“I could see myself living here”

I’m a little bit divided on this one. Saying to yourself “I could see myself living here” when visiting a place isn’t always the highest compliment. It’s also a bit naive. Places often look different through the eyes of a tourist. My guess is that a lot of people say this to themselves when visiting places with turquoise blue water and tropical weather- places like The Bahamas or Jamaica. What people don’t often see when visiting a place is how most of the locals live. The “Tourist Central” of most places are usually the most expensive places to live in. The reality for most residents of an area is that life there is far less glamorous than one sees from a visit over a few days. The main consideration when people make this statement has to be weather. Living in Michigan, I have visited my parents in Florida in January and said “I could see myself living here”, when in truth, 70 degrees in January feels awful nice coming from 20s, but that also means you’ll be living through 5 months of temps in the 90s and 100s with 100% humidity. I can definately not see myself living there.
Since this is supposed to be a travel blog (which has the huge audience right now of one person- me) I’ve picked a few places where I’ve said to myself “I could see myself living here”.
Amsterdam– Ok, before you go getting any ideas… I visited Amsterdam quite a few times. From my first visit during the summer of 1997, I always had a special attachment to the city. Those 3 days I spent there in 1997 had the best weather of any of my visits there. It was also the first city in Europe (besides London, a place I could not live) that I’d spent an extended period of time in as an adult. I’m sure the perfect weather, which is not a staple of Amsterdam, helped, but I remember wondering around the central canal belt for hours. There was just so much to see. People on bikes everywhere, people sitting at cafes, magnificent views down tree-lined canals in every direction- it was a visual attack on the senses I’d never experienced before.

 There was also those amazing museums, but also lots of little small ones, too. There were unique museums, too (The Torture Museum, really? The Sex Museum, of course.) The place abounded in culture. The people were nice to, and they speak the most understandable English anywhere in Europe, and that includes Great Britain, where English is, of course, the native language. That summer of 1997 I was 25, and the fun side of Amsterdam was also appealing. As I got older and continued visiting, I was able to see the toll that the fun side of Amsterdam was taking on it. By the time of my last visit in 2004, I was sure I could live in Holland, but Amsterdam had become less of a place I could see myself living, and more of a place that was fun just to visit.

The Mountain West of America– Wow, that is a large area to group into one location. By the Mountain West, I specifically mean parts of Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, that is to say, The Northern Rockies. This one too has it’s caveats. Since first visiting the Rockies as a kid on those long, summer family road trips, I’ve loved the grandeur of the jagged peaks and sweeping vistas of this region. The area is so clean and fresh, it has it’s own quality. The hiking possibilities are literally endless. The one downside to the area is the weather, which makes the mountain roads dangerous at best, impassable at worst.

America was a land that was wild when the first settlers arrived, and now the Mountain West is one of the few areas that truly retains some of that untouched nature. Most of my best encounters with wildlife have happened in the Rocky Mountains. In 2005, while driving a road in Glacier National Park, I stopped to take a picture of an amazing mountain lake, and heard some rustling coming from the bushes about 1000 or so feet in front of my car. A few seconds later a black bear rolled out on the the road. I stood still, to shocked to even take a picture. The bear returned to the bushed seconds later, and I jumped in my car. Driving up the road away, I was able to see to the top of the hill that those bushes were covering. There was a mother Black Bear with her two cubs. A year later while driving in Yellowstone, I was able to witness a Grizzly Bear, from about a quarter mile, as he slowly plodded along on the other side of a river. That same day I saw a coyote, mountain goats and elk.

Perth, Australia– Most of the places I visited in Australia in 2001 were places I could see myself at home in. Perth stood out not only for it’s beauty and proximity to water, but for an interesting weather fact- it’s sunny in Perth 300 days a year.
 Now, what makes Perth trick is the economy. When I was there, I heard a lot people complaining about how bad the economy was. In fact, when I was standing having the above picture taken, the Australian gentleman who took the picture preceded to tell me how over 75% of the high rise buildings seen in Perth skyline were empty, built in a time of economic prosperity that was in full swing in the 70s and 80s, but had died off by the 1990. Difficulties or not, It’s not like Perth is an exotic location in the third world. The residents there seemed to be doing alright, even if they were a tad more pessimistic about the future than most of the Australians I met.

New York City– I never though I would include this one on my list. And NYC, too, has a big exception. I could see myself living there, swept up in the energy and frenetic pace of life. When I lived in Chicago there were a couple of years where I took the train downtown to work. There was something romantic about commuting using the train. I’ve often wondered how that would translate over to using public transportation for everything. 
 I guess in the end with New York, I have little doubt that I would tire of the endless commutes, and the lack of having my own personal transport (I’ve always loved the long road trips), but a couple of years of great ethnic neighborhoods, Broadway shows, artistic communities, and any type of shoppe imaginable would be pretty exciting.
There have been lots (I mean lots) of other places I’ve thought this about, but these are four of the ones that I always crossed my mind when I wonder about what life would be like somewhere else. In the end, though, I have a feeling I’m where I’m supposed the be. Michigan may be going through it’s own tough time- but home is where the heart is.
Is there any place you’ve said “I could see myself living here” about?

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