Last week I wrote about how I was about to jump on a plane to start a new adventure in Valencia, Spain. And I did – and I left within four days.
I had nothing against the city in particular, it just wasn’t for me. From originally being ecstatic to be there when I first arrived, I quickly realised it saw to none of my current needs at this time.
It was too big, too difficult (and expensive) to get around, the beach – though warm (22°C in January is a dream for a pale Brit such as myself) was significantly less impressive in person than it had looked in photos, and the atmosphere of the city was severely out of line with that I wanted for myself; a quiet place to settle down for six months and write like hell.
If staying out partying every night until vodka is running through your veins and your head can barely hold itself up is for you (and there’s no judgement here, it most definitely was for me several years ago) then Valencia may just be your perfect city right now.
For me however, I made the decision to leave.
Now, a week later, I’ve moved into an apartment in Córdoba, Andalusia, approx. one thousand kilometres south-west of Valencia.
I can’t describe how good it felt to cross the border back into Andalusia. This is the first time I’ve been here since I left Granada at the end of July last year, and to be back among the friendly, but hard-as-fuck to understand Andalusian people, the beautiful Moorish architecture, and the small city atmosphere feels like the city is seeing to all of my current needs already.
For this, I should thank a very special lady for suggesting I consider moving to Córdoba in the first place (and for being there for me while I stressed over the decision to move), as well as Liz, who previously lived a year here, for helping me to confirm that this place would be the right fit.
I don’t think enough people consciously consider where they live, and more importantly, why they live where they live. If you were to ask a standard set of people (whatever that may be) why they live where they live, you will likely be hit back with one of three different answers:
- They’ve lived there all their lives, with all their family and friends living nearby.
- They made a concious choice to pack up their belongings and move there so many months, years, or decades ago.
- They’re a student, or completing an internship, and they’ll only be there for a predetermined amount of time.
Though the first and third groups are interesting in themselves, I’m more interested in the second group. What do these towns/cities/countries have that drew these people to them in the first place, and what do those places have that continue to keep them there?
Having not done any research into this topic (apart from in my head as I wandered around the streets of Córdoba and Valencia) I can only gauge any form of answers, or at least ideas, from my own experiences (with that, please add your own thoughts and ideas in the comments).
I Could Have Stayed in London Forever
If it wasn’t for me making a concious choice to make the change and move to Spain a little under a year ago, I could have easily stayed in London forever.
The thing is, London stopped seeing to my needs a good couple of years before I moved out of it. Although I didn’t ‘not’ enjoy living in London, at the same time I could have been living anywhere in the world and still have been having a very similar experience. I wasn’t taking London up on all it had to offer. I was simply paying my premium prices month after month, while very rarely jumping on an expensive train or bus to take me into the city centre in the bargain time of under an hour, depending on traffic and delays.
If you made a concious choice to live where you live, however many months, years, or decades ago, how recently have you taken a moment to consider if the place in which you’re currently living is still fulfilling all the needs and wants you had when you moved there in the first place? Is it still proving you with everything it did when you first arrived, or has it started to fall short in certain areas? Are you fully taking advantage of all the things that drew you to this particular town/city/country, or have you since moved on in your interests and career, perhaps dramatically, so you’re now at a point that you’re forming an entirely different life than you originally intended on, in a place in which was hand picked with your original life plan (or at least, youthful thoughts and ideas) in mind?
Many will argue they’re stuck in a certain city or town due to their work, but more than anything else this is a case of priorities. If you like your job (a job that can’t be transferred elsewhere, or worked at from home) more than your current desire to move from where you currently live, then by all means stay where you are and enjoy it. Similarly, you may not particularly like your job or the town/city/country you live in, but if it can’t be transferred elsewhere, or worked at from home, and you have a family to support, then right now your priorities must lie with them.
Choosing to Live in a Certain Place is a Decision We Should Constantly Be Assessing
This is, after all, our only life. Every day we spend not enjoying ourselves, not feeling happy in our surroundings, is a day we can’t get back.
We rarely just become stuck for one day, or one week, in a place which no longer served our needs, but rather for one year, or one decade, or one lifetime. We’re incredibly good at putting off decisions, and this relates to the most important aspects of our lives, such as where we live, just as much as the more trivial parts.
Really, the decision is yours; both of where you live, and the decision to decide in the first place (and over again, and over again). You may choose to live in London one year, but if a couple of years later you aren’t getting as much out of living there as you used to (or you simply aren’t enjoying the experience) you should make the decision to decide once more. Should you stay or should you go? Would you prefer to live in a slightly different version of where you currently live, such as another large city, or would you prefer to go the other way entirely and move to a small village in the middle of nowhere?
You can always change your mind when you move to a new place and either return to where you were previously living (to take stock, or for a more extended stay), or move on to another place entirely. If this is the case, simply consider the experience to have been an extended holiday; even if you decide your new destination isn’t for you, you can still take some time to be a tourist before moving on once more.
Where you live by no means defines you, but making the concious choice to keep asking yourself why you live where you live on a regular basis, so to make sure your current town/city/country is seeing to your current needs and you are fully taking advantage of all the things that originally drew you to this particular place, is the only way to stop yourself from becoming stuck forming an entirely different life than you originally intended on, in a place in which was hand picked with your original life plan in mind.
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