7 Best Places to Live in Nova Scotia (2024)

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?

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.

The Ocean

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. 

The Scenery

It isn’t just the ocean making the land appealing. Nova Scotia’s 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.

Housing Prices

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. 

Canadian Cost of Living

Best Cities And Towns In Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia is home to some of the cheapest and warmest cities in Canada. With the cost of living continuing to rise throughout the country, it’s no wonder that many Canadians have been relocating to 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.

1.  Halifax

  • 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. Halifax is the economic hub of the province, and there are currently ample service-related and construction jobs, as well as a demand for 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.

2.  Truro

  • 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.

3.  Cape Breton

Cape Breton
  • 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.

4.  Lunenburg

  • 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.

5. New Glasgow

  • Scenery: Beautiful seaside town that offers incredible sunset views.
  • Things to do: Local theatre, art galleries, several recreational facilities, forest trails for hiking and biking, seaside marina for boaters and fishers.
  • Job prospects: Not many high-paying job opportunities, as most of the local jobs are offered by Wal-Mart or the Michelin plant.

New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, offers the perfect combination of natural splendour and modern conveniences in a small-town setting. Located on the East River banks of Pictou, this quaint town has just over 9,000 residents centred around a small downtown square and a few coastline marinas.

Originally settled by Scottish immigrants (Glasgow is Scotland’s second-largest city), New Glasgow is rich in Scottish heritage, which can be found in the local architecture, food, and culture.

The growing town centre is home to local restaurants, antique shops, and other small businesses, making it a hub for retirees, factory workers, and local entrepreneurs. There are also several prominent schools for local children, which could be a deciding factor for parents.

Although the town is steadily growing, there are still plenty of affordable houses to be found. Alternatively, you can rent an apartment in the city centre for as low as $950.

Whenever you get bored of walking around downtown and watching sunsets by the marina, there’s plenty to do just outside of the town. There are some beautiful forest trails that are excellent for mountain biking and hiking, and kayaking is another popular local activity.

The only downside of living in New Glasgow is that there aren’t a lot of opportunities for high-income jobs. The median household income in the town is $58,000 before tax, and local workers are primarily employed by a large Michelin tire factory and a large Wal-Mart Suprecentre.

That being said, New Glasgow is an excellent place to retire and may be a hidden gem for remote workers and freelancers who are location-independent.

6. Kentville

  • 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.

Nestled in the picturesque Annapolis Valley in King’s County, Kentville is surrounded by lush landscapes ideal for hiking, mountain biking, and a range of other outdoor activities.

Its local job market is quite diverse, with jobs available in healthcare, agriculture, and small retail/service businesses.

The cost of living is remarkably affordable, and the median local home price is $215,000, according to the Canadian Real Estate Magazine, which is far below the Canadian average. Property tax is also quite low here. Even with a lower income, you can live a quality life here.

If you ever need a break from small-town living, downtown Halifax is just a two-hour drive east of Kentville.

7. Sydney

  • Scenery: Mid-sized city bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Sydney River that offers beautiful views of the water with an urban backdrop.
  • Things to do: Sydney has some incredible seafood and local restaurants, and the downtown area has a number of art galleries, local shops, and small businesses. Watersports and fishing are very popular here as well.
  • Job prospects: Sydney has an emerging tech market, and there are also jobs in the local service industry, hospitality, healthcare, and shipping/logistics.

Situated on the eastern coast of Cape Breton Island, the small city of Sydney has just over 29,000 residents and offers a great blend of natural beauty and urban amenities.

Bordered by the Sydney River and the Atlantic, there’s no shortage of opportunities for kayaking, fishing, and coastal hiking.

Job-wise, Sydney has an increasingly diverse market, with opportunities in tourism, shipping, and healthcare. There’s also an emerging tech market, which could lead to future employment opportunities in this sector.

Life in Sydney won’t break the bank either. The cost of living is well below the national average, and you can rent a one-bedroom apartment downtown for as low as $1,275/month.


Best Places to Live in Nova Scotia

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.

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Author Bio - Christopher Liew is a CFA Charterholder with 11 years of finance experience and the creator of Wealthawesome.com. Read about how he quit his 6-figure salary career to travel the world here.

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