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Housing Options

Find a place to live

If you can, arrange a place to stay for your first few nights in Nova Scotia before you arrive.

Halifax is relatively affordable, and there are a wide range of housing prices. Your first home may not be the one you live in forever. You need time to learn about the rental and real estate markets, as well as about the different neighbourhoods.

Most experts say you should not spend more than 33% of your income before taxes on a place to live. Remember this when you think about how much you want to spend on housing. Some expenses you may want to keep in mind include:

  • Housing (rent or mortgage)
  • Property taxes (if owning)
  • Property insurance (rent or owning)
  • Utilities (heat, electricity and water)
  • Phone/cellular phone
  • Internet
  • Cable TV

Housing Nova Scotia has programs and services to help you find a home that is good for you and that you can afford; whether you are looking to rent a place or to own it, you may find their programs helpful.


Rent prices will depend on size, location and utilities included (i.e., heat, electricity, etc.). Some apartments include heat and hot water as part of the rent. Typically, apartments come with two appliances (stove & fridge), but, sometimes, other appliances may be included, such as dishwasher or washer and dryer.

When applying to renting an apartment, landlords usually do background checks on new residents. As a newcomer, you might want to look for an apartment from companies that have special arrangements for recently arrived residents. When renting, you may want to keep in mind that:

  • Most rental agreements last for 12 months.
  • Rent is due on the 1st of each month.
  • You will need money for a deposit, which is usually half of your monthly rent. This means you have to pay for your first rent plus your deposit. If your apartment is clean and in good condition when you leave, you will get your deposit back
  • Some companies ask for 12 post-dated cheques to make sure you pay your rent on time.

As a new resident of HRM, it may be challenging to get the best information about the place you would like to live in. A resource that might help you find the best available information about cost of living and rental prices comparable to the whole country is Numbeo.

There are also lower-cost housing options provided by non-profit organizations, housing co-operatives, public housing authorities and emergency shelters.

For Co-operative housing, where tenants share responsibilities in subsidized co-op apartments, it is a good idea to look at the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada for more information on available opportunities as well as for their public education resources. Keep in mind that there are wait lists for most co-op housing.

For Public Housing, where rent is based on income, you can find more information at Housing Nova Scotia’s programs.

When renting, it is always a good idea to keep in mind what are your duties as a tenant and what are the responsibilities of your landlord. A useful resource can be found in Access Nova Scotia.

TIPS: Questions to ask before you rent

  • Is it close to a bus stop or ferry?
  • Is it close to other services, like stores, laundromats, parks, playgrounds, community centres, medical clinics, and places of worship?
  • Is it quiet?
  • What are the other tenants like?
  • Is there parking for a car? Is it free?
  • Is it close to a school?
  • What utilities are included?


There is a variety of housing choices across Halifax. For a medium-size city, Halifax is still a relatively affordable location to buy property in Canada.

Take time to learn about real estate markets and different neighbourhoods. You can look at the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The CMHC has a section dedicated to newcomers with information on buying or renting in Canada in 8 different languages.

Utilities and Home Services

There are several important services to keep in mind before buying or renting a house, such as power, oil and water. Take a couple of minutes to review the following list to ensure you have considered these important services and you know who provides them:


Contact Information


Nova Scotia Power

Open Monday to Friday from 8:00 am until 8:00 pm

Telephone: 902-428-6230 (Metro-Halifax), 1-800-428-6230 (toll free)


There is a number of companies that sell home heating oil. Check the Yellow Pages.


Halifax Water

Telephone: 902-420-9287

Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM


Emergency phone: 902-420-9287 (24 hours)

Telephone, Internet and Cable TV

There is a number of companies to choose from in Halifax. Check the Yellow Pages.

Garbage, Recycling & Green Carts for Organic Waste

In Halifax, we separate our waste. Here are some things you may want to know:

  • If you live in a home, your garbage, recyclables and organic waste are picked up separately.
  • There are limits on the number of garbage bags you can put out on garbage day.
  • Apartments with fewer than 6 units can leave their waste at the curb.
  • Larger apartments have superintendents who will help you with recycling in your building.
  • Call 311 or visit our recycling page to find more about our programs and when your garbage gets picked up.
  • Call 311 if your house doesn't have a green cart or mini-bin for organics.

Sales Tax & Property Tax

Sales and property taxes are the main means of government revenue in Halifax. The funds are used to pay for important services for the community.

Sales Tax

In Nova Scotia, the harmonized sales tax (HST) is charged on most goods and services. The rate of HST is 15%. It is a combination of the 5% federal goods and services tax (GST) and the 10% provincial sales tax (PST). For example, if an item’s price $100, you will pay $115 after the HST.

If the HST is not shown on the price tag of an item, it will be added when you pay for it. Unless specified, HST is not included in price tags.

Property Tax

If you are planning to own a property in Halifax, you must pay residential taxes, which help to pay for services such as snow removal, garbage collection, fire protection and road repairs.

The amount of tax you pay will depend on the size, type and location of your property. Although the provincial government does perform this assessment, the municipal government sets the rate and collects the money. Local improvement charges may also be added to your bill for certain services. You can find more information in Halifax’s Taxes webpage or by calling 311.

TIP: Halifax Regional Municipality can help homeowners pay their property tax through a payment plan, a property rebate or deferral of property taxes. Click here for more information or call 311.

Property Insurance

Property insurance is important whether you rent or own. You can buy property insurance to protect your home in case there is a fire, flood, robbery or other serious problem.

All of the costs of repairing or replacing your home and its contents may be covered by the insurance. There are many different insurance companies and insurance brokers than can assist you in finding the right plan for you. Visit Insurance Canada for more important information.

For more information on companies that offer property insurance in Halifax, please check the Yellow Pages.

TIP: Call a few different insurance companies to find the best rate plan for you. It is advisable, if you have a car, to cover both your home and your car with the same company.

Looking for Social Services?

HRM offers a variety of different social services from accessibility to community and legal services. To learn about the different social services offered, click the button below.

Learn What Social Services the HRM Offers