Sometimes I wonder if I could love living in a small city. A smaller, less expensive city. Where I would know my neighbors. Be able to have a meaningful impact in local politics. Buy a building with a storefront downstairs, live my main street retirement dreams. Maybe I buy a place now, rent it out until the mortgage is paid off, and have it as my home base one day.
This is how I found myself looking at real estate in Halifax. And then sending requests on Home Exchange.
I interrogated everyone I met who’d been to Halifax about whether or not I’d need a car. While we ended up having a car, since we road tripped it, we basically parked it and didn’t use it at all while we were there. You don’t need a car in Halifax! Everything is walking distance or a quick cab ride. Or a long walk, if you’re me.
If you do have a car, a little bit of a walk outside the downtown core will also get you free parking.
I’m a big fan of working from libraries and other spaces where I can hang out all day without feeling guilty for taking up space (and outlets) and not spending a ton of money on coffee and snacks. Halifax has a beautiful new library that’s a great place to work.
Don’t worry, there’s also coffee in the library at the Pavia Gallery.
I am a sucker for anything typography themed. And anywhere with both coffee and killer cocktails.
I’m not sure what to make of the climbing wall, but this is one of the best spots in North End. All things to everyone, eh?
I love a spot that’s right on the water. And has wifi. And coffee. And outlets. The only issue is that it’s probably already packed. Sorry. They do have a couple locations, so maybe you’ll get lucky.
If you work long enough, you can reward yourself with a cocktail.
This is a huge space with lots of tables and cozy couches. If it seems full, there’s a not so obvious downstairs area with more seating.
I give points for unique decor and this place fits the bill. There are lots of things that work in a coffee shop and not a home, like a bathtub as a couch.
If you need some color to inspire your work or fill up your Insta feed, this is the spot.
Beautiful clean, white decor. Not a ton of seating, but it’s so charming.
If you’re feeling homesick for Toronto, they brew up Detour.
Let’s be honest that the food in Halifax was just not that great. Maybe I didn’t go to the right spots. Maybe I’m just spoiled. Who knows. There was only one spot that stood out for me: the Hali Deli.
The Hali Deli
That’s right: a fake classic Jewish deli. Marooned in Nova Scotia, where they have to provide an honest to goodness glossary on the back of the menu to explain what things are. I’m pretty critical of fake diners and have specific expectations for traditional Jewish foods, but they really got it all right here. You wouldn’t even know that it hasn’t been around for fifty years because everything seems so authentically worn.
We discovered this pretty early into our two weeks in Halifax and let’s not talk about how many times we went.
Just remember that it’s cash only. There’s a hotel across the street, so sometimes it’s mobbed by (very lucky) tourists.
My only regret is not getting a milkshake.
This is one of those spots where it’s so on trend you could be in New York or Paris. Multiple people suggested this place for having the best seafood in town.
I’d started to think maybe I didn’t like Canadian beer. This trip taught me that I just don’t like Ontario beer. Tough for a girl who lives in Ontario and likes craft beer, but I’ll figure it out. The craft brews we had in Halifax were all fantastic and there are enough breweries to keep you busy.
No matter where we went, servers kept asking “What are you guys up to the rest of the night?” I wasn’t sure if everyone had been trained to ask that at the same restaurant or if they were just defensive that Halifax totally has lots of things to do every night.
2 Crows Brewing
This might be the most photogenic brewery in Halifax. The patio wasn’t open yet when we were there. Is that reason enough to go back to Halifax? Maybe.
This place had just opened when we were in town, so it was like our own secret bar. Except for the bachelor party that came through, but whatever.
The only thing better than the beers were the bartender.
Good Robot Brewing
This place was packed every time we tried to go, so we finally bit the bullet and squeezed in. They have a great patio setup and seem to always have events going on.
They’re super into copper pipes. And robots. They’ve got some serious vision happening here.
After a road trips worth of lackluster motels, we were pretty happy to arrive in Halifax and have an apartment. Or, rather, two apartments. We spend a week on the North End in a loft and a week in a condo downtown. Both spots were walkable to Quinpool Road.
This is the cool neighborhood in Halifax. There are a ton of cafes, boutiques, and bars along Gottingen Street. There’s also stuff going on by Agricola and the Hydrostone.
The city is so small that it’s still just a short walk downtown. Which is good, because the North End isn’t great for access to practical things like groceries and pharmacies.
Halifax is a pretty small city, so the downtown isn’t overwhelming. It’s great for proximity to restaurants, bars, museums, and shopping.
Even in the middle of downtown, things are pretty quiet at night. We had a balcony overlooking the citadel and the harbour, which was lovely.
I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but walk the length of the waterfront.
Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
This was much more fun and much larger than I expected. You can easily spend a few hours there. This is a must-see museum for Halifax.
Canadian Museum of Immigration
This did not live up to my hopes and dreams, but that’s not really a shock, since I’m a nerd about immigration history. I was a big fan of the timeline of immigration history, though. Things were designed to be easy to understand and interactive.
This would be super fun if you’re under 12 or if you’re trying to keep kids entertained.
This is free for Canada 150, so it’s silly not to go. If you’re the type of person to nerd out on military history, you already know you’re excited about this. If not, it’s still a fun way to spend an hour.
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
I liked this museum because it focuses on local artists. It’s a great way to get a feel for life in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Canada, rather than seeing one more in a series of the same mega art stars.
Halifax Public Gardens
Who can resist a beautiful garden? It’s free and open all day. Get some fresh air and sunshine.