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Which Is Better: Pros and Cons of Alberta vs. British Columbia 

Which Is Better Pros and Cons of Alberta vs. British Columbia

Alberta and British Columbia are among the biggest provinces in Canada. Both provinces have a lot to offer, but at the same time, they have striking differences. 

Here’s a roundup of the pros and cons of living in Alberta vs. British Columbia. In the next sections, we’ll also present and explain each province’s positive and negative sides. 

What are the pros and cons of Alberta vs. British Columbia?

The key pros of Alberta are affordable rent, job opportunities, and a low poverty rate, while its cons are a high cost of living (COL) and harsh winters. 

Meanwhile, the key pros of British Columbia are low COL, good health services, and job opportunities. Its cons are high rent, a high poverty rate, and high rainfall in some areas.

For a more detailed overview, use this table to see the advantages and disadvantages of living in Alberta and British Columbia. 

AlbertaBritish Columbia
• Lower rental prices

• No provincial tax

• More school authorities

• Offers various employment opportunities

• Lesser population

• High life expectancy rate

• Low poverty rate

• Has many sunny days

• Cost of living is slightly higher

• Constant shortage of nurses

• Increasing crime index

• Higher unemployment rate

• Experiences long and harsh winter

• Cost of living is more affordable

• Has more Francophone schools, public universities and institutes

• Offers Education Equality Assurance (EQA) designation to students

• Has higher budget for health services

• Higher employment rate

• Offers PharmaCare Program and

• Offers various employment opportunities

• Has a more temperate climate

• Rental prices are expensive

• Expensive dental care services

• Increasing crime index

• High poverty rate

• Heavy rainfall in coastal areas

To get a better view of the differences between Alberta and British Columbia, we compared them based on several factors. 

This includes the cost of living, safety and security, social services, job opportunities, as well as diversity, and demographics. 

Which has a higher cost of living in Alberta vs. British Columbia?  

Which has a higher cost of living in Alberta vs. British Columbia
Image Source: Pexels 

Alberta has a higher cost of living than British Columbia. For individuals, the cost of living (excluding rent) in Alberta is around $816, while in British Columbia, it’s around $755. 

Alternatively, the average cost of living (excluding rent) for a family of four in Alberta is $2,531, while in British Columbia, it’s $2,395.  

Here we’ll differentiate the rental prices, transportation costs, utility costs, and expenses for food in Alberta and British Columbia

ExpensesAlbertaBritish Columbia
HousingMonthly Rent
1-bedroom apartment in the city center890.001,256.00
Cheap 1-bedroom apartment$744$1,057
3-bedroom apartment in the city center$1,713$2,586
Cheap 3-bedroom apartment$1,337$1,992
UtilitiesMonthly Bill
Electricity, heating, water bill (for one person)$119$75.70
Electricity, heating, water bill (for a family)$183$116
Internet plan$63.40$65.10
Local transportation ticket$2.69$2.25
Monthly ticket local transport$78.10$79.30
Taxi ride (per 8 km / 5 mi)$16.40$16.10
Gas / Petrol (per liter)$1.36$1.65
FoodMonthly Groceries
For one person$544$533
For a family of four$1,424$1,386

Is it safer to live in Alberta or British Columbia? 

Is it safer to live in Alberta or British Columbia
Image Source: Unsplash 

Based on the data from Statista’s crime severity index 2021, British Columbia is a safer province to live in compared to Alberta. 

The measured crime rate in Alberta is 101.36 out of 1,000 residents. On the other hand, the measured crime rate in British Columbia is 92.86 out of 1,000 residents. 

Here are the crime rates in 2021 in  Alberta and British Columbia based on the data we gathered from Statista. 

AlbertaBritish Columbia
Overall Crime Severity Index (per 1,000 people)101.3692.86
Rate of Violent Crime (per 100,000 residents)1,498.671,552.16
Homicide Rate (per 100,000 residents)2.70%2.40%

As you can see, there’s a slight difference between the provinces’ crime rates.

Alberta is ranked sixth, while British Columbia is ranked seventh out of all the 13 provinces in Canada based on the crime severity index. 

Note that the majority of the violent crime cases in Canada are of a less serious nature. It may include minor violations such as disorderly conduct and trespassing. 

What are the differences between social services in Alberta and British Columbia? 

What are the differences between social services in Alberta and British Columbia
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The social services in Alberta and British Columbia are relatively similar. Public schools are accessible and free for students living in both provinces, healthcare is funded by the state, and job opportunities abound in both places.

Here are quick stats before we go into detail on each point: 

  • There are 379 school districts in Alberta, while in British Columbia, there are 60. 
  • Alberta’s budget this 2022 is $15.1 million, while British Columbia’s budget is $25.5 million. 
  • Alberta’s unemployment rate is 5.8%, which is slightly higher than British Columbia’s rate, 4.4%. 

In this part, we’ll go through the social services in Alberta and British Columbia. We’ll discuss the education system, healthcare services, and job markets. 

Education in Alberta vs. British Columbia

Education in Alberta vs. British Columbia
Image Source: Pexels 

Moving to another province can affect various aspects of your life, especially if you have a family or children. In the next part, we’ll go over Alberta and British Columbia’s education systems. 

Education in Alberta 

Alberta’s education system includes programs ranging from kindergarten to Grade 12. 

Preschool is not mandatory, while kindergarten to Grade 12 is partially mandatory. 

Its education system is funded by the provincial government’s Ministry of Education. On the other hand, higher education is managed by Alberta Advanced Education. 

The primary languages used in schools in Alberta are English and French. The province is also known to have one of the best education systems in the country because it has performed well on international ranking tests and diplomas. 

Overall, there are 379 school authorities in Alberta. 

For students who speak French as their first language, you can check out the 35 Francophone schools in the province. 

The types of preschool programs offered here are nonprofit cooperative schools, religious schools, private schools, and Montessori schools. 

Students living in Alberta can attend public schools for free. However, there are still school-related expenses you need to shoulder. 

As for post-secondary education, students will have a lot of choices. There are 11 public colleges, 8 public universities, 7 private colleges, and 2 polytechnical institutes. 

Here are some of the most noteworthy universities in Alberta. 

  • University of Alberta 
  • University of Calgary 
  • MacEwan University 
  • University of Lethbridge 
  • The King’s University
  • Mount Royal University 
Education in British Columbia 

In British Columbia, all children ages 6 to 16 are mandated to attend school or study at home. The public school system in the province is divided into 60 district school boards. 

Just like in Alberta, public schools are free of charge. Note that the preschool programs in this province are just the same as in Alberta. 

There are 1,578 public schools and 364 independent schools in British Columbia. Alternatively, there are 45 Francophone schools in British Columbia. 

In British Columbia, you can also find 14 public universities and institutes and 11 colleges. 

Moreover, it’s the first province to receive a well-recognized seal of quality for post-secondary education. This lets them offer Education Equality Assurance (EQA) designation to students. 

Here are the top universities in British Columbia. 

  • University of Victoria 
  • University of Northern British Columbia 
  • Thompson River University 
  • The University of British Columbia 
  • Simon Fraser University 
  • University of the Fraser Valley 

Healthcare in Alberta vs. British Columbia

Healthcare in Alberta vs. British Columbia
Image Source: Freepik 

Health is wealth, so it’s essential to look at your options when it comes to healthcare services. We’ll give you a view of the healthcare system in Alberta and British Columbia. 

Healthcare in Alberta 

Alberta’s healthcare system is under the Alberta Health Services. The government’s budget for health services this 2022 is $15.1 million. 

This province-wide health service offers universal access to hospitals and healthcare services to the residents of Alberta. 

Of course, some health expenses are fully/partially covered by the health plan, while others are not. That’s why health insurance from private companies is still in demand. 

Note that the physician-in-charge is the one that will determine what services are considered medically necessary. 

Apart from that, you should also be registered with the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP) to receive the insured hospital and physician services. 

The problem we see with Alberta’s healthcare system is the constant shortage of nurses since the pandemic started. This is not just bad news for the patients but also for the remaining nurses because they are obliged to work longer shifts. 

Healthcare in British Columbia 

British Columbia has a publicly-funded healthcare system. Its budget this 2022 is $25.5 million, and it’s approximately 40% of the province’s overall budget. 

All eligible residents of British Columbia can access medically necessary services through the medical service plan. 

They also have a PharmaCare Program that covers eligible medical supplies, prescription medications, and pharmacy services. 

Healthcare services in British Columbia are free to some extent, but they can also be exorbitant in some instances. 

One example of this is dental care services. Without insurance coverage, dental care services in the province can cost a fortune. 

Job Opportunities in Alberta vs. British Columbia 

Job Opportunities in Alberta vs. British Columbia
Image Source: Pexels 

According to the Labour Force Survey of Statistics Canada, this November 2022, there are over 19 million employed individuals in the country. Alternatively, the unemployment rate declined by 0.1% and is at 5.1%.

There has been an employment boost in various sectors, including finance, insurance, manufacturing, real estate, rental and leasing, and more. 

If you’re interested in working in Alberta or British Columbia, you better check the top industries in each province. 

Top Industries in Alberta 

The unemployment rate in Alberta as of November 2022, according to Statistics Canada, is 5.8%. This is slightly higher than October’s rate, which is 5.2%. 

Nonetheless, the province offers various employment opportunities. This includes the following: 

  • Agriculture 
  • Arts and Cultural Industries 
  • Charities and Nonprofits 
  • Construction 
  • Innovation and Technology 
  • Tourism 
  • Energy and Natural Resources 
  • Financial Services 
  • Forestry 
  • Support for Business, Trade, and Economic Development 
Top Industries in British Columbia 

According to Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey last November 2022, British Columbia’s unemployment rate is at 4.4%. It has slightly increased from October’s rate, which is 4.2%. 

The major industries in the province are the following: 

  • Agriculture 
  • Construction 
  • Film and Television 
  • Forestry 
  • High Technology 
  • Manufacturing 
  • Mining 
  • Tourism 
  • Technology and Innovation 

What are the diversity and demographics in Alberta vs. British Columbia?

What are the diversity and demographics in Alberta vs. British Columbia
Image Source: Pexels 

Statistics indicate that British Columbia is more ethnically diverse than Alberta. In Alberta, 80.3% of the population is of white origin. On the flip side, 63.8% of British Columbia’s population is of European ancestry. 

Look into the stats we gathered from World Population Review to get a detailed view of Alberta and British Columbia‘s demographics and diversity. 

South Asian3.20%
Southeast Asian0.90%
Latin America0.80%
West Asian0.30%
British Columbia
South Asian8%
Latin American1%
Southeast Asian1.20%
West Asian1.10%
Multiple Visible Minorities0.11%

On the other hand, the table below shows several factors that give an idea of the quality of life in Alberta and British Columbia. 

AlbertaBritish Columbia
Total Area661,848 square kilometers944,735 square kilometers
Population4.54 million5.32 million
Median Age38.1 years old43 years old
Life Expectancy at Birth79.6 years old81.4 years old
Poverty Rate6.40%8.90%

What is the culture, recreation, and weather like in Alberta vs. British Columbia? 

What is the culture, recreation, and weather like in Alberta vs. British Columbia
Image Source: Unsplash 

Over 23% of Alberta’s population are immigrants, so its culture and recreation is culturally diverse. On the other hand, British Columbia’s culture and recreation are mostly centered on natural and historic sites. 

As for the weather, Alberta has a continental climate, while British Columbia has a more temperate climate.

Culture and Recreation in Alberta 

Alberta’s culture is highly influenced by the immigrants who settled in the province a long time ago. Due to the fusion of the communities in the province, you’ll find a bit of everything in each city and district of Alberta. 

Around 80% of the province’s population speaks native English, while others speak French, Chinese, German, Punjabi, and other languages.

Its capital city, Edmonton, is known for its lively and vibrant festivals. Besides that, there are also a bunch of outdoor recreations and attractions to explore in Edmonton. 

Alternatively, if you want to get a glimpse of the cowboy culture, you can visit Calgary and experience the Calgary Stampede. 

Here are some of the must-visit destinations in Alberta: 

Apart from that, Alberta is also home to a network of museums and historic parks, so you can discover the province’s culture and artistic heritage.  

Culture and Recreation in British Columbia 

British Columbia’s rich culture is a combination of European, First Nations, and Asian influences. 

The west coast province is recognized for its natural sceneries and resources. Moreover, the province also highlights its arts and history through its art galleries, museums, and heritage sites. 

The top cities you can visit if you want to know more about British Columbia’s culture are Vancouver, Victoria, Whistler, and Richmond. 

If you want to recharge and explore recreations and destinations locals love, here are some suggestions: 

  • Blackcomb Mountains 
  • Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
  • West Coast Trail 
  • Okanagan Valley
  • Tofino
  • Stanley Park 

Weather in Alberta vs. British Columbia 

Weather in Alberta vs. British Columbia
Image Source: Unsplash 

Another aspect you should factor in when moving to another place is the weather. It’s because the weather can affect your day-to-day life as well as your recreation and entertainment choices. 

Alberta receives more sunshine than any other province, so it has a continental climate. 

Summer in this province is filled with warm and sunny days, but there’s still a high chance of precipitation.

Besides that, Alberta experiences extreme and harsh winters. There can also be occasional tornadoes or hailstorms. 

On the contrary, British Columbia experiences a more temperate and moderate climate. 

However, rainfall is quite heavy in coastal communities, even in summer. The province also experiences shorter and milder winters than Alberta. 

A Last Word on Choosing one of the Two Provinces 

As you’ve seen from our comparison, Alberta and British Columbia share similarities and differences. 

In each province, you might find aspects that work in your favor. However, there are also factors you need to adjust to. 

At the end of the day, when you make a choice, it’s best to consider your non-negotiables, lifestyle, and living requirements. Our advice is to create a hierarchy of your needs and preferences, then compare our data for each province for each one to see how they score.