I do a lot of travel planning and the down-side of most of the trips are that the visits are for only a limited time. You have to go back again and again to get a real sense of what it is like to live like a local.
The first trip, you are just wowed so much by what you see it’s hard to focus on the details. The second trip you do your best to pay attention to the details, but you still have the stress of figuring out a new place. The third (and most of us don’t get a second or third time) is where you finally can get to the point where you really get to know the place.
The easiest way to get to know a place is definitely to live there — to get a job and an apartment and live there. You will learn things that a stay in a hotel for a week can’t teach you. Things like shopping, cooking, doing laundry, commuting to work, paying taxes, etc.
We, Amanda and I, have a lifestyle that lets us travel from time to time. We hope to get to a point where our entire lives are more portable, too. I’ve compiled a short list of places where I’d like to live in the future:
- Mars: We are space nuts. We’d love to travel in space and explore new places. I’d love to gaze out at the wide open places, devoid of life, and take in the tranquility. Yes, the odds of us visiting Mars or even the moon are not very high. But we can dream, can’t we?
(Now for the serious part of the list)
- Darwin, Australia: The capital city of the Northern Territory is small as far as cities go, with a population of around 140,000. The tropical seaside city is bordered by national parks and the sea. The city, destroyed twice once by the Japanese and once by a cyclone (hurricane to you east coasters), is considered one of the most modern cities in Australia. I like Darwin for its climate and location as a jumping off point for discovering southeast Asia as well as the rest of the Australian continent. It may be naive, but the thought of moving to a country with similarities to my own (language, for example) does put me somewhat at ease.
- Kyoto, Japan: I chose this location for a couple different reasons, including history, population and industry. You see Kyoto has a population of 1.5 million people (compared to Tokyo with a population of 37.8 million). That makes Kyoto a small town by comparison. I’m drawn to Japan because its culture is so alien to my own. I’d be immersed in a culture that I don’t know a lot about, from food to customs. I don’t even like sushi, and that alone shows how little I know about Japanese cuisine — it can’t all be sushi. The move to Japan would push me outside of my comfort zone.
Kyoto is known as the city of 10,000 shrines and has a history more than a thousand years old. The climate is moderate with an average low around 40 and high around 86, so that’s pretty comfortable. The city is filled with universities and cultural landmarks. The city is slightly cheaper than Tokyo. It’s connected with the rest of the country by the extensive rail network, including the famous Japanese bullet trains that can get me to Tokyo quickly (for my manga and anime fix). I also like Japan because of cats. They have a strong love for the neko, just like me.
- Sailboat, Caribbean: The third largest bundle of travel books in my collection have to do with people living on sailboats. My favorite is An Embarrassment of Mangoes, the tale of a Canadian couple that spent two years sailing the Caribbean Sea. If you’ve been following our blog you might have picked up on our love of sailing. So, the chance to chuck it all and sail around the islands enjoying an eternal summer has quite the appeal. I’ve planned and picked out the boats several times. I’d love to get something in the 40-foot range and make a living off of writing, supplemented by the occasional charter, getting a chance to explore and soak up the culture of each of the islands in that azure sea.
- Tuscany, Italy: We made a promise to each other years ago, maybe even unsaid on that first fateful trip, that one day we would live in Tuscany. I’ve even written short stories of our imaginary life in Tuscany, describing the ins and outs of our life there in a farm house that was painstakingly renovated by yours truly. We love Italy. We love the culture. We love the food. We truly want to be immersed in the world we’ve grown to love. I’d love to learn Italian and truly get to know the region we love not just as friends visiting, but as locals.