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DanaeOkay

UCalgary vs UAlberta [Quality of Life]

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Hi everyone! I was hoping someone could shed some light on what it's like to live in and around the UCalgary campus compared to UAlberta. I have lived basically across the street from the UAlberta campus for five years in the same place (so the UAlberta campus has pretty much been my world for five years). I really enjoy living here, but I'd also love to start over in a new city. I'm originally from northern Alberta, so I've never even been to Calgary before. Can anyone speak to the availability/quality of apartment buildings walking-distance from campus (or is it more houses for rent in this area)? Do those of you who live walking-distance from campus enjoy the area, is there decent grocery/restaurant/recreation opportunities without having to access public transit for daily errands? Basically, is the campus area a nice place to settle for a few years for someone who doesn't own a car and wants to be able to walk to most day-to-day tasks? Lastly, is the general cultural event scene comparable to Edmonton (ie FolkFest, Fringe, lots of summer festivals, etc.)? I apologize if this post sounds naive, I just have zero knowledge of this city! Thank you so much!

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I haven't lived around U of C, but I would say most U of C students don't live walking distance from campus. If you live close to a train station though, you'll be able to get to campus quite easily. To answer your last question, I think Calgary's cultural scene is very comparable if not much better than Edmonton's, although I suppose that depends who you ask 😉. The campus isn't in downtown, but downtown Calgary/East Village is really nice, has great walking/biking trails, amazing restaurants and cafes, and a beautiful library too. The overall quality of life is pretty great, Calgary is almost always ranked in the top 5 best cities in the world to live, it's the sunniest city in Canada (although it is still cold), and there are plenty of summer festivals, with the Calgary Stampede being the biggest event by far. The whole city really comes alive in the summer. If you go to Olympic plaza on almost any weekend in the summer you will probably find a festival or event happening, and in the winter the plaza turns into a beautiful skating rink. Calgary's also great in the winter if you're into skiing (although that might be difficult without a car, but you really should go to Lake Louise/Banff if you haven't already!) I can't speak a whole lot on U of C as a school, but I hope I've at least made a solid pitch for the city! 

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Actually quite a few students do live close to campus! Specifically, in the Brentwood, Varsity, University Heights and Charleswood area! These are all within a 20-30 minute walk of campus. Of course, if you live near a train in another area, you can get to campus very easily. All these areas also have several grocery stores, pharmacies, etc., so you're never a long walk from what you need. I won't lie, Calgary is better with a car, but in my experience, so is Edmonton. It is liveable without a car though, which is all that matters.

The craft brewing scene in Calgary is amazing if you're into that sort of thing. Calgary folk fest is a big event every year, and of course, there's stampede. I think generally Edmonton has more festivals if that's something that's important to you. I'm partial to Calgary because it is warmer, it is much closer to the mountains (even without a car there are buses, and I'm sure friends that would take you), has several neat neighbourhoods to explore (Inglewood, Kensington) and has quite a youthful culture. Hope that helps! Feel free to DM me if you want to know more about the city, just know I'm entirely biased towards Calgary 😛

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As someone who lived just off-campus for two years, I will put in a strong vote for not living near campus, and taking the train there from somewhere else. The area surrounding campus is mostly single-family homes, although there are exceptions and the exceptions are growing. (I moved away two years ago and a lot of the "University District" has been built since I left). We lived in Brentwood and it was a good place to have space for parents of a toddler like us. But there is not much going on and the wind will get to you as you walk around these vast and poorly treed subdivisions on your way to and from campus! Also, because the neighbourhoods are quite large, you may or may not be easy walking distance to grocery stores. As in, every neighbourhood might have one, but the neighbourhoods are so sprawling that you may find it not that walkable.

If I were you and I didn't need anyplace big, I would be looking at trendier neighbourhoods with good transit connections to campus. The C-Train really makes it easy to live anywhere on the north side of things. Sunnyside and Bridgeland are favourites of mine, but all kinds of areas around the beltline and east village are nice too. Inglewood is a bit farther but really charming and you could make it work.

Really, though, you should stay in Edmonton. ;) The area around U of A is much nicer than any of the places I liked in Calgary... in my opinion!

-GM

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25 minutes ago, GrumpyMountie said:

 you should stay in Edmonton. ;) The area around U of A is much nicer than any of the places I liked in Calgary... in my opinion!

-GM

Would you be able to elaborate on why you prefer Edmonton and what you like so much about it? I would love to hear more! 

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1 hour ago, GrumpyMountie said:

I will put in a strong vote for not living near campus, and taking the train there from somewhere else.

Thank you very much for your insights! The single-family home thing really seems to check out. Thank you for suggesting specific neighbourhoods, it’s extremely helpful! 😄

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10 hours ago, samii said:

Would you be able to elaborate on why you prefer Edmonton and what you like so much about it? I would love to hear more! 

More walkable,  much more "culture-y" (difficult to define precisely, but you know what I mean, probably), more trees, nicer older buildings and neighbourhoods (as in, distinct neighbourhoods with an actual "feel"), not just massive subdivisions from the 60's or later.

Calgary has (or at least had) all the money, which produces the bigger, shinier, newer things, but if you like old quiet classy things, Edmonton has more of that, in my opinion.

A much more subjective factor is that I don't actually like Calgary's climate, which is warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Probably most people would disagree with me, but I like my winters cold and summers hot. I don't really appreciate those +3 days in January where the wind blows the snow away and everything is just brown and muddy. Much prefer the playground of (reliable) snow in the (N. Sask) river valley. :)

I guess we shouldn't forget that this is lawstudents.ca, though. So the usual caveats: live where you want to work, Calgary has a bigger and higher-paying legal market, etc. The above observations are from my time spent living in both cities, but before I was a law student!

-GM

Edited by GrumpyMountie
clarifying which valley
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10 hours ago, GrumpyMountie said:

A much more subjective factor is that I don't actually like Calgary's climate, which is warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Probably most people would disagree with me, but I like my winters cold and summers hot. I don't really appreciate those +3 days in January where the wind blows the snow away and everything is just brown and muddy. Much prefer the playground of (reliable) snow in the (N. Sask) river valley.

Its also worth noting that some people, additionally, have a really hard time with Calgary's climate because of the chinooks. I have a couple friends that are near crippled with migraines right around when the chinooks roll in.

Edited by Portzy
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another thing to consider is the river valley in Edmonton. It's one of the biggest urban parks in the world, and is connected all around by pedestrian bridges and trails (go on google maps to see the size and range of it). Calgary is more built-up so the development often goes up to the river bank on many of its shores. That's arguably an effect of Calgary's corporate and shiny feel that other posters have brought up, so it's a matter of OP's preferences.

I'm partisan to UofA cause that's where I go, but having been to Ucalgary for a debate tournament their campus feels somewhat newer but I still like mine better. UofA has an old english town red brick feel to it from the central walkway between campus st jean and the dentistry building, the old arts building and its opera house, and the alleyway between the campus bar and some other buildings. The provincial legislature is also a ~20 minute walk from the UofA across the bridge, so theres always lots of events/protests to attend if that's your thing.

Edited by toastedguac
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On 1/20/2021 at 8:49 PM, Portzy said:

Its also worth noting that some people, additionally, have a really hard time with Calgary's climate because of the chinooks. I have a couple friends that are near crippled with migraines right around when the chinooks roll in.

Hold up, I get migraines sometimes to the point were I have to turn off all the lights, put earmuffs on because my head is so sensitive to noise and I throw up and usually fall asleep around 5pm. Are you telling me that if I go to U of C law that my migraines will probably be worse/more frequent?

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7 minutes ago, powerstrengthdedication said:

Hold up, I get migraines sometimes to the point were I have to turn off all the lights, put earmuffs on because my head is so sensitive to noise and I throw up and usually fall asleep around 5pm. Are you telling me that if I go to U of C law that my migraines will probably be worse/more frequent?

I think "probably" is a stretch. There are certainly a few that are affected by chinooks to the point of headaches. Out of everyone I know, only one gets migraines from it, and even that's inconsistent. It's just one of those "everyone knows someone" Kevin Bacon things.

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9 minutes ago, powerstrengthdedication said:

Hold up, I get migraines sometimes to the point were I have to turn off all the lights, put earmuffs on because my head is so sensitive to noise and I throw up and usually fall asleep around 5pm. Are you telling me that if I go to U of C law that my migraines will probably be worse/more frequent?

I don't know enough about what exactly causes the chinook migraines and how they affect people predisposed to migraines. But that does seem to be a reasonable assumption

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