it is like going to University/College in a small city..
I ( Bob) grew up in Calgary many years ago.
Fortunately my father was transferred.

Now you can see what the cost is.

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