Royal Oak, single family home. We both come from living in houses, one of us in the burbs and small towns and the other closer to inner city, probably close to something like Lions Park station or similar in age and proximity to downtown. We've both also spent years in apartments.
Within a few months of moving to Calgary we both fell in love with the NW and it's not like we didn't look - when you don't know a soul in a city it's easy to spend every weekend just driving around, learning the city and checking out every last neighbourhood. While we tossed around the thought of buying, it wasn't serious until the boom took hold of this city. Watching house prices increase each month got a bit scary, so for fun we started looking into it more seriously.
Pretty quickly, just like lubicon, we learned how expensive it would be to live anywhere close to downtown. Even Dalhousie or Brentwood was damned expensive for what you got. So, it was either a small condo or the burbs, or a REAL fixer-upper, and neither of us are any good or motivated at that. However, what really made up our minds was this - in 2005 it was cheaper in most cases to buy a brand-new home than just about anything else, unless you wanted a very run down place or maybe something in the sketchier parts of the NE/SE. Well, that decided it - having your own place, never lived i, where you get to pick every last detail of your colours and materials and whatnot - it's awesome. It's even better than a brand new car. Spent a couple of months browsing showhomes and narrowing down the parts of the city we liked, and at the time it came down to 2 areas really - Royal Oak or Tuscany. I INSISTED on living with C-Train access, now or near future, so Panorama hills etc were out. Also wanted to be very close to Banff considering I now drive out there 20+ times a year. Royal Oak was just a bit more convenient to get in and out of, and I liked the houses available, so sold!
Pros: Affordable. Quiet. Plenty of walking areas and park space (eventually, that's still being worked on). No kids so none of those reasons apply, but still, we wanted at least a small yard for maybe a hot tub in the future. We're both very private and quiet people so to be honest the isolation of the burbs is welcome. Meeting new people is pretty easy as EVERYONE is new and no one knows anyone. Easy to get in and out of the city, especially for those 6:30am ski departures. And train access, so the commute isn't half bad. We've long since outgrown (I don't mean maturity wise, we've just gotten boring in our "old age" while the rest of you keep it real) crowds, festivals, the bar scene - all the fun and exciting stuff an urban presence brings. We hit some every year but it's certainly not the focus of everyday life. We actually have groceries and some other stores within a 5-10 minute walking distance which is always a bonus on a nice day. Plus a tiny mountain view from upstairs. More noticeable is the GREAT views we get every time we leave the house and drive south on Stoney, and coming back to the house as well. I see the mountains on every clear day.
Cons: really, the commute. That's about it. I don't mind though as I've always taken public transit both to work and to school (such a waste to drive if you don't have to) and I've been reading obsessively for decades as a result. I hardly notice the time even though yeah, it's 45-60 minutes EACH WAY 200+ days a year. I'd spend that time reading otherwise anyway, so it's not really taking much away from my life. The lack of flexibility and waking up that much earlier are the real con for me.
The very rare occasions I want to drink socially, it's a pain. NO ONE lives by us that we know beyond a few neighbours. And all the fun stuff (Flames, Stampede, good clubs) are downtown. So it's pricey cab-wise. I totally understand folks who do this on a regular basis living downtown - if I was 10 years younger I think I'd be living in the east Beltline without question. Otherwise it's just not a problem.
It's funny, because most of what people say is "young families like the suburbs". Well, while I don't have a head full of grey, we're not young and we don't (nor will we ever) have kids. We're the ultimate yuppies and DINKs. But it still is exactly what we wanted and need.
Oh yeah, and we did look at Okotoks/Airdrie/Strathmore/etc - coulda saved a bunch of money that way. However I couldn't live with myself driving into the city every day, let alone driving or even owning *2* cars. Such a stupid waste of money, gas, the environment. There's a certain appeal to the smaller centres but I must say I do enjoy the feel of a big city, and all the amenities it provides, even if I don't want to live right in the middle of them. Also I detest real urban American-style urban sprawl - at least Calgary contains itself within contiguous areas for the most part. So I guess you could say I'm fully cognizant of sprawl/environmental issues, and try very hard to mitigate them - but I still live on just about the extreme edge of the city. I'm not sure if that makes me a hypocrite or a semi-responsible suburbanite or just plain stupid.
We do our best to keep our entire footprint down but yeah, I do have a yard, and I do love the new massive road systems being put in primarily to support the suburbs.