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The Best Small Towns to Live in Alberta in 2024: 20 Great Options 

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Living in a small town in Alberta gives a sense of a welcoming retreat from a busy city life. Whether you choose Camrose, Lacombe, Drumheller, Jasper, Canmore, or Cochrane, each offers the benefits of having a comfortable lifestyle with the charm and simplicity of a small town.

In this article, we’ll explore the list of towns in Alberta considered the best places to live, some reasons to consider if relocating there, and the pros and cons of settling in a small town.

Key Takeaways

  • The best small towns to live in Alberta include Camrose, Bon Accord, Jasper, Canmore, Okotoks, Drumheller, and Cochrane.
  • The worst places to live in Alberta based on the Crime Severity Index in 2022 include Lloydminster, Red Deer, Grand Prairie, Lethbridge, and Wetaskiwin. 
  • The benefits of living in a small town in Alberta include a lower cost of living, cheaper real estate, lower taxes, and friendly communities. The disadvantages include fewer job opportunities, harsh climates, and limited services. 

Best Small Towns Near Edmonton 

Below are some of the most charming small towns near Edmonton. Population figures are taken from the 2022 data provided by the Alberta Regional Dashboard.

Camrose

Camrose, with a population of 19,847, is a vibrant city in East Central Alberta. Located 95 km southeast of the capital, it promises a relaxed, quiet lifestyle with amenities for families and children. 

Its flourishing agri-business and tourism industries offer residents plenty of work opportunities. Activities abound, from touring to exploring museums, parks and trails, farmers’ markets and shopping in restored historic establishments.

Lacombe

Lacombe is a small town in central Alberta located 125 kilometres south of Edmonton. It has a population of 14,229. One of the best places to live, Lacombe offers residents a high quality of life with a healthy community spirit.

The town’s agricultural, industrial, and small business sectors ensure diverse employment opportunities for residents and contribute to Lacombe’s low unemployment rate. The things to do here include hiking, festivals, fishing, kayaking, and paddle boarding.

Bonnyville

Bonnyville, a town in East Northern Alberta with 5,915 residents, is also among the best small towns near Edmonton. Located around 240 kilometres from Alberta’s capital, Bonnyville boasts a rural way of life but offers the conveniences of urban living. 

Its oil and gas industries contribute to a strong employment market, with industrial and forestry projects providing job opportunities. Fishing, birdwatching, and wild game hunting are among the things to do here. Indoor recreation, agricultural adventures, entertainment, and tours are also popular.

Smoky Lake

Smoky Lake is a municipal district in Central Alberta with a population of only 944. It is situated northeast of Edmonton and an hour’s drive from the capital. Smoky Lake has a quiet, small-town way of living but boasts big-city amenities.

The town has a low unemployment rate. Sectors providing employment are agriculture, forestry, and gas. As for recreation, Smoky Lake offers hiking, camping, biking, horseback riding, and road trip adventures. 

Devon

Devon is a small town about 26 kilometres from Edmonton, with 6,689 residents. It has a welcoming community that holds social gatherings to create meaningful connections with members.

The town’s economic players are its oil industry, manufacturing, tourism, and research sectors. Exploring indoor shops and restaurants, hiking, biking, golfing, skiing, and snowboarding are among the popular things to do in this town. 

Bon Accord

Bon Accord is a quaint town with a population of 1,481. It is located in central Alberta, 40 kilometres north of Edmonton. It’s a safe and welcoming community for people seeking a slower pace of life. 

Agriculture, manufacturing and advanced energy are the major economic players that provide residents with plenty of employment opportunities. Popular with young families and seniors, the town offers plenty of recreational opportunities, including parks and sports. 

St. Paul

Nestled in northeast Alberta, St. Paul is a small town known for its trails and lakes. With 5,771 residents, it’s a welcoming, vibrant community that prides itself on being a “People Kind of Place.” 

A primary trading hub for the region, St. Paul relies on its agriculture and oil and gas industries to supply jobs to its residents. Visitors here can enjoy the world’s first UFO landing pad, museums, the town’s aquatic center, and numerous lakes and trails.

The town of Legal in central Alberta, with 1,424 residents, is known as the French Mural capital of Canada. This bilingual town is located 50 kilometres north of Edmonton within Sturgeon County. 

Legal boasts a friendly, welcoming community that prides itself on deeply-rooted values evident in the multi-generational businesses still operating today. Legal offers various activities, like exploring murals, fishing, cycling, sports, skating, and picnicking. 

Related: Top Places To Live in Alberta

Best Small Towns to Live in Alberta 

Jasper

This famous little township is in the Jasper National Park in the centre of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. With a population of 4,113, Jasper is home to a flourishing tourism/service industry owing to its many outdoor attractions. 

There’s a plethora of activities in Jasper, such as hiking, wildlife-watching, astrophotography, skiing, and snowboarding. Attractions include majestic lakes, national parks, and historic sites.  

Canmore 

With a population of 14,530, Canmore was known as a mining town from the 1880s until the 20th century. Recently, it became a popular tourist destination, with many considering it as one of Alberta’s top places to live. 

The town also boasts a friendly community that welcomes different demographics and cultural backgrounds. Things to do in the town include hiking, mountain biking, fishing, stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing, and cross-country skiing. 

Pincher Creek

Located in southern Alberta, east of the Canadian Rockies, Pincher Creek is known as the Wind Capital of Canada. With a population of 3,428, it attracts over 500,00 tourists year-round to its numerous cultural and historical sites.

Wind energy, tourism, technology, manufacturing, and agriculture are the main industries in this business-friendly town. Attractions include lakes, rolling hills, provincial parks, and wind farms. Activities like hiking, camping, swimming, skiing, and snowboarding abound here. 

Fort Macleod

An hour’s drive south of Calgary is the national historic site, Fort Macleod, one of the top towns to live in Alberta. For the 3,111 residents here, the neighbourly atmosphere and the strong sense of community make the town among the best places to live.

Agriculture, the agricultural services industry, manufacturing, construction, trade companies, and retail are the main drivers of its economy. Town attractions include the Rocky Mountains, museums, theatres, wilderness parks, and movie set locations.

Sexsmith

Once known as the Grain Capital of the British Empire, Sexsmith is a small town in northern Alberta and north of Grande Prairie with a population of 2,857. It has a bustling community enjoying contemporary amenities mixed with historic sites and stores. 

The main economic driver in Sexsmith is its oil and natural gas liquids processing plant. Town attractions include playgrounds, walking trails, splash and skateboard parks, and a campground. Fishing, skating, and sports are among the fun things to do in this quaint town. 

Grande Cache

Grand Cache is a hamlet, a human settlement smaller than a town. Located in west-central Alberta, it sits at the northern edge of the Rockies, surrounded by valleys. Its primary industry is wilderness tourism, which has grown in recent years. 

Some of the attractions here are the recreation center, golf and country club, wilderness park, labyrinth park, farmer’s market, and the 125-km foot race called the Great Canadian Death Race. Hiking, paddling, and water rafting are among the many things you can do in Grande Cache.

Okotoks

Okotok, located 15 minutes from south Calgary, is a vibrant community with 31,959 residents. Its high quality of life and diverse population make it one of the nicest towns in Alberta to live in. Community members enjoy access to big-city amenities from the comfort of a small and friendly town. 

A thriving trade zone, its main industries include trade and transport, sales and service, and business and finance. Outdoor opportunities include walking paths, bike trails, parks, and sports courts. Horseback riding, hiking, fishing, and golfing are popular activities in Okotoks.

Black Diamond

Located in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies on the southwestern side of Calgary is Black Diamond, with a population of 2,794. It offers an attractive rural location close to a major city. National parks, museums, and entertainment centers are some of its attractions.

Construction, health care and social assistance, and manufacturing are among its main industries. The things to do here include exploring western-style buildings, hiking a cowboy trail, and attending festivals. 

Peace River

Peace River is an urban town in northwestern Alberta, located 1,000 feet sub-terrain and along the banks of the Peace River. Its diverse and vibrant culture is home to 6,662 residents. Its main economic driver is the resource extraction industry.

Recreational opportunities include country hiking, biking, hunting, equestrian riding, fishing, and kayaking. Community members enjoy activities and amenities like a regional pool, energy centre, parks, playgrounds, ice rinks, and recreation programs. 

Cochrane

Cochrane is among the most populated towns in the province, with a total of 34,724 residents in 2022. It features a friendly community with a diverse culture and offers options for expensive and affordable neighbourhoods to cater to various budgets. 

The town is a small industrial centre, with agriculture, construction, and retail trade among its major business industries. Fun activities to do in Cochrane include paintball, climbing, hiking, camping, and paddling the lakes. 

Drumheller

Drumheller, with a population of 7,968, is located in the badlands of east-central Alberta. It’s famous for being Canada’s dinosaur capital of Canada. It has a caring community that builds relationships with neighbours through events like block parties and welcome packs, making Drumheller one of the best small towns to retire in Alberta.  

The town’s main industries include tourism, retail trade, construction, and more. Top Drumheller attractions include museums, historic sites, and provincial parks. The most popular thing to do here is to explore the dinosaur trail, provincial parks, and canyons. 

Sylvan Lake

The town of Sylvan Lake in central Alberta is among the most famous destinations in the province, attracting over 1 million tourists a year. Due to its popularity, the town offers nearly every urban amenity available. 

Its key industry sectors include tourism, oil and gas, and manufacturing. The town’s attractions include heritage buildings, provincial parks, and local breweries. Visitors can enjoy ice fishing, skating, kayaking, and annual festivals and fireworks shows. 

What Are the Worst Places to Live in Alberta?

Below are some of the worst towns to live in the province of Alberta based on the Crime Severity Index. For individuals looking for a secure and fulfilling residence, this metric works as a guide to finding the best and safest places to live.

LocationCrime Severity IndexViolent Crime Severity Index
Canada 78.1097.74
Alberta103.21110.43
Lloydminster196.97179.81
Red Deer163.02163.43
Grand Prairie157.31135.25
Lethbridge134.73130.41
Wetaskiwin110.2872.28
Leduc85.9865.73
Fort Saskatchewan84.6392.66
Medicine Hat81.5775.04

Pros and Cons of Living in a Small Town in Alberta

Pros:

  • Cheaper real estate
  • Larger homes
  • Lower cost of living
  • Lower taxes
  • Lower auto insurance
  • Strong job market
  • Vibrant communities
  • Shorter commutes
  • Reduced traffic
  • Easy access to nature
  • Stunning natural landscapes
  • A quieter and more relaxed lifestyle

Cons:

  • Economic volatility
  • Fewer job opportunities
  • Harsh winters
  • Limited services
  • Fewer entertainment choices
  • Takes longer to get anywhere

How to Choose the Best Small Town to Live in Alberta

Moving to a small town can be both exciting and daunting. It requires thorough consideration of different factors so that it matches your preferences and priorities. The following can help you make the right choice:

  1. Enumerate the qualities you want in a small town. These include affordable housing, good schools, a friendly community, and proximity to nature.
  2. Find potential locations. Consider the following factors: cost of living, amenities, climate, transportation options, etc.
  3. Check the job opportunities. Research local businesses and employment trends to see if they correspond to your skills and career goals. Learn about the transportation options.
  4. Research the potential area’s housing market. Check affordability, availability of properties, and property taxes.
  5. Check the quality of life. Research healthcare access, air and water quality, and overall safety. 
  6. Visit potential small towns to get a feel of the area. Check out downtown restaurants and local shops. Talk to community residents about the quality of life and town or community dynamics.

FAQs

Where is the cheapest place to live in Alberta? 

Comparewise ranks Lethbridge as the cheapest place to live in Alberta. The town landed on the sixth spot and is the only Alberta town to enter the list. According to Comparewise, Lethbridge’s more affordable rent and real estate prices allow residents to “live a comfortable life with just $1,300.”

What is the safest town to live in Alberta? 

Okotoks is among the safest towns to live in Alberta, with low crime rates and a low CSI of 40.3. It was also previously ranked in Maclean’s Magazine as the 35th safest city in Canada. 

What are the booming towns in Alberta? 

The Calgary metropolitan region, which includes Cochrane, Airdrie, and Chestermore, ranks as the fastest-growing region in the Prairies, having seen a significant growth in its population. Canmore, Edmonton, Lethbridge, and Sylvan Lake are also experiencing net population increases from interprovincial migration. Cochrane is Alberta’s fastest-growing municipality, as it’s currently preparing for future expansion through residential development, upcoming infrastructure projects, and the addition of recreational amenities. 

Where do most immigrants live in Alberta? 

Most immigrants choosing to live in Alberta settle in Calgary and Edmonton. They are often drawn by the lower taxes compared to the rest of Canada, making these destinations attractive options for immigrants looking to save money. 

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Gravatar for Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)
Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)

Enoch Omololu, personal finance expert, author, and founder of Savvy New Canadians, has written about money matters for over 10 years. Enoch has an MSc (Econ) degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School and has completed the Canadian Securities Course. His expertise has been highlighted in major publications like Forbes, Globe and Mail, Business Insider, CBC News, Toronto Star, Financial Post, CTV News, TD Direct Investing, Canadian Securities Exchange, and many others. Enoch is passionate about helping others win with their finances and recently created a practical investing course for beginners. You can read his full author bio.

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