7 things about living in Vancouver that are so different from Calgary

This essay article is part of a Narcity Media series. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Narcity Media.

Vancouver and Calgary may be two West Coast cities, but that’s basically where the commonalities end. Everything from people and food to cost of living varies between them.

I’m a proud Vancouverite and haven’t spent much time in Calgary before, so I honestly didn’t give it much thought — until I started working with Cowtown resident Charlie Hart.

Charlie and I are both editors in our respective cities, so know pretty much everything about them.

Once I started chatting with Charlie, I realized how very different our lives were, all because of where we lived.

Although Charlie mentioned the freezing temperatures and rather affordable cost of living in Calgary, it was hard for me to understand.

Every time I talked about traveling to the US from Vancouver for the weekend or diving into the ocean, the difference became even more apparent.

So, we’ve put together all the major things that are wildly different in our lives in the two cities, and here’s what we’ve come up with.


Ashley: People don’t call it Raincouver for no reason. The city rains almost constantly or is gray and cloudy. If there is a nice summer day, the whole city will flock to the beaches. It goes without saying that living in Vancouver you will probably own a pair of rain boots and a huge umbrella.

Charlie: Calgary, on the other hand, is one of the sunniest cities in Canada and rain is practically non-existent. However, we pay for the lack of rain with brutal winter conditions. A massive winter coat is an absolute must.

weekend activities

Ashley: Living in Vancouver, we are so lucky to be so close to so many amazing things. From beautiful mountains to hikes to nearby beaches along the ocean, Vancouver has it all.

Not to mention, if I ever want to hop over to the US for the weekend, it’s a quick and easy drive to the border.

Charlie: Banff has some of the most incredible scenery and hiking in the world, so you can take a short drive out of Calgary and find yourself in a truly beautiful place. Unlike Vancouver, we are not blessed with white sand beaches on the ocean. Instead, you should instead enjoy one of the province’s magnificent swimming holes.

Charlie by a lake.charlie hart | Narcity

the people

Ashley: Vancouver has a classic stereotype that people are hippies. I’d say Vancouver has its fair share of nature-loving hippies and maybe that’s why we’re so passionate about being a green, eco-friendly city. You will see many Vancouverites choosing to ride bicycles rather than drive and more and more people are choosing to go vegan or vegetarian.

Charlie: Calgary is certainly expected to be cowboys all the time and that’s exactly the case when the Calgary Stampede rolls around. You’ll see cowboy hats for miles and almost everyone gets in on the action. Even at other times of the year you can line dance in some of the bars in West Calgary.

Cost of life

Ashley: Vancouver is so expensive. From food to gas prices to rent, it’s hard to save money when you’re constantly spending it on necessities.

Charlie: Calgary has been named one of the most affordable places in the country for housing and even living downtown is quite doable without breaking the bank. Sorry, Vancouver friends!

The culinary scene

Ashley: Vancouver has an amazing food scene and I’m all here for it. Also, if you like seafood, you are in luck because there is no shortage of good seafood cuisine in this city. Sushi is one of my favorite cuisines and Vancouver has so many great options for it.

Charlie: My city’s food scene is vastly underrated. Although we’re known for having some of the best beef around, there are so many talented chefs in town making amazing dishes. From Italian to Japanese, there is something for everyone. Although seafood isn’t our thing, you can try some really wild dishes in Calgary.


Ashley: Honestly, Vancouver nightlife is so bad. Nightclub options are very limited and frankly most people in the city go to bed early.

Charlie: Calgary nightlife is surprisingly good for such a small town. When summer arrives, bars and restaurants are packed, especially if they have a large patio. There are tons of comedy shows, drag nights and quizzes almost every night of the week.

How friendly people are (or not)

Ashley: Vancouverites pretty much avoid talking to others if we can, all together. I’ve heard many people say that it’s hard to make new friends in the city because people don’t usually stand out much from their current friend groups.

Charlie: Calgarians are super nice and I found that quite shocking at first. People are so willing to help and I have never had so many conversations with strangers than in this town. You can always tell people who come from Vancouver or Toronto that they are surprised when strangers talk to them.

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