The Atlantic province of Nova Scotia has been upgraded to a “bucolic paradise” by remote workers stampeding to relocate.

Longstanding Pattern of “Go West” Upended by COVID & Climate Migration

Long seen as Canada’s “poor cousin,” Nova Scotia’s housing market in quite rural Eastern Canada transitioned from “humming along” to “a stampeded of people” from Toronto and other urban centers in Canada,” said John Duckworth, broker and co-owner of Duckworth Real Estate.  “Properties were picked off at a tremendous speed,” many of which were sold from virtual tours, sight unseen in real time.


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Donna Malone, president of the Nova Scotia Association of Realtors, said that Nova Scotia’s rural, low-density, laid-back environment created tremendous appeal to remote workers.  “Large family homes…became popular with buyers, as did waterfront properties.”

Duckworth said, “Historically, the movement was from Nova Scotia to Ontario and west.  A lot of people who live in Toronto are from Atlantic Canada…who came back to where they were brought up and (bought) a place for half of what they sold their house in Toronto.  I guess we are not looked at as the poor cousin anymore.”

Demand & Prices Soared

The median price of a single-family home has gone from 234,900 Canadian (US $183,546) in 2020 to 289,900 Canadian (US $225,790) in 2021 to 340,000 Canadian (US $265,669) in 2022.

The range for waterfront homes stands at approximately $4M Canadian (US $3.15M) depending upon size and property conditions.  Prices for cottages go up to about $1.5M Canadian (US $1.2M).  Fixer-uppers start at about $100,000 Canadian (US $79,000).

As inventory became more and more limited in January 2022, Alexandra Valle, a real estate advisor with Engel & Volkers Halifax, said “…prices pushed even higher,” by +23.2% y/y.  On the South Shore, an area that offers “privacy and peacefulness, and a 10-minute walk from Hirtle’s Beach and Gaff Point in a nature reserve on a narrow peninsula that juts into the Atlantic, prices have increased +56.1% y/y.

The capital of Nova Scotia, Halifax, is drawing foreign and Canadian buyers due to its growing technology hub, four universities and the presence of eastern Canada’s government sector.  Halifax condominiums range from $240,000 – 2.5M Canadian (US $190,000 – $1.95M.)

Smaller condo markets throughout the province have prices that range up to $500,000 Canadian (US $390,000).

Nova Scotia’s Elsewhere Markets

Buyers wanting more acreage or coastline properties are drawn to any number of areas surrounding Nova Scotia’s 3,000 lakes and beaches.  Some of those areas include Chester, a yachting community, Mahone Bay, the historic towns of Lunenberg and Kingsburg and Annapolis Valley.

According to Malone, many Europeans are lured to Cape Breton on the province’s eastern end with its affordability and vibrant Celtic fiddle scene.  The median price of a house in Cape Breton is $173,250 Canadian (US $135,344) compared to the median price in Halifax, $479,00 Canadian (US $375,000).

Who’s Buying in Nova Scotia

Adding to the mix of relocating Canadians are buyers from the UK, US, Germany, Holland, Austria and Switzerland.

Duckworth said that oceanfront and ocean-view homes and land are being sold to  buyers from Turkey, Caicos, Gibraltar, Kazakhstan, Dubai, Singapore, Bermuda and the South Pacific.  According to the Canadian premier’s office in 2020, landed newcomers to Nova Scotia relocated from India, China, the Philippines, Korea and Britain.

Key buyers’ basics – there are no restrictions on real estate purchases by foreigners and purchases are made in Canadian dollars.

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Thanks to The New York Times.





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