Why not move to Edmonton?

Post ImageI’d like to take a moment to share with you some figures, statistics, and other information about the city of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. As most of you reading this are probably aware, I live in Edmonton. I was born here, moved away for most of my youth, and have been back since 1998. I love the city, and while it is not without its faults, there are much worse places to live.

  • Edmonton is the capital city of the province of Alberta.
  • Edmonton is the sixth largest metropolitan region in Canada according to the 2006 Census, with a population of 1,034,945. (Source)
  • It is also the northernmost North American city with a metropolitan population over 1 million. (Source)
  • The population density of the Edmonton region is just 109.9 persions per square km. This is half the population density of the Calgary region, 1/7 of the Vancouver region, 1/8th of the Montreal region, 1/2 the Ottawa region, and 1/8th of the Toronto region. (Source)
  • Edmonton is home to West Edmonton Mall, North America’s largest shopping mall, and the third largest in the world. (Source)
  • WEM also holds the world record for the largest car park. (Source)
  • Edmonton receives 2,289 hours of sunlight each year, making it one of Canada’s sunniest cities. (Source)
  • There are more than 60,000 full time post-secondary students studying at schools in the Edmonton area. (Source)
  • A very impressive 66,000 new jobs are projected to be created in the Edmonton region between 2006 and 2010. (Source)
  • Edmonton did not make the 2006 list of most expensive cities in which to live (the list contained 150 cities). Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal all made the list. (Source)
  • Edmonton was named the Cultural Capital of Canada for the year 2007. (Source)
  • The annual Fringe festival is the largest alternative theatre event in North America. (Source)
  • Edmonton’s 60,000-plus elm trees make up the largest concentration of disease-free elm trees in the world. (Source)
  • Alberta is North America’s only rat free area (not including the territories). (Source)
  • Edmonton has 225 kilometers of designated bikeways, and 41 off-leash parks to walk with your dog. (Source)
  • The River Valley park system is the longest urban park in North America, 21.7 times larger than New York’s Central Park. (Source)
  • Edmonton is home to five professional sports franchises, including the very successful Edmonton Oilers and Edmonton Eskimos. (Source)
  • Air quality in Edmonton is rated as good (the best level) at least 90% of the time for any given year. (Source)
  • Edmonton leads the nation in effective waste management. For example, the city’s curbside recycling program has reduced by 60% the waste sent to landfills. (Source)
  • Edmonton is down right beautiful at times, as you can see in the thousands and thousands of photos available at Flickr. (Source)

I could go on, but that’s a good start.

I look at #4, the population density, as a good thing. It may be a negative thing for hockey players and other celebrities seeking anonymity, however. One other negative that comes to mind is that we have a relatively high homicide rate, though it’s not as bad as rural regions of Alberta. Aside from that, what’s so bad about Edmonton?

Why do the wives of hockey players not want to live here? Is it just that Chris Pronger and Michael Nylander married nutcases, or is there more to it?

I don’t get it. However, unlike a lot of folks out there, I don’t think the blame falls entirely on Kevin Lowe’s shoulders. There’s got to be more to it. I’ll have more on this at SportsGuru this weekend, and I suspect my Dad might too.

What’s missing?

30 thoughts on “Why not move to Edmonton?

  1. Great post, all the sources must have taken a long time to compilate. The population density is negative when looked at from the perspective for urban sprawl – especially South Edmonton Common.

  2. Thanks Shermie – didn’t take too long to put together, but I admit I collected some of the sources in the past when I had planned to do a similar post (without the hockey spin though).

    Good point about the urban sprawl…though Calgary has some incredible sprawl as well.

  3. Haha, I know I’m about 3 years late in posting this, but I just came across this while researching whether or not I should move back to Edmonton. I lived there for most of my life but have been living in Greater Vancouver for almost 6 years. I’m now at the point where I want to get married and start my career (and later) a family and I’m having a hard time picturing doing that here. Although I love living in BC because it is so gorgeous, it is also SO EXPENSIVE and there are NO JOBS! My boyfriend has been out of work for over a year and there is hardly any work for me either. In Edmonton, I think we would have much better opportunities as well as being able to afford a house instead of renting or buying a one bedroom, tiny condo here. The winters are cold, but I do miss the sun a lot as well! Vancouver is great, but Edmonton is a much better place to live when starting out, I think. Plus, I love the school system in Edmonton much more than here (I am going into teaching). So, I agree with you, “why not move to Edmonton?” I may have lived in Vancouver for 6 years, but I will always be an Edmontonian at heart. The people really make the city a special place to live:)

  4. Hi Lauren, I’m glad to hear you’re considering Edmonton! I love it here, I consider myself a passionate Edmontonian. I think there are great opportunities here, and in the last few years things have started to align with where we want to be in ten or fifteen years.

    I should probably update this post – many of the things I mentioned are not positive (like WEM having the world’s largest parkade or the low population density) – but the message would be the same: Edmonton is a great place to live!

  5. I have to disagree with your post about how great Edmonton is.

    I’m not indicating that it is terrible either, bland is more like it.

    I was born, raised and educated in Edmonton. I went to the University of Alberta and I even purchased my first home in Edmonton not long after I left University.

    I own my own own retail service business and currently have locations in Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver.

    I left Edmonton 17 years ago to expand my business to Calgary and purchased a home there as well. then 3 years after that I moved to Vancouver and moved into the downtown core and have never looked back.

    Edmonton and Calgary as well don’t have a very conducive environment for creating exciting, vibrant, pedestrian based neighbourhopds with streets that are lined with cafes, art galleries, retail outlets and all being very close to the homes of those who patronize them.

    Density is the key to great cities. London, Paris, Rome, New York, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sydney, etc. It is the residential density and great city planning that involves skyward real estate which encourages great utilization of the earth bound real estate.. The street sides in downtown Vancouver are wide and filled with pedestrians enjoying there day to day activities in a very unique harmony that can easily be seen as the the city’s buzz.

    When I walk out my front door I have the choice of several large green parks within steps of my place. I walk to the grocers, restaurants, bars, dry cleaners, doctors and everything esle that I need. THere is a REAL sense of community and neighbourhood here.

    Whereas in Edmonton and Calgary that is all lost when we go into our garages to get into our cars and drive to the amenities we need.

    Don’t peg me as a left wing environmentalist either. I drive a very large SUV and I am not an activist.. I truly do embrace our modern world and it petroleum based luxuries.
    But there needs to be a balance for greatness in a city.. Edmonton just doesn’t have that unique community feel nor the exciting boulevards to stroll along. Oh, yes there is Whyte Avenue and perhaps a short stretch along Jasper Ave and also a part of 124 St. But that’s it!

    Vancouver and other cities with great density have so much more to offer in variety, innovation and culture.

    Edmonton is very stuck in it’s ways and for it to become a greater city it needs to revaluate it’s city planning and rebuild it’s downtown core to increase residential building that are exciting to view an synergistic with the environment… There are also great inner neighbourhoods in Edmonton that could be rebuilt into wonderful high density urban neighbourhoods that make walking to retailers, service providers and working downtown that much more attractive.

    A part of me will always be Edmontonian.. But I could never move back, it will take a few generations to create an exciting vibrant city like what Vancouver,Toronto and Montreal have. But I certainly hope that the men and women who plan the city’s future developments will look inward versus outward, placing their focus on transit, increasing urban density and encouraging more street level retail and public services.

    Currently Edmonton is becoming just a big city with suburbs connected by the junctions of big box retail sites…

    Look at pictures of Jasper Ave in the 1930’s through to the 1950’s… That was when Edmonton was vibrant… Sadly it’s gone now.

  6. Hi Garret I might have to disagree with you!!!
    People like you Real State Agents) have the best job in Vancouver as we know you people make lots of money selling houses!!! That’s why you don’t want to move out from Vancouver because is the city for people who can afford it!!! That means for rich people!!!
    That’s why many people who still without job or wants to buy a cheap house are looking for other cities to live like Edmonton, Calgary, etc. We want advices why not to move tp Edmonton not Vancouver!!! But thanks was good your advice!!

  7. Edmonton? Good? No. I live in Edmonton and I can honestly say that it is not a nice place to live in. Those pictures you saw? That’s as good as it gets. If you look around for nice pictures you’ll start to see a pattern, you’ll see those 10 pretty little pics about a thousand different times, the only difference is they are taken from behind a different tree. Far to many parts of the city look like what you would call the bad area of town, and yet, IT’S STILL OVER PRICED!! Sure, it many not seem to bad compared to bigger cities like Vancouver, but you’ll need to take a closer look at things to see behind the mask….and the two and a half feet of snow that covers us for half of the year.

    If you think it’s heaven here think again and try talking to some more people.

  8. I agree with Garrett. That urban sprawl model that was adopted as the civic plan for Edmonton in the 1960s is now killing Edmontonians with disproportionate taxes. Getting all that pipe and conduit laid to get services out to the periphery of a city as large as Houston, TX, but with only 1/4 the population isn’t cheap. Vertical models have proven themselves many times over around the world for making efficient use of tax dollars to provide services. From this perspective of services per tax dollar, Edmonton is one of the worst in the western world.

    City Hall has finally realized they can’t keep building out, but it’s too late. Now they want to do things like add a surcharge based on your km distance from the city center or try to rope in the suburban municipalities to help pay for it, but cost of living in Edmonton is about to make a big jump in the next five or so years.

    Which leads to my next point … an absolute dearthy of rental properties. Vacancy rate is terrible in this city even in a recession, let alone a boom. When houses cost as much to purchase in Edmonton as they do some of the suburbs of Vancouver and rent is reaching parity with a city like Toronto, people have to ask big questions about what they are getting for that money. Lousy weather, shitty civic services, and a lifestyle more conducive to putting pounds on your body than taking them off isn’t such a great sell for the kind of money Edmontonians are asked to pay.

  9. I ride a motorcycle. If I’m exceedingly lucky, I can ride from April 1 to October 31. Problem is, I’ve only managed to do that one year out of 22 years of riding. Last year, it was May 15 to September 26, a whopping 4.5 months. Half our year is snow and if you don’t think that affects you, check the suicide rate and the correlation to hours of sunlight a location receives. For a good portion of the year, Edmonton is cold, dank, dark and – for many – lonely as hell.

    Unless you live on one of the two socially active streets (Whyte and Jasper), you need to drive just to get out and meet people. Try doing that at -30C in January.

  10. I have to agree that Edmonton is not exactly a good place to live. I have lived here for 28 years and it just seems to be getting more and more dead.

    This city lacks any culture – we have no identity of our own. We’re a winter city – sometimes we have snow seven or more months of the year, and yet NOTHING here happens in the winter. We are a “festival city” and all those festivals happen in the two summer months.

    Density is a big problem here as well. One of the only places in the city where you have access to many businesses and services from your home is in the downtown area, but most places close at 5pm and downtown is dead after that.

    One thing that I do love about this city is the beautiful river valley we have, but it is definetly not enough to make someone move here.

    Whyte Avenue area probably has the most character in the whole city – a great place that sets itself apart from the rest of the city.

    There are things that I love about this city, but overall, it needs a lot of work – starting with its own identity. I hope in the future, there’s more to offer.

  11. To: Prozna.

    I am not a real estate agent nor am I a real estate investor.
    I’m also only middle class and not considered rich.

    However, I live a very ‘RICH’ lifestyle that may appear to be a rich man’s life.. This is only possible due to the lifestyle amenities of a very dense urban environment that is well kept and designed to create pedestrian interaction, unique retail and service business that are street side and community vibes that encourage one-to-one social interaction

    In Edmonton (Calgary, Winnipeg, etc.)most people live in the far flung suburbs that are still in the city limits. To get Downtown or Whyte Ave you must get into your car and drive.
    Then you must find parking, which takes up valuable land space that could be used as parks and community amenity buildings, etc.

    You arrive at your destination with a predicated insularism due to the house-to-car-to-parking lot effect, so the social interaction is going to affected by body language that is already in the wrong place for social attraction. You’re thinking about traffic and getting back on time, etc. Your stressed and not wanting to be delayed or bothered.

    I just isn’t a healthy environment, period…

    Now, I’m not stupid… Many people, in fact hundreds of thousands of people get along just fine in Edmonton..

    But the lifestyle is not a ‘RICH’ lifestyle and that is because of the old urban planning model of suburbanization and ‘Edge cities’.. Everything is built around the automobile, in fact each persons vehicle has become an extension of their personality.. I only began to see that once I moved to Vancouver and lived here for awhile… My vehicle is still very important to me and play a vital role in my transportation.. But that is all it is, transportation, and only for long distance needs.

    Perhaps the city planners in Edmonton are starting to get it with the extension of the LRT and building high density in places like the old Heritage Shopping mall site.. But until the city truly starts to move inward and gentrify the inner neighbourhoods with high density, Edmonton will always be just one big place mat for big box store sites and the roads that interconnect them.

    By the way… Young people who are ‘just starting out’ (not rich) are having no problem buying condos in downtown Vancouver… A society adapts as a whole to it’s environment.. It doesn’t matter if the price of the home is $149,000 or $1,000,000.00.. or 500 square feet or 5000 square feet, It’s all relative….

    Living in a small condo with dozens of first class amenities in your building plus an array of entertainment just outside your doorstep is easy in a well designed high density neighbourhood…

    I don’t think anyone could survive happily in a 750 square foot condo in Edmonton because the urban environment doesn’t support a healthy lifestyle.. I believe Edmontonians spend a much higher proportion of their time indoors at home due to low density isolation, so naturally the gravitation is to bigger residential units….

    In cities like Vancouver, Toronto, Manhattan, London, Tokyo, etc. the streets outside your home become the defacto ‘Living Room’.

    Why define your life with a box filled with countless possessions?

    Edmonton truly could have the best of both worlds if it would just look inward!

  12. My husband is getting relocated for his job and we have to findcondos in Edmonton. I have never been there and am nervous to be moving to a new place but I’m also excited at the same time. Thanks for all the tips and advice so I know what I’m getting myself into.

    1. Hey Stacey, I am wondering how settled you are and what you think of life in Edmonton? I am planning to move from Victoria b.c. and would appreciate you sharing your more recent experience.

      Thanks, Pauline

  13. You’re obviously a city person so live in a city… Some people appreciate not living spitting distance from 1000000 other people.

    1. Terrible comment. With that kind of spaced out thinking Bee, we loose the only thing that can make living in a city great; accepted human interaction.

      1. What ye hell mang! I love Edmonton. I moved to Toronto and have been here for two years now and I can’t stand it! People are always within spitting distance of me. I miss the space of Edmonton and the snow and tobogganing and outdoor ice hockey and mountain climbing in the Rockies. If you’re a social type of person interested in clubs or shows or whatnot then Toronto is for you. If you are an athlete adventurer like me I miss Edmonton, than Edmonton is best! I’m so sick of people wearing Canada Goose outfits who bump into me and two and half hour drives to work and cars honking and people everywhere!!!!!!! Edmonton best! I’m moving back as soon as I can

  14. Now seriously, get a grip and take a good REALISTIC look at this City. Poor infrastructure, streets that are falling apart, boulevards and city areas that next to never see a lawnmower during summer, litter and garbage everywhere, high property taxes for which we receive little value not to mention the excessive expenditures by our city mayor and counsellors. If you think that an ice area, art gallery, new city hall (where you cannot even find and chair to sit in and wait) as well as the millions and millions of other dollars that are spent to cater to the .9 to 1% of the population but paid for by all of the rest of us makes this a good city……you really need to take a better look.

  15. i have a question for you i may have the opportunity to take a job in Edmonton and as i am from the UK and this would be a huge move for me i would like to know from people who are local to the area and have experienced life in Edmonton should i take the job? is there a high quality life? is it and expensive place to live? so many questions but i’m sure you will agree that moving to Canada from Great Britain is going to be a huge thing

    1. Big move indeed! Very high quality of life here in Edmonton. It’s not an expensive place to live compared to say, London, but it is more expensive than small towns. The city is growing really quickly (as is the province of Alberta), which means there’s lots of opportunity here.

      1. Hey, trading places! I made the move from Edmonton to the UK about a year ago. I’m not a native Edmontonian, moved there from Vancouver, and there’s lots of good things about the city. Really good place to work, raise a family, etc. And it IS possible to live a car-free/car-reduced life in Edmonton if you choose your location carefully (around the university can work out.

        But objectively Edmonton’s not a great city to live in if you have options, and what got me after 8 years was two things: (a) there’s not really much on offer for a ‘day out’ on a weekend (day trips, choice of cool museums or events), and (b) the lack of beauty in the city. I know, yes, the mountains aren’t too far (4 hours is a long drive for a day trip), and there are things that do happen at the art gallery, etc., and there’s a certain ‘subtle’ beauty about the prairies, but in general, it’s actually fairly ugly overall, and that depressed me after a while. Winters were harsh, but not sure they’re worse than Vancouver winters, just (very) different.

        Most, not all, but most, Edmonton-boosters are long-timers who were brought up there, and to me the place is a bit inward-looking/hillbilly-ish. I heard that about 1 out of 4 people who came during the 2004-2008 boom period actually stayed on.

        I’ve got really mixed feelings about the place–it was a good place for me at the time–but mostly I feel relieved to have escaped.

        Hey, trust me, the UK (or Vancouver) has lots of problems, too, but I can ride my bike to work where I live in the UK, yes, often in the rain :-(, and walk to the train station, walk around the city centre, and drive on the weekends to amazing scenery/villages/beaches less than an hour away. For me, right now, it’s great. Not so great if you’re starting out and looking for work though.

        But what I do miss is the optimistic attitude of most Albertans… not so much a UK trait!

  16. I moved to Edmonton 1 year ago from Montreal and I’m wondering where the nice people are? I have met very few people that I’d consider nice and I’d really like to make some friends here. Every day I second guess my decision.

    1. I get the same thing too Em. As a “visible minority”, born and raised here in Edmonton for the the last 24 years, I am also wondering why so many of the friends moved as soon as they were done university. Granted, I was lucky to have met great people in this city but they have a higher tendency to move.

      Despite Edmonton being the capital of Alberta, the thinking here is that of a very small pond. Ignorance is rampant and frankly I will be happy when I eventually get to leave

    2. I moved to Edmonton a year ago aswell from Montreal i work in the trades and have met the meanest people here in North of Alberta , I’m more selective with people here Edmonton is slightly better than samll towwns but i agree 100% with you

      1. I totally agree with you. Sometimes the problems with Alberta cities is not the cities themselves but rather the people that inhabit them. The people are very unworldly, they want their space, don’t like to interact with others and often lack any civil behaviour like you would find in bigger cities around the world. People on here speak highly of whyte avenue, but when ever I visit there, all I see is motor bikers, rowdy uncivil punks, or guys that want to show off their steroid injections, and oh the ladies, with the bulging bellies sticking out, very unattractive. People in Alberta seem like they just have never travelled and seen the world. I speak as an Albertan that has lived here over 40 years just in case you are questioning my objectivity.

    3. But I also know that feeling, I moved here in 1997 and I’ve met many many bad apples, and I’ve lost my hope that this city is even worth living in anymore. I’m seriously considering moving somewhere better when I can, if I can find the right city by doing research first.

  17. Thanks Matt, I currently have no real life friends and winter is hell for me, the loneliness always makes me want to end my life eventually, without fail. The only things preventing me are I wanted to make a will that says I’m to be cremated, and the faint hope my life will improve, which isn’t enough anymore honestly.

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