Is Cape Breton Island Cheap?

Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, is a place where prices are just different. Indeed, the minimum wage is low, and the taxes are high. But still, it seems like the overall cost of living is cheap. How is that possible? Is Cape Breton Island cheap?

Cape Breton Island is relatively cheap to live in. A month in Sydney, Cape Breton Island’s largest city, costs 1301.83 C$. Compared to other cities like Vancouver, rent prices in Cape Breton Island are 58.01% lower on average.

How much does one day in Cape Breton Island cost?

When you read that rent prices are 58.01% lower in Cape Breton Island than in Vancouver, you need to understand why. The best way for this is to show you the exact maths behind those numbers. So, how much does one day in Cape Breton Island cost?

One day in Cape Breton Island costs 43.39 C$ ($33,95). This amount takes into account the rent, food, transportation, and activities for a single day in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

How was this amount calculated?

The amount in the last paragraph was calculated for one person for one month. It was then divided by thirty. Indeed, calculating an average price for a long period is more accurate than just trying to figure out the price of one day.

Here are the exact details of the maths behind the amount:

ExpenseAmount (for one month in C$)
Rent858.33 C$
Transportation73.50 C$
Groceries320 C$
Activities (restaurants, fitness clubs, cinema)50 C$
Total for one month1301.83 C$
Prices estimated thanks to 23 people in the last 18 months. Credits to

It costs 1301.83 C$ to live one month in Sydney, the largest city of Cape Breton Island. When you divide this by 30, you have the cost of one day in Sydney, Nova Scotia. One day in Sydney, NS, costs 43.39 C$ ($33,95).

The table above was calculated using simple maths. For the rent, an average price is easily findable. For transportation, I used the price of a monthly pass. Finally, for groceries, I used the comparison tool of I put the city I live in (Lyon, France), and it said that the grocery prices were 22.04% lower in Sydney than in Lyon. Since I know exactly how much I spend on a monthly basis for my food in Euros (€), I was able to calculate the cost of groceries in Sydney, NS.

Finally, the activities were calculated with one assumption: you go to the restaurant once a month (19 C$), to the cinema once a month (13 C$), and 50% of people have a gym membership (around 20 C$). I rounded the result to 50 C$.

The 2 Reasons Why Cape Breton Island is So Cheap

Now that you know about the numbers, you need to know about other the reasons behind them. Indeed, a place is not expensive for no reason. For instance, large cities are expensive because they have lots of accommodations and activities. So, what is the situation in Cape Breton Island? Why is Cape Breton Island so cheap?

Cape Breton Island is cheap to live in because the island is isolated and because most activities are free there!

Cape Breton Island is isolated

The main reason why Cape Breton Island is so cheap to live in is that this place is isolated. First, Cape Breton Island is located in Nova Scotia, which is the most eastern province in Canada. Then, Cape Breton Island is only one island of Nova Scotia. And the biggest island of Nova Scotia, Halifax, is not on Cape Breton Island.

This makes Cape Breton Island a really secluded place. And that’s a good thing for the prices! Indeed, isolated places always tend to be cheaper to live in. And this also brings other advantages.

For instance, it is easier to start a business in Cape Breton Island than almost anywhere else in the country. The competition is so low that you will have a ton of fun launching a product there for instance.

Then, this also means that nature is well preserved. Enjoying nature is the top-1 activity to do in Cape Breton Island!

gray rock formation on sea in cabot trail road in cape breton island nova scotia
A view from the Cabot Trail Road in Cape Breton Island. Credits to Sharissa Johnson

Most of the activities in Cape Breton Island are free

Cape Breton Island is a place where nature is at its best. Basically, tourists who decide to travel to Cape Breton Island do it for both nature and the people. Nature is flourishing here. The main activity in Cape Breton Island is to enjoy it! And it’s free. In fact, there are not a lot of other things to do.

Of course, there are also paid activities on the island, but this is not the mindset of the local people. You will never find something like the Grand Canyon Skywalk in Cape Breton Island.

It is easy to understand that to save money, you either need to earn more or to spend less. Well, in Cape Breton Island, you will not earn more, but you may spend less! Indeed, the minimum wage in Nova Scotia is $12.95/hour, which is lower than in British Columbia for instance.

On the other hand, there are just fewer things to do in Cape Breton Island. The lack of activity is a chance for your wallet. Here, most activities are free. This is why Cape Breton Island is not for everyone. Even if Sydney is a town where you can have a great time, it is not a very active city.

If you prefer nightclubs and activities, you should move to Halifax. This is the most populous town in Nova Scotia, meaning that the cost of living in Halifax is still relatively low. Then, you will also be able to enjoy Cape Breton Island during the week-ends.

Halifax was named one of the cheapest cities in Canada in June 2020. Living in Halifax will save you money.

Halifax is one of the cheapest cities in Canada. Credits to I’m Canada

Other articles about Canada and the cost of living

I hope that you enjoyed reading about the cost of life in Cape Breton Island. If you are interested in the cost of living in other places, you should read the article I wrote about Why is Bali so Cheap? Then, if you prefer learning about Canadian nature, you should read the article I wrote about Vancouver Island. Finally, if you are more into secluded places, you should read the article I wrote about Cala Macarella in Menorca.

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