Goodbye Toronto, Bonjour Halifax
October 2, 2007 1:01 PM   Subscribe

Fed up with Toronto, so we're looking at moving to Halifax next spring/summer. Have never done anything like this before, so of course there's much more inside.

My boyfriend and I are a few years out of university, and life in Toronto isn't quite what it's cracked up to be. The job market is difficult, and we find ourselves drifting further and further away from where we thought we wanted to be careerwise.

Not that that's necessarily an awful thing, we generally want a simple but comfortable life, and we're not sure we still want to do what we set out to do. Plus we're fed up with our lame friends, the expense of living here, and the general suckiness of Toronto. We've figured that everything we do here we could do elsewhere with less money and stress.

He's from St. John's, and is itching to go home, but we don't think there would be much there for me work wise. So I think we're settling on Halifax as a (not really) compromise. Beautiful Maritime area, much smaller city, with a decent sized film/tv industry so I have some chance of doing what I like.

Sounds great, slightly lower cost of living, friendlier town, beautiful day trips and the opportunity to reinvent ourselves where no one knows us. We're also both thinking about going back to school, and there's lots of quality universities around Halifax.

How have you picked up your life and moved it successfully? Should we arrange a job and apartment there before moving, or can it generally be done fairly easily after moving? What should we start thinking about now with a target about 8 - 9 months away?What kinds of things do we have to know to move between provinces? Any Halifax specific tips? What are the positives and negatives about living in Halifax?
Thank you for your help, we are excited about the possibility but have little idea how to start making it a reality.
posted by yellowbinder to Travel & Transportation around Halifax, NS (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The summers are pretty mild compared to Toronto. Having only been in Nova Scotia for parts of five days, I can't tell you much else.
posted by oaf at 2:30 PM on October 2, 2007

I'm from Toronto, but I've lived in Halifax for a total of 6 years now, going to school. I think Halifax is a great city, very livable, and definitely cheaper than Toronto. But if you're finding the job market tough in Toronto, it would be a good job to be sure that you have some solid leads out here first, because as far as I know, it's a lot harder to find a job out here than it is in Toronto (though film/television in particular may be easier, I don't know). If instead you're going back to school, it's a great choice, because as you say there are lots of universities here - though that number gets lower if you're contemplating doing advanced degrees.

I would say there's not a lot of point incurring the expense of a move unless you have a job or school plan lined up. Apartments are not always easy to find, depending on what you're looking for, so it wouldn't hurt to inquire a bit first. You will have to do this closer to the date, as landlords become aware of pending vacancies.
posted by Dasein at 2:42 PM on October 2, 2007

I would second Dasein's warning about the job prospects, though if you have 8-9 months to prepare, I would imagine you may have time to target the film and tv folks during that time and hound them for a job!

As for apartments, when my husband and I moved here a month ago, we had to visit many places downtown before changing our criteria completely: too expensive and/or too run-down...We ended up in Clayton Park. Then again you may be used to all that in Toronto!
posted by andree at 2:52 PM on October 2, 2007

Come North (and west)!

There are tonnes of both Newfies and jobs here. Film and TV isn't too prevalent, but you could check with the CBC to see if they're looking for anyone.

We're on the water too, though it's a lake and not the sea... and there's no university here.


Maybe you're better off out there. I will say that coming here will be an adventure and there are countless stories of folks coming here "for a little while" and then falling in love with it. Definitely a chance to reinvent yourself. Also, it'd be nice to have a mefi meetup. :P
posted by ODiV at 3:28 PM on October 2, 2007

You don't say where you are from. But there are lots of folks from The Big City who have moved to Halifax and Nova Scotia in general who love it here. And yes, there is a developing (heh) film industry here. As others have said, though, best to have work lined up before you arrive, if you can. Good luck with it!
posted by fish tick at 6:13 PM on October 2, 2007

I have picked up and moved many times. Many times. Oh, god. And I just did it again this summer. I just moved from Toronto back to Montreal (where I'd been for 6 years prior). But I also grew up in the Maritimes, partly in Halifax, and went to/dropped out of university there (Dal). So. I feel I may be able to provide some insight. Stay tuned for disorganized thoughts...

I guess the first thing you need to know before you do something like this is: what are your priorities? You don't mention your career fields, so I assume it's not that. Which is good, because jobs will be significantly less plentiful in Halifax in probably every field.

But that's okay if your priority is general quality of life, because the experience of living in a place like Halifax is (IMO) more humane than Toronto any day. Traffic is less (though the need for a car is somewhat greater), people do really say hello on the street, you'll get waved through intersections more and people are less apt to steal your parking spot.

If you enjoy cosmopolitan living, Halifax holds its own, but it may feel stifling. The biggest suppertime news broadcast in the region announces birthdays and anniversaries and shows drawings by children, for example. The Big Apple it's not. It does have a good arts community due to the solid rep of NSCAD, though.

Really, all you need to do to make this change happen is make it real for yourself. It's exciting to hear others talk about doing something like this, because I sometimes feel like an alien for having the will and desire to move just because... I want to. Lots of people will say things like, "I wish I could do that!" to which my only response is, "You could!" You'll likely feel great about living on your own terms this way, and not being afraid to make changes and make your life better.

You will want to visit before you move, to view and rent an apartment. 9 months is probably a good timeline in the sense that April-May-June are good months for looking for an apartment. I personally have never moved without a place to stay. I think that would add an element of stress that I'm not willing to take on. Halifax is a university town as you know, so definitely don't plan on moving in August or September when competition is great. Students may be renting out the remainder of their 12-month leases when the school year ends in April/May, so you may be able to pick up a sublet or a sublet+renewal then.

Jobs? It's too difficult, unless you're in a very high-demand field where you have a chance of getting recruited. I find it very difficult to even get a response from anyone long-distance. Once you have a local phone number and address and are abundantly available to meet, you'll find the process a lot less discouraging. Do investigate the market though -- you can still research from afar.

As for the general stuff, the cost of living will be lower but so will your income; winters are wetter but I wouldn't say significantly milder (statistics may disagree, but they don't measure how it feels); summers are milder but in a nice way -- the air's clean, there's a pleasant breeze, and basically everything you and I HATE about Toronto in summer doesn't exist there. They've never had a smog day or a high heat advisory! That being said, you'll get to experience fog.

Halifax has a great urban life, so don't seclude yourself in the suburbs. Get bikes and stay in proximity to the core, at least for the first year. It helps you get to know a place. Summer is especially lovely there -- there's something idyllic about sitting and drinking a beer on your front stoop on a summer evening there that has stayed with me to this day. It's a friendly place in many ways. With Halifax I definitely think you're on the right ticket if you're looking for humanity in life.
posted by loiseau at 6:16 PM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

Friends moved to Halifax. She had a job lined up but he didn't. He found job hunting extremely difficult.
posted by philfromhavelock at 6:44 PM on October 2, 2007

We moved from Montreal to Halifax (a number of years ago, mind you). We both loved it, but couldn't find work. Stayed 2 yrs. and then left to find work. Loved it though. Times are better there now than they have been for a while. Haligonians (and maritimers more generally) may well hold it against you if you're "from away", so it will likely go better to look for work once you're there. I never quite did get used to the fog that smelled like the ocean filling the apartment, though! Enjoy!
posted by kch at 9:03 PM on October 2, 2007

It really depends on what kind of job you're looking for. There are half a dozen universities in the area, so naturally all of the good jobs are taken; with the Alberta migration in full effect, though, you'll be sure to land a crummy one in no time.

Halifax is a great city. You should come for sure. Just get all your ducks in a row first.

(Oh, and since it's a university town, apartment shopping is MUCH easier in the summer months.)
posted by Reggie Digest at 9:48 AM on October 3, 2007

I hear that the movie/TV business in Toronto has been very troubled of late, so I can understand a desire to get out..

From what I can gather, the cost of living in Halifax, other than rent/mortgage, is actually substantially higher than Toronto. Cars rust out faster, gas is more expensive, and dangerous roads probably make insurance higher.. I believe fresh produce is more expensive too, though I may have been comparing apples to oranges (i.e. expensive supermarkets in N.S. vs. Chinatown in The Centre of the Universe).

Halifax is a long way from everywhere, because you have to go up and around to get to the rest of the continent. Of course Toronto isn't really that close to anywhere else either, but.. Consider Montreal though, within easy driving of Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec City, all the Maritimes cities, and much of the US North East. Halifax is close to gorgeous nature in every direction though.

It might just be my limited experience, but I found parts of Halifax had a serious North Toronto esque snootiness, without the ethnic diversity (North Toronto isn't known for ethnic diversity, at least compared to the rest of the city). The people I actually met didn't have any of that, though, and Maritime Friendliness was plentiful. After watching Trailer Park Boys, the snootiness was a bit surprising :)
posted by Chuckles at 7:52 PM on October 4, 2007

Bah, that crime stuff is nothing. Don't go walking alone through the giant, poorly lit commons in the middle of the night, and you'll be fine. It's not like people are being shot on busy streets in broad daylight like they are in certain other places.
posted by Reggie Digest at 9:47 AM on October 5, 2007

It's not like people are being shot on busy streets in broad daylight like they are in certain other places.

I have to agree with you (or I would ultimately move) but I am just not as impressed with the lack of action by the police or as optimistic about the old timey good nature of East Coasters. Staying in after supper is one solution, but the truth is we had swarmings in brood daylight, someone was clubbed with a table leg (9:20 PM) and tied up and tortured with cigarettes (11:20 PM). Just beware of 20 after, I guess. A friend of mine was even mugged in front of the police station two weeks ago.
posted by boost ventilator at 4:24 AM on October 8, 2007

« Older Not just tourists...   |   [not a morning person-filter] how do you force... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.