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Vancouver vs Calgary Which is the better city The results are in!

Vancouver vs Calgary: Which is the better city? The results are in!

The battle between two cities is always fascinating, whether you’re comparing the nightlife, quality of life, or cost of living. 

Today, we compare two Canadian powerhouses – Vancouver and Calgary. These top urban destinations both have their own identities, so which one comes out on top?

If you’re looking for a lower cost of living and transportation, you might find yourself more inclined to choose Calgary. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a vibrant art scene and a lively LGBT community, you might like Vancouver even more. 

In this article, we’ll help you figure out which one’s better by comparing them both in various aspects. 

Size of Vancouver vs Calgary

Size of Vancouver vs Calgary

The total land area of Vancouver is 115.18 km² whereas Calgary is 825.3 km², making Calgary significantly larger by 616%.

It’s worth noting that Calgary is also the largest city in Alberta. Vancouver, by comparison, doesn’t even make the list of the 100 biggest cities in the country!

Population of Vancouver vs Calgary

Population of Vancouver vs Calgary

Calgary’s population is about 80.99% bigger than Vancouver’s, with it having 1,070,930 people at present compared to Vancouver’s 591,675.

There are a lot more people in Calgary, but their difference isn’t that notable as one might expect given the difference in actual land area between the two. 

Where did we get this information? Both cities’ data are all according to records allocated by Statistics Canada

Culture and Lifestyle in Vancouver vs Calgary

Vancouver is for the free-spirited, laid-back, and outdoorsy types. It’s also suitable for those looking for a hipper crowd, and those who have the thirst to express their individuality while dabbling in creativity. 

Meanwhile, Calgary’s population lives a busier and more fast-paced life. People here are family-oriented with community-centered ideals, which is why you’ll find the locals very welcoming. 

The Similarities 

  • Both Vancouver and Calgary are made up of diverse ethnic groups. 
  • Both cities offer big green spaces. 
  • Because both cities offer a lot of green spaces, there’s also a lot of outdoor opportunities to partake in. This includes skiing, kayaking, hiking, and more.
  • Both are in the top 10 of a list of the most livable cities in the world according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), which means residents of both cities have an abundance of green and public spaces, access to healthcare, and a well-structured public transportation system. 
  • Both cities are considered LGBT-friendly. 

The Differences 

  • The day-to-day life in Calgary is a lot more busy and fast-paced compared to Vancouver. While Vancouver also has a lot of exciting opportunities, it’s also known to be more laid-back. 
  • Though both cities are LGBT-friendly, it might be hard to socialize with fellow LGBT folks in Calgary. This is because there’s no specific area for the community to socialize. Meanwhile, you’ll be able to find a lot of the LGBT community in Vancouver hanging out at the Davie Village, which is considered the city’s “gayborhood” if you will. 

Transportation in Vancouver vs Calgary

Both Vancouver and Calgary have efficient and affordable public transportation. That said, it’s a bit more expensive to get around Vancouver, but not by a lot. 

In Vancouver, a one-way ticket for the local transport typically costs around CA$3.10, whereas on average, it would cost CA$3.60 in Calgary. The price difference is largely negligible. 

Nearly everywhere else, the data indicates Calgary costs less for transport than Vancouver. A monthly pass will cost you $125.00 in Vancouver, for instance, while it only costs CA$112 in Calgary. 

Attractions and Entertainment in Vancouver vs Calgary

If seeing the local LGBT community and experiencing the local art scene sounds appealing to you, Vancouver is the place to be. Otherwise, if you prefer watching a rodeo show or experiencing the beautiful local and neighboring views, check out Calgary. 

This is another of the areas where it can be hard to determine which city wins simply because it’s so dependent on preferences. We tried to break it down for you below.

Places to Go in Vancouver vs Calgary

Both places have their share of attractions. A few of the popular attractions in Vancouver include the VanDusen Botanical Garden, Vancouver Aquarium, and Stanley Park. Meanwhile, the popular attractions in Calgary are the Calgary Zoo, the Calgary Tower, and Heritage Park. 

Additionally, there are plenty of skiing hills in Vancouver. It’s also in close proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Calgary is close to popular tourist destinations like the Baff and Rocky Mountains. 

Things to Do in Vancouver

  • Meet new friends at Davie Village – As we mentioned, Davie Village is the gay district of Vancouver. A lot of people come here not only for the community, but also for the bars, clubs, coffee shops, and eateries. 
  • Experience the local art scene – The local art scene in Vancouver is rich and vibrant, which is well worth the exploration. We suggest checking out the Pacific Arts Market, which houses various local artists selling handcrafted goods including ceramics, candles, paintings, and more. 
  • Go whale watching – Whale watching is a popular activity among tourists and locals alike in Vancouver. One of the best spots to do this is at the Telegraph Cove where people often spot grey whales, humpback whales, and minke whales. 

Things to Do in Calgary

  • Catch the Calgary Stampede – The Calgary Stampede is an outdoor rodeo event every July. If you’re planning on going to Calgary during that time, this is a must-see event! Here, you’ll get to watch parades, concerts, chuckwagon racings, and more. 
  • Visit the Heritage Park – The Heritage Park is a history museum that offers a wide variety of exhibits and activities like a big vintage car collection, ghost tours, Christmas markets, and other seasonal events. 
  • Kayak by the Bow River – Bow River is a dreamy attraction where one can do a wide variety of outdoor activities. Kayaking is much-recommended especially if you want to see the surrounding views. Otherwise, you can always do what the locals do – fishing for trout. 

Cost of Living in Vancouver vs Calgary

Ultimately, the cost of living in Vancouver is higher when compared to Calgary because of rent prices. In most other areas, however, the two cities are about equal.

It’s chiefly when it comes to housing that Vancouver is more expensive, especially with the average rent per month being notably more expensive there. That said, there are areas where Calgary comes out more costly, such as utilities and childcare.

Even so, a look at the numbers shows the differences there aren’t as big as in housing, as you see in the table below (the data is from Numbeo). 

ExpensesVancouver CostCalgary Cost
Housing (Average Rent per Month)
1-bedroom apartment (within city center)CA$2,768.65CA$1,781.14
1-bedroom apartment (outside city center)CA$2,226.88CA$1,509.55
3-bedroom apartment (within city center)CA$4,917.19CA$2,967.78
3-bedroom apartment (outside city center)CA$3,768.39CA$2,386.41
Utilities (Average Monthly Bill)
Utility bill for one personCA$141.50CA$347.20
Internet planCA$86.15CA$96.25
Transportation (Fare)
1-way ticket (local transport ticket)CA$3.10CA$3.60
Monthly pass (local transport ticket)CA$125.00CA$112.00
Taxi ride (normal tariff)CA$4.00CA$4.50
Gasoline (1 liter)CA$1.92CA$1.40
Childcare (Tuition Fee)
Preschool (monthly)CA$1,340.83CA$1,204.77
International Primary School (yearly)CA$24,421.78CA$28,775.00

Career Opportunities in Vancouver vs Calgary

Both cities have diverse and ample career opportunities in various sectors, including healthcare, engineering, finance, and education. Both even have the same unemployment rate as of August 2023.

However, employment seems slightly better in Vancouver than Calgary if we base it on the historical unemployment rates for both since 2007.

Based on Immigration News Canada,  the current jobs that are popular in the market in Vancouver are payroll administrators, information systems analysts and consultants, computer programmers, school teacher assistants, and technical sales specialists. 

Meanwhile, according to the same aforementioned website, the in-demand jobs in Calgary are software engineers, registered nurses, financial analysts, project managers, and mechanical engineers. 

According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, as of August 2023, the unemployment rate in Vancouver is 5.8% with a 0.3% increase from the previous month. The unemployment rate for Calgary is currently the same, though the numbers were an improvement compared to the previous month (which was 0.5% greater). 

However, if we compare data that can be allocated for years starting 2007, there’s been a steady drop in the unemployment rate in Vancouver except for the spike in 2020 (likely due to the pandemic). 

Meanwhile, when it comes to Calgary, the numbers are more erratic. There was a slight increase in the unemployment rate in 2009, which eventually decreased the year after up until 2014. 

In 2015 until 2017, the unemployment rate increased and increased much more in 2020. 

Diversity in Vancouver vs Calgary

Vancouver and Calgary are both cities with a diverse group of people. Both of them are filled with 8 ethnic groups, or 9 if you count multiple visible minorities as a whole. 

Based on Wikipedia, both cities are equally diverse. If we break down the ethnic groups in Vancouver, the data comes out to this: 

Ethnic GroupVancouverCalgary
East Asians9.10%5.47%
Southeast Asians6.90%8.49%
South Asians2.78%8.56%
Latin Americans2.44%1.89%
Middle Easterns2.25%3.20%

Healthcare in Vancouver vs Calgary

Citizens in Vancouver and Calgary both have access to good healthcare. However, when it comes to overall competency, efficiency, and patient satisfaction, it seems that Calgary wins based on residents’ assessments – but not by a wide margin.  

Canada as a whole is considered one of the countries with the best healthcare in the world. However, for the purpose of this article, let’s see how Vancouver and Calgary stand individually as cities and as assessed by the people who use the system. 

The Health Care System Index on Numbeo for Vancouver is 72.39 and 72.61 for Calgary, which means Calgary ranks higher – but not by a lot. 

Let’s break it down even further. 

When it comes to the expertise of the medical staff, both cities are ranked high. Calgary ranks a bit higher for this one, which means their medical staff are reported to be a little more proficient compared to the ones in Vancouver. 

When it comes to equipment, it seems that Calgary is also more well-equipped than Vancouver, but the difference isn’t notable. 

If we compare the responsiveness of the medical institutions of both cities, Vancouver health facilities get back to their patients more swiftly.

However, it seems that hospitals in Calgary are faster in terms of concluding reports and exams.

In terms of contentment with the healthcare prices, more people from Vancouver reported that they’re more satisfied with the cost of healthcare than residents in Calgary. 

Overall, it seems that Calgary is a bit more competent in some areas. However, Vancouver health care is still considered quite efficient. Nevertheless, it seems that Calgary wins this round. 


To bring a close to this topic, let’s compare Vancouver and Calgary again side by side to see who’s the winner for you:

FactorsThe Better CityWhy
SizeCalgaryCalgary is much larger than Vancouver in terms of land area.
PopulationCalgaryThere are more people in Calgary than Vancouver, though the difference isn’t that large.
Culture and LifestyleTiedBoth cities have unique cultures and lifestyles. Vancouver is perfect for those on the artsy side, while Calgary is for those looking for a place with a strong sense of community.
TransportationCalgaryIt’s more expensive to get around Vancouver. However, the difference isn’t that great.
Attractions and EntertainmentTiedCalgary offers more activities including the outdoors. Meanwhile, Vancouver is perfect for those who want to explore the local LGBT and art scene.
Cost of LivingCalgaryCalgary wins this round because rent prices are far higher in Vancouver.
Career OpportunitiesVancouverBoth cities offer diverse career opportunities so ultimately, it depends on the individual which ones they prefer. The current unemployment rate is the same but data shows that Vancouver's unemployment rate has been lower than Calgary over the years.
DiversityTiedCalgary and Vancouver both have diverse populations spanning a wide range of ethnic groups.
HealthcareCalgaryIt seems that based on overall efficiency, Calgary has better healthcare. However, Vancouver isn’t far off.

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