Why should anyone be moving to Halifax, Nova Scotia?
If you or someone you know are considering moving to Halifax, Nova Scotia anytime soon, make sure you read this article first!
Is moving to Halifax really for you? I’ll do my best to stick to the facts and provide you with as much insight as possible.
I don’t know many people who move to Halifax and don’t love their new life. We really are so lucky to live in such a beautiful city, with so much to do and surrounded by so many great people. Halifax has a great balance of City life – just enough but not too much. Compared to that of larger, more urban parts of the world, our lifestyle is relaxed and simple. We enjoy the best of both worlds and if you are looking to get out of the rat race and start again, Halifax, Nova Scotia may be just what you are looking for.
Unless you have spent a fair amount of time in Halifax, you have probably fallen victim to at least one of the many misconceptions about living here. For example, there’s nothing going on east of Toronto, or that it snows all the time in Nova Scotia. We felt the same way back when we were conducting all our research on where we should move to.
My family and I have been living in Halifax, Nova Scotia for the past 13 years, but have travelled a lot, to other parts of Canada as well as growing up outside of Manchester,England and living in Cardiff, South Wales for many years.
In my opinion, living in Halifax, Nova Scotia just keeps getting better and better.
Semi-Boring Facts about Halifax, Nova Scotia:
- Population (Halifax): 431,479 (2019)
- Population (Nova Scotia): 971,395 (2019)
- Unemployment rate in Halifax: 6.6% (February 2020)
- Median Home Price (Halifax): $328,821 (February 2020)
- Median Home Price (Nova Scotia): $267,500 (February 2020)
- Median Household Income: $69,522 (2016 Census)
- Average Commute Time: 23 minutes (Halifax Partnership)
Also be sure to check out the affordability of Halifax homes here. You’ll see that compared to most other major cities, buying a home in Halifax is still extremely affordable. You can find comparisons of the housing market in Canada’s largest cities here
This is also a good research tool to help you get a feel for the home prices across Canada.
Top 8 Reasons why You Should Consider Moving to Halifax, Nova Scotia
1. Halifax is Very Friendly
Haligonians are such a welcoming bunch, so much so that Halifax has been ranked one of the friendliest cities in the world by luxury and lifestyle travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler and believe me when I say it’s true.
When the majority of people you run into on a daily basis are friendly, courteous and happy, we call that “a clue.” If Halifax, Nova Scotia were a crappy place to live, would everyone be so nice and friendly all the time? It takes a bit of getting used to at first, but you’ll soon come to love it and when you travel outside of Nova Scotia, you’ll realise just how special the people in it are.
We all want the best for our kids, and the environment in which we chose to raise our children matters a great deal. I know that by choosing to raise my three kids in this city, they will grow up around other kids raised by great, happy and generous people. And that is quite special.
2. Halifax Traffic is Pretty Mild
Halifax traffic is by no means utopian, but compared to Montreal, Ottawa, or any other mid sized City our traffic situation is pretty mild. If you ask a Halifax resident (who has lived here their entire life and doesn’t travel much) about Halifax traffic, they’ll probably say it sucks. But they lack perspective. Sure, it’s not perfect, but we’re a decent size city with a growing population.
Of course we do have traffic and traffic jams and bottlenecks, but have you ever driven in other cities like Montreal, Boston, Miami, Manchester or Cardiff? Traffic there is OUTRAGEOUS!
When you consider how bad traffic is in many other parts of the country, we have it pretty good here in Halifax. On the plus side, we have two ferry services: The Alderney Ferry service crosses from Alderney Landing in downtown Dartmouth to Halifax and the Woodside Ferry service crosses from Woodside to Halifax. Both locations have Park & Ride lots, plus the ferry service is accessible, and integrated with the bus services and a super way to get into the City each day. The traffic in Halifax at its worst is incredibly manageable!
3. Living in Halifax is affordable
I’m not going to lie, living in Halifax is not cheap but compared to other Cities it’s still reasonable and affordable for most. But you will need a decent salary to really enjoy and appreciate it!
The one thing Halifax has going for it in bucket loads is the quality of life and world class experiences you can have on your doorstep. In a matter of minutes, you can be out in the woods hiking, fishing, hunting and enjoying your own personal wilderness.
Homes for sale in Halifax are some of the most affordable in Canada. Despite the growing real estate prices, you can find a starter home in a decent part of Halifax for under $250,000. Renting, on the other hand, is skyrocketing in price and is on a par with big city living. For example, the average cost for a one-bedroom apartment in Halifax in July 2019 was $910, up 4.6% from June 2018, but down 4.2% compared to July 2017.
Utilities can also be expensive, especially as there is not a lot of competition from providers, but food costs are on a par with the rest of the country, especially if you shop locally. This guide will give you an idea of the cost of living in Halifax.
To put our cost of living in perspective, the cost of living index in Halifax is 12.89% lower than Toronto placing its cost of living 78th out of 363 world cities. See full statistics here.
Whether you are searching for a condo in downtown Halifax, a home in Bedford or a lakefront community in Indigo Shores, you’ll quickly find that homes are priced very reasonably for the sought after work life balance and overall quality of life you can have on the east coast of Canada. The KEY part to living comfortably in Halifax is finding a decent paying job.
(ps. if you love the bustling chaos of city life, Halifax may not be the city for you, its relaxed pace of life can take a bit of getting used to).
4. We have Great Restaurants (and patios) in Halifax
When we first moved here 13 years ago, I remember my wife saying to me how Halifax felt very much like Cardiff felt when she was growing up – a City on the brink of a growth and cultural explosion. And I think she was right. It appears our little gem of a City is garnering attention and growing at a rapid pace.
Over the last 5 years, a whole slew of great restaurants have popped up in and around Halifax. Truth is, no matter what part of town you’re in, you’re never far from your next “best meal ever!” From great local burger joints to formal sit-down dining options, you will find exactly what your taste buds are craving any time of day. If you are a “foodie” you will love what Halifax has to offer.
I’ll spare you from a giant list of all our great restaurants in Halifax, Nova Scotia, but there are 10 of my personal favourites that are so good that it would be a crime to not mention them.
- The Canteen– Downtown Dartmouth
- The Bicycle Thief – Halifax Waterfront
- Chives Canadian Bistro – Halifax
- EDNA – Halifax
- Two Doors Down– Halifax and Dartmouth
- Chabba Thai – Various locations
- The Wooden Monkey – Two locations, Halifax and Dartmouth
- Krave Burger – Halifax
- The Press Gang – Halifax
- Eliot and Vine – Halifax
I have even more to tell you about, so if you want more recommendations for restaurants in Halifax,please just ask!
5. Halifax Weather
As someone who has been living in Halifax for over 13 years, I can say that the weather in Halifax, Nova Scotia is pretty decent and never gets boring. We have 4 very distinct seasons here (albeit an extended Winter season and a very short Spring season) I have grown to love each season for what it is and when the seasons start to change, it’s exciting.
Our winters are fairly moderate due to our coastal location and tend not to be too cold, it does snow here but you can also occasionally see the sun in winter so that’s a plus. Winter mostly starts with a sneaky blizzard mid November/early December, which often takes people by surprise and rushing to get snow tyres but generally we don’t usually get any real snow until January and even then it’s not unusual to have bare grass for periods of the winter.
There are aspects of Halifax’s winter that can make it seem colder though. It’s more of a damp cold than a dry cold. The increased precipitation from December through to March in the form of heavy snowfall to heavy rain and the infamous cyclonic ocean storms (noreasters) and strong winds can rapidly change up the weather from day to day. It’s not unusual for a huge dump of snow to arrive on a Monday only to be washed away by torrential rain on Wednesday. 😊
It makes for a very interesting winter but at least you can get out and enjoy it without freezing to death. We’ve spent time in both Calgary and Quebec City during the winter and we’ve never felt cold like it. Sorry to say, I just couldn’t live in such a cold climate.
If you love Spring-time, you will be dismayed by our Spring. Winter does linger here because the cold ocean can take months to warm up, often keeping things cool and damp well into early May. But when Spring hits, it is beautiful and leads very quickly into summer.
Our summers are warm (but rarely hot and humid) and fall is long, sunny and mild.
Extremes of weather do not happen all that often in Halifax, Nova Scotia but climate change definitely helps to play a part in the increased risk of flooding, particularly for those living near the water.
The worst weather event to happen to Halifax was back in September 29th 2003 when Hurricane Juan, a Category 2 hurricane made landfall and destroyed 100 million trees, killed 5 people and caused nearly $100 million dollars in damages.
July is the hottest month in Halifax with an average temperature of 19°C( 65°F) (but feels much warmer) and the coldest is January at –6°C ( 22°F ) with the most daily sunshine hours at 9 in July. The wettest month is November with an average of 100mm of rain.
6. Halifax Crime Rate is Low
If you want a safe place to raise your family, then moving to Halifax is a wise move. Halifax, Nova Scotia is known for its clean downtown streets and friendly people, making it a great vacation destination for tourists as well as a great place to call home.
For the vast majority of our city, crime is quite low and rare. However, like all other major cities, there are some areas to avoid in Halifax. As a general rule of thumb, the area of Gottingen Street and adjacent streets towards the McDonald bridge (not the other way though as the area around Scotia Square in downtown is totally fine) is a bit of an up and coming area. Many good restaurants and bars have moved into this area and it is becoming more popular but it has a reputation as being a bit rough. Downtown Dartmouth has a reputation for being a bit sketchy but it has changed a lot in the past few years with several upscale restaurants, brew pubs and trendy cafes. You can find out how Halifax compares to other Canadian cities in terms of crime rate here
As a father and husband, and raising three children in the suburbs within Halifax, Nova Scotia, I can honestly say that in general, I feel very safe here. We’ve been able to offer our children the sort of neighbourhood experience that you’d associate with growing up in the 1970’s or 80’s. Our children go to school with the children they went to day care with, the same children they hung out with in summer camps, soccer and dance. It’s a really special experience.
There are always certain parts of town that are less safe, but that’s true no matter where you live. The general feeling among residents here is that Halifax crime is minimal.
If you’re moving to Halifax and want to ask about specific neighbourhoods that are safer than others, please feel free reach out. I’d be more than happy to share my local knowledge and experience with you.
7. Halifax, Nova Scotia Schools
If you’re considering moving to Halifax, you’ll obviously want to think about the schools your kids, or future kids, will be attending. Halifax has an educated population and is considered as Canada’s Smart City. It is also home to one of the largest concentrations of universities and best educated workforces in North America.
Nova Scotia has several major universities and colleges (10 universities and 13 community college campuses throughout the province) some of which are known nationally for specific programs. A couple of the well-known universities include Dalhousie University in the downtown core of Halifax and Acadia, located in beautiful Wolfville in the Annapolis Valley. You can check the rankings of Nova Scotia Universities here
Elementary schools can be rather tricky to rank objectively. Surprisingly, there does not appear to be a ranking system in place measuring the best and worst Halifax public schools. But what they do have is the feedback of provincial assessment testing conducted in Grades 3 and Grades 6 of Elementary school, which should be available on the school’s website or you can contact Halifax Regional Centre for Education for more clarity.
There are 8 school districts in the province of Nova Scotia, and two of them are in Halifax:
Halifax Regional Centre for Education – English School District
Conseil Scolaire Acadien Provincial – French School District
You may find the blog post I put together on Nova Scotia School Systems quite helpful. You can access it here.
When you want to escape the city or suburban life for an afternoon, you have so many options. For winter recreation, you have two ski hills on your doorstep. Martock is just 45 minutes door to door from our house and is a small but fairly decent ski hill, which makes it close enough to go for a few hours after work or school.
Wentworth on the other hand is a lot bigger, has a lot more varied terrain and runs, although it is a little further away from the City, approximately 90 minutes each way for us. Both have good hills for beginners.
There’s lots of great hills for tobogganing/sledding (assuming we have a snowy winter😉 Here’s a link to some of the best sledding hills in the City. The Oval in downtown Halifax is a popular, year-round facility offering ice skating in winter and in-line skating and biking in the summer.
If you’re a nature lover and enjoy spending time outdoors, you will be spoiled for choice in Halifax. We have breathtaking scenery, tons of green space, lakes, hiking trails, wilderness, clean air, ocean breeze and incredible beaches (yes, it’s true…the water is freezing year round but head to the north shore for some of the warmest waters in Canada).
There are lots of great road trips only an hour away from Halifax, like the Annapolis Valley and Lunenburg. Nova Scotia is an adventurer’s province and a great road trip destination, with so many unique towns and villages with history, culture and scenery.
Our vineyards are making some world class wines, and a trip through wine county is fantastic fun. There’s also lots of seasonal activities for all the family, corn mazes, u-picks, sunflower farms and so much more.
We’ve got affordable, quality sports: Mooseheads (hockey), the Hurricanes (basketball), the Thunderbirds (lacrosse) and we’re also a hot spot for university basketball, often hosting the nationals. We have the Halifax Wanderers who are in the Canadian Premier Soccer League and there’s plans for a CFL team coming here – they’ve even chosen the name Atltantic Schooners.
There are tons of restaurants, wine bars, cocktail bars, pubs, live music, a casino, an axe throwing bar, wine and beer festivals, a yearly jazz festival and so much more and… plus our craft brewing scene is fierce!
Final Thoughts on
Moving to Halifax, Nova Scotia
If you’re moving to Halifax or are considering it, as you can now see, our City is truly a fantastic place to live, work, and play. It is the perfect size, has a great balance of City life – just enough but not too much, it’s so scenic and close to the ocean and unlike other Canadian cities, the weather isn’t so extreme.
You’ll never run out of things to do, you’ll have a great work-life balance, an amazing sense of community and there will always be more friendly people to meet. You could earn more working in another province but if quality of life is more important to you and your family, then this City is really worth researching.
If you’re seriously thinking about moving to Halifax, or just have a few more questions before deciding, please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions about the Halifax area.
Still have questions about a potential move to Halifax, Nova Scotia?
You can get in touch with me email@example.com or shoot me a text at 902 489-1804. I have lived here for quite a while, moving here from the UK and definitely know a thing or two about starting again in a new City.
I can provide you with whatever information you’re looking for, or at the very least, point you in the direction of where to find it.
MORE HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA RESOURCES:
- A Guide to Nova Scotia’s School System
- Visit Nova Scotia
- Discover Halifax
- Family Friendly Things to Do in Halifax in the Winter time
- 13 Things to Know When Moving to Nova Scotia
- City of Halifax – Official site
- Halifax Homes for Sale
- Halifax’s Most Popular Neighbourhoods
Richard Payne, REALTOR®
About the Author: The above article on Moving to Halifax, Nova Scotia? So Many Excellent Reasons Why You Should was written and provided by Richard Payne, an award winning leader in the field of Real Estate sales, marketing, and smart home technology. (#1 Real Estate Agent in Keller Williams Select Realty for 2019).
Richard has helped many people relocating to Halifax, Nova Scotia, working with them to buy their first Halifax home in great neighbourhoods that works for them and their needs.
Thinking of selling your home? I have a real passion for buying and selling Real Estate, as well as marketing & smart home technology. I’d love to share my expertise and results!