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Life in Nova Scotia

Updated: November 21st, 2022

Fancy traveling in and around one of Canada's maritime provinces? By now, you've conducted the necessary research, and you've decided that Nova Scotia is the ideal province for you.

Well, in this article, we dive into life, culture, suitable programs and an abundance of other factors that confirms your notion. Let's uncover why foreign nationals find this province so attractive.

About Nova Scotia

The aboriginal peoples occupied Nova Scotia, and the Europeans later occupied the area. Then, in the 17th century, a French explorer and colonizer, Pierre du Gua, Sieur de Monts, and the explorer Samuel de Champlain began trading posts in the region.

Over the next century and a half, there was intense rivalry between the French and English to take over North America, which also influenced the lives of French settlers. The struggle for control over the region persisted for another 50 years between France and England.

Eventually, the French took control of Cape Breton Island, a Northeastern part of Nova Scotia, while the English counter was to take control of Halifax, the city and capital of Nova Scotia, as the administrative and military Centre of their colony.

In 1705, Acadians were deported from settlements as they were forcibly removed from their homes and land. Lured by the talks of free land, immigrants from the British Isles, Germanic states, and New England flocked to the region and formed an amalgamation of a Protestant population.

Over the years, Nova Scotia benefited tremendously from its forestry, fisheries, and shipbuilding industry. While the Reciprocity Treaty was in full effect, the flow of commerce between the Nova Scotia market and the supply source in New England meant that the colony benefited from the increased demand during the American civil war. However, when the reciprocity fell in 1866, Nova Scotia's economy wore off.

However, Nova Scotia recovered, and the 21st century called for a prosperous economy with offshore gas reserves, expanding technological industries taking the forefront of the province's economy, and the booming tourism industry.

Where is Nova Scotia on the Map?

Located in the Eastern seaboard of North America, Nova Scotia is approximately 580 km long, according to Britannica, and 130 km wide at any point. Bordered by the Gulf of Maine and the Atlantic Ocean toward the South, and the Bay Fundy and New Brunswick to the North, the province also consists of Cape Breton Island and other small islands.

Economy and Industries in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia's economy is multi-faceted and is mainly driven by fishing, forestry, mining and natural gas extraction in some rural areas. At the same time, tourism and other service industries, such as information communications technology, naval defense, seafood and financial services, to name a few, have played a vital role in the economy's growth.

If you're looking to live and work in Nova Scotia, you need to know about the current in-demand jobs. You want to be sure you're targeting a province that needs to improve your skills. As per the data on Canada Job Bank, below, we list the active jobs in Nova Scotia:

Fast food restaurant manager

Salary: 40,000 to 50,000 annually for 45 hours per week.

Truck driver

Salary: 45,000 to 60,000 annually for 40 to 60 hours per week.

Marketing analyst

Salary: 35.00 to 40.00 hourly for 30 to 35 hours per week.

Property manager

Salary: 25.36 to 38.19 hourly for 35 to 40 hours per week.

Shipping and receiving clerk

Salary:14.00 hourly for 40 to 48 hours per week.


Salary: 18.00 hourly for 30 to 40 hours per week.

While the jobs listed above may not be available when you apply, feel free to visit Canada Job Bank for the latest job trends in Nova Scotia.

Climate and Weather in Nova Scotia

Whether traveling in and around Nova Scotia or settling in the province, you can expect extreme cold winters with snow and warm summers with rain. Because of the constant clash of air masses, the climate can be unstable, windy and rainy, with snow in Winter.

Fogs usually cover the coastal parts in the Southern area due to the infiltration of damp air emitted from the South. According to Climates to Travel, snowfall is frequent along the southern coast - about two and a half meters (98 in) on the northern one and up to 4 meters (157 in) on the north of Cape Breton island.

It is common to experience snow storms in Winter coupled with intense winds from the northeast. Cold days can call for a drop in temperature to -15 °C (5 °F), and winters can call for lower temperatures. In the summer, the weather can be less harsh, with warmer days with an increase in temperature of around 30/32 °C (86/90 °F), which is rare.

Cost of Living in Nova Scotia

Below we give you a breakdown of the expenses you can expect when building a life for yourself or your family in Nova Scotia. As per the data on Numbeo, we have considered several factors that will influence your cost of living.

The table below is a basic representation of the cost of living in Nova Scotia:

Category Average Monthly Costs
Average Monthly Net Salary (After Tax) $2,450.00
Mortgage Interest Rate Yearly, for 20 years fixed-rate: 4.11%
Apartment (one bedroom) in City Centre $950.00 and apartment (one bedroom) outside of Centre: $850.00
Childcare - Preschool (or Kindergarten), full day, private, monthly for one child $763.33
International Primary School, Yearly for one Child $30,000.00
Basic utilities (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment $202.16

Immigration and Dedicated Visa for Nova Scotia

If you're looking to live and work in Nova Scotia, you need to know which immigration pathways will suit you. Below we break down suitable immigration pathways for Nova Scotia:

Nova Scotia Nominee Program (NSNP)

This program targets prospective immigrants with the right skills and experience to add value to the Canadian economy. In turn, qualifying candidates will receive a nomination to live and work in Nova Scotia. Below are the nine streams:

  • Nova Scotia Experience: Express Entry
  • Nova Scotia Labour Market Priorities: Express Entry
  • Nova Scotia Labour Market Priorities For Physicians: Express Entry
  • Skilled Worker
  • Physician
  • Occupations In Demand
  • International Graduates In Demand
  • Entrepreneur
  • International Graduate Entrepreneur

Please find out more here for a more in-depth breakdown of the streams and their requirements.

The Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP)

Furthermore, because the province also forms part of Canada's four Atlantic provinces: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador, foreign nationals can immigrate through the Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP). The AIP targets skilled foreign workers and international graduates who attend a Canadian institution but wish to settle in one of these provinces.

Explore our step-by-step process on how to apply for the AIP here.

The Study and Stay Program

This program is aimed at international students at community colleges and universities. The program has been expanded throughout the region to make it more accessible for international students. As the program expands throughout the provinces, it will be tailored accordingly to fulfill the needs of those provinces.

Eligibility under the Study and Stay Program

According to the official Canada Job Bank, below we highlight some relevant factors to qualify under this program:

  • International students who want to study at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Atlantic Canada will get invited to participate.
  • Students must be eligible to enroll for a diploma program at a community college or university undergraduate, masters, or doctorate program.
  • Suppose you are an international student at a provincial high school. In that case, you can still be eligible to apply if you wish to pursue your studies at a post-secondary institution in the region.
  • You must ensure that you meet the requirements of your DLI and show that you have an acceptance letter before you can successfully be accepted into the Study and Stay program. Your official acceptance will be confirmed once you receive your study permit from the Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Note: The Canadian government offers a wealth of immigration pathways for international students, and our Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) can advise on the most suitable pathway. Contact our experts today.

Demographics in Nova Scotia

According to World Population Review, below is a quick breakdown of the current demographics in Nova Scotia:

  • There are currently 1,007,047 people living in Nova Scotia.
  • The Scottish would be classified as the largest ethnic group in Nova Scotia, with 28.3%.
  • English is currently at 28.1%.
  • The Irish are at 19.9%.
  • French (17.7%)
  • Aboriginal (10.2%)
  • German (10%)
  • Dutch (3.9%)
  • Black (2.3%)
  • Italian (1.3%) and
  • Acadian (1.2%)
  • Over 47% of the population identifies as Canadian.
  • Nova Scotia comprises over 145 ethnic groups

Interestingly, highlights that approximately one-eighth of Nova Scotia's population stems from Acadian French descent. You can find Acadian communities with a vibrant culture in Southwestern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island.

In the 19th century, the Irish started to increase the population of the Halifax region, while German immigrants in the 1750s settled in the seaport of Lunenburg. The 20th century called for Dutch, Italian, Polish, Arab, Chinese, South Asian, and other ethnicities to the urban centres of Halifax and Sydney.

Education in Nova Scotia

If you're an international student wanting to live and work in Nova Scotia upon completion of your studies, you can explore the following universities in Nova Scotia:

Dalhousie University

A non-profit public higher education institution founded in 1818, Dalhousie University is located in the small town of Halifax in Nova Scotia. The University offers courses and programs with undergraduate certificates, associate degrees, bachelor degree, master's degree and a doctorate degree in different areas of study.

The University holds a selective policy of only accepting admissions to students based on past academic records and grades. Dalhousie accepts international students and the University also provides non-academic facilities and services to students such as; student financial aids and scholarships, a fully equipped library, student housing, sports activities and facilities, including study abroad and exchange programs.

Mary's University

Located in the heart of Halifax, the University offers undergraduate programs in arts, science, environment and commerce, as well as master, doctorate, and pre-professional programs. St. Mary's University has a unique approach to education and learning in that they nurture students' potential in small closely-knit groups that are multicultural and encourage student involvement in an international environment. The University offers a very internationally friendly campus and currently has full and part-time students.

Mount Saint Vincent University

Mount Saint Vincent University is committed to providing the best university educational experience for all community members and developing thoughtful, imaginative citizens who make a positive impact in the world.

The University has become famous for its small-size classes and personalized approach to learning, with flexible schedules to suit the diverse needs of its students with distance learning. The Faculty and research centres provide learning opportunities for students while creating new knowledge and advancement in health, food security, literacy, child development and many more. Their undergraduate degrees in Public Relations and Child Youth Study are the only programs in the province.


An undergraduate university in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Acadia is ranked as one of the best art colleges in Canada. Its location in the small town of Wolfville means it leaves you with a feeling of attachment that is common with small towns. Acadia, however, also offers a quality and excellent education experience.

The University is organized into four faculties; Pure and Applied Science, Professional Studies, Arts and Theology, with each faculty divided into departments and schools specializing in research and teaching.

At Acadia University, the research programs focus on ethnic-culture diversity, climate change and environmental monitoring, and lifestyle choices contributing to health and wellness.

Nova Scotia Community College

This college is one of Nova Scotia's most diverse and largest colleges that believes quality education can transform individuals, families and communities to achieve extraordinary goals. Students graduating from college have helped and continue contributing to the economy's growth in Nova Scotia by producing highly skilled workers.

The college ensures it guides and helps new students find the right program for them, with courses in Applied Science, Health and Human Services, Business Studies, Trades and Technology. And they have a specialized program designed to help students understand their strengths and preferences that connect them to pursue a career they love.

Major Cities in Nova Scotia

So, you've decided to settle in Nova Scotia, but you need to know which cities in the provinces are ideal. Based on City Population below are some of the major cities in Nova Scotia:


This city is well-renowned for being home to St. Francis Xavier University, and if you travel around this city, you can explore the rich Scottish culture.


Near LaHave River, the city is known to be the Main Street of the South Shore, which allows you to explore the traditional King Street shopping district - this is a local hub for shops, restaurants, and services that are offered. The city also boasts spectacular scenery.

Cape Breton

The city is hospitable toward newcomers, with buckets of resources which enable people to build a long-term sustainable life for themselves and their families - its natural beauty and rich culture make falling in love with this city easy.


If you're interested in a relaxing atmosphere with a slower pace, this city is for you. The city offers a low living cost with affordable housing and a smaller population.

Things to do in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia has long been recognized as a center for excellence in the Arts. The province has numerous art galleries and playhouses, producing many famous singers and songwriters, including Ann Murray, Hank Snow, Denny Doherty (The Mamas and the Papas), Sarah McLachlan, Martina McBride, Gordie Sampson, and Lee Anne Rhimes.

Nova Scotia has many museums that reflect its ethnic heritage, as well as numerous historical sites and National Parks. Halifax was once a major shipbuilding facility during the days of sail, and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic elegantly represents this. Of course, sport-fishing in the Bay of Fundy is also a major attraction.

Pros and Cons in Nova Scotia


  • Beautiful sceneries
  • Friendly communities
  • Cheaper housing


  • Tough job market
  • Lower salaries
  • High taxes


What is Nova Scotia known for?

The province forms part of one of Canada's four maritime provinces and is well-renowned for its high tides, lobster, fish, blueberries, and apples.

Is Nova Scotia friendly?

Yes. The province is made of people from various walks of life, but most are polite, friendly and welcoming of newcomers.

Is Nova Scotia Good for immigration?

There are several immigration pathways available for those who want to live and work in Nova Scotia. Accommodation and housing are also more affordable in this province. Contact our immigration experts to assist you!

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