Last month at the Canadian PF Conference, I was absolutely floored at the number of people, people who I admire, that read my blog. As we got to talking, a common theme emerged — I had moved the Calgary in June and subsequently never mentioned it on the blog again. Where was my update? How was Calgary? How does it compare to Montreal?
Well, let’s try and summarize the past 4.5 months:
Calgary is not the mecca of jobs that the media portrays it to be. Yes, you can easily get a job but, as a recruiter said to me at one point, “Calgary has a lot of jobs, but not a lot of good jobs”. Couple this with the fact that I was competing for jobs with 1000s of other new grads (June, the best time to job hunt! #sarcasm) and the fact that the flood essentially shut down the city for two weeks.
Currently, I work in a hotel, am able to save about 30% of my income (although I do wish that it could be more) and am very, very casually looking for something better in a different company but slightly aggressively looking for an internal promotion.
Last year when I was talking to a fellow Albertan about moving here, I swore that a) I wouldn’t live in a basement, b) I wouldn’t live alone and c) I would live close to my job. Well. I live in a basement that it outrageously cold all. of. the. time. I have a slightly OCD roommate to whom I pay way to much rent and I live about an hour away from my job. Considering that Calgary is in a constant housing shortage, I am not too upset about all of this. I live in a safe, awesome neighbourhood, I walk everywhere I need to go and I really, really like my super-bright apartment (aside from the cold thing)
Just because I talk a lot, doesn’t mean that I make friends easily. Sure, I know a few people here in Calgary and I go out for lunch or coffee occasionally, but do I have any actual friend friends? Not really. I’m pretty ok with Skyping my old friends back home but, now that the Thanksgiving Halloween season is approaching, I’m getting a bit bummed out. Plus, my old job was comprised filled with spoiled, uncultured Albertans and I was really not feeling the being-friends-with-these-people thing. My new job? Amazing people.
Let’s do some pros and cons now, shall we?
Pros of Calgary
- NO HUMIDITY! It wasn’t until I went back east in September that I really noticed the difference. At one point, I was walking down the street at 8pm and my palms were sweating because of the humidity. No thank you!
- The east coast has too many damn people. Seriously, get out of my way, lemme have this huge Calgary-sized radius of personal space around me. Fun fact: Calgary, with less than 1 million people, is the same size, geographically, as Toronto. THAT’S how sparcely populated this city is.
- Everyone is SUPER friendly here. At first, it freaked me out that people would talk to me on the train or at an intersection or that the cashier would comment on my groceries. NOW I’M ONE OF THEM. I honestly had to stop myself in Montreal at one point because I was going “blah blah blah blah blah” with a complete stranger on the metro.
- I can just go to the doctor. Seriously — I just walk up to the clinic, maybe wait a little bit and then see a doctor. Long gone are the days of waking up at 7, to be at the clinic at 7:30, to wait in line until it opened at 8, to see a doctor at 3:30 to find out that you have a sinus infection and need antibiotics. I HAVE WEBMD Quebec! Thanks a lot.
- There is no traffic here. Yes, Calgary has “traffic” and it’s so very cute that they think that it compares to the Champlain bridge or the 401.
- I always get a seat on the train/bus. I don’t even know how this is possible
- The city feels so much safer than Montreal. Exception: The homeless people here scare the bejeebies out of me!
- The apartments here are newer, bigger and brighter. I saw a place the other day that looked like a mansion — this is normal here and it continuously boggles my mind. Dingy, Montreal-style apartments are unpopular and so their prices are lower — score!
Cons of Calgary
- Oh sweet Jesus — number 1 is the food. Do you know why I eat at the casino so often? It’s actual, real food. Arby’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, McDonalds, etc have TAKEN OVER Calgary. Even more sit-down, nicer places like Montana’s or Boston Pizza have this fake, processed quality to them that I can. not. stand. Please send bagels.
- Coffee. My favourite coffee back east is about $19 for a huge can. Here? A medium can is $17. Please send bagels.
- I miss being able to walk somewhere within a reasonable amount of time and not arrive at my destination and shock people that I’ve actually used my legs for their intended purpose. I was late to almost everything my first two months in Calgary because, to me, it should take about a minute to walk a block. The reality is, it takes about 2 minutes per block and then you have to make a detour because the sidewalk suddenly ends.
- There aren’t enough snack and coffee shops. In Montreal and all other cities in the world, if you’re running late and want to grab a coffee before hopping on the train, there’s a friendly shopkeeper real eager to sell you an over-priced cup — often right on the metro platform. Here? The section of the train that I use the most was only opened this year and they’re still doing landscaping.
- Everything is so bloody expensive. $12 for a brick of cheese? I have to pay for water? Gas bill? No.
- Calgary doesn’t have the park culture that I’m used to. I get it — you all have balconies, whatever. Do you know what I like to do though? I like to go to a park and sit in the sun for hours and read. The few times that I’ve done this in Calgary, I’ve been met with strange looks from people passing by and more than one parent immediately leaving the park.
- Do you know what I used to do when I felt the need to get out of Montreal and have a bit of an adventure? I went to Quebec, Ottawa, Toronto or NYC. Do you know what my options are here in Calgary? Banff. Edmonton. Drumheller. Last week, I went to Hanna. I’m grateful that I get to go to new places but holy cow is this city isolated.
Overall, I’m very happy and adjusting well to Calgary. However, while I find it a nice city, I don’t think that it’s the place for me. So, for right now, with my super make-ALL-the-money goal, Calgary suits me just fine — but overall, in terms of an exciting and full-of-life place to live, Calgary falls short. This is a city that has a very cookie-cutter/”one size fits all” mentality — and I just don’t fit in.
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