Halifax is experiencing significant housing challenges, with low vacancy rates, increasing rental prices, and few rental options. We are urging students not to move to Halifax until you have secured, and ideally can move into, a rental accommodation or Residence room. Hotels and short-term accommodations have limited availability, and students should book these accommodations now, before their arrival to Halifax. Students who are required to quarantine must have a quarantine accommodation booked before arriving to Nova Scotia.
Students can live off-campus and travel to Saint Mary’s University for classes. For students who are living off-campus, you are encouraged to:
- Budget for living in Halifax.
- Search for rental accommodations early.
- Learn about renting safely and tenants’ rights.
- Learn about living in the Halifax Regional Municipality.
Budgeting for Living in Halifax
Students are encouraged to create a budget for living in Halifax and organize their finances before they move. When budgeting for living in Halifax, students should consider the cost of:
- Utilities (such as heat, hydro, and/or water)
- Internet, phone and/or television
The largest living expense students should budget for is rent. Rental prices vary depending on many factors, but average rental prices have increased due to a low vacancy rate in Halifax.
Based on a recent CMHC Rental Market Report, students are encouraged to budget for average rental costs of at least:
- Bachelor: $865 per month
- One bedroom: $1,016 per month
- Two bedroom: $1,255 per month
- Three bedroom: $1,455 per month
Typically, rentals with more bedrooms cost less per tenant. Students are encouraged to ask landlords if utilities and/or parking are included in the price of rent. Heat is oftentimes the most expensive utility.
You can also estimate the cost of living in Halifax using Numbeo.
Searching for Rental Accommodations
Searching for rental accommodations can be time-consuming, and we recommend starting your search for rental accommodations up to six months in advance. It normally takes a minimum of two months to secure a rental accommodation.
Saint Mary’s University partners with Places4Students to list available rental properties near campus. Places4Students is an updated online database of rental vacancies in Halifax. Students can search for listings, view photos of available rentals, email roommates or view roommate profiles, and more.
Students may also wish to search for rentals on other online platforms, such as:
- Rent Donkey Apartment Search
- Rent Seekers
- Moore Student Living Canada
- Zoeken Canada
- Rent Faster
- Properties To Go
- Facebook Marketplace
There are also housing groups for the 2SLGBTQ+ community:
Tips for searching for rental accommodations include:
- Searching for rentals in areas or on street names (example: 3-bedroom apartment on Tower Road)
- Changing the wording in your search criteria (example: 3-bedroom house versus 3-bedroom apartment)
- Asking friends or relatives if they are aware of any apartments for rent
- Joining “Buy & Sell” pages on Facebook Marketplace
- Looking for “For Rent” signs in Halifax
- Contacting rental companies directly, even if no vacancies are listed
Renting Safely and Tenants’ Rights
Saint Mary’s University is not responsible for off-campus housing, and it is important that students take steps to help ensure their safety as renters. This can include:
- Viewing a rental in person or virtually before signing the lease.
- Ensuring agreements are in writing and reviewing the lease before signing.
- Receiving receipts for transactions. Note: your damage deposit can only be half of your first month’s rent.
- Taking videos of any visible damage in the unit upon arrival and sending these to your landlord.
- Reviewing the Tenant Rights Guide and the Residential Tenancies Act.
Students can also review resources or seek legal aid from Dalhousie Legal Aid Service, a community-based law clinic. For a quick response to tenancy concerns, renters can call the Dalhousie Legal Aid Service’s Tenant Rights Phone Line at 902-423-8105.
Additional advocacy-based resources include:
- Nova Scotia Acorn
- Halifax Mutual Aid
- Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia
- Out of the Cold Kjipuktuk
- This Should be Housing
Living in the Halifax Regional Municipality
The Halifax Regional Municipality has a lot to offer the nearly 450,000 people who call it home. Halifax is the capital city of Nova Scotia and a hub of activity for Atlantic Canada, with many opportunities for education, employment, culture, and social life.
When finding a place to live in the Halifax Regional Municipality, you may want to consider your proximity to:
- Saint Mary’s University campus
- Public transportation
- Grocery stores
- Pharmacies or medical care
- Laundry services
You can search for nearby places, such as hotels, food, shopping, or grocery stores, using Mapquest. You can also review articles on choosing the right neighbourhood for you and things to consider when moving to Halifax.
Many students choose to live in the Halifax Peninsula, the urban core of Halifax, which includes areas such as:
- Downtown Halifax: Located on the eastern-central portion of the Peninsula on the Halifax Harbour, this is the downtown core for business, entertainment, and tourism.
- South End Halifax: Located on the southern portion of the Peninsula in Halifax’s urban core, the South End contains many post-secondary institutions, including Saint Mary’s University.
- North End Halifax: Located on the northern portion of the Peninsula in Halifax’s urban core, the North End has many opportunities in business, entertainment, and the arts.
- West End Halifax: Located on the western portion of the Peninsula, the West End offers a blend of businesses, entertainment, and residential areas.