Okotoks is an attractive town located in the foothills of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. It has a small-town feel, stunning views of the mountains, and excellent amenities for a town of its size. The town is popular with families, particularly with British immigrants.
Okotoks is also a 10-minute drive from Calgary city limits, providing additional amenities and job opportunities. The town is also very forward-thinking, with an active program of economic development.
This post gives you the basic facts about the town and the pros and cons of living in Okotoks.
Living In Okotoks – The Facts
|Population (Start 2023)||31,959|
|Population Growth 2016/2021||4.80%|
|Population Born in UK 2016 Census||Not Available|
|Ave Cost Real Estate Jan ’22||$729,000|
|Sales Tax||5% GST|
|Prov Income Tax Low Band*||10%|
|Prov Income Tax High Band*||15%|
|Crime Severity Index 2020**||34.6|
|Violent Crime Severity Index 2020**||33.49|
Where Is Okotoks?
Okotoks lies in the western Canadian province of Alberta. The town sits on Sheep River in the rolling foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The mountains form a dramatic backdrop to the west of the town.
It will take you around 2.5 hours to drive to the US border from Okotoks, plus a further couple of hours to reach anywhere in the US of any size. Travelling westwards, it would take you about 12 hours to drive to Vancouver on Canada’s west coast (approximately 1000km).
Despite its rural feel, Okotoks forms part of the metropolitan district of Calgary. It lies directly south of Calgary and is just a 10-minute drive from the city limits.
What Is The Population Of Okotoks in 2023?
The population of Okotoks in 2023 is 31,959, according to the latest Alberta provincial data.
The town has seen steady growth in recent years. The latest federal census data (released in 2022) showed a population of 30,405, representing a growth in the population of Okotoks of 4.8% between 2016 and 2021.
Living in Okotoks is popular with families, and the average age of the population is 38.4, a little lower than the national average of 41.9. However, the income and levels of education of people living in Okotoks are higher than average.
The majority of those living in Okotoks are white and English-speaking. Around 8% are classed as visible minorities, and the largest minority group is Filipino.
The town is also popular with British Immigrants (hence the presence of “The British Chippy” and “The British Banger Co.”).
What Is The Weather Like In Okotoks?
Okotoks has four distinct seasons, with warm summers and cold winters. Winter temperatures are milder than much of Canada due to warm, dry Chinook winds that often blow through the town in winter.
A Chinook can last from a few hours to a few days, bringing quite dramatic temperature increases. An increase of 10-20 deg C within a day is not uncommon.
Chinooks can provide much-needed relief from the frigid winter temperatures. However, they provide uncertainty to the winter weather, and migraine sufferers complain that the sudden changes cause intense headaches.
Summers are pleasantly warm and sunny, and the humidity is low, which means that it’s rare to get very hot, uncomfortable weather.
Other advantages to the climate are low precipitation levels and high average sunshine hours per day.
Despite the “normally” low rain levels, the town does occasionally suffer from flooding. The last major incident was in 2013, when many towns in southern Alberta suffered flooding. It is now very difficult to find property insurance with flood coverage in the region.
|Annual Rainfall (mm)||372.6|
|Annual Snowfall (mm)||141.9|
|Ave Hours Sunshine/Day||6.5|
|Ave Jan Temp (DegC)||-8.1|
|Ave July Temp (DegC)||17|
Living In Okotoks.
Is The Cost Of Living In Okotoks High?
In the past, many people chose living in Okotoks as a lower-cost alternative to Calgary. While this is still the case, particularly for residential and commercial property prices, the popularity of Okotoks means the gap is narrowing.
What Is Okotoks’ Economy Based On?
Okotoks is often considered just a bedroom community for Calgary. While this is true to a degree, the town has worked hard in recent years to attract new businesses to the town.
There has been strong industrial and commercial development as a result. This includes many new home-based businesses and heavy growth in the retail sector. As a result, Okotoks has a surprisingly good selection of retailers for a town of its size and even boasts its own Costco.
Does Okotoks Have Good Transport Connections?
Living in Okotoks provides you with excellent road connections. Highway 2A runs through the town and provides easy access to Highway 2. This major highway runs south to the US and north to Calgary, Edmonton and beyond.
If you want to travel east or west, Highway 22x can be used to connect to the Trans Canada Highway (Hwy1). This major route runs for almost 8000km from Vancouver on the west coast of Canada to St John’s on the east coast.
Within the town, Okotoks Transit operates an on-demand bus service available to residents seven days a week. Residents can request a bur immediately or up to 3 weeks in advance. This can be done via phone app, online or by phone.
For international travel, living in Okotoks provides easy access to Calgary International Airport via Highway 2. Calgary airport is the fourth busiest in Canada; more than 17 million passengers passed through the airport each year pre-covid. Almost a third of these were international passengers. The drive from Okotoks will take you around 40 minutes.
What Outdoor Activities Can I Enjoy In Okotoks?
Okotoks has more than 85km of trails winding through the community along the beautiful Sheep River. Perfect for those that like to hike or bike.
The town also has a range of outdoor sports facilities, including:
- Baseball diamonds
- Playing fields
- Tennis courts
- Basketball courts
- Football/soccer/rugby fields
For the winter, Okotoks town has designated tobogganing hills as well as maintained skating rinks. The town also provides snowshoeing and cross-country ski trails.
If you are prepared to travel a little further, the Rocky Mountains are an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. A 90-minute drive will take you to Canmore’s Nordic Centre, an Olympic-class cross-country skiing facility.
If you like to downhill ski, you have easy access to some of the best ski resorts in Canada.
Nakiska Ski Resort is the closest resort to Okotoks; it will take you around 90 minutes to drive there. Nakiska is one of the smaller resorts, but it has runs to suit all abilities and is particularly good for beginners.
The BigSki3 resorts of Mount Norquay, Banff Sunshine and Lake Louise can all be reached in around 2 hours. Norquay is another relatively small resort but has a good range of runs and night skiing. Sunshine and Lake Louise are large world-class resorts with a huge range of runs and great snow.
If you prefer a community a little closer to the mountains, you may be interested in Cochrane. This town is a similar size but located on the west side of Calgary.
Does Okotoks Have Good Entertainment & Shopping?
Okotoks has a surprisingly good range of bars and restaurants for a town of its size. A number of these are concentrated in the downtown area near Elizabeth Street. Others are spread down Highway 2A on the south side of the river.
Shopping options are also excellent in Okotoks. The downtown area has some nice boutique stores, and at the south end of town, you have a range of big-box stores such as Costco and Walmart.
Some of the bars (such as Cahoots) are open until the early hours. If you really want lively nightlife, then Calgary has all the entertainment options you would expect of a major city.
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What Sports Teams Does Okotoks Have?
For hockey fans living in Okotoks, the Okotoks Oilers Junior A ice hockey team competes in the Alberta Junior Ice Hockey League (AJHL). They generally play around one home game per week during the season.
In neighbouring Calgary, there are a number of major league teams to support:
- The Calgary Flames ice hockey team competes in the National Hockey League (NHL)
- The Calgary Stampeders (American) football team competes in the Canadian Football League (CFL)
- The Calgary Roughnecks lacrosse team competes in the National Lacrosse League (NLL)
What Are The Best Neighbourhoods In Okotoks?
There aren’t any bad areas for those living in Okotoks; you will feel safe wherever you are. The best area for you will depend on your priorities.
Crystal Ridge is an attractive neighbourhood at the northern edge of Okotoks, built around Crystal Shore Lake. However, the lake’s proximity means that properties come at a premium. One upside is that it is on the right side of town for easy access to Calgary.
Drake Landing is another attractive neighbourhood that lies on the northeastern side of town. It also has good access to Calgary. It is very green with lots of park area, and a small lake/pond. On the downside, there is further to travel for shopping than most other areas in town.
Westmount is in the far southwest of Okotoks. It has good access to a range of bars and restaurants and is close to many of the larger stores (such as Walmart, Canadian Tire and Costco). On the flip side, this does bring extra traffic to the area.
Westridge is just north of Westmount, with a mix of new and old homes. It also has easy access to the shopping areas.
Woodhaven is an attractive, more established neighbourhood south of the river; it’s very green with mature trees. Nearby trails provide quick access to the downtown area.
Sheep River and Hunters Glen are on the southwest side of the river. This area is close to the river, with easy access to the trails. Some properties have river views, and walking to the downtown area via the river trail is also possible.
Cimarron is a large neighbourhood on the south side of town. These are newer homes ranging from condos to executive single-family homes. The area benefits from being close to the main shopping areas.
Mountain View and Sandstone are on the northwest side of town. They are peaceful areas with great views of the mountains.
Is Okotoks A Safe Place To Live?
Okotoks is a very safe place to live. Crimes rates are remarkably low, in fact, the lowest that I have seen anywhere in Canada. Rates are significantly below national averages, and crime numbers per 100,000 people are around a third of the norm for Alberta.
I would feel perfectly safe living in Okotoks
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Living In Okotoks
Pros Of Living In Okotoks
- Low crime
- Views of the Rocky Mountains
- Small town vibe
- Close to Calgary
- Close to International Airport
- Great amenities
- Good transport connections
Cons of Living In Okotoks
- Risk of Flooding
- Cold winters
If you are unsure if living in Okotoks is right for you, check out these other small towns in Alberta. 16 Best Small Towns In Alberta To Live In 2023.
Sources of Data Statistics Canada & Canadian Real Estate Association
Featured Image – Okotoks Erratic aka Big Rock (Source: Graham – Under Creative Commons license)