For many newcomers, finding accommodation is one of the most important tasks you need to attend to once you arrive in Canada. Having secure and comfortable long-term accommodation gives you a base to settle as you begin your job search, navigate the school system, and find a home. Accommodation-related costs often take up a maximum portion of your monthly expenses. This is why it’s important in the beginning to adhere to your budget and control spending as you look for job opportunities and a more permanent home.
For people who choose to settle in Alberta, here’s what you need to know about finding both short- and long-term accommodation in Calgary.
In this article:
- Types of short-term budget stay options
- How to find permanent, long-term accommodation while on a budget
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When you first arrive in Canada, you’ll need somewhere to stay and get settled. If you’re not able to rely on the support of family or friends already living in Calgary, that usually means finding suitable short-term accommodation. This is temporary accommodation for a period of a few weeks to a few months in length, where you don’t usually sign a formal lease to secure a place. Typically, short-term accommodation is cheaper than staying in a hotel. In Calgary, there’s plenty of different kinds of short-term housing and accommodation available.
Here are some of the different types of accommodation you can expect to find:
1. Serviced apartment: A serviced apartment, also known as an “apartment hotel,” is like having your very own apartment. Often these apartments are available on a short-term basis (from one month onwards) in apartment buildings or are part of a hotel. The advantage of a serviced apartment is the costs are far cheaper than staying in a comparable hotel suite. Different options are available – from one to three bedrooms – and you will have everything you need such as a fully stocked kitchen, bedding and towels, as well as laundry facilities. Depending on the type of building your serviced apartment is in, you may also have access to amenities such as an indoor swimming pool and gym. Individual serviced apartment companies can be searched online, or through sites like Airbnb, Kayak, and Trivago.
2. Hostel: Most people think of hostels as only being for the youth, however, that’s no longer true. Hostelling International (HI) Canada operates 51 hostels coast-to-coast across Canada, including 16 hostels in Alberta – one of which is newly renovated in downtown Calgary. You can be any age and take advantage of staying in a hostel. You’ll often find private rooms or four-person rooms available, which are ideal if you’re travelling as a couple or a family. Not only are hostels significantly cheaper than staying in a hotel, they’re often located in downtown areas and you’ll have access to a kitchen and living area. Best of all is the opportunity to meet new people from other countries!
3. Shared accommodation: Long-term shared accommodation is another option. This is a great step for giving yourself some stability and sharing an apartment or house with others while finding a place of your own. You should expect to have your own bedroom and share other living areas with the kitchen, living room and bathroom, with other tenants. Advertisements for shared accommodation can be found through classified online ads or through sites like Roomies.
4. University residence: Another great option for settlers arriving in Canada in the spring and summer months is university and college residence. Generally from May to mid-August when university terms are over, student residences are empty. Rooms are then booked to summer students, travellers, or other visitors through the university’s student residence or housing departments. Accommodation is often clean and modern, and two or three bedroom suites with a kitchen and bathroom is available. Rooms are usually available at a weekly or monthly rate and most residences have 24-hour security available. You’ll need to contact colleges and universities in Calgary directly to inquire or make a booking.
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See How to rent an apartment with no credit history or job letter in Canada for tips on how to showcase your reliability as a tenant and where to focus your search.
Sitting on the foothills of the Canadian Rockies in the Prairies, Calgary is one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada and is ranked as the fifth most liveable city in the world. This cosmopolitan city is divided into four quadrants, with streets and avenues laid out in a grid formation. The average rent in Calgary for a one-bedroom apartment is approximately $1,099 CAD.
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Here are some of the most affordable neighbourhoods for long-term accommodation in Calgary:
- Location: Located in the northwest quadrant of Calgary, to the north of the Bow River valley.
- Community: Varsity is broken up into three main areas: Varsity Acres, Varsity Village and Varsity Estates. It’s close to the University of Calgary and has easy access to downtown Calgary and the Rocky Mountains. Close to one quarter of all residents have settled here from other countries.
- Housing landscape: Housing was built in the 1960s and ‘70s and consists of detached single-family homes on wide lots, smaller bungalows, as well as condominium builds and apartments.
- Average rent: Approximately $1,054 CAD for a one-bedroom apartment.
- Prominent stay options in the area: Home Inn and Olympia Motel & Lodge.
2. South Calgary
- Location: Situated in the South West quadrant of Calgary, close to the downtown care.
- Community: The residential neighbourhood is located between 14th St. West and Crowchild Trail and two-thirds of residents in South Calgary are renters.
- Housing landscape: The neighbourhood consists of a mix of older detached two-story family homes, as well as modern townhouses and apartment buildings.
- Average rent: Approximately $875 CAD for a one-bedroom apartment.
- Prominent stay options in the area: Downtown Calgary is a short drive away and offers a range of cheaper hotels, including the Best Western Plus Suites Downtown and the Nuvo Hotel Suites.
3. Banff Trail
- Location: Residential neighbourhood situated northeast of downtown Calgary, bordered by 16th Avenue NW from Crowchild Trail to 19th Street NW.
- Community: With its close proximity to post-secondary schools, it’s a popular neighbourhood for students and young professionals. Easy access to C-Train.
- Housing landscape: A mix of condominiums and apartments, as well as
- Homes built in the 1950s.
- Average rent: Approximately $972 CAD for a one-bedroom apartment.
- Prominent stay options in the area: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Calgary NW-University Area, Ramada Limited Calgary Northwest, and Econo Lodge Inn & Suites University.
4. The Properties
- Location: The Properties is a collection of four communities: Pineridge, Rundle, Temple and Whitehorn, located in the northeast quadrant of the city, close to commercial and industrial areas.
- Community: Residential community popular with families. The Properties has a large immigrant population, notably East India and Vietnam.
- Housing landscape: Mostly single family detached and semi-detached homes built before the 1980s, as well as some condominium buildings.
- Average rent: Approximately $1,000 CAD for a one-bedroom apartment.
- Prominent stay options in the area: As Rundle and Whitehorn are both located close to the airport and hotel stays include the Riviera Plaza and Conference Centre Calgary Airport, Days Inn by Wyndham Calgary Airport, and Travelodge Hotel by Wyndham Calgary International Airport South.
- Location: This inner city community is adjacent to downtown, located on the north side of the Bow River.
- Community: Sunnyside is one of Calgary’s oldest communities, with a mix of boutique stores, coffee shops, and restaurants. There is also easy access to the C-Train.
- Housing landscape: A mix of single-family homes, as well as modern mid-rise condominiums.
- Average rent: Approximately $1,095 CAD for a one-bedroom apartment.
- Prominent stay options in the area: Given its proximity to the downtown core, most hotel stays can be found there, including the Best Western Plus Suites Downtown and Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Calgary Downtown.
Now that you’ve got some idea of which neighbourhood you’d like to live in when you first settle in Calgary, you’ll need to start finding the right long-term accommodation for you and perhaps your family. Here is where and how to look:
There’s a wide selection of online sites designed to help you find long-term accommodation in Calgary. Here are some of the most popular ones you can use in your search:
- Airbnb: When it comes to finding long-term accommodation, Airbnb has plenty of options available. You can search in the exact neighbourhood you’d like to live, adjust the length of your stay, number of guests including children, even select accommodation that allows pets. You’ve also got access to photos, a list of amenities included and reviews of the property and host to help you make your decision.
- PadMapper: Padmapper is an online search engine designed to make apartment hunting easier. You can use the search tools to select the range of rent you’re willing to pay, number of bedrooms, and if you’re looking for short-term or long-term accommodation. It also has a map feature where you can broaden or narrow your search.
- Kijiji: Kijiji is an online advertising service that Canadians can use to post a classified ad and buy, sell or trade just about anything – from cars to jobs to accommodation. Anyone offering long-term accommodation can post an ad privately. The site includes information on utilities, as well as how long an ad has been listed for. As well as being the most popular online classified site in Canada, it’s also a great resource for researching the rental market and discovering what’s currently available. Sadly, scams happen to people when they rent through a classified online ad. To protect yourself, do not make any payments before you or someone else has inspected the property. Alternatively, they may try to organize a transaction that isn’t face-to-face. Kijiji has put together some helpful guidelines when it comes to avoiding rental scams and how you can protect yourself during COVID-19.
- Craigslist: Craigslist is a similar site to Kijiji and runs classified ads for housing in various cities in Canada. You can use their site to look for temporary accommodation in Calgary, or post your own wanted ad stating what you’re ideally searching for. Like Kijiji, if you’re searching for accommodation online through Craigslist, protect yourself from potential scams by seeing a property before committing to rent it and using a secure cashless payment method.
Word of mouth
If you already have family, friends of work colleagues in Calgary, then these people are a great resource for finding long-term accommodation. Let them know ahead of arriving in Canada that you’re looking for somewhere to stay and ask them to keep you in mind if they hear of anything. Make use of the network you already have in your new home to help you in your search!
Many cities and towns have organizations that serve newcomers to Canada. One of the ways they’re able to help settlers is in finding suitable accommodation. Look to see if there’s a service nearby and take advantage of confidential and free advice. A list of newcomer services in Calgary is also available.
If there’s a neighbourhood in Calgary you have your heart set on living in, then another way to find long-term accommodation is to take a walk around the neighbourhood. You may find notices for shared accommodation or an apartment coming up for rent in the local coffee shop or on a sign outside an apartment building.
Finding a place to live in Calgary is one thing, finding long-term accommodation that fits your budget is another. Here are a few things to help you:
Perhaps you’ve found the perfect long-term accommodation in the right neighbourhood, but it’s outside of your budget. If it’s being rented by the month, ask if they can negotiate on the price for a longer-term stay or for paying in full upfront, if you plan to stay for one month or more. With the effect of COVID-19 on the rental market and decreasing rent prices in major cities in Canada, now is a good time to negotiate. While the answer may be no, there’s nothing lost by asking confidently and respectfully.
Search in the late fall or winter
The spring and summer months are popular times for moving in Canada. It’s when university is out or families want to settle prior to kids going back to school in September. Therefore, there’s more competition or you may find your options are more limited to more expensive accommodation. If you can, search later in the fall, during the winter or early spring when demand is low.
Consider other expenses
While housing is typically one of the largest expenses in a budget, when it comes to finding the right long-term accommodation in Toronto, consider other expenses as well, such as public transportation. For example, a cheaper rental in the suburbs isn’t as cheap if you’re also paying an additional $300 CAD or more in transport costs to commute. Factor in other monthly expenses too, including utilities like electricity and gas, which are usually not included in your rent, as well as other expenses such as home internet or parking costs.
Finding the right short- and long-term accommodation is an important first step in moving to another country. Maximize your success by researching the market ahead of time. That way, you’ll be in a better position to hit the ground running as you start your new life in Calgary!
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