Monday, August 27, 2012

Rootless Relocation, Part 1a: Where?

One spring day

One afternoon this past spring, sitting on a marshrutka traveling from Rustavi to Tbilisi, I thought:  

To Tbilisi from Rustavi via marshrutka

If I want, I can spend one year in a different place in the world for the rest of my life.

Really slow travel. 

Between Lalibela and Addis. Ethiopia

So where will I go?

You'd think the first question would be, where do I want to go?

But it's not. Here are some questions that come before:

What do I want?

Climate, geography, culture, vibe, demographics, recreation, access to local, regional, international transportation, access to family/friends, challenge ...

What do I need? 

Income opportunities, cost of living, standard of living, access to health care, access to internet, level of perceived safety ... 

Are there deal breakers?

Too hot/too cold, too big/too small, too homogenous, no nightlife, community's politics, human rights, crime rates, language, too remote/not remote enough ....

What destinations are on my general list of places to explore in the future?

For example, here are places that are on my current list. Some of I've been to before and others are new to me:
  • New Mexico
  • Mexico 
  • Colombia
  • Guatemala
  • Ecuador
  • Ethiopia
  • Yemen
  • Syria
  • Iran
  • Libya
  • Rwanda

For me, at this time, the primary drivers telling me where to live next are:

Access to family. I feel the need to be within fairly easy access to/for family for the next one or two years. I define "fairly easy" to mean within a day or two's drive or a flight less than eight hours. The flight also needs to be reasonably economical.

Climate. Not too hot and not too cold.

Geography. I want to be close to mountains.

Cultural and language diversity. I want to be able to continue with EFL and also to enjoy intercultural experiences.

Money. The cost of living must be relatively low and there must be income opportunities.

The need for family access rules out all but:
  • New Mexico
  • Mexico

I could make a weak argument for Guatemala, if I were interested in living in Guatemala City, but I'm not. I'd want to live near Lake Atitlan, which knocks it out of the accessibility category, both in terms of flight costs and multiple-transport transfers. Quito, Ecuador, a beautiful city and perfect climate, wouldn't be too terrible for flight time, but the cost would be prohibitive.

So between New Mexico and Mexico, which? 

See Rootless Relocation, Part 1b: Where?


Lauren said...

I'm going to go ahead and endorse Quito. I dream of living there someday. Perfect climate, nestled in the mountains, excellent cuisine, excellent people.

Sus said...

I live in New Mexico, Albuquerque to be precise. I'm (back) here only because of a divorce/bankruptcy that forced me to move back w/ family but I can tell you that after having lived in several other states/cities across the US, it is not that much cheaper here and and income opportunities are not good. Granted my feelings are tainted due to the reasons behind me living here but the facts don't lie:

NM has one of the highest poverty rates in the country; I was making almost $14/hr in Denver and upon moving here the closest I could come in in the industry I had worked in (advertising for nat'l sporting goods retailer) was less than $10/hr. Even temp jobs through agencies start at less than that.

Drunk driving is an epidemic here and if you move here you will want to have to have a car for what little mass transit we do have is pitiful. Car insurance rates are extremely high because of the DWI/DUI problem. I used to have full coverage living in downtown Denver but here I can only afford liability.

As for the climate, not sure what is too hot for you but summer daytime temps (here in ABQ) rarely ever go below 90. During July we had several days that were over 100 with most days higher than 95 and this month we're still hitting the 90's.

Yes the sunsets are lovely and the green chili divine (especially right now as you'll find chili roasters all around the city) and some fascinating archeological sites but those things, in my opinion, can be experienced by merely visiting not moving here. As soon as I can I hope to move back to Denver or preferably out of the country as I long to visit the rest of the world.

Good luck with your decision. :)

Mzuri said...

Lauren - hey gogo! I love Quito, too - I'm happy to hear it's as seductive now as it was [mumble mumble] years ago. OTOH, another TLG colleague just reported to me that folks in Ecuador, where she's been recently, are distressed by a climbing crime rate. But I don't know if this is mostly in Guayaquil where she was based or also in Quito.

Mzuri said...

Sus - Thank you for the splash of cold water. I mean that sincerely. But you know how love is ... I just gotta go.

About the endemic drunk driving in some areas out west. I'll never forget a long stretch of road in Arizona on my way out to Organ Pipe National Monument, riddled with roadside memorials to family and friends killed by drunk driving. Heartbreaking.

Given your interest in traveling internationally and the fact that you're not rolling in bucks at the moment, you may wish to check out the program I did in the Republic of Georgia. Click on the "Teach and Learn with Georgia" tab at the top of this page for more info. Free airfare, girl. Lots of photo opps. Close to other countries making it easier to visit them while you're in Georgia.

Maybe we can meet up when I get to NM.

Sus said...

yeahh....I can be a blunt sometimes, although I'm actually much softer than I was when I was younger. LOL

I've actually been looking at the program you mention, thanks to your blog. :) I'm currently working as an AmeriCorps/VISTA Volunteer and my year of service ends in March and so I'm starting to research options; job market, cities, countries, NGO?, US Fed job?, stay with nonprofits? Hopefully this time around I'll push past the fears/insecurities that have plagued me and finally start really living for myself.

Definitely let's keep in touch for when pop up in Nuevo Mexico! It's been a while since I was down in Alamogordo but the White Sands are a beauty and best time to visit is fall or spring.

I'm wondering why I didn't get a notification telling me you had responded. I only found your reply because I came back here looking for the link to the city data site you had talked about. weird....

Mzuri said...

Sounds like you've got several interesting options going on. I had a good experience in Georgia - not without challenges at times - but it's a pretty special place. Very glad I went. OK, we'll let's stay in touch.