So, you’re thinking about moving to Halifax, Nova Scotia? Wait! First read our what-you-need-to-know guide to living in Halifax: Canada’s ocean playground.
Let me start off by confessing something. I’m not a newcomer to Halifax. But, I did spend the first 18 years of my life growing up in the area. I was born and raised just outside of Halifax, so I’d like to think I’ve got some unique insights that will help you decide if Halifax is right for you.
Let’s dive in.
Where is Halifax?
Halifax is located on the East Coast of Canada, in the Maritime province of Nova Scotia. Jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean, Nova Scotia is one of the smallest Canadian provinces, shaped a bit like a lobster claw, one of the sea creatures popular in Nova Scotia’s fishing industry.
Halifax is the largest Canadian city east of Quebec. To give you a sense of the distance, it would take about 12 hours to drive from Halifax to Montreal, and another six hours to drive from Montreal to Toronto. When I say it’s on the East Coast, I really mean East Coast!
Population and immigrant communities
According to the most recent census, the entire province of Nova Scotia has a population just under one million. For reference, this is about one-quarter the size of the population Montreal and the surrounding area, and one-sixth the size of the Greater Toronto Area.
If we look specifically at Halifax, the population is about 400,000, making it the 13th largest city in Canada.
Now, any Nova Scotian will tell you not to scoff at the size of the population. People do not come to the East Coast for its bustling streets, busy lifestyle, and fast-pace. Quite the opposite, in fact. There are many benefits to living in a smaller city, you just have to decide if it’s the right lifestyle for you.
Life in Halifax
Halifax is known to have a slower pace than the popular immigrant destinations of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, but this Atlantic gem has a lot to offer.
The city sits on the Atlantic coast and, as such, hosts the beautiful Halifax harbour. On hot summer days you can take a stroll on the boardwalk, take in the ocean breeze, and maybe catch a street performer busking on a pier as part of the Halifax Busker Festival. Yours truly saved up for music lessons in high school by playing music for passersby on the harbourfront boardwalk.
Throughout the city, you’ll find a range of restaurants, bars, and pubs, offering drinking and dining. Many of the city’s establishments have a Celtic feel, honouring the history of the province, Nova Scotia, afterall, is latin for New Scotland. But, as Nova Scotia’s immigrant population has been steadily rising over the past few years, Halifax’s cultural mosaic has been evolving, too. Life-long residents, newcomers, and tourists alike now benefit from one another’s diverse cultures and lived experiences.
In Halifax, you might have to look harder if you want that high-paying, ambition-driven job that you would be able to find in Toronto. But, if you plan it right, you can find a comfortable job, with a slow-paced lifestyle, a safe community, and a province dotted with picturesque small towns and gems of natural beauty.
Nova Scotia is known for its beauty. From the ocean-backed views of the Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse, to the gorgeous landscape of the Cape Breton Highlands, and the bevy of lakes and provincial parks, nature lovers will rejoice in Nova Scotia. Growing up there, I spent many summers hiking through the forests, paddling the lakes in my canoe, and hunting waterfalls in the backwoods with my family. Although these days I call Montreal my home, I do miss the access to wilderness that came with the small-town life out east.