Downtown Halifax is the province’s hottest neighbourhood—is it right for you?

“The dream is to be able to find a house that’s in good condition, is the size you want, is on the peninsula and you can afford,” says homeowner Denise Gow-Morse, 28.Gow-Morse didn’t achieve the goal, but she came as close she could. She and her husband, Trevor Morse, moved to Fairview about a year and a half ago. After looking at many houses, the couple purchased a property that’s about a 15-minute drive from downtown Halifax.“The homes
[we looked at] were often lovely and the prices were low, but some of the neighbourhoods just didn’t feel like one I’d want to walk around by myself at night,” says Gow-Morse. “In the end we had to go on a bit of a mid-ground. We chose a neighbourhood that isn’t in Halifax proper, but it’s safe.”Vixie Brown, 28, also factored in safety and proximity when she and partner Norman Allen decided if they should buy the house they rented in Spryfield.

“We have a cute home in Spryfield in a quiet, residential neighbourhood that was quite affordable and we love it,” says Brown, who took ownership of the house in January. “Looking outside of the downtown area and considering more suburban areas is worthwhile, as they are a short drive or slightly long bus ride from downtown.”

Some residents are achieving the downtown living dream, as new homeowners migrated to the peninsula within the last few years. The number of new homes sold in Halifax has held steady since 2013.

“The North and West ends seem to be hotbeds right now,” says Audrey Wamboldt, a mortgage specialist with Approved Mortgage Professionals Ltd. “That’s an area people are looking at. They’re buying up the older properties, fixing them up, and reclaiming that area for themselves.”

The walkability of these central neighbourhoods is a draw.
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“You have property that’s right in the heart of the city, so you’re in walking distance to pretty much everything. You have access to services like universities, schools, hospitals, and shopping,” says Wamboldt. “I think that’s why that demand is there now.”

Others are moving into the downtown area to live closer to potential job opportunities.

“When looking around and seeing the number of construction cranes around the city, that instills confidence in people,” says Glenn Musgrave, a property facilitator with Royal LePage Atlantic.

But these properties are also becoming more expensive.

“I grew up in the North End and my grandmother’s house on Fuller Terrace went for $96,000 and it would be in the range of $250,000 today,” says Wamboldt.

Musgrave says many of his younger clients are living in the downtown to start with, but eventually they move out to the suburbs or other outlying areas.

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