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Student Housing in Nova Scotia

Finding an affordable place to live near your chosen post-secondary campus is important to the success of your transition to living in Nova Scotia. Finding suitable housing within your budget can be challenging, so the earlier you begin your search, the better. Many places in Canada, including Nova Scotia, need more affordable housing options. Start exploring the housing options on or near your post-secondary campus right away. 

General Recommendations:  

  • Begin your search while awaiting approval on your study permit application.  
  • Check if your intended post-secondary institution offers residences for students.  
  • Explore other housing options within the community (off-campus living) if you need more than on-campus housing options. 
  • Learn about renting safely and your rights as a tenant in Nova Scotia. Be aware and learn to protect yourself from rental scams. 
  • Learn about the Nova Scotia community you will be living in. (link to community page) 
  • If you’re planning to bring children, knowing which schools are close to your chosen post-secondary institution is helpful. (link to institutions page) 


Applying for Housing in Nova Scotia

With your study permit approved, you can now start applying for a place to live close to your future institution. Available housing is typically advertised 2-3 months before the expected move-in date. To prepare for the fall semester, the best time to find housing is between May and July. 

There are a few types of housing options for you to consider:  

  • Temporary Housing  
    Looking for housing from outside Canada can be challenging when choosing the right place, communicating with prospective landlords, and submitting rental applications. The time it takes to find and secure housing can vary and take from weeks to months to be finalized. If you cannot secure long-term housing while you’re still in your home country and you are planning to come to Nova Scotia regardless, you can book a temporary place to stay while you search for permanent housing. Temporary housing is also in high demand, so we recommend not leaving it until the last minute. 
  • On-Campus Housing 
    On-campus student housing provides a convenient and immersive living experience for students. Typically located within or adjacent to campus grounds, these accommodations offer various options, from dormitories to apartment-style residences. On-campus housing fosters a vibrant community atmosphere, encouraging social interaction and collaboration among students. 

    Details about on-campus student housing options – such as room types, cost, meal plans, and more, can be found on your desired institution's website. Students should inform themselves of when to apply and the process to ensure they don’t miss cut-off dates.

Off-Campus Housing 

Off-campus housing provides students with the opportunity to live independently while attending school. Off-campus housing options vary widely, including apartments, rental houses, and shared living spaces. This alternative accommodation offers students greater autonomy and flexibility in living arrangements. While living off-campus, students gain valuable life skills such as budgeting, household management, and interpersonal communication. Off-campus housing offers students the freedom to explore and engage with the broader community despite being farther from campus facilities. Some things to consider when looking for off-campus housing include:  

  • Location

    We recommend giving preference to places close to your chosen post-secondary institution. If you are considering off-campus housing that is further away from your post-secondary institution, you will want to ensure you have considered the availability of an affordable and reliable transportation option. It would be best to consider the proximity of core amenities and services, including stores, pharmacies, and bus stops. If you have children, consider housing near elementary or secondary schools. 

  • Quality

    Check to ensure places are clean and well-kept and have proper ventilation, windows, and fire alarms/extinguishers. Ensure there’s no history of bed bugs/pests, mould, or water leaks. 

  • Costs of Renting

    Verify what is included in the rent (i.e. electricity, heat, hot water, WI-FI, and laundry) and ask if there are any additional costs, such as tenant insurance or parking fee. Ensure your budget for anything that is not included.  

  • Rental Agreement

    A rental agreement, or lease, is a contract between a landlord and a tenant. The landlord grants the tenant the right to occupy a rental unit. In return, the tenant commits to paying rent. The contract may also include other terms and rules. When you sign a rental agreement, you agree to respect those terms and regulations.

    A written rental agreement is an official record of what you and the landlord agree to. If there’s a dispute later, the rental agreement helps to settle it. If you have a guarantor, the landlord will sign a contract that describes their responsibilities.

    Every lease should include: 

    • The start date of the lease 
    • Contact information for the landlord or their agent  
    • A description of the rental space 
    • The total rent cost per month or week (you may be required to set up direct deposit and may need a bank account in Canada to do so) 
    • Appliances, utilities, and services included in the rent 
    • The amount of any security deposit 
    • Requirements for ending the lease
  • Tenant Rights

    When renting housing off campus, it is important to understand your rights as a tenant to ensure you know what is legal for a potential landlord to ask of you. The Nova Scotia Residential Tenancies Guide to Renting outlines some of the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords in Nova Scotia. 

  • Rental Scams

    Watch out for rental scams. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  

    Warning signs of rental scams include: 

    • The monthly rent is much less than the current market rate. 
    • You’re asked to leave a deposit without any formal rental agreement or lease in place. 
    • You’re asked to send a security deposit to a landlord outside the country. 
    • You’re offered a rental unit, but no one does a background check on you. 
    • When you ask about the rental unit, you get an email that sends you to a website asking for personal or financial information.  
    • Ads that show pictures of the outside of the rental unit only or pictures that don’t match the actual property.  

     Avoid falling for rental scams by considering the following: 

    • If possible, view the listing in person. 
    • Ask for a lease or a contract. 
    • Verify the address. 
    • Understand your rights.  
    • Check with the rental resources in the area.