Relocation: How To Buy A Home When You Don’t Know The Area

Richard Payne
Richard Payne
Published on November 9, 2017


Conflicted: It’s the perfect description of how homeowners feel when faced with the reality of relocating from one city to another. It’s both exciting and mind-numbing, frightening yet courageous and it brings up feelings of both melancholy and elation.

Moving from one home to another is a life-disrupter, but moving from one town to another is a major upheaval. Watching that moving van drive down the street, fearful that it’s the last time you’ll see your belongings, is just one of the moments of angst you’ll face when relocating.

Between then and now you’ll need to find a real estate agent and a neighbourhood and, finally, a home – all in a town that may be thousands of miles away.

Relocating doesn’t have to be a ghastly process. Let’s make a plan and get you into your new town, neighborhood and home, without many of the hassles.

Your Ideal Home

Knowing exactly what type of home you want is the first step in your relocating process. From single-family to multi-family homes to condos and townhomes, get clear on exactly what you want.

Then, decide on how much room you need – both in living space and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

And, don’t forget the exterior. With a condo, you may not have much of a choice about outdoor areas, but if you’re in the market for other home styles, determine what you require outdoors.

  • Do you need a garage? If so, how big?
  • Is a backyard important?
  • Do you need lots of outdoor space?
  • Is a swimming pool on your wish list?

Choosing Your New Neighbourhood:

Your preferred home style may help narrow down your choice of neighbourhoods. For instance, depending on what city you’re relocating to, condos may only be available downtown.

If you’re in the market for a spacious home on a large lot, you may find them only in certain parts of town. If you’re bringing the boat or the golf clubs and cart – all will help you choose a suitable neighbourhood.

In general, however, you’ll need to answer some questions to figure out where you want to live:

  • What is your priority? Is it a quick commute to work, being located in a quality school district, close to public transportation or recreational amenities?
  • Do you crave urban living or are the suburbs more to your taste? Rural living has a lot to offer as well.
  • Do you love the sound of kids playing outside your window or does it grate on your nerves?

Research Is Your Friend

If you don’t know yet how much you can afford to spend on your new home in your new city, please see a lender.

When you have a handle on your budget you’ll find the homebuying process immensely more manageable.

But, you must also take into account that the cost of living where you are now may not look at all like the cost of living in your new hometown.

  • How much do groceries cost in the new town? 
  • Utilities? One of the things that most shocks Nova Scotia homebuyers is the cost of utilities, compared to other parts of Canada.

To get a handle on your future costs, navigate online to a cost-of-living comparison calculator, such as this one at CNN Money or one with more detailed results at

Let’s Find A Neighbourhood

Now you have an idea of how much you can afford to pay for a mortgage every month so it’s time to check out what’s available in your affordability range.

If you’re relocating for a new job, go to a Google map of the area surrounding your new workplace and find the neighbourhoods with a manageable commute. Then, do some research on each one. We have compiled an area map of Halifax, Nova Scotia and a breakdown of each neighbourhood. Check it out on the website.

Another good place to start is City-Data – the folks who hang out in the forums there have lots of good information. You can also glean a lot of great information from the Facebook Page – Ask Nova Scotia. They are a friendly group and will answer your relocating questions honestly.


This is where you’ll find the nuggets of wisdom that will help you decide whether or not it’s the city for you.

It’s Time To Get Help

That help will come in the form of a real estate agent. If you are selling a home in your current city, ask your listing agent for a referral to an agent in the city you are relocating to.

If you won’t be selling, ask friends, family and colleagues for a referral to a local agent who will then help you find one in the new town.

One final tip:

Don’t rely on the information about homes that you find on the big real estate portal sites because much of it is unreliable.

Although they would like you to think that they have all of the active listings in any given area, they often don’t.

The only accurate listing of homes available is in a region’s Multiple Listing Service database, which can only be accessed by licensed real estate agents.


Relocating is not for the faint of heart and can take a lot of time, patience and determinaton.

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