Pros & cons of living in Alberta vs. BC

aerial view of the city

Deciding where to live in Canada is a big choice. Alberta and British Columbia offer unique opportunities and challenges. That’s why we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of living in Alberta vs. BC. Alberta boasts lower taxes and a strong job market but faces harsh winters and economic volatility. In contrast, BC’s natural beauty and mild climate are appealing, but the high cost of living and traffic congestion can be downsides. By weighing these pros and cons, you can make an informed decision about which province best suits your lifestyle and priorities, before you decide to hire reliable movers Toronto offers to assist with your transition.

The pros of living in Alberta vs. BC

Let’s first take a look at all the benefits of living in the great state of Alberta. The most popular factors include lower taxes, affordable housing options, a strong job market, plenty of outdoor activities, and quality education. These factors greatly influence thousands of people who are keen on moving to Alberta from Ontario, BC, or any other Canadian province. 

Lower taxes

Alberta’s tax landscape stands out for its simplicity and potential savings. One key advantage is the absence of a provincial sales tax (PST). Unlike many other provinces in Canada, Alberta doesn’t add this tax to your everyday purchases, making goods and services generally more affordable. Additionally, Alberta residents are exempt from paying provincial healthcare premiums, further reducing the financial burden on individuals and families.

Income tax rates in Alberta are relatively competitive, with a flat rate applied to all income levels, which can be advantageous for higher earners. This straightforward tax structure simplifies the process of filing income tax returns. Furthermore, Alberta offers various tax credits and deductions to eligible residents, such as the Alberta Family Employment Tax Credit and the Alberta Child and Family Benefit. These incentives can help lower-income households and families.

Calculator, money, and notepad on a table used to calculate the tax difference when living in Alberta vs. BC
One of the most appealing benefits of living in Alberta vs. BC is the fact that you’d have no provincial sales tax.

Strong job market

Alberta boasts a robust job market driven primarily by its thriving energy sector, which includes oil and gas production. The province’s abundant natural resources have attracted both national and international investments, creating a wealth of employment opportunities. The average yearly salary in Alberta ($75,674 per year) is notably higher than in many other Canadian provinces, thanks to the well-paying jobs available in the energy sector. This sector’s success trickles down to various supporting industries, including construction, engineering, and finance. Comparatively, Alberta’s job market often outperforms that of British Columbia (BC). While BC also offers a strong job market, particularly in technology and tourism, it generally has a lower average salary due to its high cost of living, especially in Vancouver

Affordable housing

One of the main benefits of living in Alberta vs. BC is more affordable housing options. The median home value in Alberta is $465,198, which makes it easier for residents to purchase homes. For instance, in cities like Calgary and Edmonton, the cost of housing is generally more budget-friendly than in BC’s major urban centers. Rental costs in Alberta are also relatively reasonable, with the average rent being $1,687. This affordability can be an appealing factor for individuals and families looking for interprovincial movers to help them relocate to Alberta. 

Outdoor activities

Alberta offers a wide array of outdoor activities, which is perfect if you love spending time in nature. The province is renowned for its stunning natural landscapes, including the majestic Rocky Mountains, which provide numerous opportunities for hiking, rock climbing, and camping. Banff and Jasper National Parks are two of the most famous destinations within the Rockies, offering breathtaking vistas and wildlife encounters.

For water lovers, Alberta has many lakes and rivers ideal for fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. The Icefields Parkway, often called one of the world’s most scenic drives, takes you through these beautiful areas.

In the winter, you can enjoy world-class skiing and snowboarding facilities in Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper. Additionally, the province hosts the annual Calgary Stampede, a renowned rodeo and exhibition, and provides extensive bike trails, golf courses, and wildlife sanctuaries.

The Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountains are just one of many beautiful natural places in Alberta.

Quality education

Alberta has a high-quality education system with several prestigious institutions. The University of Alberta consistently ranks among Canada’s top universities. It offers a wide range of programs in fields like science, engineering, and business. The University of Calgary is another respected institution known for its research and innovation. In terms of primary and secondary education, Alberta has a well-regarded K-12 system that emphasizes student outcomes. Several schools, including Strathcona High School in Edmonton and Western Canada High School in Calgary, are recognized for their academic excellence.

Moreover, Alberta is home to significant science institutions such as the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and the National Institute for Nanotechnology. These organizations contribute to the province’s strong research and innovation environment, fostering advancements in various scientific disciplines. If academic pursuits are your main interest, make sure to use the services of the best residential movers Toronto has to offer, to have a smooth relocation while you focus on education.

A man holding a robotic arm
If world-class education is what you pursue for yourself or your children, consider living in Alberta vs. BC to have Canada’s top universities near you.

The cons of living in Alberta vs. BC

Just like any other place on Earth, Alberta comes with certain factors and conditions that maybe won’t be to your liking. Compared to British Columbia, Alberta falls short in areas like economic stability, limited public transportation, and more. 

Harsh winters

Alberta’s winters are known for their harshness, with bitterly cold temperatures and heavy snowfall. The province experiences frigid weather conditions, especially in its northern regions, where temperatures can plummet to well below freezing, often reaching lows of -20°C (-4°F) or even lower. Snow and ice accumulation can lead to hazardous road conditions, making winter driving more treacherous.

BC, on the other hand, offers milder winters in many areas, particularly along the coast. Vancouver, for example, enjoys a temperate climate with average winter temperatures ranging from 0°C to 8°C (32°F to 46°F). This makes BC an appealing choice for those who prefer a more temperate climate and want to avoid the harshness of Alberta’s winters, where average winter temperatures can hover around -10°C (14°F) or lower in some areas. Those extreme weather conditions could cause trouble to even the best long distance movers Toronto offers.

Snowy road, one of the drawbacks of living in Alberta vs. BC
Winters can be very harsh in Alberta, which makes living in BC more appealing.

Economic volatility

Alberta’s economy is characterized by a degree of volatility, primarily due to its heavy reliance on the oil and gas industry. The province’s economic fortunes are closely tied to global energy prices. When oil prices are high, Alberta tends to experience rapid economic growth, with abundant job opportunities and increased government revenues. However, when oil prices plummet, as seen in past downturns, the province faces significant challenges, including job losses, reduced investment, and fiscal deficits.

Conversely, British Columbia enjoys a more stable economy due to its diversified industries, including technology, film, tourism, and agriculture. BC’s economy is less susceptible to the wild fluctuations associated with the energy sector. This diversification provides a buffer against economic downturns and contributes to a more stable job market. While both provinces offer economic opportunities, BC’s resilience to the boom and bust cycles of the energy sector often makes it an attractive choice for individuals seeking a more predictable economic environment.

Distance from the coast

Another benefit of living in BC Vs. Alberta is the distance from the coast. Alberta is a landlocked province in Canada, meaning it does not have direct access to the coast. This geographical feature has several consequences for everyday life in the province. Firstly, Alberta lacks the immediate coastal amenities and activities associated with oceanfront regions, such as beach access and water-related sports. Secondly, the absence of a major port limits international trade opportunities and can affect the cost and availability of certain goods.

BC is located on the west coast of Canada and therefore enjoys the benefits of coastal living. The residents have access to the Pacific Ocean, which provides opportunities for activities like sailing, fishing, and beachcombing. The presence of major ports in BC cities like Vancouver and Victoria facilitates international trade, contributing to the province’s economic diversity. It’s therefore no surprise many people are moving from Ontario to British Columbia, and all other Canadian provinces, in pursuit of a better life.

Trade and cargo ships
British Columbia is a coastal province, which puts it in a more favorable economic position compared to Alberta.

Limited public transportation

Alberta often faces challenges in providing comprehensive public transportation options, especially in its smaller towns and rural areas. The vast and spread-out geography of the state makes it difficult to establish extensive public transit networks. In many rural areas, public transportation may be limited or even non-existent, which can pose difficulties for residents who rely on it for commuting and essential travel.

If you seek a more developed and accessible public transportation system, then BC is the better choice. BC’s urban centers, such as Vancouver and Victoria, have well-established public transit networks, including buses, sky trains, and ferries. This facilitates convenient and efficient transportation within cities and surrounding areas. BC’s commitment to public transportation aligns with its focus on sustainability and environmental initiatives. It makes it easier for residents and visitors to rely on transit options. Overall, the contrast in public transportation availability highlights one of the differences in urban planning and infrastructure between the two provinces.

Environmental concerns

Alberta faces environmental concerns primarily related to its resource-driven economy, particularly the oil and gas industry. The extraction and production of fossil fuels in the province can result in environmental challenges. One of the significant issues is air pollution, including greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change and can affect air quality. This can potentially lead to health problems and reduced overall quality of life for residents.

Additionally, concerns over water pollution, habitat destruction, and biodiversity loss have arisen due to industrial activities in Alberta, impacting the environment and wildlife. The province has taken steps to address these issues through regulations and environmental initiatives, but they remain significant concerns. Balancing economic growth with environmental stewardship is an ongoing challenge for Alberta, and residents must contend with the potential consequences on air and water quality, natural landscapes, and overall environmental health.

Oil rig in the ocean
If a more sustainable environment is what you’re after, you’d be better off living in BC vs. Alberta.

Choose wisely!

British Columbia is celebrated for its rich multicultural atmosphere, with cities like Vancouver and Victoria epitomizing this diversity through cultural festivals, international cuisines, and myriad languages spoken. This contrasts with Alberta, where cities like Calgary and Edmonton also buzz with cultural richness, albeit with a more traditional vibe. Alberta’s healthcare is solid, yet often leans more towards conventional treatment methods. BC’s commitment to healthcare is exemplified by its emphasis on preventive care and public health initiatives, promoting the well-being of its residents. If you wish your delicate items to be packed and moved with the same level of care, use the trustworthy packing services Toronto movers provide and enjoy a smooth move. 

The decision of living in Alberta Vs. BC is entirely up to you!

Living in Alberta vs. BC offers numerous benefits, but so does the other way around. If you want a high-paying job, an excellent education, and an affordable cost of living, Alberta is the way to go. On the other hand, some people prefer BC due to its milder climate, multiculturalism, and a more stable economy. While you’re still choosing your next destination, rent safe and secure storage units Toronto has to offer to safeguard your items while you pack for your upcoming move!