Recently I had a chance to chat over a glass of wine with four professional female millennials (two grew up in Calgary, one in Red Deer and one in Edmonton) who all live in Calgary’s City Centre about what they like and don’t like about urban living in our city.
Work, Live, Play
It was unanimous, the key factor in choosing to live downtown was being close to work - no more than a 15-minute walk to work. A close second was walking distance to lots restaurants and bars. The key word being LOTS, as eating and drinking was their main source of entertainment.
This explain to why the bars and restaurants are busy despite the decline in the downtown economy that has been puzzling me and my baby boomer friends for the past few years.
17th Avenue and 4th Street is the epicenter of their entertainment, Stephen Ave and Kensington wasn’t really on their radar.
I was surprised safety was not a huge issue. Even when one of them has to walk to work from Mission to downtown at 5:30 am and another lives near Alpha House.
They all recognized there are unsafe places where they wouldn’t walk alone, but with friends they felt safe everywhere. They did lament that Central Memorial Park is beautiful but wouldn’t go there at night.
Shopping wasn’t a big factor in their lives, but access to a gym was probably the third most important amenity.
When asked “what was missing in the way of shops” they all agreed it would be nice to have a have a Walmart, Costco, HomeSense or London Drugs somewhere to get more things for the home. They were all glad to learn Canadian Tire was coming to The Royal as they had heard the deal was dead.
Other things they would like to see in the Beltline were a bowling alley, rock climbing wall, an outdoor curling rink and more community gardens and events like the Inglewood night market
I asked them what they thought of the new Beltline mural program and they all agreed it really didn’t interest them, even though one knew one of the mural artists.
This led to an interesting discussion of how each City Center community appeals to a specific sector of the millennial population. From their perspective, Bridgeland, Inglewood and Kensington are where the trendy people live - artists and hipsters. Beltline and Mission are more for the young yuppies.
They like the Beltline best because it has lots of new condos with better insulation against noise and better security systems. Mission would be a more attractive place to live if it has more new condos and East Village wasn’t really on their radar yet - still too new.
When I asked if they had gotten to know their neighbours, they all said yes. But they quickly added connecting with neighbors isn’t really important to them, as hang with friends.
They all agreed the Beltline is a friendly place where it is easy to get to know people.
One said, “It might not be Vancouver (where she was living before moving to Calgary), but I was shocked how good Calgary is when it comes to restaurant and bars and it is way safer as you don’t have to dodge all the umbrellas. And people are much friendlier.”
All agreed they wouldn’t continue to live in the City Centre for long, probably a few years before they either moved on to other cities for professional opportunities or decided to buy a house outside the city centre. One even has chosen their forever community – Altadore.
As I looked around the 550ish square foot condo I couldn’t help but think how different the world is today, then when I was in my 20s. There was no TV, no huge stereo unit, no dining table, just a comfy contemporary couch and a couple of chairs with floor to ceiling windows looking out over downtown.
The place was minimalist, just like in a magazine it was almost like no-one lived there, however, in really, they are living the good life along the streets of our City Centre. And they know it.
Note: An edited version of this blog was commissioned for the 2018 October issue of Condo Living Magazine.