North of Calgary, where Highway 2A splits off the main route to Edmonton, are three communities offering the best of quiet, rural-Alberta living.

Carstairs, Didsbury and Olds each have their own unique appeal, along with real estate choices ideal for growing families.

Kaley Tiede, a REALTOR® with RE/MAX A C A Realty in Carstairs, says the town is a family friendly community located less than an hour’s drive from Calgary, with many residents who commute to the big city each day.

Tiede says word is getting out about Carstairs’s great location, local amenities and single-family homes that cost less than a similar house in Airdrie or Calgary.

“We are getting a lot of people walking into the office wanting to know more about real estate,” she said, including a new development in the area offering homes with up to five bedrooms and a three-car garage priced in the $400,000s.

About a 10-minute drive north and slightly west on Highway 582 is the town of Didsbury, with its historic downtown area.

“(Olds) a great place to live,” said Cindy Tippe, a Realtor with RE/MAX A C A Realty’s Didsbury office. “There’s a small-town feeling, some really great schools, the first hospital north of Calgary.”

Tippe says real estate in the town is primarily made up of single-family homes, with prices for a typical home running from about $250,000 to $350,000.

“It has a really great lifestyle for families, with a great hospital, doctors and a lot of schools that are very highly rated.” – A.J. Barkman, Re/Max A C A Realty

At the RE/MAX A C A Realty office in Olds, another 10 minutes north on Highway 2A, local Realtor A.J. Barkman gave up big city living for a quieter location.

“I wanted a small-town lifestyle in which to raise my children,” said Barkman, who moved from Calgary to Olds 18 years ago.

“It has a really great lifestyle for families, with a great hospital, doctors and a lot of schools that are very highly rated.”

She says there is now a mix of big box stores and local retailers, and Olds College, once known primarily for its agricultural offerings, has since broadened the scope of its programs.

Olds offers a wide variety of real estate types, from detached, single-family homes to townhomes and apartment-style condos. Barkman says the average house price of about $345,000 compares favourably with places like Calgary, where the figure sits closer to $490,000.

At the end of the day, she says, anyone looking for a great place to live that’s amenity rich but away from the big city should give Olds a try.

“It’s definitely worth it,” she said. “That’s what I did 18 years ago, and I have no regrets.”