It is expensive to live in Nova Scotia

It is so expensive to live in Nova Scotia.

The real estate is the only thing that is probably cheaper than Ontario. [Except that if you want to sell, expect it to be on the market for 1-3 years (at least around here).]

Everything else hurts.

We pay fists full… no make that wheelbarrows full… of cash to the provincial government (so they can waste it on nonsense like consulting; reports; convention centres and stadiums for Halifax; apartments, generators, cameras, laptops, art work, fancy office equipment for our MLA’s; bonuses for our provincial civil service workers; and industry handouts, and more industry handouts. It seems that every week there is news of another business closing its doors… after its government money train ran out).

Here are the bills we’re looking at right now.

License Plate Stickers (good for 2 years):
My car – $162.30
Jeff’s truck – $203.40 (more for a truck… because why? Sticker is the same size!)
This is a total tax grab – what value do we get for a license sticker? What are you paying in Ontario now?

Vehicle Safety Inspection:
In Ontario, when you want to sell a vehicle, you have to do a full safety inspection. We have to do that every 2 year here (was every year, but it just changed). We don’t have to do emissions tests, but everything else. And no one would give us any sort of guidelines/rules. You are completely in the hands of the mechanic, and how much he wants to replace.
Jeff’s truck is due for his inspection before the end of September. Right now it is looking like it will be $1500. He needs a ball joint, a new windshield, some rust holes fixed on his rocker panels, and new hinges for his tailgate. His truck is a 2001 and it seems like we’ve possibly been paying enough for it in the last couple of years that we could have been making payments on a newer used truck. When is it time to let it go?

We also have to have bi-annual inspections and vehicle stickers for the boat trailer and for the 4-wheeler. Luckily they aren’t all due at the same time.

Business License:
Here you have to pay to renew your business every year. I have a small business (web design, computer stuff) so I owe another $62.89 by the end of the month.

So far does any of this money give us any sort of value?

I’ve already mentioned many times how the food here is VERY expensive, far more than even Halifax, WAY more than even Northern Ontario.

Our HST is 15% so we pay 15% of everything we buy to our provincial government. FOR WHAT? Most roads around here are barely paved anymore. They might as well be gravel – they’d be smoother.

Property taxes – we pay $1600 a year. We live in an unorganized community with no bi-laws. That is a lot of money for a snow plow and garbage pick-up.

Gas is more expensive here, even more expensive than the other Maritime provinces. I was in PEI last weekend. Gas was 9 cents cheaper in PEI, and 4 cents cheaper in New Brunswick. All are regulated and set once a week by the government. (At least we don’t have ethanol in our gas.)

We pay a $0.05 tax on every pop can or bottle (and juice and bottled water). We pay a $0.10 deposit and only get $0.05 back when we bring it to the depot. Speaking of which, the only depot to drop off our cans and bottles here is a 5 minute drive out of town. Why are we paying for this recycling? The recycled product is SOLD isn’t it? If you buy a bottled water with your lunch at a place like Tim Horton’s, you are paying an extra ten cents, and then you likely leave the bottle behind in their recycling box. Bye bye extra ten cents. And do you think Tim Horton’s paid ten cents on every bottle when they came in a truck from an out-of-province warehouse? I don’t either. Oh, and speaking of Tim Horton’s – I’m not a coffee drinker, but Dad tells me our prices are higher here for coffee than in Ontario too.

So this is a bit of a rant. But we have two people living in our house who are both employed full time. How does everyone else around here survive? Jobs paying more than minimum wage are so scarce. Add in insurance (sounds like many people don’t have house insurance after their house is paid off), hydro (rates up 36% here in the last decade), extras like cable/satellite TV, internet, phone or cell phone bill. I work with people who work full time and make less than $30,000/yr. They must live on credit. Even Dad and I who both have an iPhone with Bell – he pays less in Ontario and has package twice as good as mine (he has twice the data, and has a fav 10 list, where I have only a fav 5).

It seems to me that Nova Scotia could charge extra tax on everything, because people here have been raised in a Catholic community where they traditionally do what they are told, and pay what they are told. I never see any sort of lash back, or protest, and most people around here have never lived anywhere else so they have nothing to compare it to.

There has never been a better time to grow your own food, barter with neighbours, and cut back!

(And by the way, WAY TO GO to British Columbia for telling their government to take their HST and SHOVE IT!)

Update August 2015:Β It is amusing that this post continues to get so many visitors. It was a spur of the moment rant on a personal blog that still resonates.

Good jobs can be hard to come by in Nova Scotia. Before you move, I urge you to line up a job FIRST.

Job postings:

As for us, we saw no future in Nova Scotia and left this year for the Yukon Territory.


Lisa (Verkley) Schuyler is a blogger reporting live from her new home in Canada's Yukon Territory. Often found wearing a hoodie, covered in pet hair, Lisa is a mis-placed forester who now spends her days engineering happiness for WordPress users. Lisa loves nature, animals, and most importantly, her handsome husband Jeff.

57 Replies to “It is expensive to live in Nova Scotia

  1. My hubby (Jeff) and I are keep telling people it’s expensive here, but they won’t listen. We aren’t even sure that housing is really that much cheaper when you compare apples to apples. If you take a house, in the same condition, 21/2 hours away from a centre of commerce (Halifax is the only one here), it looks like the prices may compare to other provinces (we’re still working on the numbers).

  2. Thanks for the info.My husband 4 kids and I were seriously thinking of moving to Nova Scotia or N.B. you have made up our minds.I have been checking it out and things seem to be so much more, no wonder the economy is in the crapper and people fro there are leaving in boat loads. This is so sad people having to leave places they grew up and want ot raise their families because the government is to greedy.May be they should take a cut in pay LOL
    We moved from BC 5 years ago to SK because BC was to expensive. At lest there is a bit of money there. Sk is excellent for the work now . We turn down a lot of work. But I miss the trees and water. Too home sick. Can’t go back to BC so I guess we will go to NB.
    Thanks again for the insight πŸ™‚

  3. This may be a little out dated but HOLY CRAP are you kidding me!!! THAT is what you call EXPENSIVE???? Just TRY to live in BC for 6 months and you will wish you NEVER left Nova Scotia. On Nov 28th 2012 I have to come up with $850.00 for one year (1 year) to licence my car with ICBC. THAT is CHEAP here!! Housing has collapsed – can’t sell for 3-5 years. There was a huge glut of building here in the past few years – houses, condos everywhere. People bought new and high and now they are losing. MY taxes every year for a townhouse 15 years old – $2400.00 – EVERY YEAR!!! Rent – nothing under 1800.00 per month for a small descent one bedroom apartment. Food – well – if you like to EAT do NOT move here. I only eat once a day. FORGET owning a pet – Vet care is through the roof (GREED). I will trade you any time!!!

  4. Nova Scotia is the most expensive province I have lived in, and I have lived in most. It costs almost 8 dollars for 4 litres of milk, and I get the same 4 litres in Ontario for 4.35. When I tell my family in NS just how badly they are getting hosed, they balk at me, and tell me that I am exaggerating. What are they feeding the cows there? Everything except for Lobster, is more expensive in NS, but then again, I don’t like lobster. The Consumer Price Index from Stats Canada will show you that. What a pity. I always wanted to go home to Nova Scotia to retire after serving the military for 30 years. That would be a crazy thing to do now…I would take a killing on my pension deductions for Nova Scotia tax payable. farewell to Nova Scotia…sadly…it could be such a nice place to live if it were more affordable.

  5. My wife and I are also considering Nova Scotia in the future. I have heard about the grocery prices but fail to find proof when I look at a flyer from a store there. I have noticed prices at the grocery store are on the increase, but I think its everywhere. We pay $88.00 a year for a sticker per car so its almost equal. Toronto pays much lower property taxes than the surrounding areas. We live in Barrie currently and our taxes are $3200.00/yr. Social services in Ontario are on the decline. Our taxes give us garbage removal (1 bag/wk) and snow plowing and a very nice city hall. My house in Barrie, an hour from Toronto at 120km/hr was $270,000.00. Move it to Toronto….$500,000.00!!!

  6. Nova Scotia is ridiculously expensive for the fact that there are VERY few and or limited jobs, and those that there are you can only get by who you know or if you want to work only 16 or 50 hours a week for minimum wage and get treated like trash, I lived here when I was younger and moved back three years ago and I AM OUT OF HERE! And the health care in Cape Breton is laughable at best, if you want some opiates or antibiotics that you will get, anything else…. you die trying, AND the hospital in Sydney has visible MOLD. Also, this place is rampant with drugs and severe alcoholism and the mainland isnt too different, the crime index in Halifax for being a smaller size metro area of about 700k people ranks up there with some of the largest cities, and then of course the salt in the wound of all of it, the taxes!!! INSANITY! Yes the milk does cost between $7-$8, chicken form the grocery store is literally more than double per kilo, cigareetes are average about 14 a pack alcohol is expensive too, about $14 for a pint of vodka…. madness. Gas is ridiculous usually floating around $1.30 a litre. The politicians and closed minded bubbles crazies have ruined this beautiful place and chased off just about everyone normal. And I am not too far behind. I love Cape Breton and NS, and it will always own a piece of my heart from my childhood and roots, but I doubt you will ever see me here again. After druggies have stolen my things and the cliquey nasty women and or the self proclaimed gossipy mean Christians have done everything but spit in my face… this is no longer a Nova Scotia I recognize. I am out of here, im sure it will be a ghost town soon then all the wealthy people will by it up and turn it into something else, once Walmart or the call centers dont run this place any more. Unless you have a guaranteed contracted job that will pay you no matter what of at least 45k a year. you’d be better off begging for change on the streets of Toronto. I could go on for days…. its heartbreaking, BUT they do it to themselves. Believe me ive watched it my whole life to some extent of course it has always been a different place but ridiculously more so for the past 3 years. It is a beautiful place to visit, just dont let your purse out of your sight and dont trust any of the local con artists. This place is also the capital of identity theft…… stay away if you value your sanity.

  7. I have lived in Nova Scotia all my life and I very much agree with Lisa I have stayed in Nova Scotia because it was home and I could live rent free when I was in school. But now that I’m done I’m definitely moving to Alberta i can’t really afford it here. i make about 30,000 a year and only clear about 23 or 24,000 and have to pay 15% sales tax I eventually want to have a house, car and children one day and it seems impossible here. At one point I was making 1.00 or 1.50 more per hour than new staff but the new staff were clearing more than I was because I was locked into a work pension plan.

    My mother makes about 60,000ish a year but pays 20 grand in just tax and gets a return of 700 every year. NS does have a student rebate if you go to college or university you get 1250 for 6 years on top of your regular return for college
    and 2500 for university for six years but IMO that isn’t enough to keep you there.

    The cost of living is not cheaper here my advise is your better off living somewhere you have more opportunity most people are doing jobs that have nothing to do with their degree just because they are trapped and need to live. Bridge fair is also expensive if you travel from Dartmouth to Halifax regularly and rent is about the same in most cities a social life might be more expensive but for 3 people to go to Swiss chalet for dinner is around $60 and a movie for two with snacks could be $20 each and a night downtown is usually $7 for entry and most drinks range from 4.75 and up. For example my mom had to get some work done one the car it ended up costing her 1500ish and she ended up paying 250 on top on that just on tax which is outrageous.

    1. Thanks ,
      Great to know. We plan on selling in Sask. in the next year or so and moving East. We were thinking Nova Scotia or N.B. I think now we will have a serious look at N.B. to see if the same hold true there.
      A word of caution ,,, we moved from B.C. because of the high cost of living and few jobs 7 years ago. Alberta housing is very very high . Sask is booming now and the prices are pretty good here. You can buy a house but the land is expensive. The schools in the smaller towns are not the greatest. I have been told B.C. and Alberta consider a A in Sask to be a B in their provinces.
      Good luck on your move πŸ™‚

  8. Nice blog. I’m a bit of a ‘ranter’ myself about my home town of Rochdale in the United Kingdom. I’m on a visit to see my boyfriend in Halifax NS. Petrol there is Β£1.36 per litre, but food is a lot cheaper. I can’t understand the price of food and booze here. The fruits and veg are wayyyyy too expensive here. It’s like grocers are encouraging people to buy crap. At least in the UK they have special deals on fruit and veg (sometimes organic stuff). Aldi is my favourite store in the UK. The big 6 sees six of the most popular fruits and veg only 69 pence. I love the avocados. If I lived here on my own, I wouldn’t be able to afford to live comfortably.

    1. I am originally from the UK and currently living in Dartmouth, NS, on my own and it is struggle. Food here is expensive , alcohol can only be bought from licensed store (NSLC). so expensive. You need a car to get around, even in HRM. Most rental apartments (unfurnished) run between $650 – $1200 upwards, depending on bedrooms/location yearly lease, . The good thing is rent usually includes Heat and Hot water, so electricity, cable and wifi is all you need to pay extra – compared with all utilities being extra like in the UK.

      Getting a full time job with good pay is extremely difficult and it is definitely about “who you know”, experience and qualifications from other places are not recognised.

      I do love Nova Scotia and I would love to see a change so that the people who want to live here can afford to do this. It is an amazing place, beautiful scenery and some of the friendliest nicest people I have ever met and it would be even better if the cost of living and taxes here were not so high…..

      1. Hi Em, so sorry that you are struggling, I guess everyone else some place or other. I’m sure things will perk up. Better that you live in Canada than in the UK. Government are so mean here. So out of touch with reality, but there’s nothing new there! I’ve had to give up my car as I can’t afford the insurance, but all the walking is helping my weight and depression. Best xx

  9. BC is only getting MORE expensive every single year.
    Face it, Canada is TOTALLY expensive to live in.
    But we do have a better infrastructure than what is going on
    in parts of the USA or in Greece πŸ™‚
    For average people on minimum wage BC is increasingly
    difficult to live in. Unless you have rich parents where you may
    stay at home for free or are a millionaire with $ made elsewhere,
    then BC is a tough grind. We are out of here soon…..soon…..
    can hardly wait to find another province where costs are not so high πŸ™‚

  10. Whoa, you should try BC if you think that is expensive. At least the real estate is cheap there; in my hometown, I’d have to find a bank willing to accept a 5% down payment, because otherwise I’d have to save for years to get 40,000 together for a 10% down on an AVERAGE house. The apartment is 1500 for just two of us, we pay 60$ a month to hydro, 120$ a month to cable provider, 90$ each month for insurance on our falling apart 86 Toyota, 50$ a month for cellphone, 500$ a month for food for two of us not including eating out. No, this is not Vancouver either, if it were, you’d have to add a LOT more to the expense tally, hell no one can buy a house in Vancouver unless you have shitloads of foreign money. Other than the cooler climate, Nova Scotia sounds like heaven compared with BC for price of living.

  11. I Definitely know what you mean about living in Nova Scotia, especially Digby, I’ve lived here my whole life. My husband works at a fish plant and he doesn’t have work everyday, sometimes 2-3 days per week, sometimes half a day, most times his paycheck is under $100.00 a week, once in a while he gets a paycheck of $240.00. We have 3 special needs children and Social Services refuses to help, the excuse they have is you have an income, your husband works. I guess it doesn’t matter how little an income you have. What I pay for rent is great, but what I pay for $194.00 a month for electricity, $80.00 a month for basic home phone and internet, and about $120.00 a month for satelite by the time the 15% sales tax is added in. Now groceries is another matter, they are so expensive, I use coupons and look for marked down items and I still end up paying quite a bit. We save what bottles and cans we can, and sometimes pick some up on the street that we see when we are walking, we walk everywhere, we don’t even have a car. I probably wouldn’t complain so much if there was actually jobs here to work at and if we had better health care and family doctors. Right now I have a prescription that I ran out of refills for, so I need a new prescription. I can’t wait 12 hours at outpatient for a prescription I have special needs children to look after, and that is stressful enough. I just want to move somewhere where there are jobs and health care, obviously when you have special needs children you need decent health care.

    1. Hi I just read your comments about how expensive it is in Digby. My family and I are thinking of moving to that area from SASK. The housing is so inexpensive there. We have 4 children and 2 are special needs. The service here are good and there are Dr.’s in our area.
      My husband is jack of all trades . He was a hand faller in the logging industry .He paints houses,does small home repair, trims trees,light mechanics , tin roofing yard care. Would there be any work for him? Probably not ,,hey.
      There is a lot work in SASK . The mining is starting to open up and there is a construction boom going on. Sad to have to leave your home to find work.Honestly I don’t like it here. We moved from B.C. 8 years ago and I will never get used to the barren flat lands. The people are nice but it is a different life style. Not as laid back as B.C. .
      Good Luck Jennifer to you and your family πŸ™‚

  12. Move away. We don’t like negative people like you around here anyway. Your whole article is based on personal experience, not facts of statistics. Good riddance when you leave….

    1. Wow, Not your neighbour. Your comment was harsh. You obviously do not live in the real world. Let me guess, a new ager who is terrified of negativity.

    2. Really? Its not a fact that this place has the highest taxes in canada? Its not a fact that it has the lowest wages? Its not a fact it has the worst public school record, some of the highest crime rates, highest unemployement rates, highest sexual assault rates, highest utility rates, lowest GDP, highest property and income tax rates, highest gas and liquor prices and the worst drivers. Not to mention some of the most alarmingly racist and homophobic people i have ever met. Really? wake up!!

      1. While I consider the post from “Not Your Neighbour” to be quite rude and uncalled for, I’d like to comment on some of your “facts”. First off, the highest income tax rates in the country are found in QC. Next up there is NS, MB and PE. The lowest tax rate is YT. For unemployment, NS is not the highest. NT is, at 14.2%. Next up is PE at 11.5%, followed by NL at 10.8%. Then it’s NB at 9.7%, after which NS slides in at 9.2%. We do have high rates of sexual assault here, probably the highest in the country, that is true and unfortunate. Minimum wage in NS is $10.30. The highest in the country is found in ON and NT, where it’s $11.00. The lowest? $9.95 in AB. Liquor prices aren’t that high here. I haven’t see much difference between here, SK and AB. Gas is expensive just about everywhere you go in the country. The prices are the same here as they are in SK. They’re much higher in Northern ON and Labrador. Worst drivers? Hardly. I have lived in four provinces, I’ve visited them all except PE and two of the three territories, plus I’ve driven through rush hour in St. John’s, Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, Detroit and Chicago. I’ve driven across this country twice, so I think I have a pretty good glimpse of how drivers operate. There are good and bad drivers everywhere. I have yet to hear a racist or homophobic slur here in NS, although I have read some news reports of a same-sex couple who haven’t had great experiences here in Pictou. In that case it was teens causing the problems, not adults. Heck, New Glasgow, which has a population of only 12,000, has a Pride Parade each year and an organization that offers support to the GLBTQ community. I can’t speak on the public school record here because I don’t have kids in school. As for utilities, I don’t find them to be higher here. I have electric heat here and I pay about $200 a month for both heat and lights. In SK I paid $145 for electricity and $95 for heat – $240 total. My utilities are definitely lower here.

  13. Hello just read your blog and whoa what an eye opener I am planning on moving to N.S this coming year and this was a wake up moment for me thank you .

  14. Lots of corruption and abuses in the medical system covered up in NS..People have no idea the kinds of things that get reported and hidden..I hate this place. I cannot get out of here fast enough. I have live in 3 other places. This is by far the worse place I have lived for many reasons.

  15. My husband and I moved to Nova Scotia from Saskatchewan in July 2013. I have to say that it’s been a positive experience for us. There are some pros and cons, just like there are with everything. Yes, income taxes are higher here. Milk is outrageously expensive – almost $9 for a 4L jug. I never really did drink much milk as I’m allergic to lactalbumin, so giving it up wasn’t a big deal for me. The hubster really only used it for coffee and tea but he’s switched to flavoured creamer or evaporated milk. I started buying almond milk instead which is cheaper here than in SK. Eggs are more expensive here. I do find that I spend more on groceries here but that’s mostly because I live in a small town where my only option is a Sobeys, which is overpriced as far as I’m concerned, no matter where you live. In SK I regularly shopped at Giant Tiger which saved us a lot of money. My nearest GT is 20 minutes away by car, which we don’t have at the moment. (We decided to live without it for about a year because it requires quite a few repairs to license it here.) Rent, however, is very affordable for us. We pay only $550 for a 3-bedroom, 1-bathroom house. It’s about 900 square feet. Our house in SK was 2-bedroom mobile home, about 1000 square feet, and the rent was going to $925 if we had stayed. Internet is more expensive here, but then again I also get a higher speed here. I’m paying about $106 a month for 80kbps, whereas in SK I was paying about $85 per 50kbps. We had cable in SK but only because it was included in the rent. Here we don’t bother with it, so I couldn’t compare it. I didn’t bother getting a landline here because I have my cellphone. I’m with Rogers which happens to have awesome and extensive coverage here in NS, something which it doesn’t have in SK thanks to SaskTel. I live in a town of 3500 people and we’re still getting full 4G and LTE coverage here. It’s awesome. We’re paying about $110 for two smartphones. Not bad. Eating out is much cheaper here for us than it was in SK. In SK our house was heated with natural gas. We paid about $95 a month on budget billing. Our electricity cost us about $145 on budget billing. That’s $240 a month. In NS our house is heated with electricity. Our budget billing here is $210 a month. Granted we haven’t lived here a year yet, so that might change, but for now that’s the estimate. So far it seems accurate. So the utilities are cheaper. My car insurance will actually be about the same here once we get our vehicle back on the road, but it is more expensive to license it here. Driver’s licenses are cheaper here than in SK. We pay about $80 for a 5-year license. In SK it’s $25/year or if you want to pay in full, it’s $100 for 5 years. My tenant insurance is cheaper here, $250 vs. $310 per year. Oh, those car repairs? They would have cost about $3500 in SK, but here they’ll cost about $2200. The coldest I’ve seen it here yet is -31 with windchill and it lasted less than a day. Last winter we had a two-week streak of -45 and colder in Saskatoon. There’s lots of snow here, that’s true. But we also had lots of snow in Saskatoon last year. Freezing rain is something we get here that we don’t see very often in SK. However, I lived in Saskatoon from December 2007 to June 2013. Not once did a plough ever come down my street. There were ruts in the streets so deep that you would bottom out. The first day of snow we had in December here in our little town, we got maybe 1-1/2″ to 2″ and the plough went down the street four times. I loved Saskatoon, it was a beautiful city, and I miss it sometimes. But the quality of life we’ve had since we moved here has been much better. In Saskatoon I felt broke all the time. Within 2 or 3 days of being paid, we had very little left once bills were paid and groceries were bought. Here I always have extra left over and I’m able to put money into savings. The idea of buying a house here is also more realistic for us. Now to be fair, I have to say that I still work for the same company I did when I lived in SK, so I’ve been lucky that way. But our income now is no different than it was out there. That’s why this move was a good one for us. If you’re coming here without a job, then your reality might be different.

      1. We moved to Pictou, which is about 15 minutes north of New Glasgow. So far we love it. The people are friendly, the weather is pretty good, the town has plenty of services available for the residents. We’re only 10 minutes to the PEI ferry as well, so it’s easy to explore. Antigonish is 45 minutes east while Truro is 45 minutes west. Halifax is about 1hr45min away. It has been a good move for us, but like I mentioned in my original post, I came here with the same job I had in SK. If you’re coming here to look for work you’ll probably have a difficult time unless you’re highly specialized.

        1. we are going to move to Meteghan center. my husband is retired (army disability) and has a tax free pension. taxes and pay/job not an issue. So knowing that? What do you think about us moving there?

          1. That’s in the Annapolis Valley, not far from Digby, correct? I haven’t been there so I don’t know what it’s like. I personally would avoid a town that small myself, but that’s just me. If I were to move to the southern parts of the province, I’d probably go for Yarmouth. The other place we considered was Amherst. We drove through on our way here and it seems like quite a nice town. There’s roughly 12,000 people and it’s only 40 minutes to Moncton.

            To be honest, Pictou wasn’t a town that we’d even really been considering. The reason we ended up choosing it was purely because we found a place to rent in April that was available July 1st, which was when we needed it due to our lease in Saskatoon ending on June 30. It was pure coincidence or luck if you believe in that sort of thing. The photos were very nice, the landlord was great to speak to on the phone, they allowed pets (an absolute must for us), and we just overall had a really good feeling about it. We rented the house without even having seen it. We weren’t going to be tied in to a year-long lease, so I thought, “What the heck? If we hate it, we just have to give two months notice and we’re out of there.”

            We both really like Pictou, although I can’t say that I love it so much that I couldn’t ever imagine moving somewhere else, know what I mean? When we’re ready to buy, if we found something we loved elsewhere, say in Amherst, Truro or Yarmouth, we’d move. But if the house we loved was here in Pictou, we’d stay here, too. My husband is a nature photographer and loves that he’s close to Caribou & Munroes Island and the ferry to PEI.

            The weather here is great. We do get plenty of rain, I admit, but having lived out west for 14 years, I’ve come to appreciate the humidity and the rain. We’re currently in what the locals call the “January Thaw” and it’s +3 as I type this. Today it went to +8. Tomorrow it’s forecasting for +1 and back to +7 on Tuesday. I’m loving it. It’s odd because I grew up in Labrador so I should be built for cold winters, but that code seems to be missing from my DNA.

            We aren’t hit as hard by the storms (hurricanes in summer and blizzards in winter) as they are on the Atlantic coast. By the time they reach this far north they seem to have dissipated somewhat. I hear that Yarmouth can have some pretty nasty storms, but I don’t know for sure. The HRM (Halifax Regional Municipality, in case you don’t know what that stands for) is particularly hard hit at times.

            I’d highly advise checking out for real estate here. You’ll find more detailed information about the properties that are for sale on that website than you will on I will forewarn you that it is true that it can sometimes take forever for a home to sell here if you do ever decide to leave. I’ve seen homes on that have been there for nearly two years already.

            I’d check out medical services where you’re considering before settling on a place. It can be a very long time before you get a family physician here, but I think that holds true for many places in Canada right now. We were lucky, though, because when we moved here there was a new doctor that just moved into town and opened a practice so he was taking new patients. We moved here in July and had our new family doctor by early September.

            The best advice I could possibly give you I guess is to think about the things that you’d like to have when you move. Then break those things down into the “absolute must-haves” and the “not necessary but would be a bonus” categories. Then research everything. Go to the town’s website or chamber of commerce site. Look at what business services are available in the town. Find out how near the next major town is where you can find services that aren’t available in your town. For example, we have family doctors here who band together and run a walk-in clinic as well. But there’s no hospital here. Our hospital is 20 minutes away in New Glasgow, but it’s a fully staffed facility with all the necessities. We do have an ambulance stationed here in town for emergencies, though. Of course we have a fire department and a police department. What we don’t have that annoys me is an Access Nova Scotia branch which is where you do all your vehicle licensing, driver’s licences, etc. That’s in New Glasgow (technically Stellarton I guess).

            How important is a Walmart or a Canadian Tire to you? How about a garage for automotive repairs? What kind of cell phone service do you need? Do you expect or require a minimum speed for your internet? That might sound like an odd one, but that is a necessity for me due to my job. We use a voip-based phone system and I have to have at bare minimum 50kbps so it rules out a lot of towns for me.

            Oh, and don’t forget to use street view on Google Maps. I highly advise taking a “walk” through town before you move in. It can be very helpful.

            The other thing I would suggest is not to buy right away. I’d rent for a year first, at the very minimum, to get a feel for the province. You can then explore the area without being tied down. It will give you time so that you can also check out New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island before making a final decision.

            Other people have said that it’s expensive here, and I have to agree that this is correct on some things. Like I mentioned before, my town only has a Sobeys and I’ve found Sobeys and Safeway to be very expensive no matter where I’ve lived. I’ve lived in Calgary and Saskatoon and in both cities, those two grocery chains are far more expensive than, say, Superstore or Giant Tiger. Milk is very expensive here. Eggs, too, but not cheese and butter. Bread is expensive, but that’s true everywhere because the price of wheat has increased.

            It’s been said that people are not friendly here. That has not been my experience. Everyone I’ve met has been very friendly and helpful, but I generally find that no matter where I go. Maybe it’s because I’m very much a “when in Rome” sort of person. When I travel to Quebec I make an effort to at least greet people in French even though I know I’m butchering the language. I honestly don’t know what it is, but my husband and I have both been very well-received here. In fact, the hubster was downtown yesterday and on his way home, one of the cab drivers who knew him stopped and gave him a lift free-of-charge because he was heading in this direction anyway.

            Wow! This has gotten to be a really long post. If you have any other questions at all, you can email me directly if you’d like. My email address is

            I really wish you all the best in whatever decision you make. As I mentioned previously, every place is going to have its pros and cons. In my experience, though, life is what you make it. I’ve learned in the past few years that there’s not really such a thing as a failure or a mistake – there are just experiences, positive and negative, from which you can draw a bit of wisdom and knowledge.

            Best of luck! πŸ™‚

  16. what an informative post, ive lived in halifax and vancouver for a combined of over 10 years. halifax is a beautiful city and people there are quite nice. i don’t know what it’s like there now but it was beautiful when i lived there. BC is also beautiful but both places have a ridiculously high cost of living. i knew many friends who moved out of BC because of high taxes and the cost of living.

    i did think about going back to halifax but sounds like that won’t happen anytime soon. i’ve lived in other countries as well but overall i’d say Canada is one of the most expensive places to live in but on the contrast, the most beautiful

  17. I am fr Nova Scotia and moved to BC 4 years ago and as though you compared all rates to Ontario maybe you should try it with other provinces… Such as BC. Did you know that just to see a doctor here it is about 60$ per person per month, so much for free health care in Canada eh lol, also the homes here are at least double the cost there plus way higher property taxes. My point is maybe you should compare to other provinces before stating it’s very expensive. My insurance in NS was 90$ a month, here it’s 140$ after an extra 4 years driving with no accidents. I think most importantly I think EVERYTHING in all provinces are over priced these day. Although I have don’t agree that NS is on my list of the most expensive.

    1. I am sure every province has its pros and cons. I can speak to the cost of things in Nova Scotia now. I have been here only two weeks but have done extensive shopping and gotten all required licensing, registration, insurance and such. I find the negativity about Nova Scotia here unwarranted. It cost me $215 to get my vehicle registered for 2 years compared to 180 in Ontario for 2 years. Not a huge amount in my opinion. My license cost me $78 for FIVE years. Lower than Ontario. I am sure it fluctuates from province to province but overall I don’t think it’s worth quibbling over.
      My automobile’s insurance went up by just over $100 a year (I am sure higher out west) so when I divide this over 12 monthly payments, were talking about $8 a month.
      The garbage and sewer is included in my yearly taxes here (which were not in Ontario). In Ontario we had to buy tags for our trash bags ( $2.75 per bag) and you had to pay sewer seperate if you didn’t have your own. My taxes are $950 a year in NS, with all amenities in , compared to $1900 ( including nothing) in Ontario. Out west I am sure they beat Ontario double in the taxes.
      The provincial tax here is at 15 percent but in July this year it is going down to 14 percent and in July 2015 is going down to 13 percent so it will be the same as Ontario.
      Everyone told me the food was more expensive in Nova Scotia and I find that to be absolutely not the fact. I do not consider $6.80 for a 5 pound pork roast expensive, .99 cents a pound for chicken legs, 10 pounds of taters only $1.95, fresh fish at $2.88 a pound. Bread made fresh from scratch at $2.39. Milk is higher buy Silk is lower so we bought that at $3.44 compared to $4.99 for the same size in Ontario.
      I have got a beautiful oceanfront homes for only a $105,000 and you wouldn’t touch one in Ontario for that on the lake and definitely wouldn’t get out it west in BC.
      We arrived in Nova Scotia on February 4th and my birthday was on the 11th. Why is this important you ask? Well our new neighbors showed up after supper with a huge birthday cake and a card for me and they sure as hell wouldn’t do that for someone tthey just met in Ontario. They were out and shoveled our driveway and steps for us while we ran too the store. she said they knew we were tired and wanted to do it for us. WOW !!! Now I am NOT picking on Canadians and saying that there not nice except in Nova Scotial but I tell you what, they are really nice folks here in Nova Scotia. I lived in Newfoundland 25 years and I find the people in Nova Scotia Friendlier. I am 53 years old and my husband is retired military. We have traveled the world and seen everything and met all kinds of people. so you were considering moving to Nova Scotia I say COME ON !!! Ignore all the negativity.

      1. I’m so glad that you guys have made it and are settling in! Welcome to NS!! πŸ™‚

        As for food, I do find it more expensive here but as I mentioned before, that has a lot to do with me buying groceries at Sobeys as compared to Giant Tiger out west. Sobeys is my only option here in town and once I have my vehicle registered (next month, yay!!) I won’t be as tied down. I’m sure we’ll see that change.

        That said, not all food is more expensive here, but some things definitely are. I think once you average it out, you’ll probably find it to be comparable. I found beef to be cheaper in AB than it is here, but pork is cheaper here than in SK. We can easily buy a 5lb roast here for $7 as you say, but in SK it was more like $10 – $12 for the same size. I find chicken to be expensive here compared to SK. I could easily buy a whole chicken for roughly $9 out there but here they’re $12 or more. Now seafood, on the other hand, is not only substantially cheaper here but it also tastes better here. I can easily purchase a whole lobster here for $15 and they’ll steam it for me while I shop. Mussels can be bought for $3.49/lb. You can’t find that out west.

        We stopped buying milk and switched to almond and soy milk, both of which are quite a bit cheaper here than out west.

        1. Thanks Shayna for the welcome. I will email you when I get settled in. I am busy re decorating and painting. I figured out the cost of my house per square foot and it came to 43.50 sf. I have almost 2400 square foot. that is way below the national average.
          my friends in the Greenwood area did say that food was more expensive up your way. I got a whole chicken down here for $5.80. having venison ( compliments of my wonderful neighbors) tonight.
          we cannot wait Til summer and get out and see all of the wonderful things Nova Scotia have to offer

          1. I think you’re going to really enjoy it here. It is truly a beautiful province. Mind you, I’ve been to all except PEI, and I’ve been to Yukon Territory. We really do live in an exceptionally beautiful country.

            I think that every province has its pros and cons, and you simply have to make the best of what you have or you have to move somewhere else. I’ve lived in four provinces so far and there is something wonderful about each of them.

            Once again, welcome! πŸ™‚

    2. I lived in Alberta from 1999 to 2006. Alberta Health Services also charges monthly premiums for healthcare there. When my husband and I moved from Calgary in 2006, we were paying $88/month for a family. I don’t know if it’s gone up since then or not. I wasn’t aware that BC also charged healthcare premiums. I wonder if other provinces do? I know NS does not and neither does NL or SK.

  18. WOW! Valuable information posted here.

    I’m a Chinese who’s planning to migrate to NS. Actually the NS GOV want to know why I prefer to live in NS and I think I should fill all positive words in the application form.

    Thank you all for the inputs. Compared with Shanghai where I lived now, believe me, all things you guys listed here are not pricey. (under the circumstance that 1 CNY = 1 CAD). If you want buy an apartment in Shanghai, it will cost you about 1,800,000 CNY for approximately 65 square meters. What you will think if it would cost you the same CAD for an apartment in NS? πŸ™‚

    Best wishes.

    1. Ouch! That is very expensive, Rui. I used to have a piano student who was from Guangzhou and she often told me stories of how expensive it was to live there.

      Housing costs are definitely very high in some parts of Canada, most notably in Toronto, Vancouver, Saskatoon, Regina, Calgary and Edmonton. Homes in Halifax cost quite a bit more than they do elsewhere in NS, but that’s because it’s a major city. Cheap homes can also be purchased in small towns in just about all of the provinces but you may find yourself sacrificing a lot to live there. However, small-town NS is much different than small-town SK. NS has better infrastructure in small towns than SK does.

      Best of luck on your move! I hope things work out well for you here. πŸ™‚

      1. Hi, I live in small town SK 350 people/ Three are some draw backs but we also have a lot of services I would never have thought would be here. When we moved from B.C> 8 years ago we thought there would be nothing here. There is.
        We have a bank 5 days a week ,C0-0P food and gas store, gas station second hand store, fire dept ,town office,out door pool, curling rink,skating rink,auto insurance,seniors housing, community center, fitness classes ,library nad it has a story time with arts and crafts for the little ones ,bar, and 2 restaurants. Choice of 2 towns to send the kids to school. One school is pre-k to grade 12 the other town has 3 school.
        The town is so small every one knows each other and the 4 kids that belong to us. We have 2 special needs kids and the people of the town have gone over and above in the help they offer to us and our family. My 2 teenage boys have a lot of work offered to them in the summer and we have offers from a lot of people to watch the 2 little ones if needed.
        The housing in these small towns is going up but there is a lot of work around SK. My husband and I plan on retiring to N.B. or N.S. in the next few years they are truly beautiful provinces But don’t rule out SK , you can live in a small town 30 or 45 mins from a major city and will pay well under 100,000. for a home πŸ™‚

        1. Most small towns in SK have good amenities. I was referring more to internet availability. Because of my job I’m limited to living where internet service is, at minimum, 50kbps. There are very few towns in SK outside of the cities where that is available and it’s still affordable to live. Trust me, I checked. But we can all thank SaskTel for that.

  19. Thank you, Shayna.

    Speaking of internet availability, I’m not sure about how fast the 50kbps will be. Does it means that you can download files at 50K/S from the net or it is the network bandwidth?

    I’m working in Software Industry so I guess it’s important to me. In Shanghai, the network bandwidth can be 100M. Not sure the difference between two areas in terms of the internet.

    1. You are correct, Rui. I need that speed because I work from home and the company I work for has its headquarters in Regina, SK. We use a VoIP PBX telephone system and with extensive use of email and cloud-based software, I need the minimum speed to handle the internet traffic.

      Now that doesn’t mean I’m guaranteed that speed. My ISP guarantees 80%, so that means that with my 80kbps package I get at bare minimum 64kbps. I actually get a higher speed than that: roughly 78kbps. My connection is very good as both the wiring in my house and my computer are brand new.

      You can get faster speeds here, up to 100mbps, so I think you’ll be fine as long as you stick to the Halifax Regional Municipality or to towns like Pictou, New Glasgow, Antigonish, Truro, Yarmouth, Sydney, Amherst, Bridgewater, Lunenburg and Liverpool. There are probably others but I think those are the largest towns in NS.

      Do you have a move date yet or are you still working on your visas and such?

      1. Hi Shayna,

        I have filled all the application forms the other day. I will send these files to NS Office of IMMI soon. Hopefully, they could approve the application πŸ™‚


  20. Hi,
    I’m a Filipino who’s planning to migrate to NS together with my wife and my son.

    Anyone here can give me advise or suggestion which City/town the best to live for new comers in terms of. (arranged according to priority).

    1. Job opportunities
    2. Housing
    3. Food
    4. Transportation
    5. Education

    Does 15,000-19,000 $

    by the way we are both Professionals
    I am Electronics Engr.
    My wife is a Nurse

    * Priority will be change as soon as we already settled and stable.

    Best wishes.

    1. Hi Jay. We just moved to a place called Meteghan. It is on the South West (Bay of Fundy) coast. Housing is very very affordable and we go to Yarmouth (26miles) where we find food to be very cheap. It is a great safe place to raise children and everyone is friendly. st Anne’s College is about 10 miles. My neighbors daughter just moved back here (she is a nurse) and got a job at the hospital in Yarmouth immediately. there is no public transportation so you would need a car so maybe Yarmouth would be more to your liking. we just like the lifestyle of here. there are jobs because they are importing foreign workers. there is a huge shipyard here which I’m sure could benefit from your expertise (A.? Thibault). They build huge ships and yacht. hellofax have everything but the cost of living is much higher and the crime rate is much higher. hope this helps. everything you need is within a few miles

  21. Hi, Deborah, Thank you for the useful information, we will consider this place.

    Best wishes,

  22. Please advice on job prospects, I have a degree in accounting. I am planning to move to NS with two children aged 6 & 2+.

  23. Hi I m\

    I m an india and planning to move to NS. I have Masters in Accounting so please suggest me that it Is gud for me to move to NS with my wife and with baby for My future growth and what r chance of getting jobs there.
    also give some information about the area of NS.
    Pawan Mahajan

    1. hi Pawan I am also planning for NS. I am indian too. I am CA. can you share ur email id so we can talk n discuss by way of email.

  24. Hi,

    I am a Filipino and I am planning to apply for the provincial nominee program in NS. My husband and I are both nurses. We have two kids.
    I need inputs with regards to the way of life in NS, Job opportunities for nurses, housing , education for the kids, insurances, healthcare services, transportation.
    Which place in NS can you best recommend for us newcomers?
    I hope somebody can find time to answer my querries. Thank you very much.

  25. Hi guys, am planning to come to NS with my family(my wife and 4 Kids, age 4 to 12) but don’t know the place to settle yet. I am a Civil Engineer and my wife read Business Administration and Management. Kindly advice me where to settle in Nova Scotia.

Comments are closed.