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Calgary has seen a massive amount of suburban development in recent years. Unfortunately, despite this development, the competition for good-quality housing is so stiff that prices have skyrocketed. Although still not nearly as expensive as Vancouver, the price of accommodation in Calgary is now nearly as expensive as in Toronto and amounts to a serious challenge for expats budgeting for their move.
Types of accommodation in Calgary
Expats moving to Calgary will find a range of accommodation options available to them. Choice is often limited according to the particular area in which a person wants to live, as well as their budget. Types of housing include:
The overwhelming majority of Calgarians live in stand-alone houses, with apartments, row houses, duplexes and semi-detached houses making up the balance.
Those looking for property in particular areas will need to act fast to secure their home, as demand tends to be high and there isn’t always an abundant stock of property available.
Finding accommodation in Calgary
Both furnished and unfurnished accommodation options are available in Calgary – with the former generally being much more expensive than the latter.
It is highly recommended that expats do a little pre-trip research about areas and suburbs in Calgary so that they can decide where to start searching for a home. It is also useful to familiarise oneself with the process of renting property in Canada and the types of documents potential tenants will be expected to present in order to secure a lease.
When searching for accommodation in Calgary, it's always a good idea to start with online listings, as these are updated most regularly. Expats should also check out the daily editions of the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun – the city's leading newspapers, both of which carry rental listings.
If expats find no joy in looking for a place to stay on their own steam, they can enlist the services of a real-estate agent. These professionals can be very helpful, as they are familiar with the local property market and the logistics surrounding leasing and negotiations.
Since roughly two-thirds of Canadians own their own houses, and since many landlords don't want to bother with the hassle of finding their own tenants, estate agents often will have a mandate over the best rental properties in the city. That said, as helpful as agents can be for new arrivals, they will exact a fee for this service. This fee can range from anywhere between 10 and 100 percent of the monthly rent.
Renting accommodation in Calgary
Lease agreements are followed to the letter in Calgary and Canada in general. Expats should be sure to read contracts carefully, as once it's been signed, its conditions will be legally binding.
Standard lease agreements are generally for 12 months. It is possible to negotiate shorter leases directly with the landlord but most property owners are reluctant to do so. Leases can vary depending on the landlord, and usually require one month's notice before moving out.
The security deposits on rentals in Calgary are usually two months' rent. When viewing a house or apartment, expats should make sure to note any issues or changes that will need to be made before moving in. If the inventory shows no damage upon the departure of the tenant, the full deposit should be returned.
The lease will state whether the tenant is liable to pay for utilities such as gas, water, electricity, cable and so forth, and will vary from landlord to landlord. When signing a lease, expats should be sure to read the paperwork carefully in order to understand what is included in the rental price.
►For expats planning on staying in Calgary indefinitely, our article Renting vs Buying provides a realtor's perspective on the issue and is essential reading
►Check out the top sightseeing spots in Calgary on our See and Do in Calgary page
"Every neighbourhood has a good selection of different housing and something for every budget. We live in a detached house with a back deck and small yard. A feature we particularly love about our house is the finished basement, which adds a lot more living room to the house."
Read more of South African expat Catherine's experiences in Calgary.
Are you an expat living in Calgary?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Calgary. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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