When you are planning to move into a new area or city, it is a good idea to find out as much as you can about what it is like to live in that area.
So if you are considering a move to Edmonton, Alberta, we have collected the pros and cons of living there in this article. But first, some background information on the city.
Edmonton is the capital city of Alberta, and it is in the central region of the province. It is the second-largest city in Alberta after Calgary and the northernmost North American city with a metropolitan population of over one million.
Edmonton is a great city with lots of attractive qualities such as a strong job market and reasonably priced properties. However, it has, like all places, some drawbacks which include cold winters and heavy traffic.
We will look at the above pros and cons, as well as several others to help you decide if Edmonton sounds like a city you would enjoy living in.
Strong job market and local economy
Several large corporations and businesses have offices in Edmonton. These companies include Canadian Western Bank, ATB, and Telus, among several others that are regularly advertising vacancies.
There are also a lot of opportunities in logistics companies that need drivers and loaders. Other sectors with frequent job openings include health services, IT services, and retail. Edmonton is also in the heart of the province’s oil and gas industry and there are both permanent and temporary jobs available within the industry.
Edmonton has seen an increase in population over the last ten years with people arriving from abroad and from other parts of Canada to study or work. More people means more income the city gets from taxes. The local government has invested this money into the city and created more jobs in the process. It has also improved and increased the average salaries.
The cost of living and house prices are lower
The cost of living in Edmonton is cheaper compared to other cities such as Toronto or Vancouver. Although, it is more expensive than Montreal or Quebec City, for example.
Edmonton, as well as the rest of Alberta, has one of the cheapest income tax rates in the country. You will only pay 10% up to the first $131,200 of your taxable income.
Getting on the property ladder is also easier in Edmonton than in many other major cities in Canada. In July 2023, an average family house cost $409,986 in Edmonton. That is less than half of what it will cost you in Vancouver or Toronto, where average houses sell for over a million dollars. It is also cheaper than Montreal at $520,000, and Calgary at $653,150.
Renting is cheaper in Edmonton, too. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is $1196.65. It is the second cheapest after Winnipeg where similar apartments are $1049 per month. Edmonton is the second cheapest after Winnipeg again for three-bedroom apartments in the city centre, the rents being $1932 and $1659 on average.
Lots of nature to explore
Located in the central region of Alberta, many attractive locations are easily accessible from Edmonton. The Elk Island National Park is only a 45-minute drive away and you can get to two iconic Rockies parks, the Banff and Jasper within four hours.
But if you don’t fancy travelling that far, there is plenty to explore closer to home, too. The North Saskatchewan River runs through the city and features over 100 kilometres of pathways. The city also has a planned network of open spaces and parks to protect the natural environment and keep Edmonton green.
A multicultural city
The population of Edmonton is a mix of locals, natives, and immigrants. One in four Edmontonians is an immigrant and most of these people, 54%, are skilled workers. 29% of the immigrants were sponsored by a family member and the rest, 17%, are refugees. These immigrants have added a multicultural flavour to the city.
The variety of cultures is visible on the streets and neighbourhoods of Edmonton where you can catch different languages being spoken and treat yourself to foods from around the world in the city’s many restaurants.
Lots of culture and sports
Edmonton carries the nickname Festival City and for a good reason. There are over fifty festivals over the year, so something is happening every week in Edmonton. With so many festivals catering for a variety of interests, you are bound to find some that appeal to you. There are art, food, music, theatre, and religious festivals. One of the biggest and best-known festivals is the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival in August.
There are plenty of options for sports fans, too. Edmonton Oilers is the city’s NHL hockey team, and they have won the Stanley Cup five times. But it is not just hockey in Edmonton. There are opportunities for many other sports as well including football, baseball, cycling, and running, just to mention a few.
You can also go skiing and snowboarding in Edmonton. Rabbit Hill Snow Resort is in the North Saskatchewan River Valley on the south side of Edmonton. It has over 40 acres of skiing and snowboarding trails.
Edmonton is great for families
If you enjoy city life but would also like more space for your family with cheaper housing, then Edmonton is a great choice. It is a brilliant city for families with affordable housing, a strong job market, and excellent schools.
You can choose between public, private, and Catholic schools. There is also an option for French immersion through primary and secondary education. Edmonton has a range of post-secondary options, too, at local colleges and universities. The University of Alberta, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Concordia University, and MacEwan University are all in Edmonton.
The West Edmonton Mall
Edmonton is the home of one of the largest shopping malls in North America. It has over 800 stores and services with over one hundred food outlets. Approximately 24 million people visit the mall every year.
And you can do a lot more than just shop and eat at the West Edmonton Mall. The mall also houses an indoor water park, an ice rink, a mini-golf course, a movie theatre, a casino, and a hotel.
The winters are long and cold
Since Edmonton is inland and further north than many other major cities in Canada, the winters can be freezing, long, and harsh. Temperatures in Edmonton drop below zero for around six months of the year and even the summers aren’t that hot. Usually around the low twenties, but some days it might not get much warmer than ten degrees.
You can expect snow in Edmonton from November until March. The heavy snow can make it difficult to get around with roads and sidewalks becoming icy and slippery. However, a plus side of the cold and snowy winters is that Edmonton has a relatively low rainfall especially compared to cities such as Vancouver or Victoria in British Columbia.
Although the city is investing in improving its infrastructure, there is still a long way to go to improve the roads and the ease of getting around Edmonton. The city has notoriously bad roads full of cracks and potholes.
The reason for the cracks and potholes is the long harsh winters with heavy snowfall. However, many other cities in the world manage to keep their roads in good condition despite a similar climate. For example, the roads in Calgary are in a far better condition than in Edmonton.
Heavy traffic and a spread-out city
Edmonton is a spread-out city and despite recent investments, the public transport still isn’t great. It is ok to get around the city centre, but not beyond that. The situation is even worse in the winter when the weather and bad infrastructure limit the public transport routes and cause delays.
Because of the limits of the public transport system, many people opt to get around in a car. This leads to heavy traffic, especially during the rush hour. The traffic can also get heavy during weekends with people heading out for recreational activities or to the West Edmonton Mall.
Crime rates are above average
Unfortunately, Edmonton has an above-average crime rate. However, the good news is that the city has seen a reduction in crimes committed since 2020. The main offences committed in Edmonton include using and dealing drugs and breaking into homes and cars.
Edmonton also has a higher-than-average number of violent crimes. The government and local officials have been working hard to reduce the rate of these crimes, and are beginning to see results. The majority of violent incidents occur between young people and in particular between gang members.
The rate of crime varies between different neighbourhoods. There are plenty of very safe neighbourhoods in Edmonton, but equally, there are those that are best avoided. Therefore, it is advisable to research each neighbourhood before renting or buying in the area.
It can feel quite segregated
While Edmonton is a multi-cultural city with 25% of the population having immigrated to the city, it can still feel segregated outside the city centre. There are different neighbourhoods for people from different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds.
This has led to some areas having inflated house prices and others having more crime and fewer amenities. The neighbourhoods in south Edmonton such as Tamarack, Windermere, and Laurel Green are popular with young families and there are newer properties built in these areas.
Some areas with the highest crime rates include Abbotsfield, Blackmud Creek Ravine, and Yellowhead Corridor East. For example, in Abbotsfield, there are 66% more violent crimes than the national average and you have a one in twelve chance of becoming a victim of crime.
With so many beautiful and diverse cities in Canada, it can be difficult to decide where to move. Edmonton has a lot of positive qualities and a lot to offer in terms of job security, affordable housing, and an excellent education system.
Yes, there are negatives, too. And some of these can be enough to put prospective new residents off the idea of moving to Edmonton. However, it is worth remembering that the city is improving its infrastructure. They are investing more money to improve the quality of the roads and the reliability and availability of public transport.
If you are worried about the high rate of crime, then that is improving, too. Within a year, criminal incidents have decreased by 11% in Edmonton. This is already showing in the city’s crime rate ranking. In 2020 Edmonton was the sixth least safe city, but by 2021 the rate had fallen so much that it was only the 19th least safe city.
So if Edmonton is an option for you, we hope this list of pros and cons will help you decide. And if you are still wavering between places, the best thing to do is to take a trip to Edmonton and explore what the city has to offer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Many people consider Edmonton to be a good place for families because there is great education for the children including further education opportunities and lots of leisure activities. It is also great for parents because there are a lot of job opportunities and a strong economy. Getting on the property ladder is easier in Edmonton compared to other similar size cities.
Some of the pros to living in Edmonton include lower cost of property and living compared to other large Canadian cities, good job prospects, and lots of nature, sports, and culture.
All places will have some cons and Edmonton’s include a higher than average crime rate, bad infrastructure which makes getting around, especially without your own car more challenging, and long and cold winters.