If you do a bit a of research, you’ll soon discover that Halifax is fairly spread out, occupying an area of 5,577 square kilometres which is approximately 10% of the total land area of Nova Scotia with over 200 official rural and urban communities within Halifax.
When we moved here 12 years ago, we had focused our home buying on just three neighbourhoods and narrowed that down to just one after a few drive-arounds, but I know from experience of being a real estate agent, many people struggle with trying to find the best neighbourhood and community that suits them and their needs.
What makes a neighbourhood speak to us is subjective and very personal. What makes a community the perfect place for newcomers to live is often a matter of personal taste — being close to amenities or friends, loving a particular street or the look of a particular home.
So, which neighbourhoods provide the best of the best?
That’s the question I try to answer and match with each client I work with. For the purpose of today’s blog I thought I’d share with you the most popular neighbourhoods that newcomers tend to gravitate towards once they move here. I’ve worked with many families and individuals moving to Halifax and the majority choose to settle in one of the following neighbourhoods.
Bedford: A popular choice with newcomers looking to be close to everything. Bedford covers a large area and is a growing community. The neighbourhoods tend to be more built up with approximately 8-12ft of space between you and your neighbour and smaller 6-7,000 square ft lots. The area does have a mix of new developments, centered around the Larry Uteck Junction of the 102 Highway (Parks of Bedford West and off Starboard and Fleet view Drive). The price point for these new homes tends to start around $500k.
You can certainly get less expensive homes in Bedford, these tend to be older properties, more traditional in style and decor and closer to the Bedford Highway. The price point for these older homes can be anywhere from $300k. In terms of location, Bedford does have it all, good highway access, close to all amenities, sports stadiums, pools, libraries, shopping and good schools.
Fall River: Another popular neighbourhood, especially with Brits. Fall River is a spacious, semi rural community with large treed lots and plenty of space. The lot size tends to be over 1 acre/43,000 square ft so plenty of room to play. Many people are drawn to it because of the space and the sense of community. There are newer style homes in St. Andrews West but the majority of homes in Fall River are resale. The area does have some essential amenities, a grocery store, doctors, dentists, a Community Recreation Centre to name a few but the area does not have public transport (apart from the airport bus to downtown Halifax) so you’ll be required to drive everywhere.
The area has excellent highway access to both the 102 and 118 series of highways, making it an easy commute to Halifax and the airport. With great schools, the area has increased in value and the average price point for a large family home is approximately $450k and above. Of course, it is possible to buy smaller, older homes for less. Again, these numbers are just a benchmark to help you.
Hammonds Plains: Very similar to Fall River, this area resonates with families looking for plenty of space yet still want to be close to Bedford and all the amenities it has to offer. People tend to choose this area because of how close it is to the 102 Highway and Halifax. It also gives people an option to get quickly to the 103 highway and access to the South Shore for beaches and ocean. Like Fall River, amenities are basic but having Bedford on your doorstep certainly makes up for it. Traffic tends to be a bit more built up in this area, it can be a challenge at rush hour, especially on Hammonds Plains Road.
Glen Arbour Estates is a prestigious golfing community but there are many other subdivisions throughout the area. Price point for homes in this neighbourhood is $350k and upwards.
Upper Tantallon and Timberlea: Situated at the end of the Hammonds Plains Road, is the community of Upper Tantallon followed by Timberlea. Both areas have a mix of newer and older homes. Although spacious lots, the area is much less treed and much more open in between homes. The areas are popular with families. It’s very close to the 103 which will take you to the South Shore and Halifax, so an easy commute to downtown. Upper Tantallon has good amenities as well as good schools. Both areas have a mix of older and newer homes. New builds tend to start at the $425k mark whereas older homes in the areas start around $350k.
Middle Sackville: Family oriented neighbourhoods on large lots (very similar to Hammonds Plains and Fall River). This area is popular with families looking for more bang for their buck in a semi rural setting. Amenities are minimal, but a very short drive will take you to Lower Sackville with all the amenities you could need. The majority of homes are resale. Price point is approximately $325k and up and $400k if you are looking for something move in ready and updated.
One of the fastest growing areas of Middle Sackville is the lakefront development, Indigo Shores. Here you have the option to build brand new with a selection of builders. The area is semi-rural and treed, with excellent highway access, just off the 101. The unknown is how local amenities are going to show up and when. Price point for a new build is $450k and up.
Dartmouth: Less expensive than Bedford, with smaller lots and slightly more built up. The area has some great little neighbourhoods, such as Colby Village and those off Lake Banook. The great thing about Dartmouth is how accessible everything is. It’s very central to highways, lakes, ocean and amenities. You do have to know what areas you are buying into though, as there are some not so nice areas. Dartmouth is a great choice for people looking for downtown Halifax flavour but without living in the downtown core and paying the downtown Halifax price tag. Prices start at around the $275k mark.
Downtown Halifax: If you love the idea of being able to walk everywhere or not really requiring a vehicle, downtown Halifax may well be a good choice but be prepared to pay a premium for City living. Something decent (upgraded and move in ready) will set you back around $500k and you may have to park on the street and it’s unlikely you’ll have much of a back yard. The houses tend to be smaller and older and closely built to each other with a few feet or no separation between you and your neighbour. You can find the odd fixer-upper for less but $500k tends to be the benchmark for anything decent, in a good neighbourhood in the downtown core. It does tend to be busy, but everything is on your doorstep and walkable.
Finally, if budget is a stretch, you can look further afield at Enfield, Elmsdale and Lantz. You can find large country lots, close to the 102 and Halifax airport. These tend to be bedroom communities for people working at the airport or downtown, but you can get a lot more for your money.
As I mentioned at the start, these are the most popular neighbourhoods for people moving here and looking to buy a home. However, it truly is a personal decision and what works for one, is guaranteed not to work for another. It really does come down to what you want from a neighbourhood and what type of home you require, and we can work back from there.
You can look up a previous blog post I wrote on Halifax neighbourhoods, including a map of the areas here. I hope this helps.
If you have your eye on a specific neighbourhood and would like some detailed information about it, just drop me a line and I’d be happy to elaborate on it.