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Old Aug 6, 10, 7:30 am   #1
 
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Living in Calgary without a car?

Is it possible to live in Calgary without a car?

Specifically, if your office is downtown (near a C-train rail stop) and you live in a downtown apartment/condo* (again, near a train stop), could you get along decently enough to not need a car?

Or, as an alternative, could you go "car-less" during the week and then simply rent a car** on the weekends to do one's grocery shopping, errand running, vacation driving to the mountains, etc?

I ask because: (i) I may be relocating to Calgary and the prospect of trying to import my car from the States to Alberta appears to be less than fun; (ii) my winter driving skills are non-existent, and so I'd rather not have to deal with driving to work in the winter; and (iii) going car-less, if possible, seems like it would be a great way to save some money.

Thanks.



* I'm assuming that such places exist; I've never been to Calgary, but surely there are high rise apartments downtown, no?

** Again, I'm assuming that Calgary has rental car locations near the downtown area.
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Old Aug 6, 10, 10:44 am   #2
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Actually, you'd be saving a ton of money and time since you won't need to drive and park downtown. Calgary has the reputation of having the highest parking rates in all of Canada.

And, yes to both your Q's.
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Old Aug 6, 10, 11:38 am   #3
 
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Originally Posted by uncertaintraveler View Post
* I'm assuming that such places exist; I've never been to Calgary, but surely there are high rise apartments downtown, no?
One can even live in downtown Calgary without even walking outside, much less getting into a car. And besides rentals, consider car-sharing.
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Old Aug 6, 10, 12:35 pm   #4
 
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Most Canadian cities are well designed for living without a car, provided you live within city limits and reasonably close to public transport.

Montreal, Toronto, Quebec, Vancouver, Ottawa, for certain. Calgary, I believe so too.

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Old Aug 6, 10, 1:11 pm   #5
 
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Living in YYC sans car is do-able, but obviously it will be limiting. Calgary is bigger than you may think so getting from one end of town to the other without a car may take planning and time.

I say this next part respectfully. YYC always reminds me of an American city in that the downtown is mostly offices and people for the most part seem to live out in the burbs. To me, downtown YYC after working hours seems very deserted. (I'm talking specifically the area from Eau Claire Market over towards the Fairmont.)

I hasten to add that YYC is very safe, like pretty much any other Canadian city. It's just that the downtown seems to lack a certain vibrancy. The usual conveniences are there though and the +15s are a great way to get around once you figure out which way is which. In terms of car rental there's an Avis right downtown and there is at least one car sharing program too.

I do have to say that YYC is a lovely place and I'm forever envious of people who live there as the proximity to Banff is almost reason enough to move there.
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Old Aug 6, 10, 1:15 pm   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncertaintraveler View Post
my winter driving skills are non-existent
Not scare-mongering, but YYC is a place that has real winter. Fortunately they have real winter outdoor activites to go along with it, but you'd do well to prepare for dealing with 4 seasons

In the end, winter driving is not super hard but you do have to maintain extra vigilence. Ease yourself into it and you'll be fine.
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Old Aug 6, 10, 1:38 pm   #7
 
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Originally Posted by RCyyz View Post

I say this next part respectfully. YYC always reminds me of an American city in that the downtown is mostly offices and people for the most part seem to live out in the burbs. To me, downtown YYC after working hours seems very deserted. (I'm talking specifically the area from Eau Claire Market over towards the Fairmont.)
True...downtown proper lacks the vibrancy of Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal. I wouldn't look for a condo in the actual downtown core. The neighbourhoods that surround downtown would be my choice if you want a little more vibrancy...Hillhurst/Sunnyside in the NW, Bridgeland in the NE, Inglewood in the SE, and The Beltline in the SW. Lots of condos and apartments in all these areas.

And to the OP...Yes you can live in YYC without a car, but as mentioned above it is a very large sprawling city where the car (well actually the SUV/truck) is king.
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Old Aug 6, 10, 2:05 pm   #8
 
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Thank you all very much, particularly for the car-sharing website link.



Quote:
Originally Posted by yycworldtraveler View Post
True...downtown proper lacks the vibrancy of Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal. I wouldn't look for a condo in the actual downtown core. The neighbourhoods that surround downtown would be my choice if you want a little more vibrancy...Hillhurst/Sunnyside in the NW, Bridgeland in the NE, Inglewood in the SE, and The Beltline in the SW. Lots of condos and apartments in all these areas.
My company's office is in the downtown core and, for the reasons I gave in my OP, thought the idea of living downtown would be wise.

That said, are the areas that you identified easily accessible by the train line? I can't quite explain it, but I find dealing with trains a lot less hassle than dealing with buses (or than dealing with a bus and train connection).


Quote:
Originally Posted by yycworldtraveler View Post
And to the OP...Yes you can live in YYC without a car, but as mentioned above it is a very large sprawling city where the car (well actually the SUV/truck) is king.
Sounds a bit like Houston.

Quite honestly, Houston is pretty sprawling as well, but other than driving to work, I only use my car to get groceries once a week and maybe to run a few errands. I hardly ever go outside of my little 6 mile radius, and I suspect that living in Calgary would be much the same.

If I wanted to go to the mountains, obviously I'd have to rent a car, but surely even a weekend rental every week would end up being cheaper than owning (whether by importing my current car or simply buying one when I get there), maintaining, and insuring a car, no?
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Old Aug 6, 10, 2:31 pm   #9
 
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Here's a link to Calgary Transit. The pdf map of all the routes is quite detailed.

You're talking about Houston & Calgary - probably safe to assume you're an oil & gas guy eh?

You may find Canadian life a bit different from the American way. Personally I find that as soon as you get outside of YYZ, people become normal and less hard-a$$ed. Though I really enjoy living & working in YYZ, the sometimes less than charitable perception that some Canadians carry about YYZ is not entirely unjustified.

To that end, I find folks in YYC to be hard-working of course, but at the same time more able to relax. (Especially at Stampede!) While Canadians don't quite have the European "I work in order to live" mentality, we don't entirely have the American "I live in order to work" mentality either.

You may find that getting outside of a 10km radius is not all that uncommon during the week. Or you may find yourself chained to your desk. Who knows? But I will say that despite my aforementioned perception that downtown YYC is deserted, YYC as a whole is far from being a place where all you do is work during the week. I suspect that on the whole, you'll end up doing more than just going to work, going home day after day.
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Old Aug 6, 10, 3:01 pm   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncertaintraveler View Post
That said, are the areas that you identified easily accessible by the train line? I can't quite explain it, but I find dealing with trains a lot less hassle than dealing with buses (or than dealing with a bus and train connection).

Hillhurst/Sunnyside is the first C-Train stop outside of downtown on the NW line.

Bridgeland is the first first C-train stop outside of downtown on the NE line.

The Beltline and Inglewood are not served by the LRT. Many, if not most, of the people living in The Beltline walk to their offices downtown.

The Stampede and Erlton C-train stations on the South line have some new condo towers in close proximity as well.
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Old Aug 7, 10, 1:33 pm   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RCyyz View Post
You're talking about Houston & Calgary - probably safe to assume you're an oil & gas guy eh?
Perhaps...

Quote:
Originally Posted by yycworldtraveler View Post
Hillhurst/Sunnyside is the first C-Train stop outside of downtown on the NW line.

Bridgeland is the first first C-train stop outside of downtown on the NE line.

The Beltline and Inglewood are not served by the LRT. Many, if not most, of the people living in The Beltline walk to their offices downtown.

The Stampede and Erlton C-train stations on the South line have some new condo towers in close proximity as well.
Thank you.
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Old Aug 10, 10, 11:59 am   #12
 
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It's always a good idea to remain close to your workplace regardless whether you commute by car or transit. Due to it's proximity to the mountains, Calgary is prone to unstable weather, both in the summer and the winter months. As the C-Train system is entirely above ground, keep this in mind when commuting!
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Old Aug 10, 10, 4:40 pm   #13
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncertaintraveler View Post
That said, are the areas that you identified easily accessible by the train line? I can't quite explain it, but I find dealing with trains a lot less hassle than dealing with buses (or than dealing with a bus and train connection).
Ah, but your premise is based on an efficient train system, which Calgary's is the antithesis of. It's a poorly planned, over-crowded, 3rd world banana republic excuse of a mass transit system. It's all well and good to think about living in one of the neighbourhoods just outside the core and taking the train into downtown, but in rush hour, you could be looking at a 2 or 3 train wait to get onboard. And the system interacts with traffic downtown, so during rush hour, trains get backed up, and it can take 30 minutes to go 2 stops.

As someone who lives in Inglewood (which is just outside the core), I find the bus system works great. During rush hour there are various express routes and regular buses that go by, and I would say that between 7 and 8 AM, no fewer than 15 buses run through the nieghbourhood.

I agree with the other posters about not living on the C-Train line downtown. The area along the line is deserted after 6PM, and some people don't feel like it's the safest (although DT Calgary is very, very safe compared to most other cities its size). I would recommend either Inglewood/Ramsay or Kensington/Sunnyside (which are accessible by foot or bus into downtown, no more than a 30 minute walk), or somewhere around 17th Avenue SW. You'll find life far more enjoyable in any of those areas.
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Old Aug 11, 10, 3:05 pm   #14
 
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Originally Posted by VoodooYYC View Post
I would recommend either Inglewood/Ramsay or Kensington/Sunnyside (which are accessible by foot or bus into downtown, no more than a 30 minute walk), or somewhere around 17th Avenue SW. You'll find life far more enjoyable in any of those areas.
Allow me to show my ignorance for a moment:

Is the 30-minute walk reasonably do-able during the darkest and coldest days of winter?
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Old Aug 11, 10, 9:29 pm   #15
 
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Originally Posted by uncertaintraveler View Post
Is the 30-minute walk reasonably do-able during the darkest and coldest days of winter?
I'm Canadian and even I think that Calgary can get pretty damn cold sometimes! On the "coldest days of winter" you probably won't enjoy being outside for too long. I'll leave it to the locals to comment further though.
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