I’ve lived in a lot of places, some with fewer than 2,000 residents, others with close to six million. Did I find something to love about every one of them? Sure. Was every move easy? Absolutely not. In the five years leading up to my “Prince George Plan” I called Victoria, BC, Santiago, Chile, Ottawa, ON, Futaleufú, Chile, Boston Bar, BC and Burnaby, BC home at one point. Prince George was by far the easiest and most enjoyable transition.
A northern focus
I reached a point where I had my hands in all sorts of career cookie jars: teaching, guiding, marketing, writing, hospitality etc. and it was time to focus. Once I decided on teaching as a career, the rest was quite easy. Coming from the Lower Mainland, I’m often asked “Why wouldn’t you stay in the city? Go to school there?” The short answer is I didn’t feel like commuting over an hour each day, paying a fortune to rent while keeping student loans under control. My gaze went north and I liked what I saw.
The University of Northern British Columbia or “UNBC” is consistently rated among Canada’s best small universities. As soon as I stepped foot in the door, I knew I would love it. The architecture is modern with northern flourishes around every corner. Degrees Coffee provides a comfortable hub for students and professors alike to relax, study, and chat. Then, there’s the Northern Sport Centre, by far the best gym to which I’ve belonged. Where else can you find a 280 m indoor running track with unlimited yoga, cardio, and bootcamp classes? Alongside these amenities, UNBC has a diverse range of extracurriculars. I joined the Outdoors Club and found myself surrounded by fellow nature enthusiasts, friendly down-to-earth people welcoming others to share their passion for the wilder side of the north. This was my first glimpse into the city’s inclusive nature.
As a student, finding affordable housing can be as daunting as that high-stakes term paper. Without much knowledge of neighbourhoods, I decided to live in residence for my first semester. Again, the welcoming university community made this experience enjoyable. Once I decided to move out, however, there were plenty of places to choose from. Everything from studios for under $800 to bedrooms in shared houses for around $500. I settled in with roommates and immediately knew it was the right decision. I barely had to think about making friends afterwards; they came with the house! Not to mention, it was a short walk or bike ride up the hill to classes. Here’s more information on the PG rental market.
Having already completed a degree eight years ago, I was well-acquainted with typical student jobs; these usually consisted of low pay, odd hours and making someone else’s coffee. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of diverse employment opportunities in Prince George. Throughout my two years, I’ve worked for both School Districts 57 and 91 in various capacities, a private tutoring firm, after-school programs, blogs, and catering companies. There are plenty of opportunities for part-time and full-time work. The small-town nature of Prince George makes it the perfect place to build professional connections quickly.
As winter became spring and spring turned to summer, I discovered more to love about Prince George’s culture, outdoors and of course, its people. Why do you see a healthy mix of families, young professionals, and students here? There’s something for everyone!