Getting away from it all
March 1, 2004 8:55 AM   Subscribe

There go my dreams of retireing in Ouagadougou or Baghdad but Vancouver, B.C. and mmmmmmAmsterdam are still in the running. A little help, please?
posted by dreeed (20 comments total)
Gods, I love the Netherlands. I would emigrate there in a heartbeat if they welcomed new arrivals. I can't imagine being happier than owning a flower farm in Holland. Of all the people I've visited...I'm the most in love with the Dutch.
posted by dejah420 at 9:13 AM on March 1, 2004

"Why does the Mercer group hate America and freedom?"
Oh and to cover Godwin, HITLER!
posted by Elim at 9:52 AM on March 1, 2004

I've been to Bern, Geneva and Zurich. The gas station bathroom on the highway was as clean as you'd find in a 4-star hotel. No kidding, someone must go in after each patron and clean, it was god-like. With that said, I found the people to be fussy. It was oppresive, I would not want to live there, anything out of place drove them nuts.
posted by stbalbach at 10:00 AM on March 1, 2004

stbalbach: I found the people to be fussy. It was oppresive, I would not want to live there, anything out of place drove them nuts.

That's one reason I'm so happy to call Vienna (tied for 3rd place on this year's list) home. In my opinion, it's the perfect combination of Germanic engineering and attention to order/cleanliness without all of the attendant fussiness one is apt to find in Switzerland or northern Germany.

In my book, Vienna deserves first place on that list -- a place it has occupied several times in the past few years.
posted by syzygy at 10:31 AM on March 1, 2004

Good rates these days for rentals or buying homes in Hati
posted by Postroad at 10:50 AM on March 1, 2004

places that get cold: high on the list

places that don't: low

posted by divrsional at 12:53 PM on March 1, 2004

Of all the people I've visited...I'm the most in love with the Dutch

And if you consider how most Dutch people feel about Canadians, then you should totally be over the moon about us Canucks.
posted by smcniven at 12:57 PM on March 1, 2004

then you should totally be over the moon about us Canucks.

Well...that just goes without saying, doesn't it? ;) Seriously, I'd love to live in Vancouver...but the job market doesn't look like it really needs more writers/artists/programmers. (But frankly, outside of Bangalore, who does?)

My top list would include:
Holland: anywhere
Vancouver - or anywhere else on in the BC part of Canada
Seattle/Puget Sound (like I have that kind of money...sheesh)
London (Well, Islington, least that's where I remember the artists being.)
Scotland (anywhere...but wouldn't a place on the moors be exquisite?)
New Zealand
Any number of islands in the South Pacific (Because, if you can't have museums and theatre, you might as well be naked and swimming in the surf.)
posted by dejah420 at 3:06 PM on March 1, 2004

Anywhere in Holland gets my vote, frankly.... perhaps a vote I will make with my feet, as the saying goes.

Baghdad? er, no.
posted by clevershark at 3:25 PM on March 1, 2004

Two of my favorite cities in the top ten: Copenhagen and Amsterdam. In my opinion, Copenhagen has better food. But Amsterdam is more convenient to London and Paris. Whatever will I do?
posted by Dick Paris at 3:48 PM on March 1, 2004

The fact that three Swiss cities make it to the top ten ahead of Amsterdam and Copenhagen suggests that either:

a. The list was compiled by anal-retentive 60-year-olds
b. I missed a great deal as a visitor

The fact that Barcelona didn't make the top ten is also telling.
posted by talos at 4:03 PM on March 1, 2004

I wonder what factors they used in determining the ratings. I've visited Switzerland a lot in the past decade (all over, but mostly Geneva and Vaud cantons). The high points are incredible natural beauty, financial security and excellent infrastructure. Even tiny villages have centuries of history and carefully preserve it, but every modern convenience is used. Democracy is direct (literally) and everyone has a chance to speak and vote.

The low points (these are from my young American perspective, your experience may vary) are an uptight culture (which varies considerably from canton to canton), and my biggest qualm: lack of upward mobility in society. The rich stay rich and the poor stay poor. I met a lot of older people who have rented an apartment their entire life, and I think it is fairly common. Also, it seems like the children of the wealthy go to universities, while the children of the poor learn a trade in a two or three year ├ęcole. Does anyone know what type of financial assistance is available for university-quality students from poor families?

The complaints are just difficult differences between American and Swiss societies. The more mechanical quality of life measurements are great: everyone has equal access to clean water, there are strong social security programs and good universal health care.
posted by letitrain at 5:25 PM on March 1, 2004

My experience is that the Dutch are not as liberal beneath the surface as they are on it. Some of this freaking if anything is out of place is strong amongst the Dutch. In business, they tend to favor whoever is the most obstinate, rather than working towards consensus.

A legitimate issue for Americans in Europe is about hours of sunshine. Europe is significantly further north, and therefore gets less sun in the winter. This can be depressing. Also it stays light very late in summer, and that isn't always pleasant. Copenhagen is a beautiful city, but the Danes have come down with a case of conservatism that is less than attractive.
posted by Goofyy at 12:44 AM on March 2, 2004

What talos said. Geneva and Zurich? You're sure to have a great quality of life in both of those places if you're both rich and dull. While Vancouver is certainly pleasant, and is certainly metropolitan. I realize this is all about personal taste, but I'll take Paris, Rome, New York and Buenos Aires over any one of those cities in the top 10. If I wanted "quality of life", I'd move back to Connecticut.
posted by psmealey at 6:07 AM on March 2, 2004

... not that Connecticut has universal health care, or anything.

I've always wondered about these quality of life suveys, however. There has to be some balance between QoL, Standard of Living, and "fun" cities in which to live. I lived in Paris as a student and as a young professional for 4 years total, and I found it to be immensely liveable. Then again, my frame of comparison was NYC, so I guess that view is a bit skewed.

Thing is, I have been Geneva and Zuerich many, many times, and recall having spent a ton of $$ there, and not really enjoying it. Perhaps it's much different if one is a native that lives in either of those places, because I sure missed something if so.
posted by psmealey at 7:13 AM on March 2, 2004

psmealey, if you live in Geneva and Zurich, chances are you will make more money and the cost of living will be acceptable. It's a study of residents, not visitors.
posted by letitrain at 8:52 AM on March 2, 2004

I've always wondered about these quality of life suveys, however.

I've long been resigned to the fact that I'm not in the target demographic of these types of studies. Though I live in Calgary now I plan to leave soon and you couldn't get me to live in the hole that is most of Vancouver. Very large cities and the lack of space they entail get me down. I'm much happier someplace that only has 80,000 people and where a one hour drive puts you 110km away rather than being your daily commute.

Luckily the whole spectrum from Megaopolis to 1 horse town exist in the Canadian west and all of them give you universal healthcare, mostly clean water and decent to good air quality. They may not all have an Imax but I'd rather be hiking the trail than watching someone else do it.
posted by Mitheral at 9:05 AM on March 2, 2004

thanks, letitrain for making your point without being pedantic. I'm pretty sure I understood that it wasn't a list designed to promote tourism.

Living in NYC, I have a pretty good idea that I make more than I would than if I lived in, say, Lincoln, Nebraska, or some other place with a lower cost of living. Merely, the point I was making was conversational, that in most of these domestic and international quality of life surveys, the top rated places are invariably not quite as interesting as places to live than the grittier places that you would find down the list.

I do understand that, by and large, most people prefer not to live in "interesting" places, it's just an interesting topic for conversation.
posted by psmealey at 11:43 AM on March 2, 2004

psmealey, sorry, I missed this part of your post: Perhaps it's much different if one is a native.

I enjoy visiting wilder places - I'm in love with Naples - but I'd much rather live in Geneva. Stuff just works like it should. You have a hot fling once in a while with Naples, but Geneva is the girl you marry.
posted by letitrain at 1:50 PM on March 2, 2004

Hey, another Calgarian--what's up, Mitheral?

Even if you could measure factors like health care, etc., quantitatively, I suspect how you'd weight those factors is an individual preference. I mean, if there was One True Greatest City, we'd all move there, right?
posted by arto at 12:44 AM on March 3, 2004

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