One of the first questions I get asked by Edmontonians is “why did you move to Edmonton?”. This is genuinely asked with a hefty dose of bafflement. After all, I had so many other provinces and cities in Canada to choose from so why Edmonton.
I usually shrug and give them an inane response “I don’t know why I made that choice”, but the truth is I know why I chose Edmonton. A few commonly known facts about Edmonton include;
Edmonton is the provincial capital of Alberta in Canada. It is the most northerly city in North America and it is known for its extreme seasonal climate – read that as harsh (wicked) winters.
So what brought a heat-loving girl from the tropics to Edmonton? I’ll tell you.
Edmonton has one of the most diverse populations in Canada. In several big Canadian cities, you can instantly pinpoint the dominant migrant population e.g. in Vancouver or in Toronto. Not so much Edmonton. There is a mix of everyone here and this is reflective in the fabric of the City. This huge diversity influences the people you meet day to day, the festivals we have, the food is very multicultural. It is just a mix of everything.
There are more employment opportunities in Edmonton. I didn’t move to Edmonton with a lot of money. Honestly, I had about $200 in cash. The next day after landing Edmonton, I was out and about looking for a survival job. I got one as a waitress the very next evening. While waiting tables, I kept applying for professional jobs and taking evening certification classes. It probably took about 3 months before I was able to get a really good professional job. Alberta is second only to Saudi Arabia in oil reserves, that makes it oil country. Apart from the abundance of oil jobs, there is also an abundance of other kinds of jobs.
Edmonton is easy to get around. This point might be debatable depending on who you talk to but, I have lived in Edmonton for over 3 years without a car. Granted, I live right downtown and everything I need is within walking or busing distance, but even other communities in Edmonton are designed to be very self-sufficient that you can go around quite easily.
*Public transit is definitely not the best but at least it’s there.
Alberta is beautiful. So this is not quite about Edmonton but people from all over the world come to see and experience the Canadian Rockies. It is stunningly beautiful and very accessible for those who live here.
Edmonton is the City of Festivals. Throughout the summer, there are activities every day. A few include Heritage days, Taste of Edmonton, Folk fest, CariWest, Fringe festival and more more.
Edmonton is quite affordable. We pay only 5% GST (tax) in Alberta and then rent was cheaper in Edmonton than in Calgary so your money goes a long way.
A few negatives about Edmonton in my opinion are;
The weather … Winter is so bad, so long, so cold. It is not even humid, it’s the dry cold and wind chill. It is the worst. But compared to being warmer in another city and broke… let’s freeze then.
When I first got to Edmonton, I was a little annoyed at the monstrous big trucks with overly jacked up wheels, loud engines, and blaring music (this is definitely a “me” problem) but that is now mostly non-existent now as the oil industry has slowed down in the last couple of years and those fine people with their big trucks either couldn’t afford them anymore or just moved away :).
I think crime is quite common in Edmonton. While I haven’t been personally involved in an incident, I have been chased by substance-dependent people (druggies) several times, a function of living downtown where a lot of that demographic either live or do business. I have also read about someone getting shot right outside a red arrow bus stop which is a block from me (probably gang-related), a man killed in the mall in his flower shop, and a friend had their house robbed.
Understandably almost every city in the world would have some measure of crime so I don’t think this should influence the decision to move to Edmonton.
Edmonton has been exceedingly good to me, and if you are thinking of moving here, then by all means do. You would not find a City with more opportunities and lovely people. Just make sure you come prepared for the winter because I assure you, it will come.