When considering a move abroad for work or other reasons, you may have many options or they may be somewhat limited, depending on where your employer has placement needs. Either way, you’ll likely come to a point where you’ll be faced with a decision as to where exactly you’d like to go. Your scope of knowledge of the cities and countries may be extensive or somewhat limited. As you make your decision, it’s helpful to consider the following elements that can really influence a location’s personality and your overall contentment with your choice.
Say you’re placed in the U.S. somewhere. Clearly the U.S. will have distinct cultural elements that are pretty universal no matter where in the country you are (like directness and a deep love of professional sports) but within the country, there’s also a world of difference between a place like New York City and Oklahoma City, for instance. Weigh the following geographical elements when prepping for your move.
What’s important to you? Surfing? Hiking? A rich food culture? Access to myriad of weekend trips and outdoor hobbies? Opt for Northern California and you’ll be close to skiing in Tahoe. Seattle, rich in activities in its own right, is not far from Vancouver, Canada, which only expands your options further. You can look at cities like these as “bundle deals” of sorts as their proximity to other cities basically doubles your access to fun outlets and interesting excursions. I know one person who was seriously considering Austin but changed her mind when she realized other major cities like Dallas and Houston were just hours away. For her, that was too isolating. Of course, in Europe, you’ll have MANY options for diverse weekend trips.
Are you single or married? If you’re seeking a mate, or are at least open to it, it may behoove you to consider a younger, bustling town. Look at places like Dallas over a sleepy beach town like Hilton Head, South Carolina, where the demographic skews up and mostly married.
If you’re a passionate politico, you may want to keep that in mind when choosing a place. It can be tough to find yourself surrounded by people who don’t share your views and very comforting to be around people who do! A misconception that we often hear and see, even from Americans, is that there are only Republicans in the midwest. Not true. Dallas, Houston, and Austin are all blue cities. So even if a state is red, make sure to learn about the subcultures within states, and even within cities. For example, in my neighborhood, all you see are Beto signs, while in the north part of the city, you will see more Trump signs. Even cities can have subcultures within miles of each other!
Population Size and a City’s Personality
Do you prefer the coziness of a suburban city or the hustle and bustle of a modern city mecca? Or maybe you prefer the big city to be an hour away, but you live in the quiet burbs? Do subways, buses and traffic stress you out or do you see it as the price of being in a prime city? Take these perspectives into account as you plan.
Coast to coast, the U.S. is an entirely different experience. Seattle, while known for its stunning beauty, also has a reputation for being a little clique-like and difficult to make friends in (otherwise known as the “Seattle Chill”). Dip down to Cali and the southern states and it’s more laid back. For example, I’ve never had a conversation with my neighbors in Texas, but while I was staying in an Airbnb in Long Beach, CA, the neighbor chatted me up and I was only there for 4 days.
Also consider how “rowdy” a city is (aka how much of a party or drinking town it is). Again, you may appreciate that quality about a city (like Charleston or New Orleans) or prefer a quieter tone when it comes to alcohol. It’s all about your personal preferences.
And lastly, weather makes a huge difference on day-to-day satisfaction. It’s for this reason that die-hard Californians never budge from the state’s pristine sunny and mild weather. But maybe you’re not the type to mind London’s rainy overcast…just give it some thought what you think works best for you! Rain or shine, you want to go where you fit the best.
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