Burning thoughts about renting in Halifax from the Haligonians in the trenches

"It’s depressing, disheartening and avoidable."

We asked readers to share their thoughts about renting in Halifax, and they had a lot to say. (This isn't all of it.)

Who the heck are these million-dollar condos for?

Location isn’t everything if the place looks like you’d need a tetanus shot to live there.

It’s expensive compared to salaries.

Bedbugs should be handled as a public health issue. Pitting landlord against tenant over the highly transportable things results in tenants and landlords hiding/lying and further allows the spread of the bugs.

Rent control measures need to be in place. I will be priced out of my current building within the next two years (after living in it nearly 10 years). Reasonably affordable units for middle-income single folks on the peninsula are limited—never mind low income or working poor. The transit infrastructure is so incredibly poor; living off the peninsula but working downtown means 60-90 minutes of commuting daily. City plans around increasing residential density downtown appear targeted for the wealthy, business and elite. It’s frustrating.

Left the apartment on April 30th and have left the city. Fed up.

An expensive rental market—driven by the annual influx of students who have no choice but to pay—has been compounded by an influx of empty nesters who are forced by hospital closures to move to Halifax to access health care. The end result prices working people out of the market. I could buy something far nicer for the same yearly costs, but high rent makes it hard to save for a down payment, much less do the sort of investing for retirement that financial advisors claim makes renting better than buying.

As a single female renter I’ve been sexually harassed, cornered and propositioned by my landlords. I’ve lived in buildings that are poorly maintained to the point of being borderline uninhabitable, and I’ve paid through the ass for it. Oh, did I mention I also have a dog? If you rent with a dog in Halifax, prepare to pay top dollar or you’re sol.

I will buy a house outside the HRM. All my work is online and I’m tired of other people.

Everything has gone up by about $200 in the past two years, but wages have stayed the same.

The rent is too damn high.

Earning significant income/profit just off of owning property should be illegal. Everybody needs friggin' housing, dudes.

I really wish there were better alternative websites to Kijiji. Also that landlords would give actual notice when scheduling viewings and not schedule them during working times.

I don’t understand how it’s more expensive than Montreal.

It's a hellscape, I can't overstate how lucky we got with our current living situation.

THERE HAS GOT TO BE A BETTER WAY! Tiny house developments, more co-ops, the mythical low-income housing spaces, something!!

It's fucking hopeless. I'm 33 and have no chance of being roommateless in the future. I HAVE NEVER LIVED ALONE. This is 100 percent because of my financial situation and, now, availability. I have the type of unit that people PROBABLY think is a sweet deal, because it's nice in theory, but it's a mouse house and a fucking bitch to heat. And frankly, it's way too big and I can't afford to furnish it. But, I cannot find a one-bedroom situation for what I pay for half of my house.

My place is tiny (250 square feet), but for me it's OK. It's not perfect (my landlord is not at all responsive), but I realize how lucky I am to have a place I can afford.


Landlords take advantage of renters. That’s not really a secret in Halifax. A lot of landlords don't seem to take care of their properties either, which is confusing. Why ruin your huge investment?    We've lived in our apartment for less than a year, and the landlord has been cited by the city twice. Why is Halifax like this?

I have heard SO MANY horror stories about apartments in this city so I actually count myself lucky that my only problems really are high price for one person, shitty kitchen and ants in the walls. That seems to be on the better side of things somehow?????

More expensive than my decade in Toronto.

AIRBNB IS THE WORST THING TO EVER HAPPEN TO THIS CITY. Also we need more rental properties.

We need rent control back. Rents are out of control. I don't know how people can afford them.

Prices are ridiculous. Worse even because transit is so bad outside the centre. Virtually no affordable apartments with an elevator, which is bad for elderly and disabled.

Housing should be provided by the state and not left to the market.

It is atrocious. It took me three months to find a new apartment to move into for June, and the only thing I could afford on the peninsula was a bachelor apartment (which typically go for around $1,000 for a single room to live in). I just wish that apartments were more affordable for those of us who live alone and have pets.

Why is rent control not a thing here?

Airbnb is ruining an already rampant housing crisis so yuppies can make even more $$.

Affordable housing doesn't mean we have to live in shitholes. It means we want to live comfortably while still providing for our families.

I left Toronto a couple of years ago because of the high cost of living. I'm now seeing almost the same prices in Halifax that I saw in Toronto, just before I left (a two-bedroom in the worst neighbourhood in TO for $1,600 plus utilities).

If we ever break up, one of us gets to keep the apartment and the other will probably just have to skip town.

Rent control would make me not live in fear of an unmanageable rent increase.

I wish they would stop building high-end condos and provide more mid-range buildings people can actually afford.

If I had it all to do over. I never would have moved here. The medical system is broken beyond repair. The odds are very good that I'd still be able to work and have a good life. I survived being shot and stabbed, moving here to Halifax and I end up disabled and fighting for a pension. I recommend to people I know not to move, and just visiting is risky.

It’s terrifying and has gotten worse within the seven years I’ve lived here. It’s scary.

Landlords are heartless scumbags, we live in shitholes, they keep raising the rent and fixing nothing while they literally live in mansions. We're sharing two washers and two dryers between three buildings, all of which are out of date for servicing and break down on a regular basis

I’ve lived next to huge bodies of water my entire life, and I’ve never seen a mouse in any home or apartment I’ve ever lived. So why the heck are there so many mice in Halifax that it’s weirder if you DON’T have mice???

If you can move off the peninsula, rent is much more reasonable. If public transit was better, housing would be a lot more affordable for people.

It’s depressing, disheartening and avoidable.

We love this city and want to stay but it's difficult.

It’s not just housing. It’s the prevalence of minimum wage, lack of job security and huge problems with welfare for low-income people.

Owners should provide curtains. Windows are different sizes.


The city needs to take a more proactive approach to affordable housing and social housing rather than accepting that the province will manage it, because the city is best able to meet housing needs at the local level (although it would require more staff with different expertise).

I work for one of the local shelters doing housing support, so I am way too aware of the shit housing and shitty landlords that are out there.

There is no protection from the residential tenancy board. The regulations of rentals are antiquated and favour landlords (by intention). NS is far behind most other Canadian provinces and the system is disingenuous to exploit vulnerable renters and benefit monied landlords—like most things is this province.

I feel bad for anyone looking.

I am the young white hipster moving into a historically poor black neighbourhood because it's affordable. I don't feel good about that, but don't have any other good options.

Rent control now. Renting in Halifax is a complete nightmare. If you have a dog over 20 pounds, you’re screwed. Also, the idea that small dogs are better behaved, which most property managers think, is so nuts.

If you want student living (i.e. cheap, rundown houses turned into 10 apartments and not taken care of) there are heaps of options. But I’m 30, I don’t want to live in a frat house and the next step up seems to be that or $2,000 for a one-bedroom. That’s crazy. So instead, we’re moving out of Halifax and getting a second car, BECAUSE THAT'S CHEAPER.

Finding a place to rent in Halifax has become a nightmare. Knowing the house we currently live in would be put on the market this spring, we’ve been looking for something for five-plus months.   Everything has become unaffordable for us. We want to stay on the peninsula (we can’t afford to own a car so need to be able to walk/take buses), to be able to live the community that we work in and contribute to. We want to live in a flat with garden space and not a new condo building or basement apartment. Everything we’ve seen is either out of our price range or a step down in quality. We’re in our mid-30s and don’t want to live in student housing nor should we have to.     The affordable housing crisis has become so bad that when an affordable unit comes up (especially a flat in house) the ad gets such an overwhelming response that if you don’t write them within an hour or two of it being posted, you’re out of luck. 

Airbnb and developers are ruining the affordable renting market, making it very difficult to find a place to live for many people I know.

I still don't know where the people are that they keep putting in new condos. I guess they don't come downtown.

I feel like my housemates and I are extremely lucky, and if we ever had to leave this apartment we would be extremely hard-pressed to find anything affordable and also relatively good quality. it seems like this city is setting very poor precedents when it comes to how renters are treated and how landlords are able to benefit.

Everyone I know has been fucked over in renting in Halifax, either by not having their deposit returned, huge rent increases, mice for days or landlords doing sketchy things. Why do we all deal with it??

For god's sake, we need to find a way to help young people realistically get into the housing market without living with their parents or having rich parents buy them a house.

G-R-I-M. "The best thing about Dartmouth" is no longer just the view but rather the sweet ability to live cheap(er) and nic(er) on the other side.

Halifax has incredibly high rent and very low wages :(

I hope the bubble bursts, and very soon. The young can't afford places on their own, they're three and four in a one-bedroom apartment.


My previous apartment is now Airbnbs. Enough said.

The absence of rent control is atrocious. And tenants don’t know their minimal rights. The cost of living in Halifax vs the average income in Halifax is FUCKED.

The high-end apartment buildings are bullshit. We lived in one for a year and our appliances broke multiple times and our building manager was hard to get a hold of and never tried to replace them. Our washer had an ongoing issue that was fixed five times; like at that point just replace the unit?

We need a landlord registry and rent control. Housing is a right and should not be a commodity.

Why is it so hard to get a place with laundry? With our weather, it's ridiculous to expect tenants to go to a coin laundromat instead.


As a single parent who works 40+ hours a week at an above-minimum wage job, I should not have to find a roommate just to be able to pay my rent. Something needs to be done. There needs to be more affordable housing options in better neighbourhoods. All these new buildings going up rent for $1,600/month. Who can afford that?! There also needs to be more accountability for shitty landlords. Going through the tenancy board for anything is a joke. Something needs to change or there’s going to be a lot more homeless people living on streets because of the rental situation here.

I don't think I'll ever be able to afford living on the peninsula. I put my personal safety in jeopardy so I can have an affordable place to live. Affordable housing is extremely rare in the Halifax/Dartmouth area, so if you need somewhere less than $1,000/month you have to put your safety on the line and move into dangerous areas because that's all you can afford to choose from.

I feel as if this will be my last rental on the peninsula. I LOVE Halifax but with rent increase and new development I am feeling pushed out of the city. I should not be working full time making well above minimum wage and not able to afford a place to live.

I shouldn’t be making the amount of money that I do and still have a roommate at my age in order to be comfortable with my financial situation.

I have no problem with renting, but I would like to have my own home. I make decent money and love my job, but the housing cost in Halifax is outrageous. Most homes in the city are nearly half a million dollars or more and with the cost of living these days, who can get to that level. I’m 46 years old and feel I may get there, but do you have to be close to retirement in order to get there? Most of my brothers and sisters were born way before myself, and the cost of their homes when they bought them were half of what they cost today.

Between the continuous rising rental prices and zero support federally for student loan debt, it’s hard to see a future where I will be able to meaningfully contribute to the economy by having equity and financial freedom to invest in my own future. (And save money for emergencies and retirement.) It’s a shame that some landlords feel the need to exploit people in similar situations as mine for their own personal gain.

How the hell do people find a place?? Everything is snatched up and applying for a place reminds me of applying for a job. Seems like you can do everything right and still have your application rejected.

I think affordable housing (whether renting or owning) is out of control in this city, especially with what people are being paid.

I never wanted to move here because of the cost of rent and what you get for what you pay. It's complete nonsense. It was a hard sell getting my roommate to move from downtown to Spryfield, but it's totally worth it. It'll do fine until I'm ready to buy a house, which will most likely be in Lake Echo because buying a house is just as ridiculous in Halifax as renting a decent place.

I’m really scared for lower-middle class people. I’m comfortable paying what I pay now only because it’s cheap. I likely won’t be able to move and I know so many people who have seriously struggled with affordable housing. It is a crisis. It needs attention. It will not solve itself. Airbnbs need some form of regulation. Halifax is too damn small for them all.

It is hard to be a single person living in the city. Rent is higher for one-bedroom and bachelor apartments, but doing it on a single income can be a struggle.

It is ridiculously hard to find an affordable apartment. It took me the better part of a year to find one for a price I was willing to pay. I am happy with where I am now but it’s definitely more than I planned on spending on rent.

It seems like there is no middle ground. Either you are paying way more than a mortgage payment, or your apartment is a wasteland. Also, Halifax has the absolute WORST in neighbours in apartments. The worst people I have ever known were the people who lived above me in a former apartment. Why can't people be considerate? I've dreamt about buying just to try to escape TERRIBLE neighbours.

It took over a year to find a place that didn't make us laugh or cry upon first look. Hundreds of ads. Dozens and dozens of viewings. Affordable housing shouldn't be shitty.

Last time I was looking for an apartment (two years ago) I found prices were reasonable, but now when searching I'm finding places are getting more expensive! Also when looking at reviews of building management in certain buildings in the city I find the ratings are terrible! A lot of complaints on the people who are managing buildings. Those reviews are always difficult to trust because most people only report the bad things that happen. But it's definitely been difficult to navigate.

The rent is insane, I can barely afford to have a place to live, can't really afford to eat. I work hard for my money and it’s pathetic.

Looking at the continuous construction of luxury condos almost makes me feel stomach sick. I’m not sure who can afford almost $2,000 for a two-bedroom. I can’t. If I could afford to live in one I have to say that I would because I am dying to live somewhere without a century’s worth of dirt and grime in every crevice.

I'm all for drug-free affordable housing, but lots of people smoke, and so we also need drug-friendly affordable housing. This would be much easier if there were more than three affordable housing options in the whole city.

NIMBYs have way too much power about the types of buildings that get approved.

It’s fucking hard and it’s only getting worse. I’m probably going to stay in the same apartment until I can afford to own a house because I’m scared to give my landlord notice and not find anywhere decent to live

Live in Dartmouth! I don’t want to cause a mass influx of people to move here, but I was paying more rent in the south end of Halifax for a shitty one-bedroom than I am four years later for an immaculately run, super-cool apartment in downtown Dartmouth. It takes me 30 minutes to get to work in the south end every day, and the ferry is worth it!

About The Author

Caora McKenna

Caora is the City Editor at The Coast, where she writes about everything from city hall to police and housing issues. She’s been with The Coast since 2017, when she began as the publication’s Copy Editor.

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