It has been my observation that people mostly choose where to live based on:
- The availability of lucrative jobs
- Cost of living
Essentially, the issue of where to live comes down to one’s financial situation.
In Canada, people seem to move between Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto every few years like it was going out of style. Find a new job. Go back to school. Move. Find a new job. Go back to school. Move. Rinse, repeat.
Don’t get me wrong – we’ve all got to problem solve at times. Financial resources aren’t always available in abundance.
But I can’t imagine living this way. I can’t imagine making all my decisions based on the availability of work and the cost of living. I care too much about quality of life to leave my decisions up to my financial situation.
I want to live somewhere where I can drive, in the rain, and for no reason feel a sense of euphoria (which has literally happened to me multiple times in Lower Mainland).
I’ve had several people try to convince me how great it is to live in Alberta versus Lower Mainland (they’re just trying to convince themselves). Look, I lived in Alberta for over 20 years. It may be hard to believe, but I’m quite familiar with the Albertan lifestyle.
Calgary is like a blackhole that sucks you in and won’t let go. I had to scrape and claw my way out. It wasn’t easy.
If quality of life matters to you, then you’ve got to take the following into consideration:
- It’s winter roughly eight months out of the year in Alberta. Better get used to sitting indoors and watching Netflix, because that’s what most of your downtime is going to consist of. Unless you’re in Canmore or Banff, living in Alberta not at all like the cozy mountain resorts you see in the movies. Colorado and Utah are much more picturesque.
- You’re landlocked. Say goodbye to swimming in the oceans. Say goodbye to the lush vegetation of the west coast. Get used to the ever-expansive flatness of the windy, treeless Albertan highways.
- The food does not even compare. Alberta is making some strides, and I’ve seen firsthand evidence of this on my current journey, but don’t expect to find delicious Korean BBQ, authentic ramen, or mouth-watering Indian curries on any given night of the week. Settle for mediocre, because save for about 20 to 30 restaurants province wide, that’s what you’re going to get.
- Albertans are weird. They’re friendly, but they basically keep to themselves. They’re not looking to make friends. But it isn’t as cut-throat as Lower Mainland, so settle in for an easier ride in that regard.
- You can cover most of Lower Mainland in two to three hours of driving. You can even get to Kelowna from Lower Mainland in less than three hours. In Alberta, it takes three hours just to travel from Calgary to Edmonton. Both cities, by the way, suffer from out-of-control urban sprawl, so if you ever need to drive from one end of the city to the other (which you will), expect it to take an hour or more depending on road conditions and traffic.
If you’re going to live in Alberta, live in Alberta because you love it. Many people do. And if you are one of those people, don’t take any offense to what I’m saying.
But making your decisions based on lucrative job opportunities and cost of living isn’t going to do you any favors. Because you’re not present to the sacrifices you’ll be making.
Quality of life, to me, is the critical decision-making factor.