A few days ago, my college buddy Erik and I were talking about future plans and potential moves. Currently, he and his wife call Seoul home, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t eying another location. In fact, many of us who take the leap and settle abroad end up doing so for only a few years, either moving on to greener pastures overseas or even (gasp) moving back to our home countries. During our convo, Erik asked me out of all the cities I’d been to, which ones did I think I could live in for five years if I had to. Considering that I’ve not lived in one city for more than two years since 2005, Erik was asking a lot. Here are my top five:
1. São Paulo No surprise to anyone who’s read this blog for a while, Brazil’s largest city is the closest place to “home” for me, aside from my parents’ house. No matter how long I’m away from this massive, exhilarating megalopolis, I can swing back into town, call up my peeps, and plug back into the incredible social scene. I love this place.
2. Madrid Sunny, multicultural, and less-touristy than Barcelona, Madrid has the perfect combination of slick and gritty, with a kooky Latin attitude. Whenever I’m in town, I feel like I’m hanging out in an Almodóvar film. The job market sucks, but rents are cheap, so dollars earned remotely go very far.
3. San Francisco San Fran is, in a word, breathtaking. Baker Beach, the Golden Gate Bridge, Dolores Park, Union Square, Chinatown—the City by the Bay is just a cool-ass place. It’s expensive and chilly year round, but there are no East Coast-style winters. And for a little more color, there’s always Oakland!
It’s a cliché to call Mumbai an assault on the senses, but dammit, that’s exactly what it is. And I love that. With wonderful people, crazy-tasty food, centuries-old history and culture, and an unrelenting sense of adventure, India’s New York/Miami/LA is a phenomenal place.
5. Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia’s multicultural capital is sprawling but easy to navigate, full of amazing food and friendly people with a good grasp of English. Set between bustling Bangkok and staid-but-sophisticated Singapore and the main hub of low-cost carrier Air Asia, KL is the perfect hub for travel in Asia.
Where’s Berlin on this list, some of you might ask? It’s #6…the dark, cold winters keep it (and Stockholm) out of the top 5. Check back in a few months, when I’ve been to a few more cities.
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