To See The World Or To Find Something

The other day I was prowling around the interwebs for some info on a certain city I am interested in visiting.

Unfortunately, all I really could find in my short search was a bunch of pages written by travelers who blab on about how their flight and hotel were, and how they had 2 or 3 days to explore the museums and see the old churches.

What strikes me about this is that it is not exactly the information I am looking for.

It’s not what I’m looking for because I am not traveling just to ‘see the world.’ In fact, I haven’t even traveled for the last 100 days. I have stayed put in the same exact city.

You see, right now, I don’t have the money or the desire to travel the world just to ‘see the sites.’ And this is why I couldn’t find the information I was looking for guides to South America start and end with the sites to see.

…And I suppose that is logical, because guides for traveling South America not only sell better but also hit the major demographic of those who are, in fact, traveling to see the sites…

But I am not in South America to see the sites. I am in South America to find places to live.

I have found one city that I can see myself living in for a long time, Medellin.

At the current time, I don’t have experience with a place that could rival it, and I often wonder if I should just quit the whole search and just plant myself right here.

I do have a desire to check out some of the major cities in the rest of South America to see if I could see myself living there as well. But right now the choice for me is obvious, outside of various visa considerations which would enable me to live here continuously.

Now, where I would want to live might be different from where you would want to live, and where I would want to live now would be different from where I would want to live, say, 20 years from now.

For example, an American man in his 50s might really enjoy hiking, especially in the deep forests and mountains. Cold temperatures aren’t a problem for him. He might also enjoy lots of reflective time to read and journal. Learning a new language really isn’t a priority for him, and he has plenty of extra cash from a career mostly behind him.

Naturally, then, this man could find his preferred home in the Rocky mountains of the western US or Canada. He won’t have to learn a new language, the culture is already familiar, and he can afford to buy what he wants.

However, this is not what I am looking for nor the situation I find myself in.

I mean, perhaps one day I will want to get a cabin in the backwoods where I can spend lots of time alone, maybe hunt and fish. But right now, this type of life is definitely not what I’m aiming at.

Right now, I have a handful of things that I feel really make me happy about where I’m living. It’s like city-level minimalism… I prefer cities with temperate climates, without excessive hot or cold. I prefer cities with costs of living in line with a sensible but lively bootstrapper. I prefer cities with a high density of beautiful, feminine girls. I prefer cities with existing infrastructure for high-speed internet. I consider learning a foreign languages to be a major life goal. I prefer cities that are easy to get in and get out of, and not too expensive to fly back to the US from. I also prefer larger cities, which have a variety of activities to choose from.

I’ve found most of these things in Medellin, and that’s why I haven’t even moved my luggage at all in the past 100 days.

I don’t really need a beach (though I like the beach). I don’t really need a quiet place in the mountains (though I like the mountains). I don’t really need to go snowboarding (though I love snowboarding).

The larger issue in all this is that it’s a good idea to have a purpose in traveling. 

Some people want to travel South America to see the sites. They want to go to the Galapagos, hike Macchu Pichu, go to the carnival in Rio, and dance tango in Buenos Aires. Once they do this, they will contentedly head back to the US and resume their previous lives.

I mean, all of these things are good… If you really want to do them, go do them.

For me though, these things are not a priority. At this point in time, I am looking for cities to live in.

At first, I didn’t realize that this is a multi-year process, and that it’s only achieved by boots-on-the-ground, first-hand knowledge. I also didn’t realize the difficulty in deciding your future if you’ve actually found a city you want to live in.

But the process continues, and this is what I’m interested in.

What are you interested in?




Published April 24, 2012

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  • http://www.mavericktraveler.com Maverick Traveler

    Good post.  Living vs. Traveling is a key theme here, and you’ve expanded on it nicely.

    • http://ryangoesabroad.com Ryan

      How long do you think it takes to decide if a certain city is liveable for you? (ghetto / dump cities aside)

      • http://www.mavericktraveler.com Maverick Traveler

        Tough question.  I think everyone of us decides this based on their own specific criteria.

        • http://ryangoesabroad.com Ryan

          Hmm… I think I’ll write a post about it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Helmick/100002635002250 Mike Helmick

    Is Medellin good for retirees?

    • http://ryangoesabroad.com Ryan

      You could retire here, but I would say I value it more from a young life perspective.

  • Pingback: How Long Does It Take To Decide If You Would Live In A Place? | Ryan Goes Abroad

  • Xiang Ji

    What long-winded stuff that quite lacks clear logical organization. Everybody has different aims, this is self-evident without stating. So what are you trying to talk about after all?

    Not to mention if your goal is “to learn a language”, living in a foreign city is just one method and definitely not the most effective one. If you don’t have any foundation through taking courses or at least systematic learning, then blindly hanging around will probably take you 5x time to get the same level of progression as systematic learners. I figure more likely you’re just living quite a mindless life imagining a lot of things while doing little in reality.