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What Is A Good Salary in Calgary, Alberta?

What Is A Good Salary in Calgary, Alberta titlecard

What is a good salary in Calgary, Alberta? This is a question that many people ask themselves when they are considering moving to this city or looking for a new job. Calgary is one of the most expensive cities in Canada, but it also offers many opportunities and benefits for its residents.

In this article, we will explore the average salary in Calgary, how it compares to other cities in Canada, and what factors affect your income level. We will also give you tips on saving money and living comfortably on any salary in Calgary. You will find useful information and advice here, whether you earn the minimum wage or a six-figure income.

Calgary has a favorable geographical location. It’s expats’ third most preferred city after Toronto and Vancouver. Read on to learn whether the job opportunity you are about to accept will meet your financial obligations and expectations.

What is a Good Salary in Calgary, Alberta?

Person thinking about salary

When discussing salaries in Calgary, Alberta, several factors include the average yearly salary, base salary, job title, and the cost of living. According to available data, the average salary in Calgary is $64,600, which is 18.6% higher than the Canadian average salary of $54,450. However, determining what qualifies as a good salary in this city is subjective and is influenced by various careers and individual circumstances.

For two adults living in Calgary, a salary of around $120,000 could be considered a benchmark for a good income. Nevertheless, it’s important to recognize that personal financial objectives, job titles, lifestyle preferences, and the number of dependents play a pivotal role in defining what is deemed as a good salary.

The cost of living in Calgary is lower than the national average, which is crucial when evaluating salaries. While an average salary might provide a general overview, what truly matters is how far that pay can stretch based on the specific context of living in Calgary.

It’s worth noting that salaries in Calgary can vary depending on the sector, as many factors, such as supply and demand for skills, industry trends, and regional economic conditions, influence salary levels. For a family with two kids, considerations extend beyond the average to cover various financial commitments and aspirations.

Jobs With The Highest Or Above Average Salary in Calgary

Dentist treating a patient's teeth

A good salary in Calgary, Alberta, varies due to job titles, geographical location, and spending patterns. Monthly passes, costs, housing, and nice things hinge on the average cost of living. Salaried employees must consider the minimum to afford their desired lifestyle, as the cost of living, though pretty low compared to other places, influences what one can comfortably earn.

Here are the jobs with the highest or above-average salary in Calgary, Alberta:

  • Dentist: The median hourly wage for dentists in Calgary is C$100.00, surpassing provincial (C$90.00) and national (C$80.00) medians. This indicates that dentists in the city have the potential to earn more compared to their counterparts in Alberta and Canada.
  • Petroleum Engineer: With a median hourly wage of C$63.46, petroleum engineers in Calgary earn more than the provincial (C$58.97) and national (C$54.79) medians, reflecting the city’s prominence in the energy sector and the corresponding higher earnings.
  • Lawyer: Lawyers in Calgary earn a median hourly wage of C$58.97, exceeding the provincial (C$54.79) and national (C$50.00) medians, suggesting that legal professionals in the city command better remuneration due to its economic dynamics.
  • Physiotherapist: The median hourly wage of C$45.67 for physiotherapists in Calgary is higher than the provincial (C$43.27) and national (C$40.87) medians, indicating that these healthcare professionals receive more competitive compensation in the city’s thriving healthcare sector.
  • Software Developer: Software developers in Calgary enjoy an average annual salary of C$71,367, which is higher than the provincial (C$69,239) and national (C$66,058) averages. This showcases the city’s technology industry strength and the corresponding financial benefits for these professionals.

From my perspective, it’s important to make comparisons to understand what constitutes a competitive salary in Calgary. While the average salary in the city might seem higher, delving into the specifics of the comparison and considering factors like cost of living is essential to accurately assess what qualifies as a good salary in Calgary.

Average Yearly Salary in Cities Near Calgary, Alberta

Peace Bridge in Calgary at night

A good salary in Calgary, Alberta, depends on many factors, such as living expenses, savings goals, tax deductions, and lifestyle preferences.

Calgary remains among the top five best cities in Canada, and it’s also the most livable city, offering high chances of a work-life balance. Here’s how it compares to the rest in terms of average salary:

  • Edmonton: The average annual salary in Edmonton is C$68k, according to Careerbeacon.com. However, the cost of living in Edmonton is lower than in Calgary by about 9%. This means you can save more money in Edmonton if you earn the same salary as in Calgary.
  • Red Deer: The average annual salary in Red Deer is C$61k. The cost of living in Red Deer is lower than in Calgary by about 14%. This means you can have a decent lifestyle in Red Deer with a lower salary than in Calgary.
  • Lethbridge: The average annual salary in Lethbridge is C$58k, based on a report by Payscale.com. Lethbridge’s living cost is lower than in Calgary by about 17%. You can enjoy a comfortable life in Lethbridge with a modest salary.
  • Banff: The average annual salary in Banff is C$51k. The cost of living in Banff is lower than in Calgary by about 20%. This means you can afford a good quality of life in Banff with a reasonable salary.
  • Canmore: The average annual salary in Canmore is C$53k. The cost of living in Canmore is lower than in Calgary by about 21%. This means that you can live well in Canmore with a fair salary.

As you can see, the average salaries and the cost of living vary significantly among the cities near Calgary, Alberta. Therefore, a good salary in Calgary depends on how much you need to spend and how much you want to save.

Read about salaries in Toronto and Ottawa.

How Much Do You Need to Make to Live Comfortably in Calgary?

A stack of 20 canadian dollars

According to some estimates, the minimum salary that a single person needs to live comfortably in Calgary is around C$40k per year. This amount covers the basic expenses such as rent, food, transportation, utilities, health care, and entertainment. However, this amount does not include any savings or investments for the future.

If you want to save money and plan for your retirement, you may need a higher salary than the minimum. For example, if you want to save 10% of your monthly income, you may need a salary of around C$44k per year. If you want to save 20% of your monthly income, you may need a salary of around C$50k per year.

Of course, these numbers are only rough estimates and may change depending on your situation and goals. You may also be able to reduce your expenses or increase your income by applying for tax credits, subsidies, or grants from the government or other organizations.


Person handing a key to a new house owner

Rent is one of the major expenses you must consider when you want to live comfortably in Calgary. Calgary is one of the most expensive cities in Canada, and the rent prices reflect that.

For example, a studio apartment costs approximately $1,100 monthly, while a two-bedroom house requires about $1,800. A combined annual income of $90,000 to $100,000 is advisable for a household with two adults.

Calgary’s economy is diverse, with the oil industry historically influential. However, average wages in the city have held steady even as the oil sector fluctuates. Compared to other provinces, Calgary earns higher earnings due to its cost of living.

Rent Compared to Nearby Places

The rent prices may be high but lower than in previous years. The rent prices in Calgary, Edmonton, and Red Deer for the last three years have shown some fluctuations and differences.

The average rent for a 3-bedroom apartment in Edmonton is C$1,600 per month, which is C$850 less than in Calgary. Meanwhile, the average rent for a 3-bedroom apartment in Red Deer is C$1,400 per month, which is C$1,050 less than in Calgary.


cart full of grocery items in Calgary

Food prices in Calgary can vary widely based on many factors. A single person with an average salary might spend around $300 to $400 monthly on groceries. If relying on minimum wage, budgeting for food within the monthly cost becomes essential, as expenses can constitute a significant portion of the salary.

For a household, the cost rises proportionally to the number of members. A family with a higher household income might allocate the same amount for groceries as a single person on a lower or average yearly salary range. However, it’s crucial to strike a balance between spending and saving.

While the cost of food largely depends on personal choices and dietary preferences, being mindful of the monthly budget is important. Calgary’s diverse culinary scene offers options for different price points, allowing economical and indulgent choices. Planning meals, exploring local markets, and making budget-conscious decisions are key to managing food expenses effectively within one’s pay structure.

Here are some of the average prices of everyday food items in Calgary, according to Numbeo.com:

  • Local Cheese (0.10 kg) – $1.55
  • Chicken Fillets (0.15 kg) – $2.31
  • Beef Round (0.15 kg) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat) – $2.89
  • Apples (0.30 kg) – $1.60
  • Loaf of Fresh White Bread (1 lb) – $2.81
  • Rice (white), (1 lb) – $1.75
  • Eggs (regular) (12) – $4.27
  • Milk (regular), (1 gallon) – $9.53
  • Banana (0.25 kg) – $0.48
  • Oranges (0.15 kg) – $0.75
  • Tomato (0.20 kg) – $0.96
  • Potato (0.20 kg) – $0.64
  • Onion (0.10 kg) – $0.33
  • Lettuce (0.10 head) – $0.35

The recommended minimum amount of money for food per person per day in Canada is around $15.24

It’s important to note that the prices of everyday food items in Calgary may vary based on multiple factors such as location, type of food, and dining options. Additionally, the prices mentioned above are subject to change over time.

Check this blog post about the Cost of Living for a Family in Canada [2023]

Calgary, Alberta resident’s opinion regarding food prices: One person wrote on a blog post that they have noticed a significant increase in their grocery bills and have to adjust their budget and shopping habits.

They said: “I have been trying to buy more local and seasonal produce, use coupons and flyers, shop at discount stores, and cook more at home. I also try to avoid food waste by planning meals, using leftovers, and freezing or preserving food. It’s not easy, but I hope it will help me save some money and eat healthier.”


Person counting their money and tallying them on their notebook

Living comfortably in Calgary involves considering various expenses beyond housing. Depending on lifestyle, these include clothing, personal care, entertainment, education, and taxes. Examples are the following:

  • Clothing: A person in Calgary, Canada, must pay around C$81/month for basics but excludes luxury items.
  • Personal care: The average cost of living in Canada will include personal care, and a person can expect to pay about C$58/month for essentials, excluding spa services.
  • Entertainment: A single person in Canada will have to pay roughly C$177/month for basics like movies and dining.
  • Education: Varies by type; e.g., a bachelor’s at the University of Calgary averages C$6,000/year, excluding additional costs.
  • Taxes: Income-based, e.g., C$50k/year earns around C$41k net after C$9k taxes. Monthly taxes in Canada.

These are just some Calgary expenses; others depend on your circumstances. Use the travel cost calculator to estimate travel expenses in Calgary.

Careful budgeting becomes crucial for minimum wage workers to cover these costs while maintaining financial stability. Permanent residency may also influence access to public schools and healthcare services, affecting overall expenses.


Person riding a bus in Canada

Transportation expenses in Calgary vary based on factors such as average wages, lifestyle choices, and the mode of transportation. For a single person, costs can range from $100 to $300 per month, depending on factors like owning a car or relying on public transit. Here are the actual costs a single person in Calgary has to pay for transportation:

  • Public Transit: Public transit costs about C$112 per month in Calgary, covering a monthly pass for unlimited bus and train access within the city. This doesn’t account for potential discounts for seniors, students, low-income earners, or people with disabilities.
  • Taxi: Starting at C$4.50, a Calgary taxi averages around C$3.09 per mile and C$40.94 per hour of waiting, excluding tips or surcharges.
  • Car Ownership: Car ownership expenditures vary based on car type, age, maintenance, insurance, and depreciation. The average annual cost in Canada is roughly C$10,000, but specifics depend on the car model and usage.
  • Gasoline: Gasoline in Calgary is about C$5.26 per gallon on average, subject to fluctuations based on oil market supply and demand.

Minimum wage earners must allocate a significant portion of their salary to commuting, underscoring the importance of evaluating transportation expenses within the monthly budget.

Healthcare Cost for A Person with An Average Salary

In Calgary, healthcare is covered by Canada’s public healthcare system, regardless of income level. However, average salaries and household income can impact the ability to pay for additional medical services or insurance coverage. While basic medical needs are met through taxes, individuals or families with higher incomes might opt for supplementary private coverage.

Healthcare expenses are not typically a major concern, allowing residents to expect a certain standard of care and quality of life without substantial out-of-pocket costs.  For additional services, you can take out private coverage; Cigna Global is the recommended provider.

Money Saving Tips for Persons With Average Salaries

Person putting coins on their saving jar

Of course, here’s an expanded version of each money-saving tip for individuals with average salaries:

1. Budget Wisely

Begin by thoroughly examining your financial situation. Take note of your average salary and list all your monthly expenses. Categorize them into essential costs like housing, utilities, groceries, transportation, and non-essential expenditures like entertainment and dining out. Creating a clear budget will give you a comprehensive understanding of your financial inflow and outflow.

2. Cut Unnecessary Expenses

Review your budget critically and pinpoint areas where you can make cuts. Trim down on discretionary spending, such as dining out frequently or subscribing to services you rarely use. Redirect these funds toward your savings goals. It might require some adjustments, but these small sacrifices can make a significant difference over time.

3. Automate Savings

Make saving a seamless part of your financial routine. Set up an automated transfer from your main account to a dedicated savings account as soon as you receive your paycheck. Treating savings as a fixed expense ensures that you consistently put money aside before you’re tempted to spend it on other things.

4. Shop Smart

Before making any purchase, practice mindful spending. Look for sales and discounts, and use coupons whenever possible. Additionally, compare prices across different stores or online platforms to get the best deal. This practice applies not only to groceries but also to larger purchases like electronics or clothing.

5. Reduce Housing Costs

Housing often constitutes a significant portion of your monthly expenses. Consider options to minimize this cost, such as finding a roommate to split rent and utilities or exploring more affordable housing arrangements. Downsizing to a smaller space can also lead to substantial savings over time.

Remember, these tips are not about depriving yourself but about making conscious choices to align your spending with your financial goals. Over time, these habits can lead to increased savings, reduced financial stress, and a brighter financial future.

Final Thoughts About Good Salary in Calgary, Alberta

To conclude, a good salary in Calgary, Alberta, is not a fixed number but a flexible range that can vary depending on your situation and goals. The most important thing is to be realistic about your expectations and plan your budget accordingly.

Doing so lets you enjoy what Calgary offers and achieve your financial objectives. We hope this article has helped you understand the average salary in Calgary, how it compares to other cities in Canada, and what factors affect your income level. Thank you for reading.

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