Finding a Place to Live in New Brunswick

Lower housing prices, an affordable cost of living, and short commutes to school and work are just some of the reasons why people love living in New Brunswick. As you start your search for a place to call your own, there are several things to think about and prepare so the place you choose fits your needs.

Choosing a Neighbourhood

When you’re searching for a home to buy or rent, you’ll want to think about location. Ask yourself how much space you’ll need, how you’ll get to work, how your kids will get to school, what services and amenities are nearby, and what type of neighbourhood you want to live in. You’ll also want to consider the cost of living in a neighbourhood as housing prices can vary greatly from city to city and even neighbourhood to neighbourhood. You will also want to consider if you want to live in a city or in the country.

Renting a Home

If you decide to rent an apartment or house, you’ll need money to pay your monthly rent, plus the additional costs of utilities (your heat, electricity, water, telephone, cable for television, and internet). You may also have to pay for a parking space. And you’ll need to pay a security deposit, which will be returned to you when you move out, if there is no significant damage to your rental unit at that time.

When you rent a home, you are protected by a contract between you and your landlord called a tenancy agreement or lease. This should be a written agreement that outlines the costs, length of commitment, and rules of renting.

As a renter, you have rights:
  • The landlord must repair and maintain the house or apartment and the large appliances such as the refrigerator or stove.
  • You cannot be asked to leave if you’re meeting your responsibilities.
  • Your rent cannot be increased without giving you notice of two to three months. If you receive notice that the rent is going to be increased, you may move prior to the increase starting if you write to your landlord.
As a renter you also have certain responsibilities:
  • You must pay all your rent and pay it on time according to your lease.
  • You must keep the space you’re renting clean and not damage it.
  • If you want to paint or make big changes, you must talk to your landlord first.
  • You must be considerate of other renters. This means not leaving toys or bicycles in shared areas such as hallways and not being noisy, especially at night.

If you have any questions or if you feel you are being treated unfairly, contact your local Residential Tenancies Tribunal:

Toll-free: 1-888-762-8600

Website: www.snb.ca/irent

Renting is a smart first step when arriving in New Brunswick because it doesn’t take as long to move in and get settled compared to buying a home.

Buying a Home

When you’re ready to buy a home, you’ll need to start looking at homes for sale. You can find homes for sale online, and/or use a real estate agent. (Agents are listed in your telephone directory and run ads in local newspapers.) Your bank or financial institution will also offer guidance throughout the buying process.

Before you look for a house, you should visit your bank. Banks that provide mortgages can give you a letter of pre-approval. This means that they’re willing to lend you a specific amount of money at a specific rate of interest.

How Pre-Approvals Work

The bank looks at your income, debts, and credit to figure out what you can afford. The bank then offers to pre-approve a mortgage. Pre-approvals only last for a certain amount of time, usually three to four months.

Bank Assessment Criteria

Banks will look at all your monthly payments to calculate how much they’re willing to loan you to buy your home. These are some of the guidelines bank staff use to make their decision:

  • Up to 32% of your income can be used for paying your housing costs (mortgage, property tax, heating costs, and condominium fees).
  • Up to 40% of your income can be used to pay for your housing costs and your other debts (car payments, loans, credit cards, and court-ordered payments).
  • If you’re a permanent full-time employee (not on probation), you need to have been at your job for at least three months.
  • If you’re a part-time employee or self-employed (own your own business or work as an independent contractor), you need to have been at your job for two to three years.
  • The total time to pay back the mortgage cannot be more than 35 years.

These are general rules that most banks follow, but some will make exceptions.

Down Payment and Mortgage Insurance

A down payment is the money you pay when you buy your home. You must make a down payment of at least 5% of the total cost of your home. If you have no history of credit, the bank will require a 40% down payment. Most down payments are between 5% to 50% of the price of your home. You may negotiate this amount with your bank. If your down payment is lower than 20%, you’ll have to pay a premium one-time insurance fee to Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), so the bank is protected. It’s mandatory and the less your down payment, the higher the mortgage payment.

The amount of your down payment also determines the amount of mortgage insurance you need to pay. You pay mortgage insurance to protect the bank in case you don’t pay back your mortgage. The cost of your mortgage insurance is included in your mortgage payments. The bank then pays the insurance for you.

Price & Cost

House prices vary widely and are negotiable. If you don’t pay the full purchase price for your home, you’ll need a mortgage from a local financial institution. Other costs you’ll need to calculate are:

  • Utilities
  • Insurance
  • Moving-in costs
  • Property taxes

Homeowners pay property tax based on the value of their home and land. Every year, usually on the first working day of March, a notice is mailed to you. It includes the current value of your property, the property tax rate, and your total tax bill. If you don’t pay your property taxes when due, you’ll be charged extra. The due date will be on your notice. For more information on property tax and property tax assessments, contact Service New Brunswick:

Toll-free: 1-888-762-8600

Website: Service New Brunswick

Making an Offer

Once you’ve found a house you want, you need to make an offer to purchase it from the current owners. When making an offer keep in mind:

  • You usually offer to buy a house for less than the listed price, and you should be willing to negotiate to get the best possible price (this is normal practice in Canada).
  • An offer may include the price, the appliances, and other items you want to remain in the home, as well as requests that homeowners make certain repairs.
  • Your offer should be subject to financing and inspection. This means that you can back out if the bank doesn’t follow through on the pre-approval or if an inspector finds serious problems with the house.
  • Have the house inspected for any problems. Major problems might include trouble with the roof, foundation, plumbing, or electrical systems.
  • If the house has a private well for drinking water, rather than being hooked up to a water supply, it’s a good idea to get the well water tested.

There are other costs when you buy a house. They may include a land transfer tax, a title search, HST on new homes and land, and lawyers’ fees. You’ll also need a lawyer to complete the sale and transfer the property to your name.

Responsibilities of Owning a Home

As a homeowner, you have greater freedom to do what you want with your property, but there are still rules that you need to follow:

  • You need to keep your lawn cut and your property clean and tidy. If you let your lawn grow too long, the municipality may cut it at your expense.
  • If you live in an area with free garbage removal, you need to put your garbage in garbage bags or clean containers on your curb on the days when garbage is picked up.
  • If there is no garbage pick-up, you must take your garbage to the local landfill.
  • During the winter, you must remove the snow from your driveway. You may shovel it, use a snowblower, or you can pay someone to do the job for you. Search online for Snow Removal Service.
  • If you’re away during the winter, you must keep your home heated warmly enough that your water pipes don’t freeze. When water pipes freeze, they may burst, and they are expensive to fix.
  • If you want to expand your home or make major changes to your property, you must get a permit from your municipality.
  • If your home has a private well, you’re responsible for maintaining it and your septic system.

Some communities have recycling programs. Some recycling programs are voluntary. Some, such as Moncton’s, are mandatory. You must place wet and dry garbage in different coloured bags. Contact your local city or town hall to find out about recycling in your community.

For more information, here is a page designed just for newcomers that has information about buying a house in several languages: Housing for Newcomers to Canada | CMHC (cmhc-schl.gc.ca)

Costs & Utilities

If you’re buying a house, you’ll need to buy home insurance to get a mortgage. This insurance will help you pay for repairs if there is damage to your home and help you replace things that might get stolen. If you’re renting a house or apartment, it’s wise to have renter’s insurance even though it is not required by law.

To have your electricity connected, telephone the province’s power utility, NB Power, toll-free at 1-800-663-6272. To set up your telephone, internet, and cable television service, contact either Rogers, toll-free at 1-888-764-3771, or Bell Aliant, toll-free at 1-866-425-4268. Remember, you must pay a connection fee when these services start.

Don’t forget to notify friends, family, employers, and anyone who sends you mail about your change of address. For a fee, Canada Post will forward your mail from your old address: https://www.canadapost.ca.

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