Saturday, March 19, 2011

Nova Scotia vs British Columbia: The Eastern Trump Card

Why did I choose to settle in Nova Scotia and not British Columbia? This is a difficult question to answer and I'm still not sure of the reason myself.

Both have stunning beauty aplenty, although I give British Columbia an extra point for the Rocky Mountains. British Columbia also has a better job-market and better salaries. British Columbia has better weather (along the coast, at least). British Columbia has more people (4 million compared to Nova Scotia's 900,000), thus more of a tax base, thus better government services and infrastructure. British Columbia, a younger province by 3oo years, has nicer architecture and cleaner cities.

So why the hell didn't I head out west like I originally planned?

Because British Columbia isn't Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia has an abundance of culture going for it, and the people are absolutely amazing. Walk the streets of beautiful Victoria and good luck looking anyone in the eye. In Halifax, people strike up conversations with complete strangers while waiting at the crosswalk. How can you beat such friendliness?

Here are some more Nova Scotian peculiarities:

The Nova Scotia license plate reads "Canada's ocean playground"...PLAYGROUND!!!! All BC has going for it is "Super. Natural." Point to Nova Scotia!

Nova Scotia has REAL beaches. Sandy, sunny beaches (in the summer at least) with seagulls and beach cottages surround the province on all four sides. In fact, although Nova Scotia is only 900 square kilometres, it has 7000 km of beaches! British Columbia, on the other hand, has only 2,300 km of beaches, and 90% of those are rocky and covered in seaweed. Plus the water of the North East Pacific is too cold to swim in at any time of the year. Another point for Nova Scotia!

Cape Breton Island beats both Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlottes hands down. The rolling hills, the small Gaelic population in quaint little towns, the vibrant culture and the stunning coastline beats out the redneck-infested western islands where the brush is so thick you can't stray off the roads.

Nova Scotia was the end of the line for the Underground Railroad, and by 1865 over 8,000 runaway slaves from the southern states had settled around the province, bringing a vibrant and musical cultural heritage with them. Today their descendants are an integral part of Maritime society. BC doesn't have that. They didn't even exist at the time!

Nova Scotia is home to songs, ballads, odes, shanties, books and poems about love for this land. Farewell to Nova Scotia is about a soldier leaving home for the battlefields of France in 1914. British Columbia has Brian Adams and Nelly Furtado. 'Nuff said.

Nova Scotia hosts the annual Tall Ships festival, showcasing old galleons, frigates, cutters and yachts from all over North America and Europe. They even have mock sea battles in Halifax harbour, firing cannons at each other while tourists eat lunch on patios! BC hosts container ships, trawlers and oil tankers.

Atlantic lobster. Can't find that in the Pacific!

Lunenburg, Peggy's Cove, the Annapolis Valley, the Bay of Fundy...these historic towns and regions date back to the earliest colonization of North America and for the most part have been preserved in their original state. Lunenburg (pictured above) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Most towns in BC didn't exist before 1890.

The Royal Nova Scotia Tattoo, an international festival of pipe and drum drill bands from around the world, happens every year in Halifax. British Columbia hosts the annual "Save The Whales" festival. Which one is more exciting?

For those who can't get enough of pipe and drum marching bands, Halifax wins hands-down!

Cape Breton's Gaelic culture. More people speak Gaelic in Cape Breton than in Scotland, and it is home to the world's only Gaelic University. BC has nothing on that!

What's Nova Scotia without the intense cultural inheritance of Cape Breton? While many of the fiddles and step dances and ceilidhs (kitchen parties) are put on for the tourists in the summer, these things are still part and parcel of many Cape Bretoners lives. British Columbia can only boast of draft dodgers and pot smokers. And even Nova Scotia has a fair share of those...

I'll let this video from Nova Scotia Tourism say it all...


  1. Looks like you've made a mighty fine choice there. Some beautiful scenery.

  2. it looks like you found a sweet job with the nova scotia board of tourism ;)

  3. Haha, maybe I should look into it!

  4. But what about all of the wonderful ski resorts and parks and all the other stuff in BC?

  5. The canadian gov turned BC into a tourist attraction.

  6. I know first-hand that Nova Scotia is a wonderful & beautiful place & has much going for it. My husband & I moved there from BC, lived there for 13 months, enjoyed it very much, but moved back to BC. One reason was the horrible weather-long winters & high humidity in the summer. There is a high moisture content throughout the year so it feels colder than it really is; combined with the constant wind, there is a chill in the air most months except summer. In summary, don't go to the Maritimes if weather is important to you. Nova Scotia does have wonderful music, culture and fabulous seafood but it lacks many essentials, for instance food. BC has an abundance of food, a great selection, with emphasis on locally raised & produced. The food is considerably lower priced in BC whereas NS's grocery stores are sadly lacking in good quality produce and meats and what they have is poor quality, & with a higher price tag. Milk in BC is under $5 for 4 litres compared to NS that is around $8, although there is the odd place competing with $6. There is a serious, and I mean serious, shortage of doctors in Nova Scotia. When we finally managed to get a family doctor, we had to drive 1-1/4 hours. A plus for NS is that they charge no premium for medical services while in BC my husband and I pay $125. However, we were able to obtain a family doctor within a very short time in BC and the doctor is within a 10-minute drive from our house. The roads in NS are in poor repair although they try to maintain the main routes as best as they can but with a small population and subsequent small tax base, it is difficult. Heating costs of oil and electricity in NS is ridiculously high, more than double in NS than in BC. Personal income tax is less in BC too. Real estate is cheaper in NS but selling will take a seriously long time so if you buy real estate, plan to be in NS for many years. If you`re not totally sure you want to live in NS, I suggest renting first, we did and we were happy we did. Other than real estate and seafood, almost everything else is more expensive so, all in all, we found BC to be less expensive, other than Vancouver. Unfortunate for NS, trades people are generally a little too lay-back and it takes longer to get someone out to your house and it will usually take longer to get the task done. As to scenery, the entire province of BC is either hilly or mountainous and Nova Scotia is quite flat so it depends on what kind of scenery a person likes - I like more hills so BC won out on this point for me. NS being a small province is limited in amenities and places of interest whereas in BC, there is so much more to see and do, after all it is a large province with more people so naturally there would be more diversity. As to leisure activities, NS has wonderful access to sandy beaches but it is sadly lacking in other parks, whereas BC has many gorgeous parks, many being in natural forests, for easy access for walking and hiking and cycling, with probably Vancouver Island containing the most. In general, in BC there is an abundance of leisure activities during all seasons. Other than Halifax, NS is made up of small towns so much of the province closes from October to May, there just is not the population to keep stores and restaurants open. If you enjoy a more city life, NS is not for you, unless you live in Halifax. As to friendliness, I think that depends more on people themselves, for instance, my husband and I are friendly and outgoing so we find people wherever we go to be friendly. We have lived in Victoria and found no difference in the friendliness between it and Halifax. In summary, where people choose to live is personal because it depends on what is most important to each individual. I chose BC for long-term living but would choose Nova Scotia for vacations, probably the month of September when the weather is at its best. Hope this helps with anyone trying to decide which province to live.

  7. thank you Sharon so much, great info on BC, me and my husband and son are thinking of moving to BC and your info had all the insite I'm looking for! It is always great to hear first hand infomation from someone who's lived in both places. You basically nailed it for me, thanks

  8. Sharing personal observations, point of views, and experiences is really very important for someone like me. My wife couldn't live with the harsh weather in Halifax with all what the city has to offer. She preferred to return back to Lebanon even though the future in Lebanon is not promising. Now, I'm trying to relocate from Halifax to Vancouver, as an alternative solution. Some say that Vancouver is depressing as it rains a lot, while long winters in Halifax brings lots of snow and cold weather. I'm really confused, which part would be best to live in especially when it comes to weather!!!. Probably Victoria is less rain than Vancouver; we need balance between work, life, and weather as we have 2 kids enrolled in French schools. We have no problem to relocate anywhere in Canada, but we are looking for a final destination, we relocated a lot and we need to put an end for this. It is not healthy for the kids to keep on moving from a place to another. I appreciate anyone's point of view, comment or recommendation.

    Thank you all in advance.