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Three Sask. cities named in top 20 list of best university towns

Regina, Prince Albert and Saskatoon are among the best places for students to live in Canada
u of r
Regina, home to the University of Regina and several other post-secondary institutions, was named the number one city in Canada for students to live and work.

REGINA — Saskatchewan is well-represented in a recent survey of the best university towns in the nation, with three cities in the prairie province cracking the top 20 list of best places to live while studying as a post-secondary student.

The ranked list, compiled and released by online learning platform Preply, considered 18 indicators in three categories, in order to rank 94 Canadian cities that currently are home to both public and private post-secondary institutions on a 100-point scale. 

Categories included wallet friendliness, social environment and economic opportunities, said Preply, all of which were considered equally.

Regina, Prince Albert, Saskatoon and Swift Current all featured on this year’s ranked list. Overall, Saskatchewan rated as the second best province to live and work in as a student, topped only by Manitoba by a small margin.

Amy Pritchett, student success manager at Preply, said the rankings are meant to offer students information that campus tours might not cover, to consider when they make a decision about where to study.

“Sometimes students and parents become so focused on the school and its campus, that they don’t take the time to explore the nearby town during a visit,” said Pritchett. “If you’re looking for the best cities to study in Canada, then the top ten schools in our ranking are a great place to start."

Regina was listed as the number one university city overall, after consideration of social and economic factors — including cost of living, crime rate and recreational opportunity.

The Queen City edged out runner-up Winnipeg, Man. for the top spot, trailed closely by London, Ont. in third place.

“Regina is rich in culture and one of Canada’s fastest-growing major cities,” said Preply, in its results.

As the capital city of the province, Regina is home to several post-secondary institutions, including the University of Regina, Campion College, Saskatchewan Polytechnic and Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, which has locations at both the U of R and the University of Saskatchewan. 

Some of the city’s top perks listed included the many attractions in and around Wascana Park, the Saskatchewan Roughriders and their home arena Mosaic Stadium, as well as plenty of recreational sports clubs, outdoor spaces and concerts.

The average monthly salary in Regina was rounded to $3,735, with the average cost of rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre listed as $1,016.

Regina scored low on diversity and nightlife, but fell middle-of-the pack in terms of shopping and scored extremely high in economic opportunities for students after graduating. 

The city took the top spot for economic factors, according to data, which considered average monthly salary, GDP, employment rate — which is approximately 66 per cent in Regina — and real estate.

Prince Albert also made the list at number eight, included thanks to the First Nations University of Canada, Sask Polytech and the U of S’s satellite campus, which opened officially in a new permanent building downtown in 2020.

The survey noted that rent in Prince Albert is currently around half the average monthly salary, or about $791 per month, but other economic factors scored the city high for affordability — although the cost of beer is “slightly pricey.” 

Results also noted that the crime rate in Prince Albert is around 15 per cent over the average of the other top ten cities on the list.

Saskatoon fell in at number 19, just surpassing Cambridge, Ont. to make the top 20, with the most notable institutions listed as the U of S, St. Andrew’s College, Sask Polytech, and Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies, among others.

Saskatchewan’s largest city compiled a complimentary score on social environment, but one of the lowest scores for affordability — tying with Hamilton, Ont. on both counts. 

A one-bedroom apartment in Saskatoon averages $1,166 per month, but the cost of a meal for one person is on the lower end of the scale at $20 and other costs like internet or transit are firmly middle-of-the-pack compared to other cities.

Swift Current was the fourth Saskatchewan city to make the list, falling into 38th place with low scores in social opportunity and cost of living categories. 

The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is listed as $1,295 a month, the highest of all four Saskatchewan cities on the list. Diversity, nightlife, shopping and parks also scored very low.

However, despite the pricey rent and minimal socializing, Swift Current did collect a high economic score — measured by post-convocation job opportunities, among other things — falling in the top three, only behind Regina and Prince George, B.C. respectively.

Average monthly salary was noted as $3,000 and the employment rate is the same as Regina, at 66 per cent.

More details about the rankings are available to view on Preply’s website, including insights into the survey’s methodology.