Halifax’s Rental Market Challenge: Scavenger Hunt for Student Accommodation Amid Soaring Costs


In the coastal city of Halifax, seeking an apartment has become akin to a complex and multifaceted scavenger hunt. Only one can emerge victorious, and it certainly feels like a game, shares local resident Lauren McKenney. The extraordinarily tight rental market musters a challenging terrain for those attempting to secure appropriate accommodation.

With the advent of a new school year, students such as Quinn O’Connor from NSCAD had responded to innumerable advertisements months prior, only to witness scant replies. Their quest for potential homes commonplaces like Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace yielded little to no success.

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And O’Connor’s story is hardly unique. Gabriel Savard laments the countless emails and messages he has dispatched into the ether, only to meet an unyielding wall of silence in return.

Despite the constant hum of cranes draping the Halifax skyline and the steady rise of buildings, the vacancy rate stubbornly refuses to follow suit. According to Giacomo Ladas of Rentals.ca, the Halifax vacancy rate presently hovers around a mere one per cent, a result of supply succumbing to demand. Coupled with the turnover rate dipping to its lowest level in half a decade, it paints a clear image of tenants’ hesitation to seek alternate accommodation.

As students fervently battle to secure leases before semesters roll in, the city’s population surges, with shifting interest rates leaving potential homebuyers in a state of limbo. “It’s this interwoven tapestry of factors that brews the perfect storm, driving vacancy rates to their lowest in years,” Ladas explains.

However, the hurdles are not limited to availability alone. Even the financial aspect can prove daunting. McKenney took three lengthy months to stumble upon a satisfactory place to call home. And yet, her one-bedroom (or rather, a studio apartment in disguise), pushes the boundaries in terms of rent.

Rentals.ca further uncovers that the average cost for a one-bedroom unit in Halifax now exceeds $1,800 per month, marking an approximately nine percent surge from the previous year. The ever-increasing hurdles and soaring costs add another layer of complexity to the rental market conundrum.