ISO 9001 | Regulated by RICS


Understanding the Rising Costs of Living in Halifax: A Deeper Dive

Recently, I was speaking to a friend who had been looking for an apartment in Halifax. She shared her experience of the difficulty she went through to finally secure a one-bedroom apartment for about $2,500 on the peninsula. She mentioned how sub-leasing wasn’t a thing anymore because landlords now have hordes of people on waiting lists. As a result, tenants either had to stick out a rental contract or buy themselves out of one.

Putting on my economist hat, I noted that while costs are not rising as fast as they did in previous years, many new units are expected to come onto the market soon. This should, in theory, alleviate some cost pressures on renters. However, she responded by saying that, regardless of broader economic trends, she is paying significantly more now than she did a few years ago.

This conversation made me ponder whether we are focusing on the right comparisons when discussing inflation and cost-of-living increases. Specifically, the record-breaking price increases began in 2021, so comparing prices year-over-year might not capture the full picture of how much more people are paying now compared to a few years ago.

Rental Cost Increases: A Long-Term Perspective

Looking at the data, we see that the costs for rental accommodations (rents, tenants’ insurance premiums, and tenants’ maintenance, repairs, and other expenses) have increased by 25.7% in Atlantic Canada between 2020 and 2024. For context, this is nearly double the increase seen between 2010 and 2020, which was 13.6%.

Overall Price Changes: A Comprehensive View

Overall prices, including a wide range of consumer goods and services, have grown by 17.5% between 2020 and 2024. This is a comparable increase to the 17.2% rise seen between 2010 and 2020.

Analyzing the Trends

The annualized increases shown in the charts provide a more detailed look at these trends. The significant spike in rental costs and overall prices since 2020 reflects the compounded effects of various economic pressures, including supply chain disruptions, increased demand for housing, and broader inflationary trends.

What This Means for Renters

When people talk about a cost-of-living issue, these are the increases they are referring to, not just the year-over-year changes reported in the news. The sustained increase in rental costs has placed a considerable burden on renters, making it more challenging to find affordable housing.

Looking Ahead

While the influx of new housing units might offer some relief, the current trends indicate that the cost of living, particularly in terms of rental accommodations, has seen a substantial long-term increase. This underlines the importance of considering a broader range of factors and longer timelines when discussing inflation and cost-of-living changes.


Understanding the rising costs of living requires looking beyond short-term fluctuations and examining longer-term trends. The data clearly shows that renters in Halifax and the broader Atlantic Canada region are facing significant increases in their living expenses, which highlights the need for comprehensive strategies to address housing affordability.

By focusing on these broader trends, we can better understand the challenges facing renters and work towards solutions that provide sustainable relief.

Jigme Choerab is manager of our Economic Intelligence Unit. For more information about how you can benefit from the unique expertise of our Planning & Economic Intelligence team, contact Jigme at (902) 429-1811 or .

Contact Us