Nova Scotia

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

People from other parts of Canada are coming to Nova Scotia in search of real estate that offers something different — something secluded, something small town, something safer.

'It's kind of like 2019 out here, in a good way'

Bruce and Tanya Cameron saw pictures and video of their new home in Mushaboom, N.S., but bought it before setting foot inside. (Tanya Cameron)

Bruce and Tanya Cameron left Toronto in their moving truck on a Tuesday. By Friday, they were quarantining in their newly bought oceanfront home, and neighbours were leaving notes offering to pick them up supplies at the store.

The Camerons decided to purchase their new home in Mushaboom, N.S., based solely on pictures and video tours.

Mushaboom is a rural community near Sheet Harbour and is close to the eastern limit of the Halifax Regional Municipality.  

"We love Toronto. It's an amazing city," Tanya said. "But it hasn't been the same in the last year. Everything in it shut down. You can't go anywhere or do anything.

"It's a different world out here. It's kind of like 2019 here, in a good way.".

One of many families to relocate

The Camerons are just one example of people from other parts of the country coming to Nova Scotia in search of real estate that offers something different — something secluded, something small-town, something safer.

Video tours have become the norm for real estate agents trying to attract out-of-province buyers. 

Local real estate markets have been heating up throughout the pandemic. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

Nova Scotia's business development agency has been airing advertisements in other provinces featuring picturesque Nova Scotia landscapes with the text: "If you can work anywhere, work from here."  

500% increase in sales

Stephen O'Leary is a land developer near Bridgewater, N.S., and president of Waters Edge Leisure Living. 

Typically he sells 10 to 12 plots of land a year. Since the pandemic began, he's sold 60, and expects even more this year.

"Our phones start ringing almost uncontrollably. Nova Scotia's beautiful, I think it's now regarded as very safe," O'Leary said.

Land developer Stephen O'Leary points to different plots of land that have been purchased by people from across the country. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

The demand was clear during a recent tour of one of his land developments. "Lot 9, that's Ontario. Lot 8, also from Ontario. Lot 4, there is a couple moving down from the Yukon," he explained.

He pointed to another area of undeveloped woods across the lake and described the progress already made for the Ontario buyers there.

"We've got the plans approved and the permits in hand. It's a large house. They've never been here. They've never visited this province. And they're moving here," he said.

While he appreciates the massive uptick in business, he said he wouldn't personally be as cavalier with his own real estate decisions.

"I wouldn't call Leon's and ask them to send me a mattress that I haven't tried out either. So I don't know, I respect their courage for sure," O'Leary said.



Brett Ruskin


Brett Ruskin is a reporter and videojournalist covering everything from local breaking news to national issues. He's based in Halifax.