Jump to content

Edmonton, AB


abcd_grad
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hi guys

I have been accepted at UofA and so I'm seriously thinking about moving to Edmonton for grad school this fall. Has any of you ever lived there? I would appreciate any info and/or personal views you may want to share about the city :) I should also probably say that where I come from rarely sees temperatures below +10C so I do realize the weather might be the biggest challenge for me (although I'm kinda looking forward to it) so any tips on adjusting to the weather would also be helpful. Here are a few other things that come to mind:

Cost of living?

In general, how's the public transport system across the city?

I think I'd prefer to live off-campus so what neighbourhoods are safe (i.e. safe enough to walk home from the nearest bus stop at night), close to uni and/or well served by public transport?

Anything particularly interesting/important you think I should know?

Cheers,

european

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've never actually lived in Edmonton, though I've lived in Western Alberta for about a year and a half now and have spent a lot of time in the city and some time on the campus, so I'll see if I can help you out some.

The weather. If you're used to 10C, YES, it's going to be cold (and dark) for you here. However, it might not be as cold as you might think. I used to look funny at people when they tried to explain to me the difference between a "dry" and "wet" cold, but you really do notice it. I've lived in Toronto where winter temperatures frequently dip to -10 and -15C and, for me at least, this feels at least as cold (if not colder) than -25C in Edmonton because of the (lack of) moisture factor. Now, there will be times in January and February when overnight temperatures dive down to -40C (and sometimes even -50C). Now that's cold, whether wet or dry. But that won't be even close to most of the time. You also get some chinooks that roll over the mountains and bring temperatures above 0C (sometimes well above) in the winter months, giving you something of a respite from time to time.

Also, for what it's worth, I think summers here are very short, but awesome while they last. Lots of sunshine, no humidity, and comfortable temperatures in the 20s. Those 20 hour-long days are also really wild in June and July.

Cost of living. Again, I don't actually live in the city, and as such I'm probably not the best person to ask this for this very reason. I'm not sure what impact the recent economic crash has had, but before last October Alberta's economy was soaring and demand for housing far outstripped supply in most cities here, including Edmonton, thus leading to some pretty inflated rents. As for where to live, there are lots of decent neighbourhoods in the U of A area. The area just south of the university seems pretty safe and liveable and is probably your best bet. There are also bus lines that can give you a short lift to campus. The city's west end (Stony Plain Rd., etc.), however, is notoriously bad and very sketchy. Northeast of downtown is probably the worst part of the city, but also far from the university anyways. Downtown is also kind of dead at night and gives me the creeps, but otherwise is probably still relatively safe.

Public transit is kind of shitty if you're used to bigger cities, but still serviceable. I wouldn't want to depend on it to commute across the city, however. (waiting in shelters for bus transfers in the winter is not my thing).

In general? Edmonton's a pretty cool city with both pluses and minuses. The downtown, as I mentioned, is surprisingly dilapidated for a city undergoing a "boom" of sorts (especially in comparison to nearby Calgary) -- and this is in part, I think, due to the prominence of the West Edmonton Mall which negates a lot of demand for retail and leisure space in the downtown. In this way, the West Ed Mall is something of an albatross for the city, particularly if you're someone who, like me, hates malls with a passion (I am, however, a big fan of the waterslides at West Ed -- sooo much fun). However, the Whyte (82nd) Ave. strip, across the river from downtown and adjacent to campus, is pretty funky derives a lot of energy from the university. There are lots of pubs, coffee shops, record stores and book stores to keep you occupied. There is also enough of a theatre/art/music scene in Edmonton to distract you if you're into that sort of thing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the detailed reply Izimbra_ :)

As for where to live, there are lots of decent neighbourhoods in the U of A area. The area just south of the university seems pretty safe and liveable and is probably your best bet. There are also bus lines that can give you a short lift to campus.

Normally I wouldn't mind walking but since the winter in Edmonton seems to be very long and cold, I want to make sure I won't have to spend more time than necessary outside in the cold.

Public transit is kind of shitty if you're used to bigger cities, but still serviceable. I wouldn't want to depend on it to commute across the city, however. (waiting in shelters for bus transfers in the winter is not my thing).

I've always lived in places where transport was very unreliable - buses not showing up, waiting for more than 20-30 minutes on a bus stop...you get the idea. So what I'm looking for is somewhere with a higher bus frequency and decent night service for those times I need to stay at uni until late.

As for the cost of living, the university does offer some guidelines ($10 000 - $13000 CAD) but I wanted to see how realistic that is.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

haha, well unfortunately, "higher frequency" and "night service" are two phrases that don't go well together when discussing Edmonton transit. That's why when I'm out with friends there we usually just get a cab. You're probably looking at a 20-30 minute frequency for most routes in the later evening hours. But if you're catching a bus right from the Campus hub there will be warm areas for you to wait when it gets really cold. So you'll just have to be strategic with your apartment search and look for a place south or east of campus that you can access easily from one of the routes that come through the university. That way you won't have to worry about transfers or long walks. I don't think you'd have a problem finding such a place, as there are lots of nice and safe places to live in this area, and 3-4 routes, I think, that go through campus. You could also live downtown somewhere where you have convenient access to the LRT (light-rail) which runs quite frequently - and underground - for those cold windy nights.

Also, speaking of the LRT, I forgot to mention in my last post that there is a new extension going from the university southwards that should be up and running in a year or so. That's something you could take advantage of after your first year if you're going to be there for the longer term. If you lived within easy walking distance of that line then you'll have much higher-frequency transit at 10-15 mins. than you would with the current bus routes. Plus, I imagine you'd be catching the LRT in the underground as well.

To give you a better idea of what you're working with since you seem to have pretty specific preferences, you can also access the ETS website at http://www.edmonton.ca/transportation/e ... m-ets.aspx which is pretty handy for routes/schedules/maps.

As for cost of living, again, I don't want to comment too specifically since I don't actually live in the city and have no idea how much rents have fluctuated in the past year. I can say, however, that 10k is definitely stretching it unless you're going to be living frugally and rooming with 2-3+ people. 13k sounds more realistic to me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks for your replies Izimbra :) You mentioned that you usually take a cab when you go out with your friends. How much would a typical ride cost, approx $/km, $/min or I don't know, say, from White Avenue to somewhere south of U of A (near the South Campus)?

When do you think would be a better time to look for accommodation? The international office suggests arriving at least 2 weeks before classes start. Would that really be enough? Or should I aim to arrive even earlier?

Anybody else planning to go to U of A?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My friends there live downtown, so I'm usually not going far by cab whether it's from Whyte Ave. or somewhere else downtown. It's not too expensive when we do it. Maybe $10-$15. It would probably be that or even less if you're just going from Whyte to south of campus, because Whyte is just a stone's throw from U of A.

Good time to look for apartments? Like I said, I've never actually lived in the city, but two weeks is cutting it pretty short for my tastes. Anywhere I've ever lived in this country I've always started my housing search at least a month ahead of time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I'm planning on going to the U of A this fall. I've only been to Edmonton once or twice, so I'm not *entirely* sure what to expect. I'm fortunate enough to have accommodations already taken care of, though - I think it's just off of Whyte Ave., actually, so it's nice to hear that it's a nifty place to live!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

The 'Alberta Advantage' does not extend to non-CEOs, I'm afraid. I grew up in Alberta, and I'm going back there after spending seven years in Vancouver. I'm looking forward to it and I'm oh so very ready to leave the coast, but every once in a while I remember some of the ridiculous political stuff and wonder what I've signed up for. Like flashing back to the day they cut a quarter of my elementary school's teaching staff. Or how people used to complain that my GLBT-friendly high school was 'spoiling' people by not forcing them to stay in the closet, because they should just get used to the crappy treatment they'd get once high school ended.

Seeing the sun again will be worth it, though. That and the lack of hippies. :lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well there must be some hippies on campus, the political science department seems fairly liberal. My supervisor said the southern part of Alberta is where it's bizzaro world, filled with religious fundies, but Edmonton, especially the university area is alright. I think they have a NDP MP, which is pretty sweet.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's true. If you look at the maps of elections results, Edmonton is this little island of Liberals in a sea of Conservatives. The area around the university is pretty engaged and tolerant. But I'm left wing in Edmonton, and somehow come across as centre-right in Vancouver. Edmonton hippies =/= Vancouver hippies.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 9 months later...

It looks like I'll be heading to Edmonton this year. I was wondering, with the new LRT stations opening soon, should I consider living somewhere close to Southgate? Or would somewhere close to Whyte Av or McKernan/Belgravia (or even downtown) be better? How about the cost of living? I do have some funding (TA/RA), but I'm not sure if it's enough to live on - especially since I'll have to pay taxes on that.

Anybody living there already or else heading there this fall?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Back when I lived there, I lived up near 109th St and 76th Avenue. It was a bit of a trek walking to campus in the mornings but there was a bus that I didn't use. Most of my friends lived closer to Whyte Ave or in apartments closer to campus. It is nice to be able to walk (even in the winter if you dress right).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've lived in Edmonton for almost eight years, but I'll be moving away this fall to do my PhD in the US.

The Whyte Ave/University area is really nice, and if you can afford to live there I would recommend it. There's a great Farmer's Market on Saturdays just north of Whyte Ave at 103 St.

However, if you can find a good place near Southgate (or even the next stop down the line, Heritage Station), the train will be running. Also, all grad students get a `UPass' which means you can take the train and bus for free (well, you pay for it in your fees). You wouldn't be able to walk everywhere the way you could if you lived by campus, but it would definitely be manageable.

The other advantage to living by Whyte Ave is if you're ever out late (with friends, etc) you can just walk home and you won't have to take an expensive cab ride.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

I'm a pretty new student at the U of A. I moved out here in September, and I find Edmonton to be a nice city honestly. I was sort of bummed about moving to Alberta because I'm quite radical (not left or right wing.. just sort of off that spectrum entirely!). I was very pleased to find Edmonton to be a relatively progressive place.

I live near the century park station one stop south of southgate mall. It's fantastic. The station just opened a few weeks ago and it has cut my commute in half (15 minutes!). Cost of living is pretty reasonable, I pay 850$ a month for a one bedroom place, I don't actually know the square feet of this place but it's very comfortable and we have a balcony.

I think living near the LRT is the best option. I like Whyte but I imagine apartments in that area are in high demand and the prices might reflect that. One nice thing about my rental company is that they allow kitties :D They also allow dogs, but I dunno.. that made our lives a lot easier. We no longer have to hide our cat, haha.

Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

I'm toying around with the idea of applying at the University of Alberta.

Can one easily get around Edmonton without a car, via public transit? Are there any bicyclists? Is it hilly or flat?

Thanks in advance :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Can one easily get around Edmonton without a car, via public transit? Are there any bicyclists? Is it hilly or flat?

I lived there for a year and a half without a car. I lived south of the university nearby and walked mostly. The buses are pretty good. The city is pretty flat except the river valley, but there are several bridges. Hope this helps.

Edited by dalmond
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

I'm a pretty new student at the U of A. I moved out here in September, and I find Edmonton to be a nice city honestly. I was sort of bummed about moving to Alberta because I'm quite radical (not left or right wing.. just sort of off that spectrum entirely!). I was very pleased to find Edmonton to be a relatively progressive place.

I live near the century park station one stop south of southgate mall. It's fantastic. The station just opened a few weeks ago and it has cut my commute in half (15 minutes!). Cost of living is pretty reasonable, I pay 850$ a month for a one bedroom place, I don't actually know the square feet of this place but it's very comfortable and we have a balcony.

I think living near the LRT is the best option. I like Whyte but I imagine apartments in that area are in high demand and the prices might reflect that. One nice thing about my rental company is that they allow kitties biggrin.gif They also allow dogs, but I dunno.. that made our lives a lot easier. We no longer have to hide our cat, haha.

Good luck!

I know I'm a bit late to the party, but just for anyone else who searches for Edmonton like me and finds this, it's worth noting that most provinces in Canada (not sure about AB, tho) have a clause in their respective Acts that govern apartments (in the case of Ontario, the Residential Tenancies Act) that specifically voids "no pets" clauses in lease agreements. In Ontario's case, the Act specifically says "'No pets' clauses are hereby void". Now, that doesn't stop the landlord from just refusing to rent you the place, but if you don't tell them you have a pet, they can't kick you out later (and if they do, the Landlord Tenant Board will award you 3 months rent in damages).

Edited by hall1k
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Hi all,

I've received an offer from U of A and am pretty thrilled about it. A perusal of the current offerings on craigslist, however, make the rent prices look pretty steep. Any recommendations for student budget-friendly, geographically practical neighbourhoods?

Incidentally, re: the above post — Alberta, alas, does not have a no pets clause.

Thanks!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi all,

I've received an offer from U of A and am pretty thrilled about it. A perusal of the current offerings on craigslist, however, make the rent prices look pretty steep. Any recommendations for student budget-friendly, geographically practical neighbourhoods?

Incidentally, re: the above post — Alberta, alas, does not have a no pets clause.

Thanks!

Edmonton is more kijiji friendly, but if you're looking in the Uni/Whyte area, I recommend just walking around and phoning numbers posted in windows. In my experience, rent is generally going to run you $750-800 per month for a one bedroom apartment and more for more bedrooms. But yeah, walking around is the best way to go. All areas seem comparable in terms of price except slightly north of 104 ave and between 105 and 113 streets, but this neighbourhood is scary. I don't recommend it if you are a single female and get nervous in the dark. I use padmapper for apartment searches, too. ^_^

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi all,

I've received an offer from U of A and am pretty thrilled about it. A perusal of the current offerings on craigslist, however, make the rent prices look pretty steep. Any recommendations for student budget-friendly, geographically practical neighbourhoods?

Incidentally, re: the above post — Alberta, alas, does not have a no pets clause.

Thanks!

Interesting to hear someone from Vancouver complain about high rent in Alberta. I spent almost all of my life in Edmonton, and recently moved to Toronto. Makes me miss the rent prices in Edmonton let me tell you. When I was in undergrad I lived fairly far away (Mill Woods area) and had a car. To avoid paying for parking I would drive part of the way, park nearby, then use my U-Pass to go the rest of the way. If I was going to grad school there now I definitely would be living in the Whyte Ave or University area. Other good options would include anything down 122 St near South Campus, as it's well serviced by bus. I wouldn't describe the city as particularly easy to get around without a car, unless you just want to stick to Whyte Ave/University/The LRT route. Feel free to message me if you're not sure about an area, I know the city pretty well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ha! Ktel, it was a chagrinning experience. Especially because the last place I moved was Toronto. When I looked at Edmonton on craigslist, it was definitely a Gob Bluth sort of "Come on!" moment. Maybe prices have been going up with the boom. I've heard good things about Whyte -- will try for it! Thanks.

Unfortunately, true to my hometown's stereotype, I don't drive. Apparently transit has been doing pretty good things over the last few years though?

Obrera, padmapper! Brilliant! Thanks. Not sure if the walking-around approach will work for me, as I'll be in Toronto through August. Eep.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been accepted to the UofA (though I will be going to UofToronto instead), but they're flying me out there to visit next week and paying for all my expenses, so I figured I might as well go. Where would be a good place to eat? I dont eat fruit or vegetables, so I tend to steer clear of oriental food and such, because that's the vast majority of their menu. Burgers, pizza, fries, etc. are my usual fare. I'm not sure what the food is going to be like in general, because the whole place looks kinda run-down and crappy (something about not having any provincial tax... Taxes are a good thing, people! They pay for things like maintenance and keeping your city from looking like a dump).

Is this post for real? I'm actually a little insulted that you would think my entire hometown looks "run-down and crappy". Especially since your location is Windsor? Perhaps try to venture into the river valley at any time. Beautiful. That being said, the reason why we don't have provincial tax is because we have this wonderful oil industry that brings tons of money into the province. I can assure you maintenance is done on a regular basis and the city doesn't look like a dump.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is this post for real? I'm actually a little insulted that you would think my entire hometown looks "run-down and crappy". Especially since your location is Windsor? Perhaps try to venture into the river valley at any time. Beautiful. That being said, the reason why we don't have provincial tax is because we have this wonderful oil industry that brings tons of money into the province. I can assure you maintenance is done on a regular basis and the city doesn't look like a dump.

This person also doesn't eat fruits or vegetables, so I'm not sure I can stop laughing. Edmonton is beautiful. Don't insult our city.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.