Thinking of Moving to Alberta This Year? Here Are 3 Things You Need to Consider
Throughout 2023, many people have been moving to the Wild Rose Province looking for a more affordable lifestyle. Here are a few key things you need to know before making the leap.
By Brett Surbey | 4 minute read
With sprawling prairies, undulating foothills and lower housing costs compared to other provinces, Alberta is an attractive option for those seeking a change.
Apparently, Alberta is the place to be this year.
Statistics from the Calgary Real Estate Association show that there was a net increase of 45,297 individuals to the Wild Rose province’s population in the second quarter of 2023 — an increase of 77.9% from Q2 of last year. Many of these interprovincial migrants are from provinces with much higher average home prices, like B.C. and Ontario.
Though everyone’s reasons to move to Alberta are different, some have been citing cost of living and a different lifestyle as major motivators. If you are considering making a move to Alberta this year, or early 2024, there are a few things you need to keep in mind according to one real estate agent and relocation expert.
“We’re not the cowboy hinterland that people tend to think we are.”
1. A Completely Different Housing Market
Karen MacPherson, a REALTOR® with Greater Calgary Real Estate and an independent relocation consultant, says that people need to be prepared for a different housing market when they come to Alberta: one that’s ideal for sellers.
“Well, I think one of the things that they need to be aware of there’s been lots of talk across the country about ‘go to Alberta, [it] is a great place to go, houses are reasonable, [but] first of all they need to know we have very low inventory. So actually buying a house here is not as easy as one might expect,” she tells Wahi.
MacPherson noted that at one point Alberta’s inventory levels were the lowest they had been in 30 years, making it harder for newcomers to find the ideal property that checks all their boxes. Sure, home prices are reasonable compared to places like Toronto and Vancouver, but, “people need to be aware that particularly if you’re looking [for homes] under $500,000 … people are just lining up,” she says.
The lack of supply and increasing demand has resulted in some major bidding wars, specifically in Calgary and Edmonton. But, that doesn’t mean those new to the province can’t find their dream home — they might just need a bit of help navigating a seller’s market.
2. Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover
Though she currently resides in Calgary, MacPherson has lived across the country for various reasons. When it comes to Alberta, people need to remember, “We’re not the cowboy hinterland that people tend to think we are,” she jests.
MacPherson’s approach with her Alberta-bound clients is to remind them that the major city centres are very multicultural and family friendly, with great restaurants and entertainment opportunities.
Sure, Alberta is known for its famous Calgary Stampede and a honky-tonk attitude, but there’s a lot more under that hard-working surface. In MacPherson’s time as a REALTOR®, the friendliness of Albertans has always continued to surprise her and her clients, helping them feel really at home. “I moved out here 20 years ago and on my very first day I went through a Tim Hortons drive-thru and somebody actually bought my coffee,” MacPherson happily recounts.
The result of Albertan’s kindness and the diversity within the province? Many of MacPherson’s clients have done short stints to work in Alberta, only to end up moving there long-term. “But if they’re given the opportunity to stay — they stay,” MacPherson adds.
3. Wide Open Spaces
For those moving to Albertan cities like Calgary or Edmonton from major metropolitan areas like Vancouver or Toronto, the size difference can be a bit of an adjustment. MacPherson recounts a couple that she was assisting with an Albertan move that had a few requirements not easily attained. They had wanted to be about an hour out of the city and have access to the best schools in the area — a request that makes sense in cities like Vancouver or Toronto MacPherson notes.
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In Alberta though, things are a bit more spread out. An hour out of the city means you’re actually out of the city and into a rural area or town. “When I lived in Toronto, it was 45 minutes to get to work. And now I can almost be in Airdrie [from Calgary] in 45 minutes,” she said.
While for some the change of cityscape might be jarring or uncomfortable, for others it’s a welcome change of pace. “The pace of life is much more reasonable [here],” MacPherson attests. “There’s so many options for lifestyle, in a way that [you may not] have in Ontario. Because, really, there aren’t that many teeny little towns that are that close to big cities.”
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