Are you thinking about moving to Halifax, Nova Scotia? It is one of the many great cities that are in Canada. Speaking of Canada, moving here is a big decision. And, the city you choose will have a direct effect on your financial success, career, and overall quality of life.
Before you make your final decision on where to live, it’s wise to carefully research your options. Explore the housing market, job market, schools, lifestyle, and more to assess if the city is right for you.
Halifax has a unique appeal. It is the largest city on the East coast of Canada. But it has a small-town feel. Life moves at a slower pace than in big cities like Toronto and Vancouver. It also has a lower cost of living. And, in 2021, Halifax ranked as number one of the top 10 cities in Canada. Ready to learn more about Halifax? Prepare for Canada can guide you with helpful information about living in Halifax.
About Halifax, Nova Scotia
Halifax is the capital city of Nova Scotia and is located on the East Coast of Canada. It is the major economic centre in Atlantic Canada and the Maritime provinces. It is home to a large number of government services and private companies, and the local economy is growing. And with a diverse population, Halifax is an ideal location to call home.
The city has roots dating back to 1749 when it was first established as the Town of Halifax by European settlers. It officially became a city in 1842 and a regional municipality in 1996.
How Many People Live in Halifax, Nova Scotia?
The Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) includes four former towns, Halifax, Dartmouth, Bedford, and Halifax County that amalgamated in 1996. The city of Halifax has a population of 348,634 as of the 2021 census. Currently, there are about 440,000 residents within the HRM. This is a 9.1% growth rate since 2016.
How to Find a Job & Build a Career in Halifax
Halifax’s Local Economy
As an economic hub for Atlantic Canada, Halifax has one of the most diverse economies in Canada. It is the main hub for government, financial services, business, and culture. You can find exciting careers in unique industries such as:
- Financial services
- Information technology, gaming, digital media
- Healthcare and life sciences
- Ocean technology and fishing
- Transportation and logistics.
Major Employers in Halifax
This city is home to employers across many industries. Top employers in Halifax include:
- The Department of National Defence
- Port of Halifax
- Irving Shipbuilding
- Nova Scotia Health Authority
- IMP Group
- Bell Aliant
- Bedford Institute of Oceanography.
Career Pathways in Halifax
The industries that are on a growth trend include professional services, financial services, public administration and utilities. You can search for jobs through the Nova Scotia website or the Government of Canada Job Bank.
You also have the choice to work with a local recruitment agency such as David Alpen Group, Venor, Randstad Canada, and Talentworks Inc.
For information, tools, free webinars, and more visit our Finding a Job in Canada resource page. Get the help you need to achieve your career goals!
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The Halifax Housing Market
While securing a job is a priority when you move to Halifax, so is finding housing. You can look for short-term housing, or a rental, or you can buy a home. However, renting a home before you buy a home is a common practice that allows you to assess neighbourhoods without making a long-term commitment.
Is Housing Expensive in Halifax, Nova Scotia?
When choosing a city, you want to consider the cost of housing. Compared to other large cities in Canada, Halifax is one of the more affordable places to live. The average cost to buy a house is lower than the national average.
Finding a Place to Rent in Halifax
There are a lot of great neighbourhoods to consider if you plan to rent a house, apartment, or condo. Some of the most popular neighbourhoods include Downtown, Fairview, Downtown Dartmouth, South End, and North End.
The cost of rentals can vary based on the type of unit, location, and size. You can find rentals starting as low as $1,200 per month. The average cost to rent an apartment in Halifax is $1,420 for a Bachelor, $1,514 for a one-bedroom, and $2,019 for a two-bedroom apartment.
Check out Rentals for Newcomers to search for available rental units and cost in Halifax. For more helpful tips about renting your first home in Canada, be sure to read: Renting in Canada: What Newcomers Need to Know
Buying a Home in Halifax
According to The Royal LePage National House Price Composite, the median price to buy a single-family detached home in Canada is now $811,900 and $553,800 for a condo. Costs are significantly lower in Halifax, which is one reason why the city is an attractive choice for newcomers. Even with the average price to buy increasing by 12.6%, the average cost of a home is $484, 800. The median cost for a single-family detached home is $543,000. The median cost of a condo is $388,500.
Real estate agents in Nova Scotia can help you find a home (for a fee). They can also help you with a mortgage and legal requirements. For a complete list of licensed real estate agents, contact the Nova Scotia Realtors Association. Find out more about buying your first home in Canada: First Time Home Buyer: Newcomer Tips
Driving & Public Transit in Halifax
Driving in Halifax, Nova Scotia
The urban core of the city is connected by the Angus L. Macdonald and A. Murray MacKay suspension bridges. The city also has a network of 100-series highways that function as expressways to help people get around the area.
All drivers in this city must have a valid Nova Scotia driver’s licence. You need a Class 5 licence to drive a car. Get more information about the licence requirements through Service Nova Scotia.
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Halifax Public Transit
Halifax Transit supplies bus and ferry services to residents. There are 66 bus routes and 2 ferry routes. The ferry service connects residents from downtown Halifax to two locations in Dartmouth.
Community Support for Newcomers
Newcomers to Halifax have access to community support through several organizations. You may be eligible for the Introduction to Nova Scotia program through the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS). You can also get support through the YMCA of Greater Halifax, Nova Scotia Immigration, Halifax Local Immigration Partnership, and Halifax Public Libraries.
Learn more about Services in Canada to Help Newcomers Settle.
Language Support in Halifax
Many community organizations offer free language classes for permanent residents. You may also be able to attend free classes through community colleges and the school board. You can get language support though:
Immigration Services Association of Nova Scotia
YMCA of Greater Halifax/Dartmouth
For more information, tools, and free webinars about living in Canada visit our Settling in Canada resource page. We’ll help you to settle in Canada successfully!
Personal Finance & Banking
Opening a bank account and getting your finances in order is a top priority for newcomers when moving to a new country. You have access to many banks and financial institutions in the Halifax area. Most banks have programs specifically for new immigrants to open a bank account, get a credit card and even apply for a mortgage. Visit your local banks or apply only to get started. You will need proof of residence to open an account.
Get more banking tips for newcomers:
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Halifax’s Education System
In Canada, the provincial government is responsible for the education system, including the curriculum and running the school boards. To explore Canada’s education system further, read more at Schooling in Canada | A Look at the Education System
Elementary and High School Education
Halifax offers public, Catholic, private, and French language schools for kids from Kindergarten to grade 12. The Halifax Regional School Board oversees close to 140 schools. The Conseil Scolaire Acadien Provincial administers six schools. Private schools operate independently.
Post Secondary Institutions
Halifax is a hub for post-secondary education in Atlantic provinces. Dalhousie is the top university in Atlantic Canada and one of the best in Canada. There are seven universities with campuses in Halifax as well as the Nova Scotia Community College. Other post-secondary schools include:
- Dalhousie University
- Saint Mary’s University
- Mount Saint Vincent University
- University of King’s College
- Nova Scotia College of Art and Design
- Universite Sainte-Anne
- Atlantic School of Theology.
Read more about education in Canada:
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Where To Get Medical Care in Halifax, Nova Scotia
Healthcare is available through the Nova Scotia Health Authority. Permanent residents can get access to health care services for free. The city is home to several hospitals and medical centres. The main hospitals are Dartmouth General Hospital, QEII Health Sciences Centre, and IWK Health Centre).
In case of an emergency call 9-1-1. This number is the same no matter where you live in Canada.
For prescription drugs and some services that Nova Scotia Health does not cover, you can pay for additional health insurance plans. Some people have third-party health insurance through their employer benefits packages.
How to Find A Family Doctor In Halifax
You can search for a family doctor who is taking new patents through Nova Scotia Health. If no doctors are available, you will be placed on a waiting list. If you are unable to find a family doctor, you can go to one of many general non-emergency walk-in clinics in the city. Get more information about health care in Canada: Steps to Access Free Health Care in Canada.
What is Day to Day Life Like in Halifax?
Things to Do in Halifax
Halifax is known for its slower pace of life. You’ll feel the warm hospitality of residents as soon as you arrive. As a coastal city, there are countless activities and sites to see on land and water. It’s the quality of life and culture that attracts many to the region.
Public Spaces & Attractions
Halifax Harbour is one of the most popular areas of the city. Beyond this, there are lots to see and do. Some of the most popular attractions include the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, Pier 21, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Province House, and Halifax Public Gardens. Peggy’s Cove is also only a short drive away where you can see Nova Scotia’s most famous lighthouse.
Restaurants & Nightlife
Halifax has more than 200 restaurants, bars, and pubs. There are several local breweries, and the city is known for its world-class seafood establishments.
Nature & Natural Landscapes
Fishing, boating, sailing, and watersports are popular among residents. But there are many other natural landscapes to check out. You can walk along the Harbourfront boardwalk, check out Point Pleasant Park, McNabs and Lawlor Island Provincial Park, or check out Crystal Crescent Beach.
Sporting Events & Concerts
The city is home to the Halifax Mooseheads hockey team Halifax Hurricanes of the National Basketball League of Canada, and Halifax Thunderbirds of the National Lacrosse League. If you want to check out a concert, the Scotiabank Centre is the largest arena in the city. You can also check out musical acts in smaller venues across the city.
Culture & Diversity In Halifax
Halifax is the most multicultural city in Nova Scotia with a mix of cultures, languages and histories.
Most people in Halifax speak English as their primary language. About 2.5% of people speak French and 1.5% speak Arabic. Of the total population, 11.4% identify as a visible minority, and 4% are Indigenous. The biggest visible minority are Black (3.8%), Arab (1.8%), Chinese (1.8%), and South Asian (1.6%).
About 70% of residents are of the Christian faith and close to 25% have no religious affiliation. 2% of the population is Muslim. You will find many churches, temples, synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship which might be an important source of support when you first settle in Halifax.
The Weather in Halifax
Nova Scotia weather can be summed up into one word – moderate. It rarely gets extremely hot or cold. The daily temperature does fluctuate both by the time of day and by your proximity to the ocean. If you spend the morning in Halifax, the afternoon in Wolfville and end up in Yarmouth for the evening – the weather and temperature can be quite different. Having a fleece or knit sweater on hand for easy layering will keep you comfortable wherever you are.
Halifax has a humid continental climate. You can expect precipitation throughout the year with heavy snowfall in the winter. The average high is 23.1 degrees in July and the average low is -0.1 degrees in January.
Common Questions Immigrants Ask About Living in Halifax
Is Halifax a good place for immigrants?
Halifax is an ideal location for newcomers looking for a slower pace of life. It has a lower cost of living, more affordable housing, and a smaller population. Even though the immigrant population is smaller than in other cities, people love the lifestyle.
What are some disadvantages of living in Halifax for new immigrants?
Wages in Halifax are often lower when compared to the rest of Canada. However, housing costs are also lower. But, it’s very important to research your profession in Halifax before you arrive. That will help you to understand the job trends and careers in demand and make it easier to restart your career in Canada.
What are the benefits of living in Halifax?
People often cite the local culture as one of the best reasons to live in Halifax. It is a beautiful city that is right on the ocean. The city has a diverse economy, and it is more affordable than most other cities in the country.