Living in Toronto vs Calgary: Which is Better?
Choosing to live in either Calgary or Toronto is an enviable position to be in. Calgary is in the western province of Alberta. Toronto is the capital city in the eastern province of Ontario. Both cities have high standards of living and a wide range of opportunities for yourself and your family.

The key differences between the two cities come down to size and lifestyle. For instance, Calgary is significantly smaller than Toronto, so if you’re looking for a more fast-paced lifestyle, Toronto might be the better choice. On the other hand, Calgary has a lower cost of living, so it could be a more affordable option for you. Ultimately, it all comes down to what you’re looking for in a city.

Toronto vs Calgary Housing Costs

Over the last three years, Calgary has been one of the most affordable housing markets, especially when comparing the four largest Canadian cities—Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary.

Market Report Summary for May 2022

  Average House Price in Calgary Average House Price in Toronto
Average home price $520,013 $1,212,806
Detached home prices $660,124 $1,549,498
Semi-detached home $542,025 $1,204,893
Townhouse prices $363,655 $1,063,177
Condo apartment prices $288,580 $770,894

Source: Calgary & Toronto

What kind of house can you get in Calgary vs Toronto?

To better compare the Toronto and Calgary housing markets, a budget of $500,000 was recently used in a third-party article to highlight the differences and see how far your money will go. In most major cities, you can save money by moving away from the downtown core. To keep things consistent, both of the houses were in residential areas.

What did they find? In Calgary, they found a $450,000 two-storey home with five bedrooms, 3.5 baths, and more than 3,700 square feet of living space. Because the average home price in Toronto was beyond the half-a-million-dollar budget, all they could find was a townhouse condo listed at $499,800. The townhouse consisted of one bedroom and one bathroom in 670 square feet.

Calgary vs Toronto Living Costs & Affordability

Calgary has Toronto beat when it comes to affordability. Even though Calgary is expensive, it’s still more affordable than Toronto and wages in the Alberta city tend to match the cost of living. If you want to live comfortably in Toronto, you need deep pockets. According to Numbeo, consumer prices in Toronto are 12.07% higher than Calgary’s, restaurants are 17.65% more expensive, and local purchasing power is 14.69% less.

Comparing Ontario vs Alberta Income Tax

Alberta’s favourable income tax rates give an extra incentive to move to Calgary. Until 2015, Alberta had a flat tax system, which meant that high and low-income earners were paying the same percentage of their income to provincial taxes. Today, residents of Alberta across all income ranges pay the lowest overall taxes in Canada. Before taxes, an employment income of $250,000 is 5x more than an income of $50,000, but the after-tax income is only 4.19x as much.

If you’re earning between $50,000 and $99,000 in Ontario, you’re paying the highest share of provincial income tax. In 2014, this bracket paid 31.6% of provincial tax and represents the second-largest portion of tax filers at 23.8%. The highest income tax bracket only represents 1% of tax filers yet pays the second-largest share of provincial income taxes at 26.5%. Before taxes, an employment income of $250,000 is 5x more than an income of $50,000, but the after-tax income is only 3.9x as much.

Entertainment in Calgary & Toronto

No other place in Canada beats Toronto for fun and entertainment. This city is the center of arts and culture in the country with over 8 million residents. You can find hundreds of things to do there, ranging from museums and galleries to restaurants, cinemas, theatres, and more. In addition, the city has five major professional sports teams—Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC and Toronto Argonauts. So, if you’re looking for a place to explore and meet new people, Toronto is a perfect choice!

On the other hand, Calgary is more of a fun-loving, laid-back city. Yes, it has a rodeo once a year, but there are also galleries, museums, dance companies, independent theatres, the Philharmonic orchestra, and opera. While it has a nightlife, it doesn’t compare to what’s available in Toronto. With Toronto, you’ll get to experience a whole lot of excitement.

Outdoor Activities In & Around Calgary & Toronto

If you’re the type of person who loves spending time outdoors and enjoying natural wonders, Calgary might be the perfect place for you. The city is close to the Rocky Mountains, so you can go on camping, hiking, and mountain biking adventures any time you want. Plus, with over 1,100 playgrounds and 5,600 parks within the city limits, you’re never far from a stunning spot to enjoy some fresh air and natural beauty.

Toronto is a close second. Located near Lake Ontario, this city has lots of natural delights and is close to some of the most beautiful places in the world, including Niagara Falls. Toronto is home to more than 1600 parks, so there are many outdoor spots to get outside.

But the lesser population of Calgary and proximity to the Rockies means it’s generally easier and quicker to get to your destination and start on your next adventure.

Calgary & Toronto Weather Conditions

Calgary’s weather typically consists of hot summers and cold winters. Being in the prairie region means Calgary experiences more hours of sunlight than most Canadian cities, and the mountains cause Calgary’s climate to be rather dry. The rainfall that does occur usually falls in the spring and summer.

Winter in Calgary may be long and cold but is occasionally relieved by warm winds called Chinooks. Average daily temperatures are 17°C in summer and -7°C in winter. The weather in Calgary is notoriously changeable so it’s best not to rely on the daily weather predictions too much.

The climate in Toronto is much more moderate with fewer fluctuations. The city generally experiences hot and humid summers and cold, snowy winters. Summer temperatures in Toronto can get pretty hot, with an average high of 26°C, while winter has an average temperature of -9°C. There’s plenty of rainfall throughout the year. Autumn is considered the best time of year in Toronto, with mild days and cool nights.

Calgary vs Toronto 2022: Which is Better?

There’s no clear answer on which city is better. Toronto has more going on in terms of entertainment and climate, but Calgary’s laidback lifestyle, outdoor activities, and lower cost of living are appealing. Both have strong economies with high wages and job opportunities.