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That Small Town Appeal

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Dispatches from Digby by Shawnalynn Cromwell

The province of Nova Scotia is being invaded by “come-from-aways!”  Canadians are flocking to Nova Scotia for that steal of a housing market, the downgrade from the city life to that small-town feel, and the big one–our low  COVID-19 case counts!

Canadians are buying homes here in Nova Scotia sight unseen!  It sounds wacky, but in these times, who can blame them?  If a person can afford to pack up and move to another province and into a home, they have only seen in pictures – then I guess it is their prerogative.

It seems that every five minutes, I see on a local Facebook page people moving to Nova Scotia.  I see people moving from Ontario, Alberta; the list is long and growing by the day.  They are moving into Digby, the Annapolis Valley, all across Nova Scotia!  It is mind-boggling when most of us think of Nova Scotia. We believe it is beautiful but challenging to live in Nova Scotia. Most parents with university-aged children – in virtually all circumstances – see their children leaving after graduation. But now we have Canadians from other provinces flocking to Nova Scotia and our fellow Atlantic Provinces.  

I do not know about you, but I find this so encouraging, and it also gives one a sense of pride as a Nova Scotian – to think that people are willing to move here sight unseen!  When the country next to us was in fear of a particular individual becoming president in 2016, that country’s people were inquiring about moving to Cape Breton.  And with the last election in 2020, Americans were considering immigrating to Cape Breton once again.  

A street of sidewalk cafes is shut down, with the street empty of people and the chairs tipped onto the tables. The wide brick sidewalk is almost white. Looks tropical.
Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva from Pexels

Most major cities have become like ghost towns. The office high rises are eerily quiet and empty.  We are all working from home or working in-house in a very staggered and limited capacity.  The vacant buildings are used for entirely different operations.  Landlords are now scratching their heads, wondering how to put a new spin on their properties.  Some landlords are offering one year of free rent to attract tenants to the empty office spaces.

People realize that the “work from home” work option is now more of a way of life. If you have this alternative, you can work from anywhere.  This discernment is giving Canadians and Americans a choice.  Working from home is seen as a way to keep themselves and their families safer.  Never before has work from home been seen as the most viable action by so many employees and employers.

Nova Scotia has become known worldwide for its low COVID-19 case counts and has transformed into the envy of the world.  It is no wonder that Canadians and Americans see our little piece of paradise as a haven.  People are now acting on plans to move to smaller towns and spaces, whereas they would still be mulling it over had the pandemic not brought these plans to the forefront.

In the end, with so many people moving here, there are both benefits as well as challenges.    The challenges of so many people moving here are the obvious strain on some services – the healthcare system for one and maybe a challenge to the “way we do things” as small towns.   But the benefits these people are bringing would be money to our economy, life to our streets and fresh energy to our social innovation work.  And that is bound to be good news for us all.


Nova Scotia Housing Boom Article:

Nova Scotia sees boom in out-of-province buyers snagging homes sight unseen | CBC News

Empty Office Space Article:

It’s a renters’ market for businesses that believe the office will make a comeback post-pandemic | CBC News

Americans consider move if Trump Wins (2016) Article:

‘Cape Breton If Trump Wins’ gets help from tourism agency | CBC News

Americans consider immigrating fearing Election outcome (2020):

Fearing election outcome, U.S. citizens consider moving to Canada | CBC News


Shawnalynn Cromwell is a community ambassador with Inspiring Communities’ nested initiative Turning the Tide in Digby. Shawnalynn is a writer, changemaker and active community member in Weymouth Falls. 

Feature photo by PhotoMIX Company from Pexels

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