Careers

Moving to Edmonton, How bad is the idea

  • Last Updated:
  • Feb 7th, 2020 11:03 am
[OP]
Sr. Member
Sep 12, 2018
721 posts
684 upvotes
Edmonton

Moving to Edmonton, How bad is the idea

I am an international student studying in Montreal. I am about to finish my graduation. I am planning to move to Toronto (Primarily due to immigration complexity in Quebec). My wife is currently living with me. She had an interview with a Professor from the University of Alberta (Edmonton) for Masters in Pharmaceutical Sciences (Not licensed Pharmacist, research track).

Nothing is confirmed yet. But for the sake of argument, let's assume the professor offers her the research assistant position. In that case, will it be a bad idea to move to Edmonton under current circumstances?

My wife is now working at a call center in Montreal. It's ok for the time being, but definitely below her skill level. I want to help my wife grow to the best of my ability. But I don't want to be in a scenario where I get stuck in a city without job or working at jobs below my skill level with no end in sight.

I am primarily interested in DevOps positions. Is finding this kind of job difficult in Edmonton?
17 replies
Deal Fanatic
Jan 12, 2005
5131 posts
1770 upvotes
Mississauga
I've worked in Edmonton for a short while and my co-worker is currently living in Edmonton. Besides the colder weather and the speed cameras, I prefer it over Toronto. It's much easier to find a place to live and the lower sales tax is awesome. Stores and food you find in Toronto you can find in Edmonton.

I can't comment on the job prospect though as I'm not in that field.

Edit: Whoops sorry, just realized this was the Career thread and not travel tread.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Sep 12, 2018
721 posts
684 upvotes
Edmonton
For the time being, I want to ignore the weather. The only thing that's crossing my mind, is job prospects.
Banned
Jan 13, 2020
87 posts
109 upvotes
Edmonton has the highest unemployment of major cities in Canada right now and the tech industry is relatively small here.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Nov 2, 2013
5624 posts
1485 upvotes
Edmonton, AB
I’ve lived in Edmonton beginning 2014.

- Weather: cold with heavy snowfall in winter, but a dry cold. This winter we saw -40C; most winters get down to -3XC. You can dress for it though as the humidity is low.

- Drivers are horrific and we have the highest insurance rates in Alberta as concequence. Still usually better than other provinces however. People cannot drive worth a shit and upon each sudden snowfall, accidents are rampant. Make sure to get a dash cam - even a cheap $100 unit is better than none. People do not signal, pull out into the roads without looking, drive like they’re falling asleep, cut across multiple lanes without warning, etc.

- Anything outside the Henday (main highway) is generally the nicer parts of town. Rent is $1000-1500 for a 1 bedroom condo generally; $1500-2000 for a townhouse or house.

North side of Edmonton before the Henday is the older, higher crime, more run down part of the city. There is a common joke that the North Side is the Teenage and Single Mom Capital of Alberta (nothing against the latter). The northeast end and areas surrounding 118 Ave. are the worst.

Windermere (Southwest) is the more expensive region of Edmonton and where you’ll find a lot of Asians, if that is of interest. Otherwise, the Asians tend to be clustered in Castledowns (Northwest side of Edmonton).

Downtown and university areas are also on the pricier side; $1M+ Detached homes are not uncommon. Some areas are very rundown, while others very high-end. River Valley right in the Center is very expensive and it is one of the sole bike-able and walkable areas people frequent.

- Home prices: about $200-250/sq. ft. is expected for newer homes in nicer areas. South is generally more expensive than north. Commutes can add up quickly though so don’t expect to save money long-term in vehicle depreciation and fuel by going far out.

$350-400+/sq ft. Is expected for central area, newer housing close to university or downtown.

As for the economy, Edmonton is mostly road construction (our roads are terrible), blue collar trades, transportation, engineering, government, and the oilfield sector just outside town in Nisku. Much of the major O&G companies house their headquarters in Calgary.

There is a small tech sector in Edmonton, but the list of requirements the recruiters want , is usually extremely extensive. Even a lowly help desk role doesn’t care if you got a degree from school and some IT experience. They want a long list of industry credentials and very specific experience with particular products and services. Relatively high paying if you can get into something that’s just not tech support or help desk.

Here’s an example of an IT Manager opening:
Formal training in Leadership, Communications, and Project Management
Formal Qualifications from a recognized institution in the areas of computer systems, file servers, network infrastructure, and IT business analysis
Strong leadership, coaching and mentoring skills
Excellent customer service, communication and interpersonal skills
Five plus years of IT Management and Leadership experience
Eight plus years in the analysis of company needs to make recommendations in the areas of software, hardware; file server, networking, and security needs and improvement
Eight plus years creating solutions and improving processes
Twelve plus years of work experience in the IT field
Experience working alongside operations and executive members to assess/execute needs
Experience with managing and issues resolution in a Windows 2010 environment
Experience supporting an ERP system. Maestro is an asset
Experience supporting a CRM system. Salesforce in an asset
Must thrive in a multi-divisional, fast paced, changing environment
Must work with a high degree of confidentiality
Here’s another example of an IT Manager Opening looking to pay $70,000/year:

Bachelor’s degree.
10 years of relevant experience in IT infrastructure project management
3 to 5 years in managing and simplifying heterogeneous enterprise IT solutions
Experience in managing and leading infrastructure projects and provide appropriate level of guidance and oversight to ensure successful deliverables.
Possess relevant certifications in the ITIL framework, Project Management, IT Information Security, Microsoft and Storage products/platforms.
There are some high paying government jobs, but they are very close-knit and unionized. There is a lot of red tape to go through to be employed - but - most supervisory or managerial roles pay around or beyond the $100,000/year mark.

This is a post I made in another thread regarding the Alberta economy lately:
The Fall and (Partial) Recovery in Oil Prices: Pessimism and Cost-Cutting


Many jobs and incomes prior to the oil crash in 2015 aren’t coming back. The industry has learned to squeeze margins by drastically reducing costs (and desirability and happiness of jobs).


Flights usually at most are to Calgary or Edmonton - if that. Most jobs only recruit locals to save cost.


Blue-Collar & Trades in the Oilfield: High Pay, High Risk, High Misery


Most of the higher paying jobs are blue-collar, but they tend to have much higher turnover. Lower entry cost, and lower entry time (which is also cost), but lower stability. They are the kind of jobs where you can make $2,500-5,000 a week but you may not work for 6 months, or you work no overtime or just a compressed workweek, then get laid off after the project is done.

It is very hard to gauge how much you make in a year; can be $50,000, $70,000, 150,000, or 200,000.

For example: we are paid here $2,500-3,500/week, but the oil company only does drilling projects in the winter. In the spring, and fall, we then have “shutdowns”, where the plants go into a major maintenance period and have a surge in spending. These gigs usually last a month or less. Winter projects usually go for 2-3 months. All together, on a good one, we’d get 5 months of solid work in a year; approx. $60,000-70,000 of income, plus EI and/or some other odd jobs we do in between.
In the good years, us oilfield truckers and operators can see $100,000-150,000 over a year; $15,000 for a month of work when busy. The electricians or mechanics could see over 200,000 a year.


The New Normal: Happy to make $100,000, or Just to Work


Nowadays it seems like most people are happy just to see $100,000, or just to work.
This is the kind of money people are happy to be working for in the oil patch these days, doing 12 hour days in sub -40C weather, away from home. This around often terrible people who make your workplace seem like a paid prison.
I personally do not think spending years to get your experience built enough to be constantly employable, while going though the above, to be worth just $100,000/year, if that. If you are still in the position to start another worthwhile career and/or go to school, spend your grief, time, and money on that instead. This does not mean that going to school for 4-5 years and $30,000+ of tuition, to make $40,000/year, is a good idea either however. At that rate you may as well complete a trade.
The days of easy quick 6 figures or huge trades income are long gone. That earning power is more so reserved for those who’ve put their time in and also have had luck.


Many “permanent” camp jobs operate on set rotations, such as a week on and a week off. Many blue collar jobs sit in the mid $3x/hour range, and 12 hour shifts are standard. If you take the median, it comes to roughly $81,000 per year income. If you’re a journeyman tradesperson who gets around the $40-45/hour mark, this comes to $90,000-100,000 range. In the old days there was so much work that people could work almost as much as they wanted. This is where the stories of $200,000+ per year income tradespeople came from, as then they’d have their overtime kick in as well. This before many sites reverted to compressed workweeks to avoid paying overtime.


More stable 6-figure salary jobs are far in between but still exist, though more so for people with 5-10+ years of experience and an extensive list of credentials. Project managers, senior supervisors, to name a few.


Other Opportunities in Alberta Outside the Oilfield and Trades


There are still many traditional office jobs key to the functioning of industry in Alberta, such as CPAs, analysts, recruiters, controllers, payroll people, managers, bookkeepers, software engineers, IT people, etc. But competition is extremely fierce and apart from the tech sector, those people are happy to make $50,000-60,000/year. Closer to $70-80K for things like supervisors, operations managers or CPAs, but typically those in those positions have already put many years in.

Accountant (Public Practice)
  • Oilfield & Industrial Services, Environmental Services
  • Road Construction
  • Transportation & Logistics
  • Tax & Financial Analysis
  • In the Western Canadian Oilfield since 2013
Deal Addict
Aug 12, 2004
4506 posts
2166 upvotes
Calgary
IshfaqueR4678 wrote: I am an international student studying in Montreal. I am about to finish my graduation. I am planning to move to Toronto (Primarily due to immigration complexity in Quebec). My wife is currently living with me. She had an interview with a Professor from the University of Alberta (Edmonton) for Masters in Pharmaceutical Sciences (Not licensed Pharmacist, research track).

Nothing is confirmed yet. But for the sake of argument, let's assume the professor offers her the research assistant position. In that case, will it be a bad idea to move to Edmonton under current circumstances?

My wife is now working at a call center in Montreal. It's ok for the time being, but definitely below her skill level. I want to help my wife grow to the best of my ability. But I don't want to be in a scenario where I get stuck in a city without job or working at jobs below my skill level with no end in sight.

I am primarily interested in DevOps positions. Is finding this kind of job difficult in Edmonton?
Understand, right now, you do not have a job, while your wife may be offered one in her field.

I think it is in your best interest to advance both your careers. This job in Edmonton advances hers where she may not need to work at a call center.

You take whatever you can get, and right now she has gotten it. You should provide your wife support. Edmonton still has plenty of jobs, and while you may need to work outside of your field to start you should still be able to get something, including something IT. Do continue to apply everywhere and see what happens, not sure how resistant you are for a long distance relationship if need be. Your wife really needs to get her career started. Calgary is also only 3 hours away for another market available to you, which is a smaller distance relationship
Sr. Member
Feb 19, 2017
918 posts
686 upvotes
Don't do it. Edmonton (all of Alberta) is basically dying. You are about 10 years too late to move to Edmonton. It is one of the worst cities I've spent significant time in.
Crypo/NFT-enthusiast
Deal Expert
User avatar
Oct 26, 2003
37678 posts
5426 upvotes
Winnipeg
I agree with @Firebot that op wife needs to get a jump start on her career, but so does the op, it seems the only way for them to do it is to live separately for now. Yes, it sucks, but there are people who have to live in different cities/provinces in order to work in their field, it is a choice you need to make. If the op decide to move with his wife to Edmonton without him having an job offer, it is very unlikely for the op to land a job in his field anytime soon, the IT scene is much smaller in Alberta compared to GTA.
WTB amazon gc @90%
Deal Guru
User avatar
Mar 23, 2008
13006 posts
9963 upvotes
Edmonton
My take, as someone who's worked in the Alberta IT market for the last 20+ years... I started in software development, then "evolved" to the BI/big data type positions. I also transitioned from full time employment to contract about 10 years ago.

I still get contacted on a reasonably regular basis by recruiters wondering if I know someone who might be looking for an opportunity. And over the past 20+ years, I've been without employment or a contract for at most 2 months at a time (knock on wood), and that was because my contract lapsed at the end of November, and it took until the end of January to get my butt back in a chair (poor timing).

As far as lower wages, when I talked to recruiters in the GTA a couple years ago, I found I would have had to take a 25+% pay cut to go east. Combine that with no provincial sales tax, and housing prices that are actually affordable, I think the wage issue is not as significant as some people think. We've got a $500k house in one of the nicest neighborhoods in Edmonton, with a 12 minute commute to downtown.

FWIW, Edmonton isn't my favorite city that I've spent time in, yet here I am. I prefer Calgary when it comes to Alberta cities, but Calgary's labour situation is worse than Edmonton's.

C
Sr. Member
Feb 19, 2017
918 posts
686 upvotes
CNeufeld wrote: My take, as someone who's worked in the Alberta IT market for the last 20+ years... I started in software development, then "evolved" to the BI/big data type positions. I also transitioned from full time employment to contract about 10 years ago.

I still get contacted on a reasonably regular basis by recruiters wondering if I know someone who might be looking for an opportunity. And over the past 20+ years, I've been without employment or a contract for at most 2 months at a time (knock on wood), and that was because my contract lapsed at the end of November, and it took until the end of January to get my butt back in a chair (poor timing).

As far as lower wages, when I talked to recruiters in the GTA a couple years ago, I found I would have had to take a 25+% pay cut to go east. Combine that with no provincial sales tax, and housing prices that are actually affordable, I think the wage issue is not as significant as some people think. We've got a $500k house in one of the nicest neighborhoods in Edmonton, with a 12 minute commute to downtown.

FWIW, Edmonton isn't my favorite city that I've spent time in, yet here I am. I prefer Calgary when it comes to Alberta cities, but Calgary's labour situation is worse than Edmonton's.

C
Really doesn't matter how close you are to downtown when the city is that ugly and boring. Calgary is significantly better than Edmonton in almost every way imaginable.
Crypo/NFT-enthusiast
Deal Fanatic
Jan 12, 2005
5131 posts
1770 upvotes
Mississauga
Walch1102 wrote: Don't do it. Edmonton (all of Alberta) is basically dying. You are about 10 years too late to move to Edmonton. It is one of the worst cities I've spent significant time in.
I disagree. If his wife has a good opportunity, she should take it regardless of a down market. They can always find another job after if she gets laid off and have to move again that instead of working in a call center and hating it. Having experience as a professor will open doors to other academic positions at other universities/colleges across Canada.
Penalty Box
Dec 27, 2007
4395 posts
1691 upvotes
Edmonton
Walch1102 wrote: Really doesn't matter how close you are to downtown when the city is that ugly and boring. Calgary is significantly better than Edmonton in almost every way imaginable.
I think Calgary is nicer but I do think Edmonton is quite good. I mean if your comparing it to Toronto, Toronto is an ugly concrete jungle and extremely boring makes Edmonton look like paradise.
Bad drivers, check, but I had to drive in Toronto and it definitely makes me rethink about our own Alberta drivers. So many close calls and people who are brake checking at random times, and first day of snowfall, driving in Edmonton was like the autobahn compared to TO. I think I could have walked/ran faster.

OP, Edmonton may not be the best city in Canada, but it is pretty good. And weather, -40 aint that bad, after a while it doesn't feel as cold. I worked in -60 (12 hours day) in the territories and you get used to it, no complaints
warming up the earth 1 gas fill-up at a time...
You only live once, get a v8
Sr. Member
Feb 19, 2017
918 posts
686 upvotes
tmkf_patryk wrote: I think Calgary is nicer but I do think Edmonton is quite good. I mean if your comparing it to Toronto, Toronto is an ugly concrete jungle and extremely boring makes Edmonton look like paradise.
Bad drivers, check, but I had to drive in Toronto and it definitely makes me rethink about our own Alberta drivers. So many close calls and people who are brake checking at random times, and first day of snowfall, driving in Edmonton was like the autobahn compared to TO. I think I could have walked/ran faster.

OP, Edmonton may not be the best city in Canada, but it is pretty good. And weather, -40 aint that bad, after a while it doesn't feel as cold. I worked in -60 (12 hours day) in the territories and you get used to it, no complaints
There always people who feel different because it's subjective, but without O&G, how many people would live in Edmonton if they didn't grow up there? It's not a desirable place to live to MOST people, period.
Crypo/NFT-enthusiast
[OP]
Sr. Member
Sep 12, 2018
721 posts
684 upvotes
Edmonton
GateGuardian wrote: I disagree. If his wife has a good opportunity, she should take it regardless of a down market. They can always find another job after if she gets laid off and have to move again that instead of working in a call center and hating it. Having experience as a professor will open doors to other academic positions at other universities/colleges across Canada.
To bring us on the same page. She is not interviewing to be a Professor. She is interviewing to work under a Professor for Masters (Graduate Research Assistant). She doesn't hate her call center job. But It's not part of her life goal either. The Masters is helpful because most employers want to see a Canadian Credential, which she doesn't have. Also, if she wants to go for a Ph.D. (something she is contemplating), Canadian Masters is vastly superior to call center experience (I assume it goes without saying).
Deal Addict
Sep 4, 2007
1593 posts
1814 upvotes
Edmonton
Your decision has almost nothing to do with Edmonton vs. Montreal. Your decision is "should I move to a city with higher unemployment where I don't have a job lined up so that my wife can quit her job and spend more money on more school?"

As much as I like Edmonton, I would say no. BUT that changes to a resounding yes if you can get a good job offer though, especially since Alberta jobs pay way more than average and Quebec jobs pay way less than average.

IF you can get a job, the economics are excellent. The significantly lower tax rates and lower housing costs alone are so worth it - e.g., 90 cents / litre gas, no health premium, 5% sales tax, and lower income tax. At $50k income, you would save $2k a year on income tax alone vs. Quebec. At $75k, it's $3.7k.. Imagine a $10k boost in income and a $3k tax savings. You could put your savings 10 years ahead of your Quebec situation in just a few years.

What sucks about Edmonton? Transportation infrastructure. We probably have the one of the worst public transit systems right now among major cities that I've experienced. Our system has absolutely terrible coverage outside a very narrow band in the downtown core. Our roads are of atrocious quality too and they don't clear the snow very well here. Most people drive really large vehicles like pickup trucks (and poorly at that) to manage that. And if you like to travel, you will find extremely limited flight options compared to real international airports like Montreal.

What's surprisingly good about Edmonton? The food scene has really kicked into high gear in the last few years and there are excellent restaurants to choose from at very reasonable prices. And the summers here are short, but they are absolutely beautiful. We have a summer festival culture that is pretty good (though Montreal's is far superior).
[OP]
Sr. Member
Sep 12, 2018
721 posts
684 upvotes
Edmonton
Thanks to everyone for their feedback. I was trying to get an estimate of the job market in Edmonton. Unfortunately from what I am hearing, it's not that much good news. Nevertheless, let's wait and see what the future holds for us. But it's better to know all your options before jumping in.
Sr. Member
Mar 20, 2006
612 posts
440 upvotes
OP, you can still use your wife’s phone# and address to look for job even from your current location and make a move accordingly. Actually you can do it even before your wife moves here using someone’s contact info. If you know somebody already here in Edmonton or in Calgary . I don’t think many people would mind helping others out.
Deal Addict
Sep 4, 2007
1593 posts
1814 upvotes
Edmonton
IshfaqueR4678 wrote: Thanks to everyone for their feedback. I was trying to get an estimate of the job market in Edmonton. Unfortunately from what I am hearing, it's not that much good news. Nevertheless, let's wait and see what the future holds for us. But it's better to know all your options before jumping in.
The state of the job market doesn't actually matter. Just apply for jobs. If you get one in time, then move. If you don't get one then don't. Don't let RFD's speculation make the decision for you.

Top