Most of this is targeted towards the Annapolis Valley but some will be general NS info.
Government, Utilities and All the Other Boring Stuff
- Government of Nova Scotia; The leading party right now is NDP and that's going about as well as one can imagine. I like NDP in theory but they aren't the best money managers.
- Vehicle Registration; You have to have your vehicle inspected before you can get your plates. You take your car to any registered mechanic to do this. I can't remember how much this is but it's definitely under $100 unless of course you need work done. We had to replace the windshield.
- Driver's License; You have to be at least 16 to get your beginner's. To switch over to a NS license go here.
- Health Card; You'll need to hold on to your out of province health card until the first day of the third month following the date that you establish residency. Start the application before your card expires.
- Health Care; There's a couple of "hospitals" in the Valley. The real one is in Kentville. It's pretty much the same as it is everywhere in that doctors are hard to come by. Public physiotherapists are covered. Dentists and optometrists are covered for kids under 10. Midwives are a lost cause. This really breaks my heart. There are doulas though!
- Taxes; 15% HST. Provincial taxes are more. My tax refund is a whole $1k less than it would have been at Ontario rates. Here's a provincial tax calculator that compares rates across the country. My property taxes are significantly cheaper than they were in NWO. Townies complain they are high but they're cheap out here in the boonies.
- Insurance; Providers are private. Cheaper than Ontario but not sure about the rest of the country. Definitely worth shopping around. The Mutual companies seem to be cheaper and less picky.
- Employment; As of February 2011 the unemployment rate in NS was 9.5%. I've heard differing things concerning jobs locally. Several tradespeople have said there are lots of jobs available to willing workers. Others have said it's very hard to find a job. Like most places, health care workers and skilled tradespeople are in demand. If you have a work from home business there will certainly be less pressure. Lots of the jobs that are available are minimum wage ($9.65) but the cost of living is less than most of Canada.
- Hydro; Nova Scotia Power provides the electricity. I recommend you get a generator! No deposit required.
- Phone/Cable/Internet; For chatting there is BellAliant, Rogers and Eastlink depending on where you are. Again shop around and pit them against each other for the best rate!
- Heat; Most homes heat with oil and/or wood. Natural gas is relatively new and not widespread. Most insurers are going to require tanks be replaced every 10 or so years. Cost is about $2000 for a new, filled tank. Wood is $200/cord on average, unless you have a woodlot in which case happy chopping.
- Septic; If you're rural you'll have septic which needs to be emptied periodically. If you're buying a house, get the sellers to pump it before they leave or provide documents of when it was last pumped.
- Water; City provided or a well if rural. You'll have to contact your specific municipality for water payments. If you have a well, get it tested regularly (every 6 months) especially in the Valley due to the amount of farming.
- Real Estate; There are real estate agents all through NS that deal with specific areas but your best bet for browsing is the MLS. The main Realtors in the Valley are Remax and Exit Realty.
- Moving Options; If you drive, the cheapest way to move that doesn't involve selling all your stuff is to rent a Uhaul. It's cheaper to tow a trailer then to rent the whole van but that depends on your towing capabilities. I don't drive so we had to hire movers. From North Western Ontario to the Valley it cost us $6k to move our 5000lbs of stuff (we don't have that much just lots of heavy books).
- Hotels; There's a couple of chain hotels in the area but the little motels are cheaper and decent enough. Just search Google maps for phone numbers.
- Transportation; The main highway that runs all the way from Halifax through the Valley to Yarmouth is the 101. If you want a more scenic route through the Valley, take the Evangeline Trail. It drives through all the small towns. Our house is on it, so stop on in. If you don't want to drive there is the option of bus service. King's Transit travels from Wolfville all the way to Weymouth for $3.50 a ride.