Banff on a Budget

Banff is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places that you could only hope to live. If the mountains, trails, wildlife and beautiful nature of the town doesn’t excite you as a traveler, I’m not sure what will. Whether it’s summer or winter; Banff has a ridiculous amount to offer all year round. Unfortunately there are drawbacks to living in such a beautiful place – it’s not cheap.




(Photo of Mt Rundle over Vermillion Lakes. Photo Credit: Vickie Emms)

For groceries you’re looking at paying over the odds when you shop at the local Safeway or Nesters. You will find that items such as meat and vegetables are a lot more expensive than in larger towns, however there are some ways around the pricey nature. One thing you can do is make the short trip to Canmore on the local Roam bus which is a $12 round trip. You will probably save money on meat if you buy in bulk, depending on the deals and the time of year. Whether you always save doing this however, only time will tell.

There are ways of making life in such an amazing place affordable and equally enjoyable, and here are a few I’ve noticed:

Choose employers carefully:
Banff Lodging Co are a fantastic example of an employer who are sought after by all jobseekers; they own a variety of bars and hotels in town and offer affordable staff accommodation and many other perks – something that is hard to come by due to the exceedingly high occupancy rate in Banff.

With this in mind, it certainly tends to be the larger employers in town that offer better deals on accommodation and some even offer free food, so make sure you do your research on employers before accepting that easy job offer.

Learn the local’s way of life:
Locals Deals
There are a variety of benefits and discounts that are available to locals, so asking after any discounts in bars and stores often pays dividends. Roots, the clothing store, are a perfect example of a store where all Banff locals receive a discount on purchases, so be sure to ask when purchasing anything.

Locals nights
Your choice of night to engage in festivities will greatly affect your bank account and your experience and there are two reasons for this. You will find on weekends that the crowd in town is very different to that of locals nights (Sunday, Wednesday & Thursday) hence the vibe changes noticeably. Sure there are a few bars that still attract locals, with Bruno’s being a popular destination, but the influx of people from other areas changes the dynamic of Banff’s nightlife.

Alternatively Hostels such as the Samesun and the H.I all have their own designated bars and are full of travellers with affordable drinks. Definitely worth checking out!

Appreciate the little things
Banff is stunning and no matter how long you spend here, there will always be opportunities to explore. An example of a free but entertaining evening is my trip last night. All it took was 4 friends, skateboards and a long road. Our adventure took us to Vermillion lakes, which was a 30 minute skate with beautiful scenery the whole way. I ended up spending $0.99 on a drink for the ride and that was it. There is so much to do here that will cost you just about nothing.

Don’t buy new
One final tip is to visit thrift stores and check online before purchasing anything! Banff Buy & Sell is a Facebook community of people living or have lived in Banff that need to sell every item you can think of, often reliable and much cheaper than buying first hand.

Furthermore, due to Banff’s seasonal nature people are always coming and going, and with that change comes a massive amount of new and old stuff that needs to be bought and sold. Depending on the time of year you can find some real bargains on there, so be sure to check them out before you go buying things new.


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