A classic lottery TV commercial from the mid 2000s featured two couples winning the lottery, one couple moved to Toronto, the other to Halifax. While the Toronto pair moved into a small condo in the suburbs of downtown, the Halifax couple moved into a comfortable home close to the city. The tagline for that ad is one that still rings true to this day – “Atlantic Canada, where a million dollars goes as far as a million should.”

Let’s preface this blog by showing love for Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and other beautiful and unique Canadian cities. These are all world class cities that make Canada what it is today. But as more and more people decide to make the move to the East Coast, (or back to the East Coast), that line from an old lottery ad is just as relevant as it was then – “Atlantic Canada, where a million dollars goes as far as a million should.”

So let’s explore this topic. How much opportunity is there in Halifax? Is the cost of living that different from Toronto? How do housing prices differ? How is life on the East Coast different from the big city?

Well, let’s start with opportunity. Many former Maritimers are returning to Halifax to work in fields including government services, forestry, natural gas, software development, administration and accounting. (Photo 1)

Photo 1: "Many former Maritimers are retuning to Halifax to work in fields including government services, forestry, natural gas, software development, administration and accounting."

Other recent arrivals with no ties to Halifax are coming to the city because of new opportunities in their current employment. The three major universities, the shipyard and emerging software trends are all causing Canadians from the centre of the country to relocate to Halifax.
Never been able to afford your own house in Toronto? That may well not be the case in Halifax. Sure, the average income in Halifax is about 15% lower than Toronto, but that’s where the saying from the start of this blog comes in. In Halifax, people can do so much more with their money. In Old Toronto, older 3 bedroom homes in reasonable condition rarely start at less than 1.5 million dollars and can easily reach up to 3.5 or 4 million. In Halifax’s Long Lake Village, homes of a similar size cost less than a third of that! Oh yeah, and they’re brand new… So let’s do some basic math. Average income is 85% of what it is in Toronto, but average price for comparable homes is as low as 25% of what it is in Toronto. In other words, maybe the line from the lottery ad should have been, “Halifax, where a million dollars goes as far as four million does in Toronto.”

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Average Income in Halifax as a % of Average Income in Toronto

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Average price of a home in Halifax as a % of average price of comparable home in Toronto

On that basis…

“Halifax… where a million dollars goes as far as four million does in Toronto.”

Photo 2: "…Halifax has everything going for it these days, and these are definitely not the only reasons to live in this amazing city!"

Halifax is the biggest Canadian city east of Montreal. Those who grew up in the city and moved to other parts of the country know that Halifax is loved for its character, charm, and urban fabric. But as we saw above, Halifax has everything going for it these days, and these are definitely not the only reasons to live in this amazing city!