If you’re excited by the thought of moving to a charming city steeped in nautical history and shaped by a diverse range of people and cultures — ranging from Mi’kmaq, French-Acadian, Scottish, English, and Black Loyalists who fled North after the American Revolution — then you may want to consider living in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Map of Halifax and Surrounding Cities
What’s it like to live in Halifax?
Almost anywhere you choose to live in Halifax will be close to breathtaking views of the Atlantic, gorgeous beaches, and all the activities that come with maritime living — and maritime weather. You’ve surely heard of sou’westers, the blustery storms that gave the traditional East Coast fishermen’s rain hats their name. When considering the weather for Halifax, take comfort in knowing that Halifax is blessed with a temperate climate, where summers rarely peak above 27°C, and winters, although snowy and sometimes stormy, seldom drop below -15°C.
Historically picturesque and laid-back, this mid-size city — the Halifax population is 400,000 — has shops, trendy restaurants, and bustling nightlife. And to top it off, it’s famously friendly, so it’s easy to feel at home. Social and love music? You’ll be delighted to dance a jig or tap your feet to the rhythm of a Scottish reel at a traditional kitchen party or ceilidh (pronounced ‘KAY-lee’) — musical mainstays of the Nova Scotian way of life that reflect its Gaelic heritage.
Is it expensive to live in Halifax?
Halifax is a wonderful place to put down roots, but bear in mind, the city has experienced record-breaking population growth over the last few years. According to RE/MAX, out-of-province buyers have flooded the province, driving up the prices of real estate in Halifax. But if you’ve ever lived in Toronto or Vancouver, where average home prices have reached around $1.1 million and $1.2 million, respectively, the average home price of $485,600 in Halifax is mighty appealing.
Renters also benefit: The median monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment is a friendly $1,735, compared to $2,382 in Toronto and $3,095 in Vancouver. Some say it’s expensive to live here because the day-to-day cost of living in Halifax isn’t so different from that of a big city. When you factor in housing, though, you can maintain the same standard of living you might enjoy in Toronto for about 12% less, or for about 16% less than what you might shell out in Vancouver.
Ready to start packing? You’ll need to narrow your search to a neighbourhood that suits you first. Let’s take a look at our top picks for great neighbourhoods in Halifax.
We love the energy of Downtown. It’s a happening place for anyone who enjoys a vibrant urban lifestyle, and a standout choice for singles and young professionals. Houses are a little more here than average, but two-bedroom rental prices are decent.
You’ll never run out of things to do in Halifax downtown. For starters (and main courses), the food scene is top-notch, with offerings that range from epicurean delights to five-star pub food. If you want to eat local, treat yourself to a famous Halifax donair, the fabulous gyro-like wrap filled with beef and topped with special sauce. From a cultural perspective, there are museums and art galleries aplenty — including the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. At the waterfront, there are nearly four kilometres of boardwalk along the bustling harbour — that’s where you’ll find buskers, festivals, and the occasional tall ship. For grownup fun, take your chances at Casino Nova Scotia.
A little pricier than downtown proper, the location is prime. South End is a short walk to Downtown, and the Victorian architecture and tree-lined streets make it a beautiful place to raise a family. You’ll find all the amenities you need for family life, with lots of shopping and the renowned Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market, created by Royal Proclamation in 1750. Not to mention, this neighbourhood is home to the profoundly moving Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, the entry point into Canada for nearly one million immigrants.
South End is also home to many of Halifax’s universities, including some of Canada’s most highly recognized: Dalhousie University, University of King’s College, and Saint Mary’s University. Not only do they add to the beauty of the neighbourhood, but they also bring a youthful energy and sense of history that comes with established academia.
North End is a hip, joyfully urban community offering colorful houses and nightlife. Once largely working-class, it’s currently enjoying a renaissance, thanks to massive restoration. It’s no longer the place to go for a deal, but houses still go for less than Downtown.
North End’s revival has attracted upscale restaurants and cafés, vintage stores, and a growing arts community. There’s lots to do at Fort Needham Memorial Park, featuring awesome city views as well as a playground, sports field, and groomed trails. And while its trendy reputation brings students, North End is becoming a vibrant blend that increasingly includes young professionals and families.
Love the urban vibe but not the high price of real estate? You’re in luck! Lovingly referred to as “Halifax’s Brooklyn,” Downtown Dartmouth is an exciting alternative and more affordable than Downtown Halifax, making it a super spot for singles. And if you need to be in Halifax for work or play, no problem — you’re a short drive (or ferry ride) away.
Not too long ago, Dartmouth had an “other side of the tracks” reputation, but not anymore. What was once an empty downtown has become a lively hub, with all the hippest places for dining and pub hopping. By way of example, among the cool places in Dartmouth is New Scotland Yard, a combination record store, barber shop, and recording studio, owned and operated by the coolest of the cool, Canadian musician Joel Plaskett.
Looking for a neighbourhood that’s all about families but still delivers the maritime atmosphere? That’s Bedford. Located on the Bedford Basin, it delights residents with beautiful waterfront views and comes with a moderate commute Downtown of 15 to 30 minutes. Although the average house price is higher than the Halifax average, all of Bedford’s amenities more than make up for the cost.
A community with deep roots, Bedford was initially called Sackville when it was established as a fort in the mid-1700s. It took its current name nearly 100 years later when the then Nova Scotia Railway built a station in the area. With convenient access to both Halifax and Dartmouth, Bedford continues to give residents good reasons to love it: nature trails, waterfront parks, sports stadiums, shopping centres, libraries, and desirable schools. Everyone is drawn to the amazing DeWolf Park Boardwalk for family outings, walking the dog, or just to take in the magnificent Bedford Basin views. All in all, Bedford makes the perfect family location.
Is Halifax a good place to live?
Rest assured that no matter which neighbourhood you choose, moving to Halifax comes with spectacular scenery, friendly neighbours, and a decent cost of living. Remember, you’ll have to contend with beautiful beaches and winter storms, so you’ll need to stock up on sunblock as well as hot chocolate. If that’s no hardship, you may be ready to call yourself a Haligonian.
Is moving to Halifax a good idea?
If you enjoy seaside cities with bustling cultures and all the lobster you care to eat, then the answer is an unequivocal yes! Sound enticing? Don’t let the stress of moving hold you back when you find your perfect Halifax neighbourhood. PODS Moving and Storage makes the process easier by delivering a portable storage container to your home so you can pack and load at your own pace. Once you’re ready, give us a ring. PODS will pick it up and bring everything straight to your next home. Need some extra time? No problem. You can keep your container in a secure PODS Storage Center until you’re ready for it.
Looking for more tips on how to make your move to Halifax happen? Check out the PODS Blog for our ultimate long-distance moving timeline. And if you’re still looking for your perfect Canadian city, check out our neighbourhood guides for Vancouver, Edmonton, and Toronto (or, better yet, check out our list of the most affordable major Canadian cities).
- Average house prices in Vancouver, Toronto, and Halifax (Oct. 2021) – The Canadian Magazine of Immigration
- Median monthly rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in Vancouver, Toronto, and Halifax (Dec 2021) – Zumper
- Cost of living, Toronto vs. Halifax – Numbeo
- Cost of living, Vancouver vs. Halifax – Numbeo
- Bedford history – The Canadian Encyclopedia
A freelance writer for 25 years, Lori lives, works, and plays in Toronto, Ontario. She keeps a keen eye on the ever-changing worlds of real estate, green energy, and food innovation. When not tapping away on her keyboard, she’s reading or pulling weeds.