“Is this house in a good or bad area?” – a seemingly simple question with the answer of a bit more than yes or no, because the definition of good/bad varies depending on what you need.

In this post, I would like to use Edmonton, a typical city in Canada, as an example, to demonstrate what good or bad truly means to different people, and how to make an informed decision by the students/working professionals who are looking for a great shared home.

First of all, let’s get THREE commonly misleading concepts out of our way quickly.

1#, Criminal rate – When it comes to crime rate, firearm control, racial tension, and violence status, any city in Canada, is one of the best (trying to be humble) places in the world: Lowest criminal rate across the country, strongest multicultural system deeply rooted anywhere you go, firearm  is no where close to the epidemic level as in our neighbors on the South border. It is safe to say that Edmonton, is one of the safest cities in the world (or the claim is still valid if you replace Edmonton with any city in Canada)

2#, Status claim – When people talk about good/bad areas, they are really talking about how expensive the houses in that neighborhood due to the residents’ income and/or demand. In Edmonton, the areas of SW, St Albert, Sherwood Park, etc, are referred as “good” or more precisely, higher income areas, as the housing prices are much higher that leads to the major residents in these areas are white collars/or business owners. In addition, the very close proximity of the University of Alberta, thanks for the reputation of the school, it was under high demand and the housing cost is high, (or being regarded as “good” as a misconception?) On the contrary, the downtown areas (where a few colleges are in), Kingsway area (Nait is located as well) and old stadium area, Clareview areas (where a few LRT stations are at), are saturated with more blue-collar workers, new immigrants, etc as the houses are much more affordable. Not trying to be politically right, but it is common sense that no one should be called bad simply because they are making less money, isn’t? So for argument sake, let’s call these areas more affordable as “moderate incoming area” or area A and the more expensive areas are Area B.

3#, Drug addict/homeless issue – it is a sad fact and let’s put the elephant in the room square and center – it is being seen all over the city and it seemed more commonly seen in downtown areas and nearby surrounding areas where some less fortunate people wandering around. However, they have their own routine and circles and government has various programs to help them to be part of the society. Except for rare occasions of being asked for a coin/cigarette, most of them won’t bother anyone and simply mind their own businesses, as long as we mind our own.

Here is a quick recap – There are wealthy areas with much higher rents and harder to access without deeper pockets (Area B), and “moderate income areas”(Area A) with great public transits, affordable housing and flexible access to campus and shopping. In terms of safety, pretty much anywhere in Edmonton, is one of the safest places in the world.

So for a student and or a working professional, the proper answer to the beginning question is actually “it all depends”. To help you make the easy comparison, the following table illustrates the two typical options based on a simplified yet realistic data

Factor to be considered by a college/university studentA standard room in Area A (moderate income areas)A standard room in Area B (higher income/cost areas)
-Rent (furnished , utility internet, in-suite laundry all included)550.00695.00
-Quality of the house/roomAbove averageMerely or lower than average
-Overall safety/crime rateBest in the worldBest in the world
– Average time to school5-15 mins (by LRT and/or bus)5-15 mins (by walk, tough in winter months)
– Cost of grossary Average or low 20% higher (or $100/mon more)
-AccessibilityEasy and flexible (public transit)Car might be needed
-Parking/gas costNo need/freedepending /$50.00/mon more
-Presence of homeless Rare and occasionallyRare/occasionally
Actual living cost $/monthlyStandard average$300 to 350.00 more
Value and cost ratioBetter overallLess than ideal


For most of us, the best choice can be found in these so called “moderate income areas” (Area A) where the room with the excellent quality is close to transportation, with easy access to campus, convincient to go to shopping, and more importantly, with the excellent rents, as long as you are perfectly fine with occasionally passing by a few less fortunate people on the street.

However, if you are keen on “ to be extremely close or within the campus”, and have no financial concern for the extra cost, Area B is definitely a great option.

In the end, it is your call based on what you need. And based on our experience, we would like to recommend area A to most of the students. Simply because it is economically feasible to most of the students, with a great qualify of housing and the green access to the campus as well.