Ever since I turned 18, I started travelling as much as my student budget could allow me. And I noticed that in every single travel I made, there was a regular pattern: I always end up thinking “I must live here forever.”
A very realistic thought, I grant you.
So here are 10 of the cities I would love to live in. I reduced the options here as I am only talking about cities I actually visited and I also took the decision to take out some obvious ones because who wants to read about how amazing the Big Apple is and how so romantic it is to stroll along the Seine river in Paris?
This ranking will obviously be a minefield of clichés as I haven’t experienced anything else but a touristy experience in most of those places, but here we go!
- Mexico City
I actually lived in Mexico City in 2012 and 2013. It is one of my favourite places in the world. A gigantic city that is constantly boiling with cultural events (it is the city with the most museums in the world!), Mexico City offers an amazing lifestyle that cannot possibly have anyone bored. Both its size and the cohabitation of pre-hispanic, colonial and contemporary architectures make the city a beautiful and surreal chaos. And of course, its inhabitants the chilangos entice anybody to want to stick around a bit longer than the original plan.
I have only been to Reykjavik a few days, but the Icelandic capital fascinated me. It is a tiny city and very little populated (121 000 inhabitants, a fair proportion of the country’s 329 000 inhabitants) right by the Atlantic ocean. The streets get crazily animated on weekend nights when the locals go out, and as a tourist I very much enjoyed all the cozy little cafés that sheltered my friends and I from the chilly Icelandic late Summer air. The tall bearded handsome Viking descendants chilling on terraces are also a major plus.
This one is a big cliché, but Rome is so beautiful I wanted to cry at every single corner of it when I was there. It also has that chaotic vibe that I find very appealing, with its lunatic drivers in narrow cobbled streets. The neighbourhood of the Trastevere, full of bars and restaurants, made me want to break into any of the appartments there and just settle down forever, because any Rome view is a glorious view. I am sure living there is a radically different experience than being a tourist, but I have always fancied Southern Europeans to be the best at living life.
Edinburgh is the only place I visited in Scotland but I experienced aesthetical shocks after aesthetical shocks there. It might be dark and rainy most of the year, it only adds up to the Gothic charm of its massive grey stone buildings. There are lovely hikes to be made around the city, to reach Calton Hill or Arthur’s seat and have breath-taking views of the city. It also has great book shops, great beer and great cake – the holy trinity of happiness. It is overall a very inspiring city in which you’d like to eat warm soup and write short stories as a lifestyle.
I lived in Rennes for three and a half scattered years as it is where my Alma Mater is. Appart from my home village, this is the place I have lived in for the longest time. So I don’t think I would live there again, but I sometimes wish I always had a foot there. Rennes is ridiculously charming. A student town, it has kept most of its medieval part intact which makes going out to the restaurant, the café, or – more commonly there – the bar, a very quaint experience. The music scene is also very much active in the Breton capital and nights out there are an absolute crazy delight. Because it is not so much of a touristy place in France, it has managed to keep its raw character.
I visited Guanajuato for a couple of days less than a year ago, and I have never seen such a colourful place. It is probably one of the most gorgeous Mexican cities, with its colonial architecture and painted houses. It is full of students, wonderfully sunny, peaceful, luminous and there were art performances at all times on the streets. It felt like an ideal place.
What made me want to live in Amsterdam when I visited it were the houses. The architecture is absolutely lovely and the whole place oozes cosiness. Everybody circulates in giant bicycles (I almost got run over by those on multiple occasions), they have incredible coffee places. As always, cake, beer, culture, book shops.
I truly did not expect Pisa to be such a nice place where I would ever consider living, but when my friend and I spent a few days there, it was absolutely glorious. Beyond the leaning tower area and its whole lot of tourists, the city is beautiful and welcoming. However, we spent two whole days exclusively eating ice cream and smoking cigarettes while sitting on a bench, which might not be a very sustainable lifestyle.
I am saying Berkeley here because realistically, I will never ever afford to live in San Francisco.
10. New Orleans
The music! The marching bands! The overall chaos and the beauty of the city’s architecture made it really attractive to me. It is one of those very unique places in the United States with a strong identity of its own.
You can check my travel pictures here so that you too can decide to live in 100 places at the same time.