I’m sure there are many ex-pats who would disagree with my take on the cost of living in Nova Scotia but having been here for nine and a half years, this is what we find expensive living in this beautiful province.
Certainly, housing is much cheaper.
We had a small Victorian terraced home in the heart of Cardiff that we sold for full asking price prior to moving here, which allowed us to purchase our new Canadian home with a tiny mortgage. There was no way we would ever have been able to purchase a home on 3 acres of land anywhere around the surrounding areas of Cardiff, unless we had won the lottery!
Although housing is less expensive and you get a lot more for your money, property taxes are very expensive. The taxes are based on the assessed value of your home. We pay over $4000 Canadian per year (approx 2500 pounds) and our neighbour with a lakefront property pays more than $10,000 per year. Yikes.
Like the UK, property tax includes cost for Policing, Street Lighting (which is very poor where we live), Recreation and Community Facilities, Plowing, Sidewalks (or pavements – except we don’t have many in Fall River), libraries, playgrounds etc. Call it what you want – rates, poll tax, property tax.
Bottom line is, wherever you live you will pay a tax of some kind.
Vehicles are cheaper here – what we pay in dollars is what you pay in pounds.
Car and Auto Insurance is expensive but cheaper than other provinces. When you first land here, provided you work with an Insurance Company that honours your No Claims from the UK, car insurance will be expensive but not horrendous. In fact, we pay some of the cheapest car insurance premiums in Canada, thanks to the government’s 2003 car insurance reforms. But it is still more expensive than insurance in the UK.
Plus, when you purchase your first car in Nova Scotia, chances are you will also have to pay out for a set of snow tires to get you through the winter. All Seasons are definitely not good enough for our winters, despite what people may tell you.
Fuel is much cheaper but then again distances are farther and vehicles need to be maintained and looked after because of the conditions they endure.
Prescriptions are expensive depending on what kind of health insurance policy you have. Your employer will often offer you a job related Medical Insurance Plan. However it may not cover all costs and medications. The cost of medication is crazy here. Even buying aspirin or paracetamol (known as acetaminophen here) is expensive.
Utilities is a tricky one to compare.
We have an oil furnace and baseboard heaters. Some people have this as well as a wood burner. Others have heat pumps. Considering the size of our home, our heating bills are not so bad. The newer homes are cozy and well insulated . Our fuel bill is approx $3000 per year. Electricity is $150 per month. We have a well, so don’t pay water rates, apart from Storm water tax that was introduced last year. Water rates for a family of 4 would be around the $150 per month.
Clothing is cheaper (apart from decent men’s business shoes…isn’t that a weird one?) meat is cheaper (apart from chicken and lamb which is very expensive – we never eat lamb now and only buy chicken when it’s on offer, which appears to be every week ;),
Milk and bread are more expensive but groceries in general are cheaper. I pulled up the Tesco online store to compare prices with my Walmart, Sobeys and Atlantic Superstore receipts and I did find it to be overall a little cheaper here.
And of course, alcohol is more expensive here PLUS it is government regulated (and therefore taxed!) and can only be purchased via the NSLC (Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation) stores. That means you won’t be able to wander around the supermarket adding the odd bottle of wine to your trolley (or shopping cart as they are called here;). Eating out is less expensive too.
Taxes are painful. Unfortunately Nova Scotia has some of the highest taxes in Canada. We currently pay 15% Harmonized Sales Tax. The marginal income tax rate is also high and the more you earn, the more you pay 🙁 the rate is around the 28% mark if you are earning $80,000-$100,000.
In a nutshell, it’s all about balance. Some things are more expensive, others are less but chances are, your day to day quality of life will be hugely improved. Life is really very good in Nova Scotia.
As always, feel free to ask any questions or to challenge the above statements with your own personal view and opinion 🙂
Have a great week!
Jane and Richard
** Feb 2018 Update** I’m reliably informed by two fellow ex-pats who’ve recently been back to the UK, that groceries are noticeably cheaper than the prices we pay here in Halifax, Nova Scotia. With that in mind, I went onto Expatistan where you can compare prices between two cities and I compared prices between Cardiff and Halifax. According to the site, groceries, clothes and entertainment are cheaper in Cardiff whereas housing, transportation and personal care is cheaper in Halifax, Nova Scotia. So there you go 😉