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Cost of living

Data was gathered from over 300 International Student Ambassadors living in several communities across Nova Scotia. We included the minimum, maximum, and median.

We recommend students use the Median or Maximum costs when creating their Budgets. We do not recommend students using the reported minimum expenses, as often these are not reasonable spending based on current Cost of Living and Inflation.



Rent and housing costs are dependent on the type of accommodation you have, and the location. 73% of NSCC students who took the Cost-of-Living Survey reported to live with others in a shared living environment.

How much is your rent or mortgage per month –
Halifax Regional Municipality Campus Locations
Type of Housing Maximum Minimum Median
I rent a bachelor/studio apartment. $1,200 $1,170 $1,185
I rent a one bedroom apartment. $2,000 $500 $1,395
I rent a room and I have it to myself or share with my spouse/partner. $2,000 $625 $800
I rent a two bedroom apartment. $2,800 $600 $1,700
I rent a three + bedroom apartment or a house. $2,800 $650 $2,100
All Housing $2,800 $500 $1,200


How much is your rent or mortgage per month –
Rural Campus Locations
Type of Housing Maximum Minimum Median
I rent a bachelor/studio apartment. $1,300 $520 $775
I rent a one bedroom apartment. $1,300 $500 $848
I rent a room and I have it to myself or share with my spouse/partner. $1,300 $500 $650
I rent a two bedroom apartment. $2,600 $700 $1,495
I rent a three + bedroom apartment or a house. $2,500 $550 $1,650
All Housing $2,600 $400 $800


Other housing costs that need to be considered are utilities including internet. Sometimes this is included in the rental costs, however not always. Make sure to check your lease carefully to see what is included.

How much do you spend on utilities per month?
Type of Utilities Maximum Minimum Median
Heat per month? $1200 $20 $200
Electricity per month?
$500 $10 $96
Internet per month?
$200 $10 $75
Water per month?
$150 $16 $50
 Total Monthly (When All Combined) $2,050 $56 $421
Tenants Insurance

Tenants Insurance

NSCC Housing & Student Life recommend students get rental insurance to protect themselves from unexpected losses and damages that can occur.

NSCC students and alumni have access to discounted insurance through our partnership with TD Insurance. Read more about insurance discounts available.

How much does your tenant's insurance cost per month?
Maximum Minimum Median
Tenant's insurance cost per month $200 $14 $30
Temporary Accommodations

Temporary Accommodations

Nova Scotia is experiencing a shortage of rental housing, making finding long term accommodation challenging and expensive. For 77% of our students, it took up to 4 months to secure housing. NSCC does not recommend using temporary (or short-term) housing as a long-term housing solution. Short-term housing should only be used as a solution between your arrival and your lease start date.

Approximately how much did you spend on temporary accommodations (hotels/rentals) per night
Area Maximum Minimum Median
Urban $400 $17 $75
Rural $400 $40 $100
All Areas $400 $16 $90
Living Expenses

Living Expenses

Grocery costs tend to vary depending on your community and diet. Remember that your initial grocery costs may be higher based on purchasing of staple ingredients including spices and other food staples.  

How much do you spend on groceries per month?
Area Maximum Minimum Median
Metro Campus Locations $2,100 $23 $300
Rural $1,500 $50 $300
All Grocery Total $2,100 $23 $300

Various other living expenses are very similar provincially, and do not have variation depending on rural or urban locations. Expenses like phone, leisure, and clothing, are essential for your wellness and success outside of academics. 

How much are your living expenses per month?
Type of Living Costs Maximum Minimum Median
How much do you spend on your phone per month? $200 $17 $50
How much do you spend on leisure activities and personal expenses per month? $1,000 $8 $100
How much did you spend on winter clothing for yourself this year? $1,000 $13 $200
All Other Living Expenses Total When Combined $2,200 $23 $300




Many of our campuses are in rural areas of the province. If you’ve chosen a campus outside Halifax or Dartmouth, you need to plan how you’ll get from the city to your campus community, including planning for the costs associated with transportation. This includes not just your transportation to classes from your home, but for groceries, leisure activities, and other essential transportation needs.

How much do you spend on transportation per month?
Type of Transportation Costs Maximum Minimum Median
How much have you spent on vehicle maintenance this academic year? $5,000 $70 $1,000
How much do you spend on gas per month? $800 $25 $200
How much do you spend on vehicle insurance per month? $450 $30 $211
What was the cost of your bicycle to purchase? $2,300 $120 $490
How much do you spend on public transportation per month? $50 $15 $50
All Transportation $5,000 $15 $50


According to IRCC, International students may work 24 hours per week off campus or full-time during regular breaks. 93% of students who took our survey stated they needed employment to supplement their cost of living.

Student jobs are often paid minimum wage, which is $15.20 per hour before taxes (in Nova Scotia). For example, a student working 20 hours a week earning minimum wages should expect to make about $1200 per month, before taxes. Pay may vary depending on geographical region, or industry of employment.

Please be mindful that it might take time to find the right part time job for you. It’s a good idea to make sure that you have enough funding to cover for your initial expenses.

62% of students within this survey had employment. Depending on your program, and your student permit, you may choose to work more, or less hours to support your academic, financial, and personal wellness.

How many hours per week on average do you work?
Maximum** Minimum Median
Average hours per week reported 70 4 20
**Generally, students find that 20 hours per week provides a good balance for themselves. Course work can be 40 hours or more, and working full-time hours can create academic success challenges for students.
Moving Expenses

Moving Expenses

Moving expenses will look different for everyone. These are the reported moving costs approximately, without flights, that students had.

How much do you spend to move?
Maximum Minimum Median
Approximately how much did you spend to move? $30,000 $5 $600


Children and Youth

Children and Youth

If you are a parent of a youth, there will be additional costs that are essential to consider. 30% of our students within the survey reported being primary financial supporters of children and youth. This is not a wholesome listing of costs related to childcare, however some of the essentials to be prepared for.

How much do you spend to support your children/youth?
Type of expense Maximum Minimum Median
How much did you spend on winter clothing per child this year? $2,000 $50 $300
How much do you spend on childcare per child per month? $1,750 $50 $350
Total expenses when combined $3,750 $100 $650


Unexpected Expenses
Many of our students feel prepared in their planning, however despite this, 55% of students reported that there were costs they were not expecting, and that surprised them. We recommend that student’s budget for emergency and other unexpected expenses. It is a good idea to have enough emergency expenses for up to 3-months.

Common Unexpected Costs:

Buying items for an unfurnished home

  • Many apartments will not be furnished and require you to purchase your own basic items, like as one student indicated a new mattress, living furniture and kitchen supplies

Winter, and weather appropriate clothing

  • Nova Scotia has various micro-climates, meaning the weather can differ greatly between communities, and within seasons. One student stated that it wasn’t only winter, but the temperatures changes so much that you need to dress according to the weather

The cost of internet and phone bills
  • Canada has fairly expensive phone and internet fees, however in many communities there are also extra charges which can happen, as one student indicated the installation fee of internet was surprising for them.

Vehicle related expenses

  • Having a vehicle can support your freedom and success. In some communities it can be very difficult if you do not have a car. Vehicle expenses can be quite a lot, as one student mentioned they were surprised by the costs of summer and winter tires as well as the regular costs of motor vehicle inspection, registration, and insurance.
Medications and prescriptions

  • Various medications can have additional costs, even if you have insurance. It is important to communicate with your insurance provider to see how much of your prescription medications will be covered. One student indicated they were surprised that their medication was not completely covered, and then had to budget for the portion of the regular medication costs.

Paying for certifications and identification

Pet Bills including veterinary hospital bills

  • Many students plan to move to their learning community with their non-human family. It is important to consider the costs of regular health and wellness of your pets, as one student indicated they brought their dogs and was surprised about how expensive vet visits here
Estimated Monthly Costs for Living a Comfortable Life in Nova Scotia

Estimated Monthly Costs for Living a Comfortable Life in Nova Scotia

We asked our students in the 2024 Cost of Living Survey what they though was required to live a comfortable life in Nova Scotia. It is important to recognise that comfortable life is different for each person, but we hope this information will help support your budgeting.

How much do you think a person needs per month to afford to live comfortably in Nova Scotia?
Maximum Minimum Median
How much a person needs per month approximately? $10,000 $200 $2,000