What you need to know before moving to Prince Edward Island

Julia Hornstein
Published: February 7, 2024

Prince Edward Island (PEI) is one of eastern Canada’s maritime provinces, off of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The island is marked by red sand beaches, lighthouses, farmland and is known for its seafood and quiet lifestyle.

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PEI is the least-populated province in all of Canada, making it a region where newcomers can largely avoid the bustle of Canada’s metropolitan cities. PEI is known for its quieter and more intimate communities, and the province has a very low crime rate, making it a great place to settle.

If you are planning to settle in PEI or are looking for more information about living in the province, this article will outline topics from housing to taxation.

Housing

Due in large part to PEI’s small population of just 170,000+, the housing market in PEI is quite small. There are just over 64,000 housing properties across the province.

Although newcomers to Canada usually settle in a region's two or three largest Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs), PEI does not have any CMAs. Instead, PEI has two Census Agglomerations (CAs), which are the capital city of Charlottetown (population just over 86,000) and Summerside (population slightly above 18,000).

As of February 2022, the average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Charlottetown was $1,205.

Some resources to help you find housing on PEI include:

Commuting

Statistics Canada indicates that more than 90% of residents in both of PEI’s CAs use a car, van or truck as their main form of commuting. In Charlottetown, more than 29,000 residents primarily use a personal vehicle to move around the province. In Summerside, that number is over 6,000 people.

If you are looking to drive in PEI, you will have to get a PEI driver’s license. For your first four months as a newcomer to PEI, you may operate a motor vehicle using your driver’s license obtained in your home country. It is important to note that both the provincial government of PEI and the federal government of Canada advise newcomers to Canada to also carry an International Driving Permit (IDP) during the period that they are using their home country’s driving license in Canada.

After this four-month period, newcomers to PEI are required to get a provincial driver’s license. The process of obtaining a driver’s license in PEI for the first time involves following “the provinces’ three-year Graduated Driver Licensing Program, which is a requirement “before you will be issued a Class 5 driver’s license.” The first step in this process, however, is Getting an Instruction Driver’s Permit.

PEI does not have as many public transportation options as other provinces; however, the province does still provide some public transit options to their communities. In large part, public transportation in PEI is operated through T3 Transit, a bus system.

Employment

In PEI, the three industries that employ the most people are as follows:

  • The Trade industry employs over 12,000 residents of PEI
  • The Public Administration industry employs over 9,000 people
  • The Healthcare and Social Assistance sector employs over 9,000 people

The Trade industry falls under a large category of service-producing employment sectors, including jobs in retail trade and wholesale trade. Those working in the public administration sector tend to work in jobs of governmental nature, either at the federal, provincial, local, municipal, or regional government level. Finally, the healthcare and social assistance industry employs doctors, nurses, personal care workers and many other types of mental and physical health specialists.

Resources to help you find a job in PEI include:

Healthcare

Healthcare across Canada is funded through the universal healthcare model using public tax dollars.

Once a newcomer has resided in PEI for over three months, they can receive free healthcare if they possess a valid provincial health card. The process for applying for a health card in PEI involves using this online form or submitting an application and all required documentation to either PEI Medicare or any Access PEI centre.

A valid provincial health card allows Canadians living in any province or territory to access public health services in their region of residence for free at the point of use. However, some medication and treatments will require the recipient to pay for the item or service out of pocket.

Education

In PEI, children enter the mandatory portion of the Canadian education system around the age of six when they begin kindergarten. You may send your child to school for free by putting them through the public school system from kindergarten to grade 12.

Parents may also choose to send their child to a private school or independent boarding school, where tuition will be paid out of pocket.

The provincial government has provided this online resource to the public, which breaks down the province’s outlined curriculum for students in kindergarten all the way until 12th grade.

In terms of post-graduation education in PEI, the province is home to more than 20 Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs), which are in 13 different cities across the province.

Most of the DLIs in PEI offer programs that would allow a newcomer to be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). A PGWP is great for non-permanent residents, as it allows the permit holder to acquire Canadian work experience which is valuable when applying for Canadian permanent residence.

Taxation

In PEI, the sales tax on goods and services is 15%. This is the province’s Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), which combines PEI’s Provincial Sales Tax (PST, 10%) with a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 5%.

Similar to other provinces and territories in Canada, income taxes in PEI depend on how much you earn in a given tax year. Typically, those with a higher annual income will pay more in taxes to the government during tax season.

Newcomer services

Newcomers in PEI can use the province’s Immigrant and Refugee Services Association (IRSA), which provides newcomer settlement services ranging from the pre-arrival stage until the newcomer is ready to take the Canadian citizenship test.

211PEI is another service that helps newcomers to PEI find settlement resources in the area.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) provides residents with government-funded settlement services across Canada. These services can help with job searches, learning English or French, or enrolling your child in school. Click here to see the list of all service providers in Canada.

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