Calgary has always been a foreigner magnet, and for a good reason. The city is clean, safe, and has a great economy. In fact, it’s estimated that 30% of Calgary’s population comprises immigrants. The number keeps growing as expats, and international students flock to the city. However, with the recent downturn in the oil industry, many people are wondering what a reasonable salary looks like in Calgary.
An annual gross salary of $70,000 is considered good enough for a single person in Calgary. The amount translates to around $52,000 after tax. Monthly, you will end up with $4,300, which is above the average. The amount will afford you the basics, a few weekend getaways, and two holidays in a year.
Calgary has a favorable geographical location and is the third most preferred city by expats 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?
A single individual earning a salary of $70,000 is considered a good place as this is 15% higher than the average pay. If you have a family of two adults without children, depending on a single revenue, you need to aim and negotiate for $80,000, given that the expenses will be higher.
Earning $70,000 will afford you a decent lifestyle in Calgary as you can afford a two-bedroom house with the utilities paid effortlessly.
You will also be able to save some cash and a few weekend getaways; if you are outgoing, you could even afford to go on holiday.
Calgary remains among the top five best cities in Canada, and it’s also the most livable city offering high chances of a work-life balance. Here’s how it compares to the rest in terms of average salary:
|City||Average salary ($)|
Alberta, as a province, has the highest minimum wage in entire Canada at $15 per hour, as seen below:
The high pay rate in Calgary attracts top talent from across the world, making it more competitive compared to other cities in the country.
A $4,300 monthly net salary which is considered good pay in Calgary, can afford you the following:
- One-bedroom rent within the city center: $1,500
- Groceries: $500
- Monthly transport pass within the city: $100
- Utilities: $300
- Sports and leisure: $200
- Clothes: $200
- Discretionary income: $200
You still have $1,300 remaining after distributing your salary, as highlighted. As a single person with limited responsibilities, you can opt to save half the amount of $650 and use the rest for weekend getaways.
How you spend the remainder depends on your goals and perspective in life.
Calgary salary rates remain a favorite for expats, entry-level employees, and student workers, especially in these industries:
- Hotel industry
You have probably heard of the Calgary Stampede, an annual event that attracts over a million visitors. This event alone creates many opportunities in the tourism and hotel industry.
Example of a good salary in Calgary
The average salary in Calgary is between $50,000 and $65,000. If you fall within this range, as a single person, you will be able to get by, but you can’t afford to be extravagant.
A family of two adults without kids relying on a single revenue source should aim for anywhere between $65,000 to $70,000.
It all changes when you have kids in the picture; for instance, a family comprising two adults and two kids ought to work and strive to earn nothing short of $85,000. Kids change the equation because the expenses escalate, and they also have more demands.
Education in the public schools in Calgary is free even for foreigners who are expats and have permanent residency. You should consider the public schools’ option instead of the private ones with a high cost.
As a foreigner, to live comfortably in Calgary, you need to negotiate for a salary of $50,000 and above, which translates to $36,000 after tax. Over the years, Calgary has charged low tax rates to both residents and foreigners, making it more attractive.
If you fall below $131,220 annual income, you’ll only be charged 10% tax, after which any amount above this is charged as per the bracket it falls under, as seen below:
These are friendly tax rates compared to other provinces in Canada, such as Vancouver, which charges more than 12% for the first $130,000.
The cost of living in Calgary is considered affordable since it offers the second-lowest cost of livelihood rates after Quebec.
Approximately the average cost of living in Calgary is $2,070. For this reason, you should aim to get a monthly net salary of $3,000, which will leave you with more to save and celebrate life.
Average salary in Calgary in 2023
Calgary offers a variety of opportunities in different fields. The options range from entry-level jobs to expats level. Your skill set and experience will determine your entry point.
Alberta government has been at the forefront in attracting foreigners to work in Calgary and the neighboring cities, especially after the gap raised by the pandemic.
The scarcity of workers has led to an upward review of salaries in different sectors, making Calgary city more competitive in the job market.
As you consider taking up a job opportunity in Calgary, take a look at the average salaries for the different jobs and compare whether the move is worthwhile.
The average salary across different jobs:
Typical jobs and salaries in Calgary:
|Job||Median salary (CA)|
|C LEVEL EXECUTIVE||$165,476|
|HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER||$83,493|
How much do you need to make to live comfortably in Calgary?
Living comfortably in any area depends on your relationship with money, especially the spending patterns and responsibilities you have.
A single person without dependents will have different spending habits compared to one with a family, even if they earned the same amount.
As a single person without dependents to live comfortably in Calgary, you need to negotiate for a minimum net salary of $3,000.
Assuming you are a family of four, with two adults and two kids, the minimum you ought to earn in Calgary to live comfortably is $5,000 and above. The difference depends on the customized needs of each person.
Overall, here’s how major life expenses compare in Calgary:
The size of the house you pick will determine how much you pay for rent. If you desire a spacious home or you have dependents, then you’ll go for anything from a two-bedroom.
A studio apartment is enough if you are frugal or live alone and don’t need that much space.
Here is a breakdown of the rent range in Calgary:
Housing in Calgary will be your highest expense, given that the city is known for high rental rates. It’s famed for having an annual rent increment attributed to the ever-rising demand for housing as the city grows.
Food in Calgary is relatively affordable. The Geographical location allows Calgary to be the center where most agricultural products are traded.
Moreover, the larger Alberta province has a vibrant agricultural industry, which also contributes to the availability of a variety of food at an affordable prices.
A single person can set aside $500, which will be more than enough for food and groceries.
The number of dependents, however, impacts to a great extent how much you set out for food. If you have kids, you can expect to spend more on food, especially if they are not yet school-going, as they will feed more when they remain indoors all day.
Here is the price range of everyday food items to help you plan:
After working hard, you’ll need to cool off and eat out for a change; that shouldn’t be a cause for alarm in Calgary as the hotel industry is thriving and vibrant.
Where you choose to eat out will be influenced by the budget that you set out. There is a place for every budget. If you are on a low budget and want to eat out, you can head south to downtown, where there’s affordable and quality food.
How many times you eat out in a month depends on the budget, the restaurant you choose, and whether you settle the bill on a date.
Restaurants in Calgary fall under several categories where the same meal will have a different cost across the establishments. For instance, the same meal could vary in cost as follows:
- High-end restaurants: $100 +
- Expensive: $70 to $90
- Middle level: $50-$70
- Inexpensive: Below $50
If you are on a budget, you can get affordable restaurants where a meal goes for between $15 to $20.
Getting around Calgary is easy as the public transport system is well established. It’s estimated over 50% of the workforce in Calgary depends on the system.
Public transport in Calgary comprises the light train system, public buses with over 150 routes, and shared rides.
As a foreigner trying to save money on every opportunity, you should get a monthly pass. The pass will cost you around $110 for adults above 18 years and $80 for those under 18 years. Kids below six years don’t pay for transport.
In Canada, public health insurance is covered by your monthly taxes deducted from your salary. Costs are pretty low: between C$50 to C$100 per month. For additional services, you can take out private coverage; Cigna Global is the recommended provider.
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