I was not thrilled when my husband told me he had a career opportunity in Regina, Saskatchewan and asked me how I would feel about moving there. I had visited Regina once many years before on a road trip with my mom and had found it to be pleasant and friendly, but I nonetheless found all the stereotypes daunting. Flat, cold, lacking scenery, high crime rate. Still, we had been going through a particularly difficult time where we were both unemployed and miserable in our circumstances, so I agreed to give it a shot, and when I landed the very first job I applied for there and we found a great apartment right across the road from Southland Mall in the desirable Albert Park neighbourhood, it seemed that everything was falling into place and it was probably meant to be.
We had a great first few months there. We were both earning decent money and I was enjoying getting to know the city. There were some ugly parts that I decided to stay away from, but some aesthetically pleasing parts as well. I always got a good feeling seeing the juxtaposition of old and new buildings downtown around Scarth Street.
While there was a high crime rate, it was mostly confined to certain parts of the city and I felt very safe in Albert Park.
There was this one chilly, late-fall evening that sticks in my memory. It’s a simple thing, really, so I don’t know why it made a lasting impression. But we had been out shopping in other parts of the city and my blood sugar had started to drop. We stopped at Mucho Burrito in the North End and I got a barbacoa burrito to go. We drove home via the Ring Road with some good tunes playing while I munched on my burrito, the night lights shining, and I was filled with an inexplicable feeling of elation and gratitude, happy to be where I was.
Then, about four months after moving there, my husband was told by his employer that due to an error on their part he was being overpaid, and they would be taking the excess off his pay for the next four months. We had been oblivious to this and the sudden decrease in income came as a shock. This was only a couple weeks after I had requested to work fewer hours at my work due to stress (it turned out to be a hellhole of a workplace) and health issues. Then, on a night when it was -26° C, our car broke down. The estimate to have it fixed was astronomical. In our circumstances at that time, we did not feel we could afford it so we sold it for scrap and started taking public transportation.
I was wary at first, but I ended up liking using public transportation. Even once our finances picked back up again, we continued to go carless. There were four bus routes that we could access from Southland Mall, but other than our workplaces we had almost everything we needed in our immediate neighbourhood anyway. And it was nice to not have to worry about driving in the winter, which I’d always found stressful, or about paying for parking, insurance, maintenance and repairs. For the most part, it was a worry-free existence, even if I did indulge in self-pity from time to time. I remember standing bleary-eyed at the bus stop watching the sun rise one insanely cold winter morning, wind whipping painfully into my face, thinking, “What has happened to my life?!” But winter will do that to me under the best of circumstances.
Speaking of the wind, that is the worst thing about Regina. The wind is constant and year-round. It really started to grate on my nerves. I looked unkempt nearly the entire time I lived there, because as soon as I left my building my long hair would be whipping around my head. I asked a woman at work once, “How do ladies keep their hair looking nice here?” She looked at me like I was nuts and said, “Hairspray.” I hadn’t used hairspray since about 1993, but I started again in Regina. It didn’t help. Maybe I was using the wrong brand.
Not having a car, we didn’t get to explore the area as much as we would have liked. When people we knew made the road trip out to Regina to visit us, we had the opportunity to get out of the city with them, but there are still some interesting places we never got around to visiting. For example, I always wanted to go to Rouleau to see the Corner Gas set, but we never managed to make that happen, and now it’s been torn down so that is just a lost opportunity.
We did manage to go to Regina Beach a couple times, and that was really pretty. Most people who’ve never been to Saskatchewan probably wouldn’t imagine that such pretty places exist there.
There is definitely beauty to be found, it’s just not in your face all the time like it is in my home province of BC. You have to go looking for it. But that makes it extra special when you find it.
Even though I missed being able to go for drives further afield, the city itself had some decent things to offer. I enjoyed the atmosphere of the Regina Farmer’s Market, and Wascana Park was a nice place to go for an afternoon walk.
We ended up living in Regina for three years before my husband’s job came to an end and we moved on. When people ask me how I liked living in Regina, I say, “It’s not as bad as I thought. Yes, the weather was awful in the winter, but the people were really friendly, and I loved my immediate neighbourhood.” That pretty much sums it up.
In fact, the very best thing about Regina is how friendly and accepting the people are. There’s a lot of diversity in Regina and I never felt I had to be anything I wasn’t. I found that very refreshing.
One thing that I was quite surprised by at first was how often men smiled at me or held doors open for me, even though I am not a stunning beauty. I think the latter is just considered the decent thing to do there. Now that I’m back in BC, I’m getting used to doors closing in my face again. I love BC for so many other reasons, but that aspect can be a bit disheartening.
While Regina is not the best place I’ve ever lived, it’s far from being the worst. I would have no hesitation to live there again if the opportunity arose.
Things I miss:
- Trifon’s Pizza (it is seriously good)
- Living across the road from Southland Mall, with Chapters, Starbucks, Cineplex, etc., practically right on my doorstep
- The kindness and politeness of the locals
- Being able to see so much of the sky at once
Things I don’t miss:
- Insanely cold winters
- Constant wind
- Asthma, which I suffered from nearly the entire time I lived there and which went away literally overnight as soon as I moved away