Tips and Tricks to Living in Canada

By Ana De Leon

Welcome to Calgary!

Interesting Facts About Calgary

  • Calgary is home to more than 1.4 million people 
  • Calgary is the third most diverse major city in Canada with more than 120 languages spoken in the city
  • Calgary was ranked the 5th most livable city in the world and number 1 in North America.
  • Calgarians are community-minded; Albertans hold the 2nd highest national volunteer rate at 55 per cent
  • Calgary was the first Canadian city to host the Winter Olympics in 1988.
  • Calgary is the sunniest city in Canada.


Calgary is a mountain city with a dry climate directly related to its altitude. You may feel your skin drier I advise to wear moisturizer daily.

Weather is highly unpredictable and can vary greatly from day to day

You can also look forward to Calgary’s Chinooks – a warm wind that raises temperatures by as much as 15 degrees in a few hours.

TIP Install a weather app on your phone so you will always know what to expect.

How to Dress for Canadian Winters

Layering means wearing multiple pieces of clothing on top of each other, is very important during the winter months.

  • Base is something that fits tight to your body. This can be a wool sweater or pull-over. 
  • Insulator most often seen as a “puffy” jacket, filled with real or synthetic materials to keep you warm.
  • Shell a wind-proof and water-proof coat, usually with a hood. 
  • Toque is a hat that is very good for cold weather. 
  • Gloves or mittens, people will sometimes ignore getting proper gloves, but when the weather gets too cold you’ll feel it first in your hands. 
  • Warm boots It’s not enough to keep your feet warm, but you need to make sure you don’t slip on the ice and snow outside. 

Once you are prepared to dress for winter, your winter will be so much more pleasant. You can go skating, snowshoeing, hiking and more! If you are dressed correctly winter can become your beloved season!

*Purchase winter clothes in the off season. Stores tend to lower the price of winter items or put them on clearance you can also buy second-hand clothes and furniture at Value Village, Goodwill, and The Salvation Army.

*To prevent frostbite try to do not expose your head or hands. Heat escapes these areas most quickly, leaving them cold.


Living on campus allows you to be conveniently located close to your classes as well as other campus resources and provides great opportunities for meeting other students. For more information visit

Living off campus 

What types of rental accommodation are there in Calgary?

  • Apartments
  • Condos
  • Basement Suit
  • Shared Accommodation

Tips to help with your search:

Visit the accommodation in person and meet the landlord and any potential roomies before signing a lease agreement.

If something is not feeling OK, ie. the landlord will only communicate via email, he’s not willing to let you visit the place before paying a deposit, or if the place just seems too good to be true – it probably is.

Make sure you know what your commute to university looks like. You can use Google Maps or the Calgary Transit website to check. 

Calgary Transit

What area of Calgary should I live in?

The University of Calgary is in the NW quadrant of the city meaning that you likely want to avoid neighbourhoods in the deep south unless you want a long commute.

Picking an area is going to depend on what’s available, as well as your lifestyle and whether you want to live downtown or closer to campus.

Where should I look for off-campus housing?

Online – the following websites have rental listing:

Renter’s Rights and Responsibilities

What is a lease/tenancy agreement? 

A lease is a contract between a landlord and a tenant(s) that includes the rules for both parties to follow. A lease is also known as a tenancy agreement and will often include information about when and why notice can be given to end the lease.

What is a damage/security deposit? 

A damage or security deposit is a one-time-only payment and cannot be more than one month’s rent. A landlord asks for the deposit and the first month’s rent at the same time on the first day of the month of your rental contract. 

When your lease ends, this deposit can be used to cover any damages, cleaning, unpaid rent or utilities. If the property is left in good condition with no damage beyond normal wear and tear, and all rent and utilities are paid, then the deposit is returned in full.

Inspection report? 

An inspection report is a list of any damages in the accommodation that was apparent before moving in. Be sure to complete an inspection report before you move in. After you move out of the property it can protect you if your landlord tries to deduct money from your security deposit unnecessarily.

When can the landlord enter the accommodation? 

A landlord must give 24 hours written notice to enter the rental accommodation. The notice must state the reason for entry and the date and time of entry. Please note: the landlord may enter without notice during an emergency.

What are my responsibilities as a renter? 

  • Pay rent on time.
  • Keep the rental clean.
  • Check with your landlord before repairing any minor damages.
  • Do not conduct any illegal business, trade or occupation.
  • Follow your tenancy agreement.
  • Do not change the locks without permission from the landlord.
  • Utilities

Your rental accommodations may or may not include utility fees for heating, electricity and water. If utilities are not included in your rent, you will be responsible for booking these utility services for your rental, and you will be sent a monthly bill to cover the expenses.

Where can I purchase tenant insurance?

Search online using the keyword “tenant insurance Calgary” to find a list of local insurance brokers who specialize in tenant insurance. It is a good idea to shop around for the best prices since they can differ from company to company.

Working in Canada

Who can work off campus

You and your employer must make sure you can work off campus without a work permit before you start working. If you start working off campus but don’t meet the requirements, you may have to leave Canada.

You can only start working in Canada when your study program has started. You can’t work before you start your studies.

If you’re able to work during your studies, it’ll say so in the conditions on your study permit.

Eligibility requirements

You can work off campus without a work permit if you meet all of these requirements:

  • you’re a full-time student at a designated learning institution (DLI)
  • you’re enrolled in a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program or a secondary-level vocational training program (Quebec only)
  • your study program is at least 6 months long and leads to a degree, diploma or certificate
  • you’ve started studying
  • you have a Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • If you’re a part-time student

You can work off campus only if:

  • you meet all of the requirements above and 
  • you’re only studying part-time, instead of full-time, because:
  • you’re in the last semester of your study program and you don’t need a full course load to complete your program and
  • you were a full-time student in your program in Canada, up until your last semester

If you’re on an authorized leave from your studies, or you’re switching schools and you’re not studying, you can’t work off campus. You can only return to work once you’re back to studying.

For more information visit

In Alberta you are protected by law as a worker by the Alberta Employment Standards Code.

The Employment Standards Contact Centre 1-877-427-3731 toll free from anywhere in Alberta

Ask a question online at

*Review employment contract carefully before signing and request a copy. Employers are required by law to obtain your SIN before you start working

*ALIS Provides information for career planning, work search, labour market trends and workplace.

Cultural Shock 

Culture shock is an experience a person may have when he moves to a cultural environment which is different from he’s own; it is also the personal disorientation a person may feel when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life due to immigration or a visit to a new country. It has four stage: Honeymoon Stage, Anxiety & Irritation, Acceptance and Adaptation & Integration.

To learn more watch: Culture Shock and The Cultural Adaptation Cycle

Fun things to do in Canada

Before the pandemic

  • The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra Cpossibilities
    • Calgary Stampede
    • Comic & Entertainment Expo
    • Summer Music Festivals
    • Taste of Calgary
    • GlobalFest
    • Calgary International Film Festival
    • GLOW Winter Light Festival

During the pandemic

  • Virtual Museum tours and events
  • University of Calgary Outdoor Centre Programs (Skating:
  • Zoo lights
  • Picnics
  • Outdoor activities: walking, running, hiking, snowshoeing, skating and skiing.
  • Try something new. Ex. Start a journal or blog, write poetry, learn a foreign language (Duolingo, Rosetta Stone app)

Navigate Your Future Post-Pandemic

  • Build Connections in the Community
  • Prepare for Your Future
  • Be Persistent and Authentic

About CCIS and The Community Support Services program

Calgary Catholic Immigration Society is a non-profit organization which provides settlement and integration services to all immigrants and refugees in Southern Alberta.

Since our inception in 1981, we have been a community leader with solid experience in the design and delivery of comprehensive services for our newest neighbours. We deliver these services through a dynamic multi-cultural, multi-denominational and multi-disciplinary team of professionals, who collectively speak over 60 languages.

The Community Support Services program receives its funding from the province of Alberta through the ministry of labour since 2008. 

The program provides community support services to work permit holders and their families in Calgary and Area, Brooks and Newell County, and Banff and the Bow Valley Corridor.

Our goal is to create a positive experience for our clients while they are temporarily working in Canada. By providing the support you need. 

We run at least two workshop or information session every month covering various topics.  These are few examples of the sessions we did this year.

For more information visit

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