My ex-boss has recently moved to Hong Kong. I was just looking through her photos on Facebook and I’ve started to get that itchy-footed feeling that tends to creep in after months of winter darkness and being cooped up inside. It’s got me daydreaming about where I might like to live one day on shores afar. Hopefully when I go I’ll be carrying the Marc Jacobs/Louis Vuitton luggage from the Darjeeling Limited. Hopefully.
Those of you who know me well will know that I’ve moved house a lot. 12 times in the last 10 years to be precise (eek, I never really counted until now, that’s a lot of moving) and I’ve never really found a place that I’ve felt really settled. I love my home-home where I grew up, but like the three little pigs, you have to grow up and move on. I’ve been in Leeds for five years now and I love where I live, I adore my job and have no plans to make a move in the near future, it’s always nice to dream about what I might do if money or logistics weren’t an issue. I love being close enough to home to visit my family and to be able to drive and see friends without too much trouble, but I can’t help but wonder what it might be like to live in another country. One day.
So, here are my top destinations of places I’d like to live:
I love, love, love New York. I could easily see myself living in either Manhattan or Brooklyn. I fell in love with it the first time I was there and the second time just sealed the deal. I have this image in my head that I want to live out, that I’m living in a little one-room apartment with big windows maybe in the East Village. I’m writing my book and I’ve spent all afternoon sprawled on the wooden floorboards of the apartment, click-clacking out words on my typewriter. It’s late afternoon fading into early evening at the height of summer. Sunlight, glowing amber, filters through the dust on the window pane. I push the window open and climb out to sit on the creaky, old, rusty fire escape. The sunshine warms my face and my bare feet and it’s just cool enough thanks to a slight breeze rippling along the tree-lined streets. I crack open a bottle of ice-cold Brooklyn and sip it whilst danging my feet three stories above New York, listening to the buzz of traffic and the sounds of an afterschool basketball game. This is the life. New York is a friendly town.
I was wowed by how beautiful Sweden was when I visited and I loved every part of Stockholm, but Gamla Stan and Södermalm in particular. I love the idea of living in a nordic country and I’m not really one for super-hot weather, although I do like the sunshine. I like places that have real seasons, a real definition between summer, spring, autumn and winter. I don’t think I’d like to live somewhere that just stayed constantly the same all year round. I also want to live somewhere that’s close to the sea, which I’ve just realised is a recurring theme through the places I’m talking about here. Stockholm feels full of mystery, like there’d be something new to discover every day (kind of the same air of eerieness and beauty that Venice has) and Södermalm has that Brooklyn-esque feel to it – great shops and lots of mini-galleries and installations everywhere. It has a real sense of style and art.
San Francisco is on a parr with NYC when it comes to my favourite places in America. I felt like San Fran was the only place I went in America (and we went to lots of places) that had a real sense of history and character to it. Maybe the hills reminded me of Sheffield? Maybe not. The bay and the waterfront is stunning and there are so many little microcosms of life happening throughout the city. It also has one of the best bar scenes I’ve ever had the pleasure of indulging in. It feels like you’re at ‘the seaside’ which, of course, geographically you are but I mean it has that sense of magic to it that you don’t always get in other cities. LA, for example. I liked Venice because it was so mental and I liked Santa Cruz because it was novel, but LA itself feels a bit vacuous. San Fran seemed to distance itself from all that and create its own identity. And I loved the Haight. Even if you hate hippies as much as I do, you still can’t fail to love The Haight. It’s a lot like Darlinghurst in Sydney, Australia but with a better (wetter) climate.
It’s a long time since I was in Italy, about 11 years ago, but I absolutely loved this part of the world. It’s seriously beautiful, set just enough in-land to be countryside, but close enough to Venice and the sea to take a trip. The hills rolls straight out of one of those L.N.E.R. steam-train holiday ad paintings of Italy. The town is small but perfectly formed, with beautiful frescos painted onto ancient buildings and some of the best restaurants I’ve ever eaten in.
There are a load of other places I’d love to visit and imagine I could live there. Canada is the next biggie on my list, I’d love to visit Vancouver and Montreal as well as maybe going back to the US to visit Seattle. I’d love to visit South America, India and South East Asia and I’ve recently had a hankering to visit parts of the Middle East. Even in the UK, I’d quite like to live in Manchester, Bristol, Bath or Edinburgh. I also loved the South Island of New Zealand, it is honestly the most stunningly beautiful place I’ve ever seen. I was driving around the island by myself and had to keep pulling over to stare at stuff as so not to crash. I’ve never seen water the colour it was there. Beautiful.
There’s so much I still want to see and do, I’m going to make more of an effort to see different places and make more of my holidays. Maybe do a different city every year, or a new country every year. I’ve been well and truly bitten by the travel bug.
Where would you live if you could live anywhere?