Halifax, Canada Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Halifax, Canada

Halifax, Canada 09/14/20

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, we're 18 years in: Quito, Tegucigalpa, Montevideo, Muscat, and Washington, DC. (3x)

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Pittsburgh, PA is "home." It's roughly an 18-hour drive or two 2.5 hour flights, give or take.

It's rather simple to drive from Pittsburgh or Washington, DC.
Day 1 - Drive to Portland, ME. (11-12 hours) Either take the ferry from Portland or drive over to New Brunswick (2 hours) and cross the border in Calais. It's another 6 hours from the border to Halifax.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We just started our third year.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic Mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

We are a two-officer post.

One person is in the Consulate General Residence, and the other person finds their own housing.
The CGR has 5 bedrooms, three living rooms, a dining room and 5 bathrooms.

Plenty of grocery stores. International foods are best found in smaller non-franchised shops.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Roughly equivalent. Nothing like an Aldi or Whole Foods here, though. There are lots of farmers' markets to choose from or locally-sourced beef, but we get everything from the standard grocery stores.

Food diversity options are readily available. Not so much in the sense of Chinese food as how you think of it in the USA, but lots of Thai, vegetarian, middle eastern food options. There are also plenty of pizza shops, French fries with gravy, etc.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Content with everything local.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Tons of local craft breweries and fun restaurants. It's COVID time, so, well . . .

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Not really. The CGR is 100 years old. There has been a mouse spotted three times. Same guy, just crafty? He didn't leave a calling card. In late summer, fruit flies come for a month, so we keep our fruit in the fridge. Not life threatening.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We send mail with Canada Post. We receive mail via the pouch. The time is nearly the same with both.

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2. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

We are in COVID times as I write this so it could change, but we used the Dalplex. It's the fitness center and community pool connected to the Dalhousie University. Some folks like St. Mary's University gym facilities. The Dalplex has an olympic-sized pool, but there is also the Centennial Centre that has many aquatic options (a friend's daughter does synchronized swimming lessons there). There are competitive centers around town in the various REC centers.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Banking isn't as easy as we had assumed before coming. "Borderless banking" isn't as one would think. The cashier services aren't the same as we had used in other embassies in other places.
TD, Royal Bank of Canada are used here. HBSC has branches here, too, which was nice for folks that used it in their Asian tours previously. We also use debit cards and credit cards without a problem.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Everything is English-language here in the city. There are religious services in French and Arabic, too. The Shambala Centre is active and it has a pre-k through grade 8 school, too.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

French is not necessary at all. When they sing a part of the national anthem in French, if you know that section, folks are impressed. You see French occasionally, and folks feel respected when you can work your way through with it. One family here is fluent in French. The other family (us) doesn't speak it at all, and we have been totally fine. Nova Scotians appreciate it when you speak French, though.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

The sidewalks in the main downtown area are sloped for strollers, wheelchairs, etc. The CGR has 4 flights of stairs, so it would be really hard for folks who struggle with stairs.

There isn't an equivalent of the American's Disabilities Act requiring buildings to have accessibility standards, but many do.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes. My teenagers use the buses alone all of the time. US $2 for under 15 years old and $4 for adults per trip. We walk, bike, bus all of the time during good weather.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

We drove our 7 year old Chrysler Town and Country minivan here and it's fine. We have never needed to have anything with extra clearance. I suppose that Teslas would have trouble getting repairs. Winter tires are an option here that are highly recommended. All tire shops can store the tires for you during the summer months. There is a 5% insurance discount if you purchase a set of winter tires.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, it was a reasonable installation time.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

There are four companies that run all of the options. We bought all new phones and contracts through Costco. When we travel to the US, we buy a monthly plan or a daily plan, depending on the length of our stay. The US bonuses are expensive. Coming from "unlimited everything for $50/month" in the US, it was a change.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

We don't have pets. Animals are valued greatly here, so you'll find what you need.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

It's the usual spouse dilemma, but there is a work agreement that you can apply for after you arrive. Then it can be a several month process to be approved and given the Social Insurance Number, which is the equivalent to the Social Security Number. After having the SIN you can apply for work on the local market. Salaries are a bit lower.

Telework is ideal. I had a seven-month wait for the paperwork process. The other spouse is teleworking with a previous job in from DC.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Food collection and things of that nature. COIVD has reduced those options, but we're going to help at a thrift store soon.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

There was a fundraiser and a yearly black-tie event for veterans, but other than that, there are not many reasons to really dress up. I suppose it's less formal, but dress accommodates the company's culture, so it varies. There are banks, investment firms, etc. The employees wear business attire to work daily, suits & dresses. ‘’

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Safest place we've ever lived. Ever.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Health care is complicated here. It's readily available, but it takes time to find the right fit. Once you come, you have to apply to a local doctor who is a primary care person--your first stop for everything. Most are not accepting new patients. For any issues of concern that require a specialist, the wait is several months long. If you can get routine stuff taken care of in the US before you go or while on leave, just do that. For emergencies, you'll be cared for well in the children's hospital or the adult hospital.

We spend a lot out of pocket, file with our own insurance, and then even eventually get reimbursed for glasses, chiropractic, dental, prescriptions, etc. We also have the local MSI state-run insurance. That covers the "pre-screening" that the family doctors do and emergency room visits, or surgeries in the hospital.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

It couldn't be cleaner: gorgeous blue skies, clear water & open-air activities year round (as long as you have the right cold-weather gear).

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Family allergies are generally improved here as compared to suburban DC, where pollen was everywhere all of the time, it seemed. The weather is generally damp, so we have a dehumidifier for the basement.
The air is pristine. It couldn't be any cleaner. The wind whisks everything away (including sometimes our basketball hoop!) and you feel like nature is a gift.

Bring your medicine with you.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

The first frost comes in late September and it can now through April and May. It's cold and dark, and that has grown a community of creatives locally. Book publishers and shops have a prime location in the community. We LOVE our fireplace, and I have read more at this post than ever before at post, and that was true pre-COVID.

Seasonal Affective Disorder can be an issue but there is a free light at the Central Library for use. Many locals travel during March Break.

Halifax is buffered from the surrounding extremes in temperature. Winter highs are in the 80s and the winter hangs around a few degrees below freezing. The wind can be fierce most of the year, so expect to deal with it some way or another. It is damp, so to prevent mold on the downstairs we requires a dehumidifier, and the bathrooms need significant ventilation.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

The temperatures in winter equal the winters of Pittsburgh, PA, but there is quite a bit of slushy snow that hangs around, freezes, and soils shoes. Salt from roads and sidewalks require shoe removal everywhere, and it can be written into the lease to remove shoes. The damage to flooring is real. Even doctors offices and gymnasiums will occasionally request shoe removal, and everyone will remove their shoes before entering the house hands down. It's rude not to do so.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

This varies by family. The public schools offer French immersion and regular Canadian curriculua. Families do both public and private here. When researching, look up: Halifax Grammar School, Armbrae Acadamy, The Maritime Muslim Academy, Sacred Heart, Shambhala School of Halifax, the Halifax Independent School, . I have not heard of what special needs requirements are available at any of the schools. Each school has different areas of strength.

The private school where we attend has an after school program, but my children are teenagers, so we do not use the childcare.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

You'll need to ask each school separately.

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3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes- everything is available, but not nearly as much during COVID. Hockey is popular and still going, as is soccer and a bit of outdoor running. Outdoor water sports are still happening, as is gymnastics. Very limited basketball right now, but usually there is a lot.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

It's just us and another US employee with her family. There isn't an expatriate community per se, but nearly everyone local has family members who vacation or are dual citizens. Only two employees here. We get along, so no problem. It could be rough if we didn't get along.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

We love the outdoor options for hiking, wine club, book club, etc. We couldn't be happier. Our teens tend to hang out with other children who moved here recently. The teenage scene can be cliquish. Overall the grownups are bed-over backwards friendly. Our morale is high, and we like it here

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Religious groups, dancing groups, book clubs, writing clubs, hiking/walking clubs are common. Single or folks without kids would be bored, I think, especially without kids. I read a lot, so I'm happy, but if I weren't a reader, it would be a challenge, I bet.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Fantastic. So common and accepted.

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5. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

There is such a high sense of cordiality here that you can feel fine superficially. We have not made deep friendships locally but have grown relationally as a family. Frequent day trips to gorgeous vistas make living here a gift. Lots of hiking and water activities available.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Better here than in the US.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Tidal Bore Rafting on the Shubenacadie River.
Hiking to Cape Split
Minas Basin rock collecting
Hopewell Rocks kayak Ride
Crystal Crescent Beach
Biking along Lawrencetown Beach
Camping at Five Islands Provincial Park and Kejimikujik National Park

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Day hikes are easy and refreshing. Folks go outdoors on the weekends or to their cottages year round.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

There are some tartan things, maple products, lobster, and ocean paintings are great to buy.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Quiet pace of life makes family life nice. The weather is moderate most of the year. Winter is cold, but we still run if it's around freezing outside. It's Canada-- expect snow--but much less than Ottawa, New Brunswick, and everywhere else.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Halifax has a long history of shared family ties with Boston. However, just because the US has been close allies with Canada, do not assume that we are similar. If you say "we have lots in common" or "it's nearly the same" they could feel highly offended. They take great pride in being different from the USA and do not want to be seen as the same. We share a language and a border, but viewpoints and habits tend to be quite different.

Who you are is not your title. It will take a while to get employment if you are waiting to get it after you arrive. Plan time for your hobbies. It's a fantastic place to do them.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Of course! It's been awesome.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Racism, homophobia.

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4. But don't forget your:

Raincoat, bike, hobby supplies, camera. It's wet and cool a lot. A brief summer, but it does get warm and humid.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Authors:
Alistar MacLeod: No Great Mischeif
Bernice Morgan: Random Passage
Ami MacKay: The Birth House
Michael Crummey: Sweetland, The Innocents
Steven Laffoley: Mean Streets, A Halifax Christmas Carol
Donna Morrissey: Kit's Law, Sylvanus Now
Emma Fitzgerald: Hand-Drawn Halifax
L.M. Montgomery: Anne of Green Gables

Broadway show: "Come From Away"
Documentary: "You Are Here"

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Halifax, Canada 05/25/18

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, I've also had multiple tours across North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Seattle, WA/USA. Halifax is about a 1 1/2 hour flight from New York or Boston. Have to connect through either of those two cities, or via Toronto of Montreal. Halifax is further away than people realize. If driving, it's a good six hours after you hit the Canadian border. Plan on nine hours of driving from Portland, ME. Keep in mind that Halifax is further east than Bermuda and one hour ahead of the U.S. East Coast.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Three years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

For the U.S. Consulate, the Consul General has a nice, large dedicated house in a leafy neighborhood of the city within ten minutes of the office. All others are on LQA, so you can find whatever housing suits your needs.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Maybe not a wide range of specialty or ethnic foods, but if you hunt you can find even those. Chicken is surprisingly expensive.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

None.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

All varieties and styles, including most American fast food chains. Local seafood is prevalent and good. Haven't really spotted a Mexican restaurant, but there's probably one out there. The local favorite is the donair, a gyro-type sandwich, but with a unique, local sweet sauce made with condensed milk. Personally not a big fan, but they love it and have made it the "official sandwich of Halifax."

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Nothing unusual. Not a particularly buggy place.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Pouch mail from the States, Canada post within country and from third countries. Local post is decent, but definitely not as good as USPS (less reliable, generally slower, more expensive).

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

The Consul General is eligible for ORE staff. Others would have to find it locally, and it can be quite expensive and hard to find. Canada is very strict about authorizing residence permits for domestic employees of local diplomats. Only Consuls General, the DCM and Ambassador are authorized.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

All kinds and reasonable cost.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Widely accepted and safe to use. Most Canadians have tap or PIN credit cards, so American cards are a bit of an anomaly/annoyance to them since it requires having to get a signature, which Canadians don't do anymore.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Everything.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Native English. Some pockets of Acadian French in further flung communities around the province, as well as the native M'ikmaq, but you will never need anything but English here.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Probably a very conducive location for people with physical disabilities.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes and yes. There is no Uber or other car share service here, but local taxis have created apps that mimic the service. I've heard gripes about the convenience of the local bus system, but plenty use it and it is safe and reliable. There is also North America's oldest continues public saltwater ferry service plying between downtown Halifax and Dartmouth across the harbor. Plan to have a car to get around rather than relying on public transportation.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Whatever you prefer. Any car from the States can be serviced in Halifax. Burglary/carjacking risk is quite low. Note that American cars brought into Canada diplomatically are considered a temporary import and can not be sold or permanently imported without extensive and expensive modifications to meet Canadian specs. Plan to export your car at the end of your tour. Black ice, snow, and other wintry conditions make a sturdy vehicle advisable. Plan on having a pair of winter tires to put on every winter. Also note that you can't register your car without proof of local insurance, and most insurers won't insure you without a Canadian credit history. A company called The Personal has a special arrangement for U.S. Mission personnel, which is a way to avoid this headache. U.S. insurers won't cover in Canada.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Easily available and reasonable charge.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

I used Koodo, which works fine and goes on month-to-month. Keep in mind that phone calls to the States and roaming charges while visiting the States are quite expensive. Better to have your friends/family there call you. Also very hard to be approved for long-term contracts with service providers, because they will insist on a Canadian credit history, which you won't have.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No personal experience, but no doubt.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Surprisingly few. No opportunities at the Consulate given its very small size. Spouses are authorized work permits for Canada, but few seem to take advantage given the fairly anemic job market.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

I would imagine plenty.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business dress for work and work-related events, and casual any other time.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Normal precautions, but it's quite a safe place in general.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

No real health concerns. Medical care is very good, but medical services are overstretched, with challenges in obtaining a local doctor and very long wait times for many specialist services (think six months to a year). Mission employees are covered under the local provincial health plan. There are no private services in the province, so anyone looking to jump the queue for service wait times would have to go back to the U.S. or to another province that offers private services for pay.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Excellent air quality; no seasonal issues.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Nothing noteworthy.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Not that I can think of. Winters here are not bad, especially compared to the rest of Canada (other than the far west coast). However, winter lasts a long time and there doesn't seem to be much of a spring. You definitely want to be like the snowbirds here and plan to take some time in the late winter or spring to get away to somewhere warm.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Summer is beautiful and fall is glorious. Expect nice weather until mid to late November, and then the wet and cold gloom sets in. Winter doesn't really arrive until January, but can stick around until May. Warm, sunny temperatures are not reliable until mid-June. Winter comes in waves. Big snow storms that will close offices, then sunny and a bit warmer until it melts away, only to get hit with another snowstorm a week later. Lots of fog, but typically just around the harbor area that burns off by the end of the day.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

No real international schools, but some good private and public schools up to US standards.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

I would imagine this is fairly prevalent, although somewhat limited. Best to check ahead.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Private preschools available for about 750 USD/month. The province as of 2018 is starting public preschools as well, which is hurting many of the private ones.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

All kinds.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Very small. No other diplomatic representations in the city other than the U.S. (the French have a Consulate General in Moncton, New Brunswick that covers Atlantic Canada, but those are the only two diplomatic representations in the whole region). No expat business people based here to speak of, so it's just all locals. Easy to blend in with the community, so no expat culture here at all.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Local chapters of whatever it is that interests you.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Good for everyone. This is a university town, so lots of bars/restaurants. Very family friendly and sociable.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Very LGBT friendly place, although not much of a scene, but it does hold Canada's fourth largest Gay Pride parade every year.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

No more so than most places. There is a longstanding Afro-Nova Scotian community present here that claims continued instances of prejudice, but overall people get along and race relations are good. No gender equality issues of note. This is a fairly uniform population of British Isles background, along with smaller pockets of Afro-Nova Scotians, a relatively recent influx of Chinese and a noteworthy and prosperous population of Lebanese decent (mostly Christians who came during the civil war in the 70s).

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Incredibly friendly people, a very pleasant, livable city. Big enough to have big city amenities, while small enough to avoid big city problems like crime, traffic, crowds, etc. Great access to all water activities (Nova Scotia is known as Canada's Ocean Playground). Great nature all around. Fall foliage trips up north along the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton in the fall are outstanding.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Visit Pier 21 (Canada's equivalent to Ellis Island), the Titanic cemetary, the Citadel fort. Peggy's Cove for a scenic lobster fishing village and climbing along the rocks next to its iconic lighthouse. Cruising on the Bluenose schooner in UNESCO heritage village Lunenburg. There are small ski hills at Martock and Wentworth around 45-90 minutes away. Free ice skating on the Oval in winter (they will rent you skates for free if you hand over your id). Watching a taping of "This Hour Has 22 Minutes" (Canada's answer to The Daily Show).

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Not really. Maybe some local arts and crafts, but nothing noteworthy.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Great quality of life. Feels like a small town, but offers big city amenities. Haligonians (what you call people from Halifax) are very proud of their city and don't want to live anywhere else.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Halifax is smaller than people typically perceive, perhaps because it features prominently on most world maps (but mostly because there is nothing else sizeable anywhere near it!). It's only about 450,000 for the entire metro area. It's also much more isolated than people realize. The next nearest Canadian city of any size is Quebec City, about ten hours drive away. It would take about 11 hours just to drive to Boston. It is further east than Bermuda, and only has limited (and expensive) flight connections to the US (Boston and New York, with seasonal flights to Florida), although it does have US preclearance at the airport, so you go through US immigration and customs formalities before you get on the plane, then arrive in the US as if off of a domestic flight.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely. I've loved it here.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Big city attitude.

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4. But don't forget your:

Warm clothes; even in summer, night time temperatures can get a bit chilly.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Shattered City - a made-for-TV type movie documenting the horrific 1917 Halifax Explosion when two WW I munitions ships collided in Halifax Harbor, producing the largest man-made explosion until Hiroshima. Thousands died, and even more injured and/or blinded. The city of Boston sent up a relief train, and in gratitude the province of Nova Scotia has been providing the annual Christmas tree to the Boston Commons every year since the 70s.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Very strong personal and family connections between the citizens of Halifax and New England (what they call "the Boston States"). People cheer for Boston sports teams and feel a close affinity to Americans in general. Very welcoming place to live!

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Halifax, Canada 02/22/10

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Have lived all over the world.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Only one direct flight to Washington, DC, so with a change of planes in NYC it's probably around 3 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

5 months.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

houses mainly. Not a huge pool, but decent

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

good selection but more expensive than in US

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

none.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

similar to the US

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

mosquitoes and black flies in the spring (out in the country more than the city).

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Canada Post - expensive but decent.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

available, $15-20/hr.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

yes

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

as in US

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

yes, all.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

yes.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

English is predominant, with some French.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

quite a few hills, but generally most buildings are accessible

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

yes, yes

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

any, though SUVs are good in the winter

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

yes, $30/mo.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

all are pretty good.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

yes.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

some, not many.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

biz.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

no

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

no, good but not up to US level for hi-tech critical care.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

good.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

4 seasons. Cold, damp, snowy winters, short but pleasant spring and fall, and 80 degree summers.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

pretty large.

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2. Morale among expats:

good.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

good, esp if you like to drink.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

yes for all

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

most likely

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

no

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling north and south along the coast, change of leaf colors in the fall, and x-country skiing at a nearby national park.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

sightseeing, ocean sports, skiing, golf, hiking, etc

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

maple syrup

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Lovely seacoast, quaint sections of the city, good food (esp seafood), similar (but NOT the same) culture as in U.S.

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11. Can you save money?

not really

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

yes

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

attitude

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3. But don't forget your:

smile

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

It's a nice little city. Not for party animals, but great for outdoors folks

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