Living in Edmonton, Alberta


Living in Edmonton:


Edmonton's Location
Edmonton’s Location

Character :: Business and Jobs :: Best Places to Live :: Climate :: Education :: Transport :: Recreation :: Summary and Pros and Cons

›› Edmonton: Capital of Alberta.
›› Language: English.
›› City population: 812,000.
›› Metropolitan population: 1.3 million.
›› Known as: The Oil Capital of Canada.
›› Also known as: The Festival City of Canada.
›› City: The North Saskatchewan River cuts the city in two.
›› Location: See map on left.
›› Known for: The most northerly million plus metropolis in Canada.
›› Altitude: 723 m (2373 ft): Edmonton Airport.
›› Latitude: 53° 30’N: Similar to Dublin, Ireland; and Bremen, Germany.
›› Home of: West Edmonton Mall, the largest shopping mall in North America.

Character

Edmonton Downtown
Snow Clearing

Edmonton is located in Alberta, Canada’s low tax province. Its residents pay significantly lower taxes than residents of other Canadian provinces.

Most people who move to Edmonton are impressed by the friendliness of Edmontonians.

A few years back, Money Sense magazine ranked Edmonton as the 31st most livable location in Canada in terms of its economy, amenities, real estate market, weather, and attractions. By 2013, Edmonton had jumped to 11th best location in Canada, and was rated in 3rd place among the big cities, behind only Calgary and Ottawa.

The landscape around Edmonton is flat.

The Rocky mountains, although available for recreation, are too far away to see. The town of Jasper, in Jasper National Park, is a four hour drive from Edmonton. Edmonton’s river valley is home to the longest stretch of connected urban parkland anywhere in North America. There is over ninety-seven kilometres (61 miles) of biking, hiking, skiing, walking and snow-shoeing trails.

Edmonton’s “Ribbon of Green” is reinforced by neighbourhood parks throughout the city yielding 27,400 acres of parkland. Edmonton has Canada’s highest area of parkland per resident.

The city has an advanced bus network and light rail system that stops frequently in major central and downtown points of interest.

Edmonton is a major oil and gas centre, attracting many migrant workers. As a result of this, the city is ethnically diverse with about one-quarter of the local population belonging to a “visible minority” – mainly Chinese and other Asian ethnicities.

First Nations aboriginal people account for just over 5% of the population.

Nearly 85% of residents report that English is their primary language and 91% of the immigrant population report conversational knowledge of the English language.

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Business and Jobs

Edmonton Downtown
Edmonton Downtown

Light Rail Transit
Light Rail Transit, Edmonton
Photo: Jakub Limanowka

Edmonton boasts a favourable jobs market relative to most other Canadian cities, with labour shortages. In the last 12 months Edmonton has added over 32,000 jobs and Edmonton’s unemployment rate moving in June 2014 was 5.5 percent.

The city hopes to fill its vacancies by advertising the city’s appeal to foreign migrants and skilled workers.

The largest major industry is petrochemicals. The region is rich in oil and natural gas, which has given Edmonton the title of “Oil Capital of Canada”. The potential oil supply from the region’s tar sands is second only to Saudi Arabia’s. However, recruiting skilled workers in these fields has been difficult.

Local colleges offer a wide syllabus of courses related to the oil and gas fields, but Edmonton still experiences a shortage of professional and skilled workers in these sectors.

Edmonton benefits from a wide range of other employment sectors. There are significant opportunities in information technology, banking and biotechnology; employers include Afexa Life Sciences, BioWare, IBM, Intuit Canada, Canadian Western Bank, Telus, General Electric, Stantec and TD Canada Trust.

The city has also given birth to many successful retail businesses, including Pizza 73 and Booster Juice.

New arrivals in Edmonton frequently report that they spend very little time in job hunting and usually receive offers of employment very quickly.

Employment vacancies tend to be offered on a “first come, first served” basis due to the lack of available workers in the city. This is especially true in the retail sector where prospective workers can apply in-person with their resumes and can receive offers of employment immediately.

Best Places to Live in Edmonton

A house in Edmonton
A high end house in Edmonton
Photo: WinterE229

Home prices in the city of Edmonton averaged $371,000 in mid 2014, up 3.9 percent from $358,000 a year earlier.

Edmonton is currently experiencing strong economic growth and this has been a driving force in the increase in real estate valuations over the past few years.

Regarding the best places to live in Edmonton, we’ll consider family-friendly neighbourhoods offering a good quality of life with low crime rates. (These might not necessarily be your choice if you’re a young single person looking for inner city nightlife and entertainment.)

Edmonton’s residents often identify the city’s south western neighbourhoods as some of the most desirable and affluent.

Neighbourhoods such as Haddow, Henderson Estates, and Ogilvie Ridge have very low crime rates and their residents are very affluent compared with most others.

Neighbourhoods such as Blackburne and Falconer Heights are affluent areas with similarly low crime rates.

Neighbourhoods such as Lendrum Place and Steinhauer are more middling for affluence levels and, although they suffer a little more crime than the neighbourhoods mentioned previously, still have low crime rates.

In South Edmonton, Windsor Place and Bearspaw are good neighbourhoods, while in the South East Wild Rose, Cloverdale and Larkspur are great places to live.

Street Scence, St. Albert, Alberta
Street Scene, St. Albert, Alberta:
Photo: WinterE229

Street Scene, Laurier Heights, Edmonton
Street Scene, Laurier Heights, Edmonton. Photo: Johntwrl

Street Scene, Gariepy, Edmonton
Street Scene, Gariepy, Edmonton. Photo: Johntwrl

In the South East, parts of Mill Woods have a reputation for higher levels of crime; some residents of Edmonton warn people not to live in Mill Woods.

This is rather unfair, given the size of the area – over 100,000 people live there. A minority of Mill Woods areas do have problems, while other neighbourhoods offer a high quality of life with low crime. The best places to live include Jackson Heights, Greenview and Menisa.

Sherwood Park, on the Eastern boundary of Edmonton, with a population of slightly over 60,000, has a very low crime rate and is also favoured by many people seeking an improved quality of life.

There are plenty of excellent, family friendly areas in West Edmonton. (Some of these have only been built in recent years as the city expands.)

Some of the best you could consider are Dechene, Gariepy, Glastonbury, Jamieson Place, Laurier Heights, Potter Greens, Quesnell Heights, Rio Terrace, Wedgewood Heights, and Westridge.

In North West Edmonton, Cumberland and Oxford are great choices, while in North Edmonton, consider Canossa, Elinsore and Klarvatten.

A good choice in the north could be St. Albert, a town with about 60,000 residents, just outside Edmonton.

Crimes in Edmonton tend to be concentrated in some north eastern neighbourhoods and these are overwhelmingly drug related.

Some areas with a reputation for higher crime levels in the north east are Abbotsfield, Beverly, Hermitage and Norwood. (The downtown area also has problems after dark – particularly in the east – Chinatown and McCauley.)

Good choices in the North East include Matt Berry and Hollick-Kenyon.

Crime rates in Edmonton are above average for Canadian cities – although slightly lower than Vancouver, it is approximately 50% higher than Calgary and Montreal and has over double the crime rate of Toronto.

The neighbourhoods we’ve identified all have much lower than average crime rates and should offer an excellent starting point for families relocating to Edmonton.

Edmonton’s Climate

Edmonton’s climate is continental, with large seasonal temperature variations. Snowfall is extremely common and can occur between September and May.

The snowiest months are December and January, which see monthly average snowfalls of over 20 centimetres (8 inches). December, January and February can be bitterly cold.

Average daily maximum temperatures exceed 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) in June, July, and August.

The combination of summertime heat and precipitation tends to create violent thunderstorms, which have occasionally led to tornadoes. While rare, an F4 tornado struck Edmonton on July 31, 1987, killing 27 people.

More common summertime storms tend to include hail.

An extreme summer storm struck in 2004 with over 100 millimetres (4 inches) of recorded rainfall within one hour. This storm caused extensive damage to the West Edmonton Mall and led to mass flooding throughout critical intersections in the city.

Education in Edmonton

Jasper Place Composite High School
Jasper Place Composite High School, Macleans Magazine’s
2005 choice as Canada’s top high school. Photo: Johntwrl

Corbett Hall
Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine,
University Of Alberta. Photo: WinterE229

Residents in the city of Edmonton have a selection of three major school boards for kindergarten through to twelfth grade education.

The majority of schools are a part of the Edmonton Public Schools board, which provides a standard non- denominational education.

There also exists the Edmonton Catholic School District and a Francophone school board providing immersion education for primarily French speaking children.

Placement in K-12 (i.e. primary and secondary) education is dependent on personal preferences, available space, and location.

School placements are based on “catchment areas” with students placed according to their home address.

It is usually best to avoid neighbourhoods which are perceived as underachieving.

The city of Edmonton is home to more than ten post-secondary institutions.

The largest of the universities is the University of Alberta, one of Canada’s top universities, which rated 121st in the world in The Times Higher Education 2012-2013 World University Rankings.

The university provides education for over 36,000 students each year. It has approximately 3,500 academic staff and about 10,500 support staff.

Edmonton is also the site of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, offering applied technical courses in a variety of undergraduate programs and certificate or diploma based study. Like the University of Alberta, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology is a large campus with over 48,500 students enrolled per academic year.

Environment and Getting Around Edmonton

Downtown Edmonton
Downtown Edmonton
Photo: Colin Keigher

Residents of Edmonton enjoy the lowest gasoline and diesel prices in Canada.

Cars are the primary mode of transportation for the great majority of residents.

Edmonton also has a well-connected system of public transportation.

The Edmonton Transit System incorporates a light rail network that joins major central and downtown points of interest and a bus system that connects the entire city.

However, residents don’t usually regard the local bus network as a viable option for work related transportation as a journey that connects the downtown core to a more remote western location can take up to 92 minutes with three transfers on a one-way trip.

Edmonton is not routinely seen as a bike friendly city for work.

Its expansive network of bike paths is seen as more recreational, taking in some scenic locations such as a riverside journey throughout Edmonton’s parks.

Recreation and What to Do in Edmonton

Playground, Rio Terrace, Edmonton
Community Built Playground,
Rio Terrace. Photo: Johntwrl

Swimming at West Edmonton Mall
Swimming at West Edmonton Mall. Photo: Lake Nipissing

Most teenagers see the West Edmonton Mall as the city’s premier social hub.

The mall offers an extraordinary number of activities, which include an indoor amusement park with one of the largest indoor roller coasters in the world, a swimming pool with water park, marine life shows, mini golf, bowling, a skating rink, and laser tag.

The city also offers standard western attractions for this age category including numerous multi-screen movie theatres, youth clubs, and restaurants.

Edmonton has recently experienced complaints from its residents about the lack of activities in the downtown. This has prompted city officials to encourage more permanent social gathering places and businesses.

If you prefer outdoor activities, you may find yourself enjoying the city’s extensive and well-connected park system.

Edmonton has Canada’s highest area of parkland per resident.

Edmonton’s river valley is home to the longest stretch of connected urban parkland anywhere in North America.

There is over ninety-seven kilometres of biking, hiking, skiing, walking and snow-shoeing trails.

Edmonton’s “Ribbon of Green” is reinforced by neighbourhood parks throughout the city yielding 27,400 acres of parkland.

Most parks are safe, but an isolated few, such as Borden Park, are locally perceived as being dangerous after sunset due to the high levels of unreported crime and questionable individuals in the area.

The “Edmonton Eskimos” are the city’s Canadian Football League team, attracting many local residents into the Commonwealth Stadium to watch home field games.

Commonwealth Stadium also hosts many concerts and other stage acts that require a high capacity crowd, which can meet or exceed 60,000 seated patrons.

Edmonton also hosts an annual “Capital Ex” carnival and festival with several outdoor midway rides, live performances, concerts, and games.

It has been estimated that Edmonton’s Capital Ex earns over $10 billion gross per year and is a considerable force in the city’s local economy.

Summary

Edmonton is predominantly a working city, with friendly residents, where people come to earn a living or be educated. It can offer excellent opportunities to those who seek them, and it’s likely that new arrivals will settle into their new home quickly and with relative ease.

Edmonton’s Negatives

Higher crime rates than most comparably sized Canadian cities
Long, cold winters and extreme weather variations
Expensive housing compared with most other prairie cities

Edmonton’s Positives

A strong economy, with one of Canada’s best jobs markets
Cheaper housing than Calgary and big cities like Vancouver and Toronto
The lowest gasoline and fuel prices in Canada
Friendly people
Low taxes
The highest area of parkland per resident of any Canadian city
Canada’s Festival City


Comments

  1. Dan Alfieri says:

    LANDSCAPE AROUND Edmonton is not flat, rolling hills immediately to the west and south. North and East it flattens out…

  2. Claire Schmuck says:

    I just moved to Edmonton from Calgary, and i’ve heard people are more friendly here, which is totally not true!!! I am really disappointed with all the customer services, because all the servers, no matter where, are rude, unfriendly, and like to complain in front of the customers.

    I can’t even see a single smile on anyone, what’s wrong with the people in Edmonton!

    • Everyone in Edmonton is depressed because of high prices and low paying service jobs. Not to mention that every new face is from Asia, can’t speak English, and we have to accept lower standards( wages) due to this increase in unskilled immigrants. Difficult to smile in this joke of a city.

      • Gogetter says:

        Just because you are sad and depressed does not mean that “everyone in the city” is. Seriously, get a life. I have lived all over canada and edmontonians are some of the most friendly people I’ve met.
        Get out of your small little world and get involved in the community and you will experience the wonderfullness that is edmonton.

    • In response to Claire Schmuck, What you put honey is what you get back from the world. I didn’t find Edmonton unfriendly at all. Every store I went to, people were friendly and welcoming and on the ETS too. And I moved there from Toronto in the winter… Trust me, you want to see unfriendly people who won’t even look you in the eye when they speak to you, or act like you want something from them..then come to Toronto. I had to come here for family issues…and mind you it’s improved….a little since I came back here.. But over all, I can’t wait to get back to Edmonton.

  3. As a long-time resident of edmonton i thought i should clear up a couple of things… The surrounding landscape of Edmonton IS mostly flat. Not sure where all of these “rolling hills” to the west are. Maybe he’s refering to the Rocky Mountains?And I think the person who said they have not seen one person in this city smile, may have been exaggerating.Seriously, that’s a bit ridiculous.

  4. GillesCaron says:

    in Canada people are people So Edmonton is pretty much the same in that area
    Worst roads In Canada
    High cost of living

  5. I think it’s important to note that a lot of the above mentioned crimes in Edmonton are perpetrated by drug dealers / drug users against other drug dealers and drug users.

    Don’t get involved in drugs and things are a lot safer… there’s random acts of violence in any community of this size, but no more here than anywhere else in Canada. The targeted violence between the members of the drug-using/selling community are awful and we’d love to see them driven out of the city, but they aren’t likely to impact on you as you go about your life.

  6. Patrick Tracy says:

    I recently moved from Edmonton which was home for 57 years. All cities have pros and cons. The people and infrastructure of Edmonton are consistently beaten up by the climate. Having said that I think the people make the city and some of the best I have met live there. One thing I often find humerous is how Calgary promotes itself not for features within the city , but for the mountains which are still an hour away!

    • I totally agree with Patric. I have lived in Edmonton most of my life but also have many relatives that live in Calgary. When ever the attributes of each city are mentioned it is ALWAYS said that they have the mountains,…which are an hour away….and not anything to do with the look of the city (and I might mention that the commercials for Calgary mostly show the mountains and the downtown buildings). We have so much beautiful greenery and parkland it’s amazing.
      I will give you that the roads are terrible but that is partly because of the winters and partly due to poor management. I love living here and feel that Edmonton does not get its due.

  7. I love Edmonton! I think that the unfriendly people you are talking about are probably the people working in little gas stations or something like that. If you hang out or live in a little neighborhood in Edmonton you will see that everyone is very kind! Edmonton people are so active and everyone can relate with each other if they have problems.

  8. Having lived in Edmonton until the age of 15, and leaving it to live in rural alberta, Los Angeles, Vancouver and London, England, I am now considering coming back to live close to family. While my memories of Edmonton and my primary education are warm and fuzzy, I now have my own daughter’s education and life experiences to concern myself with and wonder why so little has been spoken of concerning health care and infrastructure and primary and secondary education along with extra curricular activities for children. That would be my ‘make or break’ for my decision to move to Edmonton.

  9. I just moved to Edmonton less than a month ago, I would like to know which neighbourhood is best to live in, especially for a someone that is new….

  10. I have lived in Edmonton for 8 years and I can’t help but feel that my life is wasting away here. I find that whenever I travel, The people I meet are much more friendly. I am trying to figure a way out of this hell but so far it has proven to be difficult for various reasons. I might be exaggerating a bit about how bad Edmonton is but I really don’t like it here and these are just my opinions. Im sure there are plenty of people that love it here.

  11. I have been in Edmonton for the last 4 years. Prior to that I lived in Calgary for 2.5 years and before that in Toronto for 8 years. Edmonton does have friendly and caring people, that’s something I noticed when I first moved here. People I worked with took me in like a family member and helped me find place to live in, were always willing to help me get around and invited me out. Toronto was wonderful because it had so much to offer but not so many friendly people. Calgary, I will never ever move there or recomend anybody to move there. I wish Edmonton has better roads and less skethcy places.. I hope the new Mayor will change the city because the people are wonderful and the city has sooooo much potential. Edmonton Rocks!

    • I’ve moved here from Toronto for almost a year now because of a job. To say the least, Edmonton is no different than any other big city out there. The only setback is just the extreme climate during the winters, and also the spareness of everything around the city- this is also one of the reasons as well why its a bit harder to meet people. I find this city is like a smaller version of Calgary, except that Calgary builds within the city and Edmonton builds around itself. That is why downtown Calgary looks a lot better than the downtown here. I hope the city can keep improving its looks; with the pace it is at right now, we may see many results in the upcoming years. I wouldn’t recommend moving to this city though, if its not because of job opportunities.

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