What to know before your move to Nova Scotia

7 Things to know and do before moving to Nova Scotia

Moving Within Canada
Canada Nova Scotia

Are you thinking about moving to Nova Scotia for the long term? Do you have a million questions going through your mind, like the cost of living and utility bills?

It’s perfectly normal for you to feel more than a little anxious about moving. Nova Scotia is a beautiful maritime province with stunning offshore islands, gorgeous beaches, and charming waterfront cities. But regardless, the idea of moving to any location is always met with a fair bit of dread.

However, through this article, our goal is to alleviate some of your anxieties about moving. We’ll show you the 7 things to know or do before moving to Nova Scotia!

Moving to Nova Scotia: Everything to know and do

What to know before your move to Nova Scotia

1. First steps before moving to Nova Scotia

Finding a job 

As of January 2024, Nova Scotia’s unemployment rate rose to 6.5%, a 0.2% increase from the previous month but 7.1% lower than the peak in June 2020 and below the long-run average. Jobseekers can check websites such as LinkedIn and Indeed for a better understanding of the in demand jobs in the province. 

CREA Statistics (Jan 2024), LinkedIn (Feb 2024) & Indeed (Feb 2024)

Getting there 

Below are some travel options to get to Nova Scotia from different parts of the country, including:

Flying: Flying is the most convenient way to move to Nova Scotia. Book a flight from your departure city to Halifax Stanfield International Airport, depending on your destination within Nova Scotia.

Train: You can also take the train with VIA Rail as an alternative. 

Bus: If you want another way to travel, Nova Scotia cities have bus services like BusBud, and Halifax Transit, that can get you there.

Find a trusted moving company

Being able to move your entire home to a new place is one of the most stressful events in life. Finding a trusted moving company can be a time-consuming task. Save yourself time and energy by hiring a moving company or renting a van. 

To find the best moving company, look for good reviews, a professional-looking website and years of experience. Planning a move to Nova Scotia? Check out some of the best moving companies in Halifax.

Local Transportation in Nova Scotia

You have the following public transit options in Nova Scotia:

  • Taxi: You can find taxis in most cities and towns around Nova Scotia. The fees vary from region to region.
  • Bus: The major bus service provider in the province is Maritime Bus.
  • Metro Transit: This is the major public transit available in Halifax and it has stopovers in other cities like Timberlea, Bedford, Sackville, Dartmouth, and Cole Harbour.
  • Rail: The prime train service in the province is VIA Rail. It departs from Halifax and has stopovers throughout the province.
  • Ferry: There are a number of ferry services such as Bay Ferries and other provincial ferry services that can take you to various parts of the province.
  • Ride sharing: Uber is not currently available in the province. However, there are various other carpooling and ride-hailing services available in the province such as HFXRideMatch (only for Halifax) and CarpoolWorld.

Must dos before your arrival 

Moving to Nova Scotia is an exciting yet challenging adventure, and preparing in advance can make your transition smoother:

  • Ensure all your documents are original and also have photocopies in case you misplace the originals. Keep the photocopies in a separate place. If your documents aren’t in English or French, bring certified translated copies.
  • Nova Scotia experiences all four seasons, so it’s important to pack accordingly. The weather is described as moderate, meaning it doesn’t get too hot or too cold.
  • Change all your officially listed addresses. Start by downloading a Nova Scotia address change checklist and figure out your accounts that need to be cancelled. You can enlist the help of MovingWaldo, Canada’s primary app for address changes. It is a free service that can contact over 700 public and private organizations on your behalf and notify them about the new address simultaneously.

2. Upon your arrival in Nova Scotia

Must dos right upon your arrival

  • Upon arrival, familiarize yourself with your new neighborhood by studying transportation options, knowing the emergency number, and getting to know local amenities and services. 
  • Explore community services such as settlement agencies, language programs, and cultural organizations to help you integrate into the community
  • If applicable, register for educational programs or courses to improve your skills and get better career opportunities.

Exchanging your driver’s license

The Registry of Motor Vehicles is the corporation responsible for managing the driver’s licensing and vehicle registration system in Nova Scotia. When you move, it is crucial to notify the Registry, to make sure that your driver’s license is updated accordingly. Here’s the detailed steps about exchanging or updating your driver’s license in Nova Scotia.

Setting up a bank account 

Newcomers, temporary residents, and permanent residents in Canada should open bank accounts upon arrival or even before to avoid foreign currency conversion fees. While newcomers may initially use their Mastercard or Visa debit or credit cards from their home countries, it’s advisable to open a bank account in Canada with proper identification and specific documents, especially if you’re not yet a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

The largest Canadian banks, known as the “Big Five,” include RBC as the largest, followed by TD and Scotiabank in second and third positions, respectively.

Getting health insurance

Nova Scotia Medical Services Insurance (MSI) is the provincial plan for insured medical services. MSI provides free medical services, including some dental and optometrist services, to Nova Scotia residents who need them.

To be eligible for Nova Scotia Medical Service Insurance (MSI) benefits, you must be a Canadian Citizen or “Permanent Resident” (Landed Immigrant), a resident who makes their permanent home in Nova Scotia, present in the province 183 days every calendar year, and registered with MSI. Members of the Canadian Armed Forces and NATO members are not eligible, but family members may be eligible upon establishing residency in Nova Scotia.

For comprehensive health coverage, consider purchasing a private health insurance policy or use your employer-sponsored plan. Costs and coverage for private health insurance can differ based on factors like age, gender, lifestyle, pre-existing conditions, coverage needs, and provider choice.

Here’s a quick overview:

Type of healthcare

Cost

Employer-sponsored health insurance

*It depends on the employee ages and the tier of cover.

$63.00

Non-employer-sponsored health insurance

$50.00-$300.00

Gym

$63.06

Numbeo (Feb 2024), Hellosafe (2023) & Insurance Business (Apr 2023)

3. Best places to live in Nova Scotia

Moving to Nova Scotia can be exciting and overwhelming. Finding the perfect neighborhood in Nova Scotia is essential for a satisfying living experience, whether moving locally or from afar.

Cities in Nova Scotia are ideal for those who seek pastoral beauty and a quiet and quality life. The following are the cheapest places to live in Nova Scotia due to its affordability and quality of life. 

Neighborhood

Characteristics 

Trenton

Known for its manufacturing history

Yarmouth

Offers an affordable maritime living experience

Amherst

Promotes activities to foster a cost-saving community

New Glasgow

Stands as commercial-service center in Nova Scotia

Bridgewater

Cost of living is low compared to Halifax

Setting up home services 

Whether you own a home or rent in Halifax, your utility bills are an important part of your monthly costs. In Nova Scotia, the main company that provides electricity is called Nova Scotia Power. They’re overseen by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.

  • Electricity: The primary supplier of electricity in the province is Nova Scotia Power.
  • Natural Gas: The most popular provider of natural gas in the province is Heritage Gas.

Internet and mobile phones in Nova Scotia

It can be hard to find the right broadband deal because there are so many companies that offer different packages based on the user’s needs, expectations, and online activities. There are different speeds depending on how broadband is used and how many devices are connected. This allows you to get started on your online communication without hassle or trouble. 

  • Internet: The biggest internet service providers in Nova Scotia are Eastlink, Rogers and Bell Aliant. You can find out more about the best Halifax internet providers.
  • Cell Phone Carriers: The best cell phone carriers in Nova Scotia are Bell and Rogers. You can compare the different cell phone plans.

Utilities

Cost

Basic

(Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 915 sq ft Apartment

$270.75

Internet

(60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL)

$105.00

Total

$375.75

Numbeo (Feb 2024)

Should you rent or buy?

No matter where you choose to live, one of your most significant ongoing expenses will be housing prices, and this is no exception in this province. Nova Scotia is often considered one of the cheapest provinces in the world when it comes to real estate and property prices. 

If you’re looking to save money, having knowledge about Nova Scotia’s housing market is key. Below are the average property buying costs and rental fees in Halifax, the capital city of Nova Scotia.

Cost of rent in Nova Scotia

Area/Neighborhood

1-bed apartment

3-bed apartment

Halifax (Outside of Center)

$1,683.08

$2,681.76

Numbeo (Feb 2024)

Cost of buying a property in Halifax

Area/Neighborhood

Average home price 

Halifax-Dartmouth

$511,600

CREA (Dec 2023)

4. Cost of living in Nova Scotia

Below is the monthly cost of living in Halifax, the capital city of Nova Scotia.

Category

Monthly cost

1 bed apt rent outside city center

$1,683.08

Groceries

Numbeo’s grocery list ($85.49 multiplied by 4)

 $341.96

Utilities

Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage

$270.75

Internet with 60 Mbps

$105.00

Transit pass

$82.50

Entertainment 

Meal, taxi, movie

$94.00

Gym membership 

$63.06

Total

$2,640.35

Numbeo (Feb 2024)

5. The weather in Nova Scotia

The weather in Nova Scotia can be described as moderate, with daily temperatures that fluctuate based on time of day and proximity to the ocean. Here’s a brief overview of the seasons:

  • Summer (Mid June to mid September): Daytime temperatures range from 20 to 25 °C (70 to 80 °F), although they can reach up to 30 to 32 °C (86 to 90F) with humidity.
  • Fall (Mid September to mid November): Daytime temperatures range from 10 to 20 °C (50 to 70 °F).
  • Winter (Mid December to mid March): Daytime temperatures range from -15 to +5 °C (5 to 41 °F).
  • Spring (Mid March to late April): Daytime temperatures range from 0 to 10 °C (32 to 50 °F) initially, increasing to 10 to 20 °C (50 to 70 °F) later on.

Nova Scotia Weather (Feb 2024)

6. What to do as a local in Nova Scotia

When in Nova Scotia, Nova Scotians indulge in the following sights and activities. You may check the activities below to enjoy the East Coast!

  • Take a drive along the View Park on Old Post Road and take in the sight of GrandPré, one of Nova-Scotia prime UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • Go to Hall’s Harbour and witness Nova Scotia’s dramatic tide changes at the rate of 1 inch per minute.
  • Ride a surge of seawater created by the massive tides by embarking on a Tidal Bore Rafting experience.
  • Go to Burntcoat Head Park during low tide for a chance to walk on the ocean floor.
  • Take a road trip down the 185-mile long Cabot Trail which is replete with some of the most stunning vistas in the country.

7. Fun facts about Nova Scotia

  • Fun Fact #1: Halifax is closer to Dublin in Ireland than it is to Victoria in British Columbia.
  • Fun Fact #2: Every single point in the province is within 60 km from the sea.
  • Fun Fact #3: There’s a mysterious pit in Nova Scotia that has been in the process of excavation since 1795. It is still not known what’s at the bottom of that pit.
  • Fun Fact #4: The mega-blockbuster Titanic was shot in Nova Scotia. During the final night of the shooting, a few pranksters mixed hallucinogen PCP, popularly called Angel Dust, in the cast and crew’s food. 50 of the cast and crew were hospitalized because of hallucinations.
  • Fun Fact #5: Nova Scotia is home to a 95-ton rocking stone that can easily be moved with minimal force.

Conclusion

Moving to Nova Scotia offers the experience of four distinct seasons, each with its own charm and appeal. From warm summers to snowy winters, and mild, rainy shoulder seasons, Nova Scotia provides a diverse climate for those seeking a change in scenery. Additionally, the province boasts natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and a welcoming community. 

However, prospective movers should consider factors such as job opportunities, housing affordability, and lifestyle preferences before making the decision to move. Overall, Nova Scotia presents an attractive place for those looking for a balance between natural splendor and urban amenities. 

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Ann Nacario

The author

Meet Ann – our head writer with a knack for making moving and city living a breeze. From the many details of moving to picking the perfect moving company, she’s your guide. Ann has a friendly yet detailed approach to ensure your move goes off without a hitch. When she’s not writing about relocation, it will always be on her mind, but you’ll catch her spending time with her three furry friends.

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