Pros and cons of living in Saint John, New Brunswick

It doesn’t take very long to feel the ancient air of history in Canada’s oldest incorporated city, Saint John. The seaport city is located on the Bay of Fundy off the Atlantic Ocean in New Brunswick. The city is host to Canada’s largest port by tonnage and a cargo base that can hold dry and liquid bulk, containers, cruise, and breakbulk. The city is also famous for having the happiest people in Canada. This article explores the pros and cons of living in the second-largest city in Brunswick.


1.  Affordable Housing

As a resident of St John, owning or renting a home is very easy and affordable.

The city has one of the most affordable housing in Canada and, in 2020, was awarded the 6th most affordable city for middle-income earners. The average price of a new home is set at $168,000.

2.  Generous and Friendly People

Residents and people who have passed through St John always comment about the generosity and friendliness of the people.

The people are eager to help tourists and visitors navigate their way around town, even to the point of offering free rides. So irrespective of your background, you will always find help in Saint John.

3.  Tourist Attractions

As the only city on the shore of the Bay of Fundy and home to the highest tides globally, Saint John attracts tourists from all over the world.

The town is old and historical with plenty of streetscapes, majestic buildings, natural and cultural attractions such as the reversing rapids that mark the point of collision between the bay and the St. John River.

There is also the city market where local vendors and artisans display cultural and historical art pieces, the New Brunswick Museum, and the Rockwood Park.

During the summer, the influx of tourists attracts revenue and boosts the city’s economy.

4.  Low Cost of Living and Housing

Saint John is known for its low cost of living alongside other cities in New Brunswick.

The average monthly salary is pegged at C$2,000, while the average rent is $800 per month for a 1-bedroom apartment and $1,400 for a 3-bedroom apartment.

The average cost of buying a home is between $250,000 and $500,000, one of the lowest rates in Canada.

As well, residents who decide to move around with public transportation spend only $65 for a monthly bus pass, $2.75 for a single pass fare.

Gasoline is also set at $1.17 per litre, far below the average price on the North American continent.

5.  Moderate Weather

One of the advantages of living in Saint John is that it’s one of the few cities in Canada with moderate weather, even in the thick of winter.

In addition, the Bay of Fundy does not freeze up entirely during the winter because of its high waves, which helps to moderate the weather from going to extremes.

As a result, the winters are not as biting as other parts of Canada, while the summers are usually warm to hot, with daytime temperatures often exceeding 25 degrees.

The summer also has extended cooler temperatures than other parts of Canada, and rainfall and snow are evenly distributed throughout the year.

6.  Distinct Neighbourhoods

The neighbourhoods in Saint John are identified based on their geographical location, which helps easy navigation for residents.

For example, their significant neighbourhoods are the Uptown, South End, North End, West Side, and East Side.

Many of the neighbourhoods are as old as the city, and many families have lived within the same area for generations.

7.  A safe place to raise a family

Saint John is considered one of the safest places in Canada to raise a family. Residents and visitors cite the togetherness in the various communities, and solid social institutions like Churches, Schools, and Social Clubs contribute to the proper upbringing of children.

In addition, the people find every opportunity to get together from art and music events to sports activities.

8.  Efficient Public Transportation

Saint John operates the most extensive transportation system in New Brunswick in both coverage and the number of people who use the system.

Bus services are provided by the Saint John Transit and Maritime Bus service, which operates in the greater saint john area and the inter-city routes.

Furthermore, the city is accessible to immigrants from other parts of Canada and the world through the Saint John international airport, where Air Canada and Sunwing Airlines operate flights.

The main highway in the city, the Saint John Throughway (Route 1), extends to the land border with the United States on the West and towards Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia on the North end.

Despite its rich history, natural and cultural attractions, and low cost of living, there are still some downsides to living in Saint John, such as those discussed below.


1.  Lack of Jobs

In recent times, several immigrants and visitors to Saint John have complained of a lack of jobs in the city.

In addition, new residents of the city have asserted that real estate is cheap because most people have moved to other cities where there are jobs other than maritime or agriculture-based employment.

As a result, newcomers are likely to struggle for a few months before getting their first job which will most likely be in the maritime industry.

2.  Zero Nightlife

While official sources cite the presence of bars, restaurants, and a few lounges as evidence that Saint John has a bustling nightlife, residents from other cities disagree.

Saint John is described as safe, homely, and cultural and not in tune with the nightlife of a bustling city.

3.  Career Dead-end

Saint John is preferred by people looking towards an affordable retirement.

Furthermore, its economy is geared more towards the maritime industry, including shipbuilding, shipping, and fishing, leaving little room for other specialized and higher-paying professions.

For a young person looking to start a career in other industries, moving to Saint John would seem like a terrible move.

4.  Language Barrier

Most of Saint John’s residents speak either French or English; only a few speak both.

Therefore, to navigate the rigours of society successfully as an immigrant, you must learn both languages. Also, the concentration of French and English is a disadvantage to intending residents from other backgrounds such as the middle-east and eastern Europe.

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