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In the next couple of weeks, Calgary will be welcoming thousands of new residents. Most will be new or returning post-secondary students. Others will be those from other provinces who think the housing shortage will not personally affect them and have decided to make the trek regardless to one of Canada’s most booming cities.

During this time, I will also be celebrating my two year anniversary in what I could have sworn was the capital of Alberta. (Turns out, it’s just north of Red Deer.) During my time here I have learned a lot about this city and how to survive in it. After all, I came here with a little more than what would fit in the trunk of my car and a wicked DVD collection. (Notably all 7 seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer). When I first moved into my apartment I had nothing more than a chair a friend had leant me. Now, after pillaging many a yard sale and accepting many wonderful donations from friends, I now have a fully furnished apartment and I feel that I have learned enough to pass on 5 useful tips to Calgary’s newest residents.

1. If you live in Calgary and you need to furnish your apartment you’ll want to go to IKEA. Yeah, it seems obvious, but here is my hint: Don’t go on a weekend. Go on a Monday or Tuesday night, you’ll have the run of the place and you won’t have to stand in line for a 75cent hot dog and pop. Also, don’t be alarmed when you go to friends house and they look exactly the same as yours. We all shop at IKEA and we all buy the cheapest stuff, don’t bother thinking your design ideas are unique.

2.If you are coming from any other city and you are looking to recycle, forget about it. Here in Calgary we like to drive big cars and if you bring your blue boxes we will just drive over them. While you are at it, you should also forget about getting Flames tickets, they have been sold out since before you were born. Although, I hear the Hitmen may have a couple thousand tickets left over for every single one of their games. But their 50/50 draw sucks.

3. The best place to go to the movies in Calgary is in Eau Claire. Everyone forgets about them and they are always empty. The other plus? They are one of the cheapest theatres around. But go now, soon they will be torn down to make room for condos. We like to do that here….a lot!

4. No matter how much someone dares you stay away from the following places: The Cecil Motel and….well, that’s pretty much it. Stay away from the Cecil and anywhere that has the nickname “crack” in it. They include: The Crack Alley and Crack Macs.

5.Rent is ridiculous and no one cares. This is because the people who can do something about it have lived here all their lives which means the houses they bought 20 years ago are now worth more than your life. They do not understand that $800 a month for a basement apartment where you wake up with spider bites on you is anything less than acceptable. But when you meet these people they will be happy to tell you how lucky they are to have bought before the boom. Lucky them.

With that I welcome you to Calgary. The winter will be starting sometime next week and you should see grass again around next June! Enjoy!

Mike Morrison