There are two types of places in the world: those where nobody will bat an eyelid if you move there and those where you will be welcomed with the question “Why did you move here?” – if you want to call that a form of welcome.
Having lived and worked in eight different countries so far, I have experienced both cases.
The strange thing is that nobody is surprised when you move to a crowded, smelly and noisy city where you will spend two hours every day under the ground and where rents are so expensive that you can only afford a room in a basement. Because everyone considers it normal that people move to New York or London.
But when you move to a quiet and peaceful place where you can reach the mountains or the forest by foot from home and rents are so affordable that you can rent a whole house without working too much, people ask you “Why of all places did you move there?”
It’s no coincidence that I am writing this one week after my move to Târgu Mureș, although this time I did have a good reason for my move to Romania. Often, the question displays merely the lack of knowledge of the person asking. Some people do not know more than three countries beyond their own and the rest of the world is like outer space to them. They won’t be able to associate anything with any other city besides Rome, Paris or London.
Birds move twice a year. Why shouldn’t we?
I have always found it particularly strange when locals pose that question to me in such a way as if they think that their own city is the worst place on earth. If you don’t like it there, why don’t you move away? We are people, not trees. We can walk away from places.
Having moved 20 times already, I am beginning to consider the question of where one lives to be overrated. A place can be top-notch exciting, but if you have to work all the time, you won’t get much out of it. Another place may offer less at first sight, but it allows you to enjoy your time and discover the country, or – as I am planning for the upcoming Eastern European winter – to stay inside with a cup of hot chocolate and catch up on my writing.
Different places are for different times in your life. Because you are not the same person you were two or three years ago. Hopefully.
(Zur deutschen Fassung.)