It's nice to visit, but don't try to live here...

This is a room for the discussion of travel plans or experiences and the culture of places you have visited or plan to visit.
User avatar
sfuqua
Blue Belt
Posts: 740
Joined: Sun Jul 19, 2015 5:05 am
Location: san jose, california
Languages: English(N),
Samoan(FSI 4+, rusty),
Tagalog(talk at home, read newspapers, watch TV),
Spanish(chat online, read newspapers and books, watch TV)
French(study)
Language Log: http://how-to-learn-any-language.org/vi ... f=15&t=772
x 1509

It's nice to visit, but don't try to live here...

Postby sfuqua » Thu Dec 22, 2016 5:54 am

I have no idea whether anybody else would have any desire to talk about where they live, but this is my take on the San Francisco Bay area.

I don't mean for this thread to be a serious criticism of any place to live, but my summer visit to Dublin reminded me that many places are nice visit, but maybe not such great places to try to live. While I was in Ireland, I met many people who live there, who loved their city, but who were also looking for a way to move somewhere else. For me, I thought Dublin was heaven. All I did was eat great food, read great books, listen to mostly great music, and drink great beer. The minor details of making a living, finding a place to live, and dealing with bureaucracy were not a part of my life. I think I have an overly positive view of Dublin, and Europe in connection. I suspect that I would love living in Europe, but I don't think I really understand what I would be getting into even if I could figure out the whole visa, work permit part of things.

I live in the San Francisco Bay area, a part of the United States that many people think is a great place to live. The reality of living here is a little more complicated. There are a bunch of good points, but it is easy for visitors to overlook the many problems of living here.

I love the many languages you here just walking down the street here. I love the whole melting pot culture here. If you are a computer person, it is the center of the world. I came here as part of the computer industry and it was amazing to find myself on the edge of million dollar deals with people who they make movies about. (I said on the edge only). But in so many ways, living here is no fun.

The price of everything is brutal, housing especially. You make a lot of money; salaries are high, but you spend it all just keeping a roof over the head. You pay taxes like you are rich, but you are barely able to pay the bills. I'm pretty sure that my son and his girlfriend would like to become a couple on their own place, but even though both of them make a professional salary, as young people it is really hard for them to afford an apartment. Don't even get me started on the price of buying a house. If I had enough money to buy a house here, I would be far away, maybe in a small town somewhere near the sea...

Traffic is horrible. A lot of the time, you can't get anywhere very far away because of the huge number of people on the road. The Bay area has many interesting and beautiful places that I haven't seen for years. This place isn't as bad as Manila, for instance, but it's pretty bad.

The pace of life is brutal. This is the main thing that bugs me about living here. My life is being drained away by one annoying little problem after another. I've lived in several countries in my life, and I've never lived anywhere that eats up your life with trivia as much as the US does. As I sit here, I have a check for $0.11 that I need to cash left over from a settlement over a $2000 overcharge by my long distance carrier. This led to a separate case over another overcharge of $20, and now I have another check of $0.11. I guess I win. There are a million details to life in the US, and I find it difficult to disengage from all of the minutia of life here, the credit cards, the new management of the apartment I live in, the new construction going on that blocks the logical road to work, etc.
5 x
10K: 8226 / 10000 cards
ES 10000: 5469 / 10000 pages
ES 250: 2500 / 15000 hours
FR 10000: 427 / 10000 pages
FR 250: 294 / 15000 hours

User avatar
Melis
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Dec 13, 2016 3:25 pm
Languages: English (N), Norwegian(A2)
x 11

Re: It's nice to visit, but don't try to live here...

Postby Melis » Thu Dec 22, 2016 10:26 am

I can relate to what you wrote.

I lived in Palo Alto in the late 80s before everything got crazy. People thought it was too expensive even then. My ex is a patent attorney and told many eager recruiters that he is absolutely not going to the Bay Area/Silicon Valley. It is just too hard to live.

I spent most of the 1990s in San Francisco and left when the dot com boom started to really kick in and I had a hard time finding a place to live.

San Francisco is a great place to visit, or possibly be a student if you are living in a dorm. But I can't imagine living there again.
0 x

outcast
Green Belt
Posts: 471
Joined: Sat Dec 05, 2015 3:41 pm
Location: United States
Languages: 6 (Hexaglot)
SPEAKS
Native: ENglish, ESpañol
Advanced: -
High Basic: -
Basic Fluency: DEutsch, FRançais, POrtuguês, 中文 (汉语)
~
ACQUIRING
Formally: 한국말
Dabbles: -
Dormant: ITaliano

~
Plan to learn: हिन्दी , BAhasa INdonesia
Long-term Wish: PУсский, SVenska, 粵語 , NEderlands, KIswahili, বাংলা
~
x 424

Re: It's nice to visit, but don't try to live here...

Postby outcast » Thu Dec 22, 2016 12:08 pm

sfuqua wrote:
The pace of life is brutal. This is the main thing that bugs me about living here. My life is being drained away by one annoying little problem after another. I've lived in several countries in my life, and I've never lived anywhere that eats up your life with trivia as much as the US does. As I sit here, I have a check for $0.11 that I need to cash left over from a settlement over a $2000 overcharge by my long distance carrier. This led to a separate case over another overcharge of $20, and now I have another check of $0.11. I guess I win. There are a million details to life in the US, and I find it difficult to disengage from all of the minutia of life here, the credit cards, the new management of the apartment I live in, the new construction going on that blocks the logical road to work, etc.


This.

I don't know how it is that people in the US have not yet gone up in revolt over the fact that they are wasting years of their life having to take care of things that absolutely have no usefulness in their existence. Want to see even the most basic of medical practitioners, and you have to waste 15-20 minutes filling some pile of dead trees just so they cover their behinds from lawsuits. Then you go through at least half a dozen waiting rooms, all in all spending almost two hours of which maybe 90 seconds are spent with the actual doctor. How about doing taxes? Again, such a waste of time, it's almost 2020 and you can use your phone to buy a car and track people half a world away, but you still need to spend all those hours collecting paperwork for tax returns. Want to build anything? It will take you 3-5 years to get through all the lawsuits, counterlawsuits, quadruple-redundant environmental studies, traffic studies, cultural study of whether it fits the area. Attending college? You need to go through 37 offices and do paperwork in each, for your tuition, for your financial aid, for your books, for your dorm-life admin, for your car decal, for your this, and for your that. Don't even think about trying to get people to go even a little out of the way for you. US police officers? We all know, sorry if anyone has family or friends who are cops, I am not questioning their bravery, but I am questioning their manners. In most of the civilized word, the police serves the people. In the US, it feels as if the people serve the police. Get a traffic ticket? Think of all the paperwork, attend court, go to traffic school, the "lawyers", then all the different offices to pay the ticket... and for what? What does the nation get out of that? Many things in the USA from medicine to justice to law to taxes are a massive industry in which all the parts need the other parts to exist to keep their jobs, and they need to "bring people in" like a conveyor belt, which leads to corruption all over when giving tickets, fake diagnoses of medical issues, and on and on. Heck, it's even in food delivery and packages: in Europe, food is delivered ultra quick, in the USA? Got to wait 1 hour on normal days to get a pizza, half-cold! WTF? Parcels? Here in China (a country just as big as the USA!), you order a book on their Amazon, and you get it within 48 hours on their SLOWEST option!!! How the heck they can do it, but we have to wait "7-10 business days?" And of course, In Europe and Asia the trains make traveling so much more convenient, in the US either you are stuck on a highway or in an airport for ages half the time.

So many Americans have never even been outside the USA, and so they get so upset when you are not one of those just blindly saying "USA #1!"... erhhmm, I don't say it because I know better.

Rant over. Thank you for giving this chance! And all that said, being overseas also does have the opposite effect of making you see the good things: The USA still is far more accepting of foreigners and outside cultures than just about any other country, I can only think of maybe Australia, Canada, Brazil, or Argentina as the other ones where people can just move in, and still practice life as they did back home without people harrassing them. That is something quite important and worth pointing out.
6 x
"I can speak wonderfully and clearly in zero languages, and can also fluently embarrass myself in half a dozen others."

The Trek to 2000 Korean words - B1: 1000 / 2000

User avatar
Systematiker
Green Belt
Posts: 388
Joined: Tue May 10, 2016 6:09 pm
Location: Florida, USA
Languages: ENG (N); DEU (C2+) // SWG (~C1); BAR (~C1); SPA, FRA (~C1->C2); SCO (~C1); NLD (~B2*); LAT (B2); GRC (B2); CAT (~B2*); POR (~B2*); SWE (~B2*); HBO (B1); DAN (~B1*); RUS (~A2); KOR (~A1); GLA (~A1); CYM (~A1); EUS (A0); FIN (A0). Next: SYC, CLD, GLG, ARA, ANG, ITA, ISL, SWA, AFR, RON, Siebenbürger Sächsich.
*averaged for high receptive skill
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=2764
x 728

Re: It's nice to visit, but don't try to live here...

Postby Systematiker » Thu Dec 22, 2016 2:23 pm

A lot of this is a function of privilege, to be honest.

Now, I lived in Germany for a while, and I loved it - if it had made sense professionally, we would have stayed. However, I honestly think that a lot of the minutiae that people have mentioned are present in a lot of places, it's just a question of whether you get "desirable foreigner" privilege or not.

Ok, before I continue, I want to make sure I don't offend anyone. My statements are going to be entirely anecdotal and not meant to be critical of anyone else. Seriously, don't get me wrong.

Ok, so I lived in Munich, which was ridiculously expensive, and pretty much everything mentioned, I dealt with there (I was pretty integrated, I didn't know I was coming back). Delivery times. Rude postal workers. Stupid construction. Insane prices and poorly matched salaries for anyone without 15 years of experience and a union. Traffic. Taxes, and the insane amount of paperwork. Seven different offices at the uni, and three at the Bürgerbüro responsible for me, all Beamter who take two hour lunches and five-week vacation (and don't even ask me about when we got married!). The trains were good, when they were on time.

But really, it wasn't that hard to navigate. I'm a young, well-spoken white male: people default to wanting to help me, and in Germany, I got instant credit for being anglophone speaking German. I know for sure that I've got rose colored glasses in regard to life there, because I see how much easier it was for me than many of my friends, and I can look at all these irritants and go "yeah, but pretty much everything took care of itself"

Comparatively, in the US, I can have the same experience depending on what I put on in the morning. Seriously. When I've got a clerical collar on, I get the same sort of out-of-the-way help that I got as a "model foreigner" in Germany (please note that's not why I wear it, or I'd put the sucker on to go grocery shopping :lol: ).

Things that are a PITA in the US are one everywhere - but when you live in another country, it's binary; either everything is harder or everything is easier. Being a foreigner either makes you excluded, or it gets you cred, and you get the gift of privilege. I bet the average person anywhere is just as frustrated with minor BS as anyone else. The grass is only greener on the other side because it's your neighbour's grass.

All that said, I hear you on the frustration - I'd say the West in general has a habit of making people's lives full of pointless nonsense.
8 x

User avatar
tommus
Green Belt
Posts: 301
Joined: Sat Jul 04, 2015 3:59 pm
Location: Kingston, ON, Canada
Languages: English (N), French (B2), Dutch (B2), German (A1), Spanish (A1), Esperanto (A1)
x 485

Re: It's nice to visit, but don't try to live here...

Postby tommus » Thu Dec 22, 2016 4:19 pm

sfuqua wrote:The pace of life is brutal.

I agree. It seems to be the price we are paying for progress. Compared to 100 years ago, we have a lot more access to everything. But is it too much, too fast, for us to keep up?

We live out in the country in rural Ontario, Canada but we are within 15 minutes drive to a city that offers just about everything. I can only imagine living and working in Toronto, commuting in bumper-to-bumper traffic for an hour or more every day. The noise, the congestion, the air pollution!

But back to the pace of life. It is very difficult to find "quality time" anymore. There are too many interests and far too many distractions. I find just about everything interesting and find I am spread way too thin. But I hate to give up any of these things. On the other hand, I have a friend who seems to have only a single interest. He seems to have blinders on, and seems to be totally oblivious to everything happening around him and in the rest of the world. Yet he is "happy as a clam".

There still seem to be people who can concentrate and focus. You see it often in young entrepreneurs who become very successful, very quickly. They often do it before they have a family, a house, other baggage and other interests to hold them back.

So back to your discussion about where you live, and life in Europe. We lived for six years in the Netherlands. In some ways, life is very complicated there. Everything is regulated. There is a whole lot of bureaucracy. Many Dutch people move away to get out from under that regulation. For example, consumer rights are weak, except perhaps in the airline industry. For example, you must "opt out" of everything that you opted into. A magazine subscription, membership in VVV (the travel organization), etc. If a subscription runs out and you get a notice to renew, you cannot just throw it away and not renew. By default, everything gets renewed unless you actively un-renew it. You have to opt out of everything. That was very annoying.

There are so many little things these days that take too much time to resolve. Your car, your power bill, your phone and Internet bills, almost everything that you deal with from commercial companies to government agencies. Lots of little things come up. Little things that take hours of effort, days of time and cause lots of frustration.

I think Einstein was so successful because he ignored all those little distractions. He didn't care how his clothes looked, or his hair. He focused on what interested him. I think we language learners should try to do that too. Spend less time on the "bureaucracy" of language learning, and more time just reading, writing, listening and speaking in our target languages. Some of us probably should spend less time here on the Forum just talking about language learning rather than just doing it. But I find it inspirational so it serves a useful role.
11 x
Dutch
40 Boeken
● 35 Ned. Videos
● 370 Univ-Nederland
: 23 / 40
: 30 / 35
: 145 / 370
● 730 Video Nieuws
● 104 Skype NL Chats
● 730 Tekst Nieuws
: 480 / 730
: 66 / 104
: 480 / 730

Cavesa
Black Belt - 1st Dan
Posts: 1656
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 9:46 am
Languages: Czech (N), English (C1), French (C2), Spanish (intermediate), German (somewhere on the path), Italian (beginner)
x 3881

Re: It's nice to visit, but don't try to live here...

Postby Cavesa » Thu Dec 22, 2016 6:55 pm

About Prague, as I get quite a lot of misguided comments here in France, so let's have a look on popular touristy ideas about the city. In general, Prague is a good place to live. Actually the only place in the Czech Republic where I'd want to live as I really dislike small towns. It is in many ways better than lots of european cities of similar size, it even places well in some of the quality of life comparisons. But the everyday life is not the tourist life.

1."Everything is so cheap!"
Nope, restaurants, hotels, and other services are cheap because our salaries are crap and make us too poor, compared to the overall strength of the economy. But once you go to a supermarket, pay your electricity, buy clothes, try to order from amazon or buy a book in a normal czech bookshop, it is different. Goods are at the same price level as in the richer countries with bigger salaries. And in many chains, we are still being treated as second rate customers, so the shops in our country get worse quality of stuff than the same shops elsewhere. Some things are significantly more expensive. The same dvd set with the same language combination and just a cover in Czech can cost twice or three times as much as in civilized countries. Electronics. Good quality food. Polish food bought in Poland is usually great, Polish food bought in Germany is great, Polish food bought in the Czech Republic tastes like plastic and occassionally includes stuff that could seriously damage your health. Most crap our veterinary and food quality inspections discover comes from Poland. And this garbage costs the same as good quality food in the german, french, or spanish supermarkets!

2."The public transport is just awesome, how can you complain?"
Of course it is awesome in the city center, or anywhere near the metro. Or the more often going trams are still very good. But once you have to use the buses, deal with line switching that are impossible to make despite the schedule, it is different. Once you get, like most people, a few great start-destination paths taking you an hour instead of ten minutes in a car, you change your mind. Once you need to get somewhere not on the metro during the weekend or holidays, you are less excited and desire a car. Once you have to use a line that is overcrowded during the vast majority of the day, and the company does nothing about it, even worsens it, it sucks. And you stand in the same traffic jams like the cars, just with no comfort. Oh, and than you learn about the way the company earns and spends money, about the people behind it, and you get angry.

3. ----something the tourists don't see at all-----
The Prague government is crappy all the time, despite the result of the elections (many pigs across all the political parties are simply too good at sticking around and making interesting pacts to keep themselves in the lead). And chaotic: Prague is at once one city, one region, and twenty or so towns, and don't get me started about the satellites. Problems are being thrown on someone else's had all the time. Coordination of stuff sucks. Recently horrible parking zones, making it impossible for people from one part of Prague to park in another (yeah, visit your grandma and bring her heavy groceries by bus. Or transport your computer that way to a repair shop, or simply get normal groceries for a family with children during a hectic day without a car. Very funny indeed. And of course it is gonna ruin many small shops as make people will simply use hypermarkets with parking lots more again). Almost every inhabitant of Prague passes through at least four parts of Prague every day, therefore all these artificially created distinctions can easily become a problem. Criminality of the Mayors of Prague is another serious issue, just one of the bigger cases cost us over a hundred billion crowns. We could have had the rest of the Prague circuit for that!

4."It must be so awesome to live in such a place with wonderful atmosphere!"
Of course it is, for the few people left in the center. They are being pushed away by measures turning Prague into a museum and pushing life further from the center. They are being pushed away by the business of renting appartments to very rich foreigners as their tenth or eleventh residences. They enjoy the city for a few weeks per year, turning some bits of the city into a ghosttown for the rest. Some neighbourhoods are awesome. I live near the center, not in it, and it is great, it is one of the best developping parts of Prague, even though unfortunately too much "offices oriented". But not everyone is so lucky. There are still the postcommunist relicts called "sídliště". Not comfortable, not pretty, not practical, but cheap. Some are changing, people are investing in the old buildings, making them colourful, adding thermal isolation, individualizing the interior. But it doesn't change the fact these monsters should have never spreaded so much.

5. "But the beer is so cheap!"
Of course it is, as making it very expensive without making the salaries rise might cause protests, especially among the people outside Prague. Beer is a national symbol, beer is a reflection of various issues of the society. Recently: breweries being bought by chinese and japanese companies with no tradition and experience with beer making, which leads to lower quality. Before: the impact of EU regulations, real or imagined, on beer. Or now impact of tax changes and a business spying system on the price of beer. All these problems concern every other kind of goods and services too, but beer is the one example both people and media always choose. But you need other things too, so the price of beer isn't the most important part of your budget, unless you have a serious problem. And the prices of bread, meat, books, and so on, those are unfortunately not such a sensitive issue.

Just some bigger examples. I could complain about Prague for hours. Because I've spent over a quarter of century there. Because I love the city. Unlike the Czech Republic, I am proud of living in Prague. And its problems, mostly unnecessary and caused by stupidity or greed, hurt because I care.
5 x

User avatar
iguanamon
Blue Belt
Posts: 897
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 11:14 am
Location: Virgin Islands
Languages: Speaks: English (Native); Spanish (C2); Portuguese (C2); Haitian Creole (C1); Ladino (C1); Lesser Antilles French Creole (B2)
Language Log: viewtopic.php?t=797
x 3432

Re: It's nice to visit, but don't try to live here...

Postby iguanamon » Thu Dec 22, 2016 9:22 pm

I'm convinced that there is no paradise anywhere on Earth. When I travel to the mainland US and get into conversations with people on planes, and my own family, the subject of living in the Caribbean often comes up- "Oh, what's it like to live in Paradise?".

My reply is usually along these lines- I don't know. It must be nice when you're on vacation, staying in your hotel and not having to work. Me, I have to get up and work. I don't go to the beach every day, though I do make an effort on the weekends... and it is very nice. Given the low population, the arts scene isn't up to urban standards. Food is expensive, as is everything else. There's little choice available locally in the stores (shops). The roads are bad. The heat in the summer can be oppressive and the summer lasts for about eight months. The joke is that we have four seasons- early summer, mid summer, late summer and next summer. (From now to about mid-March, the weather is perfect.) There's crime and drugs about- as there is everywhere. The government is pathetic and slow moving to get things done... you have to have a lot of patience. Flights out are few and expensive. Almost everything I have rusts (proximity to the sea has its downsides)... sometimes I think I would too if it weren't for rum. The islands have the highest electricity costs in the US- so, no A/C... and the electricity can go out for no reason at anytime... after a hurricane or tropical storm it can stay off for weeks. Health care is not the best... "if you have to take more than an aspirin, take a plane" is the joke.

That being said, I have a friend who always says- "If it were a perfect place, everyone would want to live here". There is a kindness here that I find lacking in today's modern world in the outside. The friends I have here are the best I've had in my life. It's nice not to have to put up with cold weather and be able to get outdoors, to hang out at the beach with friends, swim and sail. Even driving around I can look out my window and see beauty. I like sitting in the house and looking out at the sea, imagining where it could take me, contemplating it's amazing colors and the vastness of it which makes me feel very small indeed. Another joke we have is "We're all here because we're not all there"- pun intended. After almost a dozen years here, I can't go back to the States and live. I'd be lost and miserable... even with cheap food, reliable electricity, smooth roads and lots of choice. I find I can only stand a week or two up there before I'm itching to come home.

I always tell folks the good and the bad when they ask. I also tell them that "paradise" can be anywhere they want it to be. There's always something to appreciate about a place. A latitude adjustment isn't always necessary. Sometimes an attitude adjustment is what's needed... sometimes both. Over the years I've seen people come here thinking that all they need is a change of location, that living here will make everything in their lives better. It won't. The most important change we can make is within ourselves. For the most part, we all have the power to do that, provided we are willing. No matter where you go, you always end up running in to yourself.
13 x

User avatar
Xenops
Green Belt
Posts: 394
Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2015 10:33 pm
Location: U.S.A.
Languages: English (N), French (beginner)
Language Log: viewtopic.php?p=48718#p48718
x 525
Contact:

Re: It's nice to visit, but don't try to live here...

Postby Xenops » Fri Dec 23, 2016 7:26 pm

I live in the State of Idaho, and the only reasons people have heard of this state is because of potatoes and Napoleon Dynamite. ;) The residents claim that it is "the most conservative State in the Union" (which, realistically, probably belongs to a Southern state). For someone interested in other cultures, it is the most boring place you can be. The White Surpremist culture is still present in the north part of the state, and because of that, most minorities are not public about their culture. I almost never see Muslim attire or anything indicating a culture other than Idaho red-necks. The only diverse area is Boise and college towns. I see minorities at Asian markets, thrift stores and Winco, and that's it. People are not proud of their culture. Sadly the attitude " 'Murica is the best evah" is very prevalent here.

For other complaints about this state, we have close to the lowest minimum wage in the country (7.25 an hour). Most people here are either in the poverty level or retired, because the job market is poor. Skilled laborers and other professions have to go elsewhere. Our public education system in one of the lowest in quality.

There are issues with America in general that I dislike (the medical system, lack of GMO-labeling, intolerance of other cultures), but I also have to consider I might take less issue with the country if I can move out of Idaho, or at least move to a populous area like Boise.

The longest I've been out of the country is in Japan for 27 days. With that short amount of time, I don't know how the quality of life differs: I just saw enough to realize that civilization and modernization is equal in quality, in different ways. I like water fountains in the U.S., but I also like the train system in Japan (not the same scale, but that's the example I could think of). I imagine I will see something similar when I visit Europe, and will possibly consider moving there.

As to whether we have a lot of minutia to deal with, I honestly can't tell, as I have little to compare it to. :D
6 x
: 32 / 113 Assimil New French with Ease
: 6 / 52 French in Action


Check out my comic at: http://rosamondgrey.smackjeeves.com/

User avatar
Seneca
Orange Belt
Posts: 149
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2016 5:08 pm
Location: Eurasia
Languages: English (N)
x 140

Re: It's nice to visit, but don't try to live here...

Postby Seneca » Sat Jan 07, 2017 2:23 pm

Xenops wrote:I live in the State of Idaho, and the only reasons people have heard of this state is because of potatoes and Napoleon Dynamite. ;) The residents claim that it is "the most conservative State in the Union" (which, realistically, probably belongs to a Southern state). For someone interested in other cultures, it is the most boring place you can be. The White Surpremist culture is still present in the north part of the state, and because of that, most minorities are not public about their culture. I almost never see Muslim attire or anything indicating a culture other than Idaho red-necks. The only diverse area is Boise and college towns. I see minorities at Asian markets, thrift stores and Winco, and that's it. People are not proud of their culture. Sadly the attitude " 'Murica is the best evah" is very prevalent here.

For other complaints about this state, we have close to the lowest minimum wage in the country (7.25 an hour). Most people here are either in the poverty level or retired, because the job market is poor. Skilled laborers and other professions have to go elsewhere. Our public education system in one of the lowest in quality.

There are issues with America in general that I dislike (the medical system, lack of GMO-labeling, intolerance of other cultures), but I also have to consider I might take less issue with the country if I can move out of Idaho, or at least move to a populous area like Boise.

The longest I've been out of the country is in Japan for 27 days. With that short amount of time, I don't know how the quality of life differs: I just saw enough to realize that civilization and modernization is equal in quality, in different ways. I like water fountains in the U.S., but I also like the train system in Japan (not the same scale, but that's the example I could think of). I imagine I will see something similar when I visit Europe, and will possibly consider moving there.

As to whether we have a lot of minutia to deal with, I honestly can't tell, as I have little to compare it to. :D

Are GMOs safe? Yes. The case against them is full of frauds, lies, and errors. Have a read :-)
1 x

Steve
White Belt
Posts: 21
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:53 am
Location: US (Wisconsin)
Languages: English(N), Spanish(B1), German(A2), Ancient Greek(B1 to B2), ASL(beginner), Hebrew(beginner), Chinese(beginner)
x 86

Re: It's nice to visit, but don't try to live here...

Postby Steve » Tue Mar 14, 2017 9:48 pm

I'd suppose I'd refer to the place I live as a nice place to live but not much reason to visit. :lol: I decided to write this post mainly as a tribute to what seems to be a way of life that's dying out. Take it as a cultural observation that not many outsiders really get to see.

I grew up on a dairy farm in west central Wisconsin (outside of a small unincorporated village), went to school at one of the many UW schools scattered throughout the state (in a smaller town), went to grad school in Iowa, worked at that university for about 5 years, and then moved back to a small town in Wisconsin (between Madison and Milwaukee). We've raised a family here, I had a steady job for about 20 years, and it's been a decent place to live. Though we are starting to think about someplace else to retire to in the country, maybe... TBD.

(WI is the postal abbreviation for Wisconsin.)

The pros:
1. I walked to work for almost 20 years. Biggest hazard was ice on the sidewalks.
2. Crime rate is pretty low (though we have started to lock our doors when we are out). I never worried about our daughters walking to school. I don't think twice about taking walks. Police report usually consists of traffic violations or underage drinking.
3. We know most of the neighbors. People are generally friendly, polite, and helpful. Quite frankly, I can tell the difference between city people and rural people in WI. There's a slower and more relaxed pace of life. I cannot recall the last time I heard a car horn in town. People will often shovel each others' sidewalks in the winter. We have a couple neighbors that have a key to our house and we've got a key or two of theirs.
4. Local bank knows us. The tellers greet us by name and give treats to our dog. Local businesses know us. When the local mechanic sees our car, she comes out to see our dog.
5. Cost of living is reasonable. We paid off our house in about 15 years. Utilities aren't too bad. I'm a professional with a good skill set. I'd don't make what I could in a big urban center, but my return per hour of labor is quite good with no commute to speak of.
6. Decent dentists and optometrists in town within walking distance. A couple satellite medical clinics for routine stuff. ER/Urgent care is about 20 to 30 minute drive away. Ambulance service is less than 10 minutes away.
7. The education system in WI is good. Most small town schools in WI are decent. It's hard to find a really bad one in the rural areas. The UW university system consists of a dozen or so campuses across the state. It's relatively affordable.
8. We're about a 20 minute drive from east town Madison and about 40 minutes away from the western suburbs of Milwaukee.
9. There are usually several bars and taverns in each small town and in between.
10. We have a local ag cooperative that we get fresh vegetables from. We also have friends that naturally raise cows and chickens so we get organic eggs cheap and buy a 1/4 or 1/2 cow a few times a year.
11. Internet/communication infrastructure is reasonable. Power is dependable. Water/sewer systems are okay.

Cons:
1. The economy is small town WI has been dying for the past few decades. Local companies are being bought out, closed down, and the production shipped to Asia. It's no surprise to me that WI voted for Trump. The political status quo in the US has been enabling the slow loss of jobs. Most people I know do not want gov't support. They want jobs to pay their own way. As an example, the last company I worked for was here for about 70 years, typically employed a few hundred people, and was just shut down and moved to the Philippines. I was present in the room when several dozen people who'd been working there for decades were informed their jobs were going away. This has been happening all over.
2. There is a relatively monolithic culture here along with various cliques. There has been an increasing hispanic presence, but in general, most people have their roots in Scandinavian, German, Polish, or European culture. In most small towns, there is a Catholic, Lutheran, Protestant, and non-denominational church.
3. Taxes in WI are high.
4. If you didn't grow up there, you do tend to be an outsider to some extent. Most people are friendly and many could become friends, but you can't be too out of the mainstream for the locale to fit in.
5. Healthcare costs are insane in the US. As a consultant (forced to pay for my own insurance), my *premiums* are now larger than my combined house and car payments were. That's before I even use any services. While everyone is busy arguing about ACA (aka Obamacare) and its potential replacement, everyone seems to have missed the point that medical products and services are grossly overpriced in the US. ACA (or its potential replacement) are merely unaffordable bandaids that aren't addressing spiraling costs. (Sorry for the political rant but being legally forced to pay about $15K per year in premiums or facing penalties is not sustainable for me or most people.) Last month, we had to loan one of my daughters her ACA payment. (Otherwise she would have lost her gov't sponsored coverage and had to pay penalties at the end of the year for not being able to afford it.)

In a nutshell, this has been a decent way of life. I love the pace of life and lack of crowds. I would characterize most people as hard-working, dependable, and generally neighborly. But sadly, I see it vanishing. Too many good jobs have disappeared. Taxes and healthcare costs are draining people's resources to the point of insolvency. People are being forced to commute to (or move to) more urban areas in search of employment. This is a side of the US that has been largely ignored in media coverage. An increasing number of people in rural America are becoming increasingly frustrated and bitter over the loss of their way of life. Most of them want nothing more than to have a decent job to work hard at, raise a family, be able to afford some amount of recreation, and enjoy life. The outsiders that most of them blame are not immigrants, but rather the NYC/DC financial and political elites that have presided over the slow decay of their way of life. (Again, sorry for the political side, but this is anecdotally what I am seeing.) This past political cycle, Sanders and Trump had a surprising amount of support because they were the only presidential candidates frankly addressing this. It was disheartening to me to see the people I've spent my life around being dismissed as uneducated xenophobic sexist bigots when they've hit a point of grasping at straws to maintain their way of life.
3 x


Return to “Travel and Culture”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest