Often pegged as one of the most beautiful provinces, Nova Scotia is experiencing a population boom. The province’s population recently topped the 1 million mark, with many younger people moving out of Ontario to this maritime province.
So what does Nova Scotia have that’s lacking elsewhere? For starters, the scenery is breathtaking, and many people seem drawn to a simpler lifestyle. Another reason is the endless outdoor opportunities.
So with all this in mind, which cities top the list? After doing extensive research, these are my choices for the best places to live in Nova Scotia.
Why Live In Nova Scotia?
As one of the Atlantic provinces, Nova Scotia doesn’t get as much press as its more populated counterparts, Ontario and British Columbia, but it boasts spectacular scenery and affordable housing prices.
There’s a saying that once you arrive in Nova Scotia, you’re never more than 30 minutes from the ocean.
If you love the sea, there’s nothing better than its close proximity. It’s also why Nova Scotia is Canada’s biggest seafood exporter.
It isn’t just the ocean making the land appealing. Nova Scotia landscape is full of rolling green hills, coastal cliffs, and quaint villages.
Its picturesque communities feel like something out of a storybook. Plus, it makes for the best outdoor adventures during any season. There’s plenty of hiking, golfing, skiing, and skating.
With housing prices soaring across the country, Nova Scotia still tops Canada as one of the most affordable places to live.
Whether renting or buying, your money will go a bit further in Nova Scotia than in other populated areas.
This graph by Nova Scotia Business Inc. shows those living within the province can get much more for their money than those living in other provincial capitals.
Best Cities In Nova Scotia
To determine the top cities, I considered the scenery, what each place has to offer, as well as its job prospects. With that in mind, here are my picks.
Scenery: Halifax is a port city close to the water. You can kayak or canoe in Halifax harbour or spend a day at the beach.
Things to do: Halifax benefits from being the biggest city in Nova Scotia. There are restaurants and shopping, museums, art galleries, and plenty of outdoor activities.
Job prospects: Like everything, it depends on what you’re trained to do. There are currently ample service-related and construction jobs, as well as a demand in healthcare. However, there aren’t the number of corporate offices you would find in bigger cities like Toronto or Montreal.
It’s hard to have this list and not put Halifax on it. As the capital city, it’s also the province’s biggest hub. It’s a large port city with major shipping lines using it daily.
In addition, the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard both have installations along the coastline.
Halifax has all the big city benefits. From art galleries to theatres and sporting events, there’s always plenty to do. The city has a reliable public transportation system and several universities, community colleges, and technical schools.
Housing prices are much cheaper than elsewhere in Canada. Renting or owning a home is much more doable here than in other big cities.
Plus, you’ll probably get more for your money. While the cost of living is cheaper than in other parts of the country, Halifax does have a higher standard of living than other cities in Nova Scotia.
Be prepared to pay more for groceries and other essentials.
Scenery: With its quaint Victorian architecture, it’s easy to feel lost in time, but during a quick walk through town, you’ll find Victoria Park and its acres of woodlands. The Bay of Fundy separates Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and is known for its high tides.
Things to do: There are plenty of outdoor activities – biking, hiking, skating, pretty much anything you can think of. The downtown is full of small boutiques for the avid shopper and is home to many restaurants and cafes.
Job prospects: Home to a business park with more than 70 businesses, Truro is known as the “Hub of Nova Scotia.”
Truro is centrally located within Nova Scotia and only a short drive away from Halifax and its airport.
Because of its location, it’s home to a business park that houses more than 70 facilities specializing in manufacturing, distribution, and processing.
Along with providing ample job opportunities, Truro has plenty of recreation and outdoor activities. Residents have access to Victoria Park, a 1,000-acre green space in addition to other trails and sporting events.
The downtown features unique boutiques, restaurants, and spas, as well as a small art gallery and local theatre.
Similar to other parts of Nova Scotia, the housing market in Truro is significantly less costly than in other parts of Canada. Combine that with a cost of living 14% lower than the average, and it’s easy to see why the city is experiencing a population boom.
Scenery: Stunning coastal ways complete with cliffs and mountain views.
Things to do: Cape Breton features unlimited outdoor activities. Take a hike through one of the mountain passes, go on a whale watching tour, kayak, or just simply walk around and enjoy the beautiful scenery. It’s an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise.
Job prospects: Cape Breton is a beautiful place to live as long as you can find a job. With limited opportunities and a high unemployment rate, it might be hard to put down roots. However, a surge in tourism is increasing job prospects in that niche.
Cape Breton is the easternmost city on Cape Breton Island. It has some amazing scenery featuring mountains, craggy coastlines, and brightly painted houses.
With many recreational areas, you can hike, bike, golf, kayak, and hitch a ride on your motorcycle.
The island is well known for its friendly community and low crime rate. Total crime is 19% below the national average.
Similar to the other cities on this list, property in Cape Breton is a steal compared to other parts of the country.
Many waterfront properties are available for purchase by regular everyday people – something unheard of in most of high-priced Canada.
For years the main industry on the island was coal mining. However, the last remaining mines closed in the early 2000s, bringing about high jobless rates and workers with limited skills and opportunities.
Since their closures, the island has leaned heavily on fishing, forestry, and tourism for its resident’s job prospects.
Scenery: A charming seaside town with architecture from as far back as the 1700s.
Things to do: There’s plenty of culture and entertainment in this small town. It’s got all the big city amenities without any of the hassles.
Job prospects: Ample opportunities for service jobs, along with healthcare or working at the town’s fish processing plant.
The small town with big-city amenities – that’s Lunenburg. This port town was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, meaning it’s a solid example of a British colonial settlement in North America.
It keeps its original layout and even some of the past wooden architecture.
With only 25,000 residents, Lunenburg isn’t a big metropolis. However, there’s still plenty to do. There are a variety of art galleries scattered throughout the city, as well as many restaurants, cafes, and festivals during the year.
The town is home to Canada’s second-largest fish processing plant, a large area employer. In addition, there is a large percentage of healthcare workers and sales and service attendants.
Residents of Nova Scotia enjoy spectacular scenery, ample opportunities for outdoor recreation, and lower than average housing prices. These are only some of the reasons this eastern province is experiencing a population boom.
I think these four cities represent Nova Scotia with their impressive surroundings, big city life but small town appeal, and low cost of living.
If you’re thinking of moving, maybe you should consider Nova Scotia. However, if you’re looking for other cost-efficient cities, check out these cheap places to live.