Living in Halifax, Nova Scotia
This information is a guide about life in Halifax for you and your family, as new permanent residents. It may also be helpful to you if you are here as a temporary resident, a temporary foreign worker, an international student, a refugee or are just thinking about moving here from another province or country. Learning about Halifax will make your transition a little bit easier.
Newcomers to Nova Scotia may also be eligible for the Introduction to Nova Scotia program through Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS). Introduction to Nova Scotia at ISANS covers the following topics:
Life in Canada
Social Programs and Community Services
Banking, Shopping and Finances
Recreation and Entertainment
Nova Scotia weather can be summed up into one word – moderate. It rarely gets extremely hot or extremely cold. The daily temperature does fluctuate both by 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.
VIA Rail 888-842-7245 www.viarail.ca Service to Montreal from Halifax and Truro
Halifax Metro Transit 902-490-4000 (TTY 902-490-6645) www.halifax.ca/metrotransit Halifax-Dartmouth area
Halifax Metro Transit “Access-A-Bus” 902-490-6681 (to register); 902-490-6999 (scheduling) Wheelchair-accessible bus service in Metro area
For schedule and bus route information, click here.
Places of Worship
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. For a complete list of places to worship, click here.
City Size and Population (Society)
One of the first established areas in Canada, Nova Scotia has a diverse history of aboriginal, Celtic, Acadian, and African cultures that dates back hundreds of years and, in the case of the Mi’kmaw, thousands of years.
Nova Scotia is home to more than 100 cultures and ethnicities from all over the globe.
Our history and diversity is seen reflected in the many museums, festivals and events held in cities, towns and communities throughout the province. It is also expressed in our music, art, food and traditions.
Formed in 1975, the Multicultural Association of Nova Scotia (MANS) reflects the needs of Nova Scotia’s multicultural communities. It helps promote multicultural education, information-sharing and equality. MANS hosts a large multicultural festival held annually in Halifax, as well as several other cultural events, conferences and forums throughout the year.
Nova Scotia boasts 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and 26 Canadian National Historic Sites. These sites tell century old stories of adventure, creativity, discovery and cultural diversity. Because it is so easy to travel from one end of the province to the other, you can easily visit several of these sites in one day.
For more information, click here.
With five key regions and everything from small towns to growing cities, Nova Scotia has a variety of industries and businesses to choose from.
Nova Scotia has one of Canada’s fastest growing information and communications technology sectors.
Halifax is Nova Scotia’s capital city and largest urban metropolis. Employment here is dominated by the service sector. This accounts for over 85% of jobs – significantly higher than the rest of the province. Other industries such as health care are also growing strong.
The Annapolis Valley has been experiencing a rise in full-time job opportunities – a positive indicator of growth in the area. This region is dominated by agriculturally-driven sectors and construction.
NORTHERN NOVA SCOTIA
Northern Nova Scotia is another region where most employment is in the service-producing industries. The goods industry also accounts for one quarter of employment.
SOUTHERN NOVA SCOTIA
Strong sectors of this region, such as the goods sector, have been experiencing employment increases. Construction, forestry, fishing, mining, and oil and gas also continue to be opportunity sectors for this area.
Cape Breton Island is experiencing gains in both full and part time employment. Health care and social service sectors, as well as public administration have all been on the rise.
For more information, click here.
Finding a Home
Living in Canada may be very different than your former country. There are many different types of housing in Nova Scotia for you to choose from.
PRIVATELY OWNED RENTAL HOUSING
This is the most common type of housing. Here, you pay rent every month to a landlord or company who owns and takes care of the house or apartment.
NOTE: It may be hard to find a house or apartment if you have a large family. Most Canadian families have 1-3 children and two parents. This is why most apartments are no larger than two or three bedrooms. If you have a larger or extended family, you might consider looking for a house to rent instead of an apartment.
PRIVATE HOME OWNERSHIP
Many new immigrants choose to buy their own home instead of renting. Houses in Nova Scotia are some of the most affordable in Canada. There is also a great variety to choose from. In 2011, the average cost of buying a house in Nova Scotia was $201,991. It can be much less if you live in a rural area of the province.
You can live 20 minutes from Halifax in a 3 bedroom house worth $200,000.
There are many real estate agents in Nova Scotia who can help you find a home (for a fee). They can also help you with mortgage and legal requirements. For a complete list of licensed real estate agents, contact the Nova Scotia Realtors Association.
For more information on buying and renting a home in Nova Scotia visit the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and the Residential Tenancies section of the Access Nova Scotia website.
This is a type of subsidized housing. Here, some residents pay rent based on their income and others pay rent that is closer to market prices. Together, they take care of the housing co-op by sharing duties and responsibilities. There is usually a waiting list for subsidized housing. More information can be found on The Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada website.
This is similar to co-operative housing because rent is based on income. Public housing is funded by the government for families with lower incomes. More information can be found on the Housing Nova Scotia website.
Tips For Finding an apartment or a House:
If you have a problem with language, bring an English-speaking companion with you to view the apartment or the house.
If you can, schedule viewings during the day so it’s easier to see any damage.
Ask about any repairs that need to be made. Make a list of the damages before you sign or agree to anything. Make sure the landlord signs the list and attaches it to the lease so you will not be held responsible when your lease is over.
Ask if utilities (water, electricity, heat, etc.) are included in the rent.
There could be a limit on how many people are allowed to live there, or if pets are allowed. Make sure you ask about these rules.
Have things ready for the landlord such as: income/pay stubs, resume and references. There may also be an application process.
When renting an apartment or home, you are responsible for any damage caused by your presence. Day to day upkeep and repairs, and fixing past damage, is the responsibility of the landlord.
Once you have signed a lease, you are legally responsible to follow its terms and conditions for as long as it says on the lease. If you need to move before the end of the lease, you may need to sublet. Subletting is finding someone to take over for the rest of your lease. A sublet must be approved by your landlord.
More information on tenant rules and responsibilities in Nova Scotia can be found on the Residential Tenancies section of the Access Nova Scotia website.
If your property is damaged or destroyed by unforeseen and uncontrollable events, the cost of repairing or replacing it may be paid through insurance. There are many different types of property insurance coverage plans and many different insurance companies. You can also hire an insurance broker to help you find the best type of insurance for your needs. Property insurance is recommended for homeowners and renters. It covers your actual home and many of your personal belongings.
Banks will not approve mortgages unless you show them proof that you have insurance. For more information on home insurance visit Insurance Canada’s website.
Whether you live in your own house or you rent an apartment, you will probably have other expenses besides your mortgage or rent. These expenses are called “utilities” or household expenses. Make sure to ask about water, electricity, heating and other services such as telephone or internet costs that you may have to factor in to your budget.
For more information, click here.