If you live in Ontario or Nova Scotia, I bet you know somebody who’s made a move from west to east. If not, you’ve surely heard about the sudden influx of Ontarians who have or want to become Nova Scotians, and if none of that is true for you, now you know someone. Me.
My family and I decided to make a move from southern Ontario to Nova Scotia sometime in early 2021. Having never been to the East Coast myself, we took a road trip that summer to see what all the fuss was about. And we fell in love!
Our twin boys, then five, now seven, admittedly struggled with the driving portion of the trip but loved the province. Peggy’s Cove, downtown Halifax, the harbour front, Dartmouth Crossing… yes, they still love that Dartmouth Crossing has it all: their favourite hotel, a movie theatre and Quizno’s. There’s much more, but those are the highlights for them.
On the drive back home, somewhere along a mundane highway stretch in Quebec, my husband turned to me and said, “yeah, I’m in.” I remember the feeling of surprise and the immediate smile on my face because I was in pretty much from when we crossed over on the ferry from New Brunswick on a foggy morning several days prior.
But what made us decide to make this move? A few things.
Why We Moved Out of Ontario
We had been living in Cobourg, Ontario, for over six years. We loved it there. Being close to the water was always a dream for us, and I thought I was content with that water being a giant lake, but once we got to the ocean, I knew my heart had found its happy place.
Our goal was always to lead a quiet life, with lots of space for our kids and our dog to run free with our water access. That was becoming increasingly difficult in Ontario, and Nova Scotia is chock full of lakes, so we figured the odds were in our favour.
What We Love About Nova Scotia
The people here are just so nice! Not that Ontarians aren’t, but there’s nothing like that east coast hospitality. Things move slower here, and we love that. Time and time again, we’ve been welcomed with friendly smiles and kind words. People go out of their way to lend a helping hand. It’s really beautiful.
Speaking of beautiful, Nova Scotia is precisely that. We’ve lived here for six months, and every single day, I have been taken aback by the gorgeousness of this province, even when we have a string of gloomy, foggy days. The hills, the trees, the lakes and the ocean never get old. Oh, and when the sun does shine? I swear it shines a little brighter than anywhere else. It feels extra special and sparkly, and the sunsets are extra beautiful. My phone’s camera roll is loaded with sunset photos from our backyard. Like this one.
Yes, we get to live here. Yes, I pinch myself every day.
We have definitely noticed many differences here, like the fact that it’s even more difficult to find a family doctor, schools seem to have a lot more non-instructional days, and of course, the weather. It really does rain a lot, and sometimes we go multiple days without seeing the sun. We experienced our first hurricane last year and spent a lot of time preparing for it. Recently, we had our first Nova Scotia snowstorm. Two days later, it rained, and all the snow was gone, which is apparently very typical here.
Life Off the Grid
The cost of living is quite different for us. Being off the grid means not paying for water or electricity, but we still have other costs, like oil, propane, well maintenance, generator fuel, wood and pellets for the fireplaces. All of the above is new to us but very common here, so there were definitely some learning curves there. The cost of food is difficult to speak on since we moved during peak inflation, but things like insurance and property taxes ended up being slightly lower for us here.
Regarding our house, I can safely say we would not have been able to afford a 4-bedroom lakefront home twenty minutes away from a major city and airport in Ontario. This location was and is quite literally our dream come true. Eight months in, this feels like home in a way that has surprised us. After visiting family and friends in Ontario over the holidays, we felt such a sense of peace landing back in Halifax. It felt like coming home, and it’s hard to imagine ever leaving permanently now.
Of course, people are always curious about the move, and we’re always happy to answer any questions they might have. This isn’t a change to be taken lightly, and we understand it’s not for everyone. We’ve been so lucky that our kids love it here. They’ve adjusted well to their new school and community, and my husband and I work remotely, which made the decision to move much easier as well.
We’re incredibly grateful that Nova Scotia took us in with wide arms. Now cross your fingers and toes as we tackle our first East Coast winter while living off the grid!
Images courtesy of Thalita Murray.