Relocating to Nova Scotia

So, after a great deal of consideration, a lot of paperwork, and most probably a quite substantial financial outlay, you find yourself landing at Halifax International Airport to start your new life in Nova Scotia, Canada. This is it….you are finally relocating to Nova Scotia 🙂

You might describe your journey as a brave move; others may call it a dream move; you have to do everything you can to make sure that it becomes a successful move. Going back would probably work out to be just as costly as it was to get here. And yes, some people do return, you probably won’t want to be one of them. You certainly don’t want this to become your most expensive mistake.

I came here in March 2007 with my husband Rich and our two young children who were aged just 3 and 6 at the time, and a little surprise one on the way. I can still clearly remember how difficult those first few months were, whilst at the same time being hugely exciting. Exciting, because there are so many fantastic new places to see, and difficult, because there are lots of things to do before you truly settle in.

So, where do you start? What do you need? Let’s make a list.

Very high on your list of “needs” would be accommodation upon arrival. Next, you will probably need to arrange transport, most likely a car.


So how do you find temporary accommodation before you arrive? This is where Google and Kijiji become your best friend. Search for “short term furnished accommodation Halifax” or “furnished short term rentals Halifax” for example. I did and I found lots of properties available. Airbnb is also a great option. Because it is a short term rental, be prepared to pay a premium.

Long term though, average rental prices around Halifax, Nova Scotia can vary greatly, depending on your location. the size of the home and number of bedrooms. A three bed home in a good location would start at around $1500 per month, excluding utilities (you have to pay everything apart from a mortgage payment, insurance and property taxes).  Be prepared to show bank statements and provide any references you can when applying for a rental; as a newly arrived resident in Canada, it’s the only way your landlord or his management company can check you out.

You’ll need to pay a rent deposit of half a months rent to secure the property. In general, Landlords prefer twelve-month agreements, but you can usually negotiate six. This may be better for you if you are unsure about which neighbourhood you want to settle in.

Which neighbourhood?

So, how do you choose a neighbourhood? This is where a car and a Sat Nav would come in very useful. Of course, you don’t “need” to buy a GPS, you could get a street map and ask your partner to navigate.

Halifax is very compact and quite easy to navigate. In terms of neighbourhoods, Halifax mainland can be broken down into several distinct areas – the South End, the West End, the North End, and downtown Halifax. As you move outside of the city, areas become more rural and spacious. Popular areas for new immigrants from the UK and the US include Fall River, Bedford, Hammonds Plains and Tantallon – these neighbourhoods have large spacious lots with a good community feel and great schools.

So you can’t beat driving around and taking a look at some of these places for yourself.

If you want to be close to the city and in the hub of things, then you need to be looking at the more expensive Halifax mainland. If you would rather be closer to the coastline or harbour, then you need to look at Bedford, Dartmouth and the Eastern Suburbs. If you’d like to be close to the plentiful lakes, then Fall River, Wellington, Oakfield, pockets of Dartmouth, Hammonds Plains are just a few choices. There is a lot to consider when relocating or settling down with a family. You’ll need to think about the need for education, safety and proximity to necessary amenities

You can find our interactive map and detailed neighbourhood information here. Wherever you choose to live, with over 7500km of coastline in Nova Scotia, you are never further than 50km from the sea.

We’ve looked at how to get short-term accommodation before you arrive, but long-term, whether you want to buy or rent, you should look at or to get an idea of what is available in your neighbourhood of choice and the real estate costs. Rich would be happy to take you out to look at homes in more detail once you arrive in Nova Scotia.

The best place to go hunting for a car would be Steele Auto Group. They have several locations around the city and you’ll find what you are looking for here. It’s well worth checking out Autotrader to see what is for sale in Halifax and to get an idea of costs and resale value.  It’s a little easier to navigate than Kijiji when it comes to car buying. And as a friend who recently moved from Scotland to Nova Scotia pointed out, if you are new to Canada and planning to finance your vehicle either through the bank or the car company you will be required to put down a 25% deposit and the car must be less than 4 years old. (Thanks Kirsty!).

If you are going to be using public transport, make sure you get yourself a Transit Pass.  Fares are cheaper with a Transit Pass and you can easily get them from most Shoppers Drug Marts, Lawtons and the odd convenience store. You can also get a route schedule and timetable at these retailers too.


Need to find a school for your children? There are a couple of websites you can look at to compare performances of various schools, but this would be my advice to new arrivals. Send your children to the nearest school to wherever you decide to live.

There is no better way to get to know your neighbours than to meet them as parents as you wait in the playground for your kids to come out or at the bus stop while waiting for the school bus to drop them off. And there’s no better way for your kids to make friends who CAN come round for play dates after school because you DO live just down the road. But if you choose to send your children to a school a long way away, these things are unlikely to happen. That wouldn’t be good, because to truly settle in Nova Scotia, you will need friends.

You and your family have left your friends behind and probably all of your relatives too. You can spend a lot of time missing them and thinking about them, or you can work very hard to replace them.

I would strongly suggest you do the latter.

Make the effort, get involved in community events, meet people and some of those people will become your friends. I can’t stress enough how important this is to your successful immigration to Canada.

Stay tuned for my next post discussing job opportunities and seeking work in Nova Scotia.

Life is good in Nova Scotia.

As always, give us a shout if we can answer any of your questions.

Jane and Rich

Moving 2 Nova Scotia