One of the most common questions I get asked since moving here has been “why Nova Scotia?” or “why the Valley?”.
Sometimes I feel like saying “just look around you” . Nova Scotia is a beautiful part of the world. The Annapolis Valley has an amazing landscape and in our first year it was fascinating to watch how the valley changed each season.
In the summer the fields fill with crops under brilliant large skies. The trees are so green on the mountains and down in the valley, looking beautiful next to the river. We get spectacular sunsets too.
In the Autumn the deciduous trees change colour to some amazing shades of red and brown. Some mornings the mist rises from the river in the most magical manner. In the winter the fresh snow in the bare trees and weighing down the branches of the pines make the valley look like a magical land. Sometimes it felt like we had moved to Narnia.
Spring takes a long time to come – so when we get the crocus, daffodils and other flowers breaking through they are very welcome.
As well as the natural beauty of the valley the low density of the population makes sure there is plenty of space to go around. Perhaps thats one of the reasons that people are so friendly.
We have found Nova Scotia an amazingly welcoming place to live and have been very pleased to have met so many nice people through work and outside.
There were also economic factors at play which were considerations in the move. In the UK properties in the countryside were out of our price range. To live rurally we would have had to commit to an endless mortgage and with my employment I would probably have had to continue a commute into a city. Traffic congestion, commute times and property prices meant that to achieve what we wanted would have had a terribly high price on our happiness and wellbeing.
Moving to Nova Scotia allowed us to downshift financially. We were able to cash in the equity in our UK house which gave us some funds behind us to pay for our move and equipping a new home (most electrical appliances are not compatible due to different voltage and standards). We knew jobs may not be easy to come by and there would be a gap when neither of us would be able to work. Although property is cheaper in Nova Scotia, wages are also a lot lower than in the UK and there are some costs (such as insurance) which are more expensive.
We love our house
We have a great house. We chose the “heart house” over the modern sensible no maintenance required “head house”. Our house was built in 1833 for Captain Edward Manning-Morse, the grandson of the original settler in our village who moved from Massachusetts. He was originally from Suffolk – where I was born and raised. The house needs a fair amount of work to modernise, make more convenient, and improve to suit our living style but this is a long term project to be undertaken when time and finance allows.
We love the fact you can’t see another house through any of the windows and its not that we don’t like people, but its also nice to have the privacy and space to enjoy. Its nice to not have other people’s lifestyle inflicted upon you through noise, litter and drunk people walking and singing down your street at 2am.
Crime and Disorder
In Leeds where we lived we were unfortunately victims of a burglary and were also aware of the amount of anti-social behaviour and vandalism and crime in our community. Drunken people singing at 2am, noisy music on a Sunday afternoon blaring from a house in the street behind when the parents of the teenagers went out, stolen cars sometimes flying down our street pursued by the police – these all harm your living environment.
Nova Scotia has a low crime rate. Teenagers seem more respectful than in the UK (although some local people I speak to think they are pretty bad anyway) and in small communities people do know who is who and generally do not feel too scared to intervene. We have the space that our neighbours could play music very loudly (they don’t) and it would not be as intrusive. The noises we hear are usually nature, lawn mowers, chain saws in the distance and sometimes the gangs of “Hells Accountants” who ride their motorbikes down our road some sunny weekend afternoons. Hearing a siren is a rare occurrence. Seeing a police car with lights flashing makes me comment on it. Reading about old people being attacked and “mugged” is unheard of thankfully.
Basically – it’s a Quality of Life thing
Luckily for them, most people who ask do not get as long an answer as this. Generally I sum it up explaining “its a quality of life thing”. The most important thing for us was that we were not running away from things but running to a better life.