So, you’re thinking of moving to Moncton — or anywhere in New Brunswick — and wondering what it’s really going to be like for you & your family? You’ve come to the right place!
BOOKMARK THIS: Pickle Planet’s Guide to Family Fun in Greater Moncton
First, let’s get to know each other just a little! I’m Jenna, writer/mother/founder of Pickle Planet Moncton, the go-to resource for family life in the Greater Moncton Area since 2015. I’ve lived in Sydney, Halifax, Calgary, & Toronto before calling this place home. I’ve driven from Nova Scotia to British Columbia (and have been to Newfoundland, too!), so I have a pretty decent idea of what various towns & cities across this country are like. I wasn’t a mom yet when I made the move from Toronto to Moncton. But, we did make the move back to the East Coast (I grew up in Cape Breton, hubby in New Brunswick) because we wanted what pretty much everyone making the move now does: more space, slower pace of life, room to grow, great housing prices. We wanted our future kids (of which we now have three, all in elementary school) to grow up with a sense of belonging and attachment to their community in a place that felt safe and welcoming.
Tosh is my co-host on the podcast. Folks around Southeastern New Brunswick likely know her voice from private radio; she’s been an on-air personality for more than 15 years here. She grew up in small town Ontario but loves this place fiercely, especially Albert County. She’s a podcast technical producer for hire & hosts several other shows, too (all of which I’ll take some credit for, since I started the ball rolling years ago!). Tosh & her husband have two young girls & a beautiful pup, and she is my go-to source for all things vegetarian & environmentally-friendly around here.
Let’s get to it, shall we? We chat about a lot of things in this podcast episode; most are also mentioned here & we’ve added in some things we forgot or just didn’t have time to cover. Plus there are TONS of extra links out to resources & other folks sharing their journeys to New Brunswick that we think you’ll want to check out. Let’s get started!
HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS
My biggest piece of advice to anyone thinking about moving is to jump online & reach out. Make some connections with folks in the community! When we were moving back in 2009, I used Twitter to connect with folks in Moncton before making the move. We’re still chatting to this day! I’ve been hanging out lately in a some great Facebook groups focused on moving to New Brunswick. Check out New Beginnings in NB & Go East! Canadian Escapees to New Brunswick; they both have lots of offer folks considering the move, right down to other newcomers offering to help with grocery drop-offs during quarantine!
Take the time to read that post, but the bottom line: Maritimers are friendly, but not always great at making new friends. It’s just not an inherent skill that many of us possess. It doesn’t mean we don’t want to be friends; we’re just not used to the work that goes into making new friends. Be a little patient, be proactive, and be prepared for it to take a little while for any new place to truly feel like home.
And not to be negative, but sometimes, folks aren’t down with change. You’re not always going to find people who are thrilled about what’s happening with the sudden arrival of new neighbours. They’re scared of change. They see house & land prices doubling & tripling. They take to their keyboards & don’t speak for the majority. For an honest take on this, check out this recent video from A Tribe Called Owens. The family moved to the Saint John area & was featured in a CBC story about the influx of folks to New Brunswick. Bottom line: anyone who gives you grief is in the minority! Come!! We did the same thing a decade ago & we’ve been waiting for the rest of you!! 🙂 New Brunswick was built on foundations of innovation & entrepreneurship & people searching for a space to make their own. You’re the next generation of a long legacy. Welcome!
Okay. Leaving the philosophical behind, back to the practical.
PARENT / PLAY GROUPS
You can always connect with parents online, even before moving. If you’re heading to the Greater Moncton Area, Mamachat is a huge group with lots of resources & little drama. In the Saint John area, Network of Moms is a wonderfully moderated group. Fredericton-area Moms are mostly hanging out in the Mom Talk Chat group.
Honestly, we’re short on mom groups & playgroups around here. There are two main reasons: right now, the pandemic is messing things up big time for gatherings, obviously, and second, Maritimers are so used to having existing social networks that it’s just not part of the culture to have a lot of groups & programs built around parents & kids. (There’s a lot of parent socializing while kids are involved in activities, though.) I have been seeing a shift in this over the past few years & think once the pandemic rules can be lifted, we’ll see a lot more innovative ideas & fun groups popping up!
My advice for making friends, especially if your kids are a bit older, will be to connect with service groups & non-profit organizations. From cultural festivals to local business associations to volunteer groups, there are tons of great opportunities to connect with like-minded groups who are, in my experience, eager for helping hands & new energy!
Neither Tosh or I are realtors, contractors, or lawyers, so we’re not here to give particular advice on the technical issues of buying or renting in New Brunswick. We can tell you there are some AMAZING historic homes & even businesses for sale that make us drool daily. There are modern homes with magazine-worthy interiors. You can find acres of land without anyone around, downtown lofts, and waterfront views that will make you weep with joy. But none of that is practical information you need. Let’s give you a little bit of that.
- Non-occupied owner tax rules are a bit particular in New Brunswick. “The rate applicable to non-residential property is one and one-half times the rate on residential property,” according to the province’s website. If you’re thinking about buying an income property or renting out a home before moving permanently, you’re going to want to look into what that means tax-wise for you.
- Speaking of taxes, remember that each municipality has a different tax rate for property, so the same type of home could cost you more or less per year, depending on where it’s at. New Brunswick currently has several areas known as Local Service Districts (LSD) that offer fewer amenities (sidewalks, sewer, etc – lots of folks out here have underground septic tanks on their property & water that comes into the home via a well, not a municipal system) but have much lower tax rates. LSDs are the place to be if you don’t want to worry about bylaws when it comes to backyard chickens, clotheslines, bonfires, & more!
- In general, if you’re coming from somewhere like Ontario, Alberta, or British Columbia, you’re likely going to find the cost of homes here relatively cheap. The prices here have gone up considerably in the past year or so, and the rental market in most places is pretty tied up, so that’s good info to know. Across the country right now, a year+ in the pandemic, you’re going to find both the price and availability of housing materials to be a challenge, so keep that in mind if you’re considering buying a piece of land without a current home.
Walk, bike, or run? You’ll love the trail systems in place in Moncton, Dieppe, & Riverview & they’re constantly improving. But be prepared: the East Coast, for all its outdoor space, is pretty vehicle-dependant living.
If you don’t have a current driver’s license, think about working on that before you move. It might be easier to have in place & transfer than start from scratch here, especially during the pandemic.
Population & sprawl really don’t work in our favour to have a robust public system. Check the options carefully when deciding where to live if you plan to rely on transit. Most cities have something to offer in terms of buses, but the schedules aren’t as frequent as you might expect.
Delivery costs & lack of options will likely surprise you, too. Businesses are used to a high majority of folks having access to a vehicle.
Need to know: owning a vehicle in New Brunswick
For vehicle registration, driver’s license, etc you’ll head to Service New Brunswick. Speaking of that, road safety tests & vehicle inspections change province-to-province. Not a huge deal, just another detail!
We also have fun things, like lawnmower races during Salisbury Community Days & surfing the Tidal Bore! ATVs & snowmobiling are huge here, too.
In a nutshell, there isn’t a lot of choice when it comes to education for children. (Post-secondary we have oodles of great options!) Generally, your postal code will determine which public school your child attends, and your background will determine if they’re in the Anglophone system (which offers French Immersion) or the Francophone system. Officially: “As per Policy 804 – Student Registration, parents must register their children at the school designated for their catchment area or at the district office, depending on District Education Council policy. Parents may request that their children be transferred to a school that is outside of their catchment area, but only when this initial registration is complete. Superintendents make the decision as to whether a student is allowed to attend a school other than the one in the appropriate catchment area.”
The Anglophone schools don’t ALL offer French Immersion; some will have the early entry option, which begins at Grade 1, and some will have the late entry, which begins at Grade 6. You don’t have to choose either; your child can stay in the English stream throughout. There can be some tricky manoeuvring when it comes to entering & existing the Immersion streams; the most accurate information on what applies to your family will come from the school itself.
How to find which school your child will attend in New Brunswick’s Anglophone East or Francophone Sud school districts. (Please note: these are based on the school bus routes; if no child near your address is in school, it might pop back an error.)
Still in the daycare stage? You can find a list of all registered facilities in the province online; there’s also a great search function that shows you available spaces based on age. If you’re using this for the first time, when it asks for district in the drop down menu, that’s the school district your child would be enrolled in come Kindergarten — which starts at age 5 in New Brunswick, so be prepared to have childcare in place until then. If you’re looking in the Greater Moncton Area, choose Anglophone East or Francophone Sud.
Oh, and it’s actually law in New Brunswick that children under 12 cannot be left home unsupervised; most provinces are more vague in their wording & leave more up to the parents’ discretion. So you might need after-school care, as well; each school may have slightly different start and end times, but generally class is in from 8am until 1:30pm for younger grades, and until 2:30 for Grades 3 through 12.
There is a growing homeschool community in New Brunswick; some areas are more socially organized than others. There are also a number of private institutions that are religious-based, while a few secular private options exist. (Including a new option set to open in the Moncton area Fall 2021, Eastgate Academy.)
You can also find a list of all our public libraries via the government website. These are fantastic community resources & there’s a wonderful book sharing program across New Brunswick.
You’ll hear scary stories – but those are everywhere. We actually have a pretty robust healthcare system in terms of facilities given our population! Again, you’ll find there are both Anglophone & Francophone systems in place, but it’s pretty easy to move between them as a patient. Good to know: unlike some other provinces, children in New Brunswick are generally followed by their family doctor, not a paediatrician, unless there are specialized concerns. Check with your current doctor(s) for referrals before moving, and register with New Brunswick’s Patient Connect registry.
It’s likely going to be a bit of a wait to get a family doctor, but our clinics work pretty well & most folks moving here are generally pleased by that experience. There’s also talk from the government that recruitment needs to amp up, so fingers crossed!
Yes, we have awesome seafood. No, it’s not much cheaper here. And there are regulations around fishing, gathering shellfish, and so on if you’re going out to do your own foraging.
Yes, we have awesome local producers for pretty much any produce or meat, but you won’t find a lot of stores labelled as ‘organic grocers.’ Search out your local farmer’s markets (most cities have one operating year-round), ask in local groups for recommendations, and check social media for small producers. And if you’re used to the bountiful fields and cheap prices of Southern Ontario or BC, you might have some sticker shock out here.
Yes, we have restaurants that compete with the best of the best — there’re just spread out & not as plentiful as you might be used to. I often say we basically have everything the big cities do, we just only have one option for it.
Get used to Slush Puppies instead of Slurpees, Sobeys instead of Metro, fried clams, Deluxe french fries, & lobster roll fanatics that insist hot dogs buns are the way to go.
MUST READ: The best fried clam spots in New Brunswick from East Coast Mermaid
Oh, and don’t be surprised when your case of 12 bottles of water rings up as $3.19 instead of $1.99; we pay 10 cents on each recyclable bottle. You can save them up & turn them in for cash – or just put them in the blue bag on garbage day.
A lot of folks making the move tend to have remote work they’re bringing with them, some type of skilled trade that’s always in demand, a plan to set up their own business (which makes me super excited – this province is a great spot for entrepreneurs & has so much more potential!), and of course some folks are coming to retire – even if it’s early semi-retirement that might morph into something else. Not you? Don’t worry!
New Brunswick is a bilingual province, and some areas that will matter more than others for things like service-based jobs or communications roles, but you’ll find options & opportunities whether you’re bilingual or not. Depending on where you’re moving from, you might find the job search a bit sparse; then again, you might be pleasantly surprised! We have quite a few international leaders in this province across various industries; tech, agriculture, aquaculture, fintech. It’s not just natural resources & seasonal tourism, despite what some folks believe.
WHAT TO DO
That’s where I come in! 🙂 If you’re looking for the definitive list of family-friendly events, attractions, & general info in the Greater Moncton Area, Pickle Planet is the place to be! I keep a monthly (during the pandemic; it used to be weekly!) list of events, round up seasonal info like the best maple sugar shacks to visit, where to pick blueberries and strawberries, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and more, and highlight great local attractions!
Again, we have a bit of everything in New Brunswick. A fantastic zoo, two small but great aquariums, indoor trampoline parks, laser tag, world class natural beauty, cool urban art, and more. Music runs from classical to folk to hard metal and everything in between, with amazing venues that bring in world-class acts – plus when travel is an option, we are just a few hours plane ride (sometimes even a drive!) to New York, Boston, and more!
Alrighty! That’s likely the longest ‘shownotes’ post I’ll ever write for the podcast — and I know I could go on forever! This is just skimming the surface, so please feel free to jump in the comments & share your thoughts, ask questions, & let us know about your experience moving to New Brunswick. If you reach out to any of the other folks we’ve mentioned here, follow their channels or join their groups, we’d love if you’d let them know we made the introduction.
Welcome to New Brunswick – we hope you choose to be here & love this place, too!