Lifestyle in Calgary

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Calgary LifestyleLike most of Canada, Calgary's lifestyle is focused more on outdoor recreation than urban entertainment. With over 8,000 hectares of open space and parkland, this is a city that will suit expats who would rather spend their time in natural surroundings than in shopping malls; and who prefer doing things to being passively entertained. It's the perfect place to raise a family which is healthy and active.

Outdoor sports are hugely popular in Calgary. In the warm summer months, expats can enjoy fishing on the gorgeous Bow River, golf on one of many perfectly-manicured courses or go horseback riding and mountain-biking. For the more extreme nature enthusiasts, canoeing and white-water rafting through nearby mountain valleys awaits. Camping, hiking and wildlife-watching are also celebrated summer activities in Calgary. Moreover, many of these spots are not only breathtakingly beautiful but also easily accessible from the city.

Outdoor activities in Calgary

The main attraction – and the lifeblood of Calgary's outdoor leisure scene – is the city's close proximity to the majestic Rocky Mountains. Just 50 miles (80km) from downtown Calgary, the Rockies are celebrated around the world not only for their pristine beauty but also for the wide range of activities on offer among their snowy peaks. Skiing and snowboarding are the most popular pursuits but, for those just wishing to relax and soak up the alpine atmosphere, there are numerous resort towns.

Expats should be sure not to miss Lake Moraine – a spectacular, turquoise-blue, glacially-fed body of water hemmed in by towering pine trees. For true winter sport enthusiasts, Canada's Olympic Park offers plenty of space and expert coaching for novices to hone their skills on the slopes.  

Entertainment and eating out in Calgary

Alberta is known as the 'most American' of Canada's provinces and an important aspect of the lifestyle in Calgary is a real, continuing pride in the trappings of its frontier history – hence the plethora of rodeo shows, steakhouses and 'western wear' outlets throughout the city. 

In terms of culture and dining opportunities, Calgary does indeed lag behind other, more cosmopolitan Canadian cities. The Calgary restaurant scene is by all accounts solid, if not spectacular. Diners can try a whole host of ethnic cuisines such as Thai, Chinese, Indian, Arabic and Italian foods at the eateries on International Avenue. Calgary's nightlife is dominated by generic (and largely cowboy-themed) bars and clubs.

Shopping in Calgary

As far as shopping is concerned, there is an assortment of malls in and around Calgary, and some interesting curio shops lining International Avenue – but the highlight must be the weekly Calgary Farmers' Market, where shoppers can buy bison sausage, elk steaks, artisanal bread and a wide range of fresh dairy products. Suffice it to say that the lifestyle in Calgary is not suited to shopaholics. However, if the need becomes too great, the very large West Edmonton Mall is about three hours' drive away. 

It must also be mentioned that during mid-winter, life in Calgary can be a little trying. It can get extremely cold in late December and early January and expats will need to get accustomed to seeing hardly anyone out on the streets, and to dividing their time between their cars and the great indoors.

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