Choosing where to live

In my second year in the United States, I was involved with four Caucasian students in a class project. We used to meet once a week in the library for our project. When we didn’t talk about our project we—mostly them—would talk about school and sports. They used to joke with me how they are different from the rest of the world with their sports preference. But, one person from our group was adamant to talk about politics whenever possible. It was 2003 and the pre-presidential election talk had already started. The stake was high then, the USA was already in Iraq. The rest of our group was vague about their political views. He, on the other hand, was crystal clear. He said “If Bush wins again, I am moving to Australia.”

I was new to the American culture and didn’t know it was a thing among some Americans to “threaten” to move out of the country. Many Americans promise or, maybe even, threaten to move somewhere else, mainly Canada, when they don’t like their country’s policies. I of course doubt those people ever carried out with their plan. Such attitude is even listed, #75, in once very famous website stuff white people like, now published as a book.

For the non-Americans hearing that an American wants to leave his country to live in another one might be the strangest thing they could hear. For the rest of the world, the USA is the place to be. In reality, the USA is like any other wealthy country it has its pros and cons. I know many American born and foreigners who left the USA for good. Of course, each has his or her reason to choose a different country.

I believe there is no such place on earth as the “ideal city”. Wherever you live you will find things that you will like and hate. There is no such city where you will love everything about it. Finding the ideal city is like finding your ideal spouse; he or she doesn’t exist. Like marriage you learn you need to work hard to make it work even when you both love each other so much.

After living in five different cities (four countries) I think I have an idea of how my “ideal city” should be:

  1. Mostly sunny. I found that I am happier when it is sunny. Also, I don’t function well in below zero temperature.
  2. Close to the coast.
  3. Has a minimum population of 500,000. I lived in small cities and it wasn’t fun.
  4. Should have good book stores, non-smoking cafes and cinemas. Some of you might find this strange but in Irbid (pop. 1 million) where I live now there is not a single decent book store, only one non-smoking café and no cinemas.
  5. Its residents of different backgrounds. The more multi-cultures the merrier.

18 thoughts on “Choosing where to live

  1. I wonder if he kept his “threat” and went to the aussie land 😀
    heard a lot about that book 🙂
    For me:
    1- 100%
    2- Not much of a sea/coast fan but won’t mind 🙂
    3- Exactly the opposite! Not fond of big cities
    4- Don’t mind having book stores! I can create mine 🙂 , same 4 cinemas (did sm1 yell introvert :P) but absolutely with u on the non-smoking mantra
    5- Not a must (anymore!)


  2. Love this post and your list! You are funny in desiring to live in a big city. I’ve never tried so I’m not sure if I’d enjoy it. I tend to like rural scenery and peace so maybe I’m not one who would like it. But you do sound like my Syrian friend in that. Or how he used to be before he got used to smaller-town living in Germany. He used to think it was SO dead there partially because Germans roll up the sidewalks at night, and on Sundays and most any holiday. Much different from life in Damascus!

    OK, from your list

    1 – YES! Sunshine makes me happier and more energetic. Clouds often make me want to sleep or lie around or cry…depending on my mood. 😉

    2 – Would be nice. I also like the mountains.

    3 – Never lived in any place remotely that big so I have no clue if I’d like it!

    4 – I don’t care about cinemas since I don’t like movies that much, but YES to no-smoking cafés and restaurants. Thankfully smoking was outlawed in most establishments here so I don’t worry about that any more. Good thing for a tobacco state like NC!

    5 – I would love that! I do wish my immediate area were more diverse. Actually it may be more diverse than I realize, I just don’t know how to find and mingle with the other cultures as well as I’d like.


    1. One reason I like big cities is because they usually have multicultural communities.
      There are of course positive and negative issues in living in big cities for sure. But, in my opinion the advantages of living in a big city outweigh the negatives.
      Also, there are more cinemas in big cities 🙂


  3. Oh, man. I hate when people discuss politics. I don’t even discuss that with my own family. I was taught that there are 3 things you never should discuss in polite conversation. Money, politics and religion. I think if people want to show off how smart they are, there are plenty of topics of conversation that don’t involve such strong emotions that those topics tend to bring out of people.

    My ideal city would be almost the exact opposite of yours. 😀 I despise hot, or even warm, climates and love the cold and snow. I am always on edge in big cities and can relax more in small towns, although it’s easier to blend in in a big city when I’m out taking pictures. A person with a big DSLR tends to stand out in a small town. I do agree with points 4 and 5, so we have some common ground with our ideal cities.


    1. When we went to Damascus, most people we hung out with LOVED talking politics and religion. We told them that Americans are taught not to discuss those things, but, eh, we were in a different country so we broke that rule some. 😉


      1. I guess it’s sort of a “when in Rome” type of thing, right? I’ve just seen people almost get into fist fights over those things and I’m just sitting there like “What just happened?” 😀


    2. When I was in the States I noticed how most people avoid talking about the three things you mentioned. I felt they are like taboos. In the Middle East, this is exactly the opposite. It is very common for people to ask about your political views and how much you earn. Since the majority are Muslims different religions are not discussed as we talk about politics.

      I think people in the Middle East are the most who talk about politics. I don’t like talking about politics anymore because it solves nothing.

      It is good you live in a place where you like the weather 🙂 I love the weather so much here in Jordan it is one of the best in the world. We have four seasons but it is not as hot or as cold as other places.


      1. The weather in Jordan sounds nice, if it doesn’t get too hot or too cold. Over here, it gets so hot and sticky in the summer. It just icks me out. When I was in Germany last year, even though it was August, it was never sticky hot outside. It wasn’t even warm. It was nice and comfortable.


      2. I don’t think it gets sticky and humid here during the summer. Jordan has a Mediterranean weather which is known to be very nice.


    3. – Hi
      – Hi
      – How r things
      – Not bad, not bad, u?
      – Fine. So tell me; who did u vote 4?
      – ….
      – What? Why!
      etc.. etc..
      As Malik pointed, the above is (pretty much) a normal convo back in Jordan.
      Newest item on the to-d–list: get a DSLR! 😀


      1. Haha….yes, that’s about it! I remember one guy in particular. We seriously laughed out loud at him. He rubbed his hands together, leaned forward in anticipation, and said with a small smile, “OK, so let’s talk politics.”

        And Obama had just been sworn into his first term when we went to Syria, so a lot of people wanted to know if we voted for him, and would say “Obama” and give us a thumbs up. It was cute.


      2. A cousin of mine went on vacation to a few different countries in Europe and she said that when she was in France, when people found out she was American, they got very huffy about politics and the United States. She said she felt so uncomfortable since we had always been taught not to get involved in sensitive topics like that. Finally she had to say “Listen, I don’t make the laws or policies.” 😀


      3. I remember one time, my uncle was talking about one of the presidential elections and he was ranting about the person who won and said that anyone who voted for him deserved the ways he was going to mess things up. This made me very uncomfortable since I had voted for the person who won. 😀 He didn’t know that but even if he had it wouldn’t have made a difference. If anything, he never would have shut up about it to me.

        For a DSLR, I highly recommend anything by Canon. I’ve had other DSLR’s in the past and I love my Canon the best of any of the others. Right now I use the T4i, but I would *love* to get the Canon 5D Mark III but at $4,000 who can afford one?


      4. Two of my aunties (they are my father’s sisters) spent a year not talking to each other because of politics. So, I can relate when you say you don’t like talking about politics.

        Unfortunately, some people can be rude and they assume that Americans are responsible for their government’s foreign affairs regardless. I guess when traveling one should be agreeable to the host political view. It is no fun talking about politics while traveling.


  4. How are you doing, Malik? Your weblog is amazing! : )
    I realize culture is indeed very important thing, just like soil from which everything grows out.


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