How to Choose a European City to Live in — and Enjoy it
Europe is a big place and open to exploration for the free of foot. The most desirable European country to live in is going to be the one that feels like home, that offers amenities that make a person feel safe and secure but still allows for an adventure.
Desirability of Your City
The most desirable city will be the one with most adventure to kill boredom. This includes night clubs, bars, and events. The streets have to be real streets made for people, not pedestrian walk-ways made to corral people into big department stores.
European countries are as varied in size and culture as anywhere in the World. The stereo-type will disappoint, and you’ll be looking for something that isn’t there. So, it boils down to cities when choosing a place to live and work in Europe.
You can go to Spain and expect the Spanish to be Spanish. As soon as you travel around you’ll discover that it’s different courses for different horses. Andalusia is laid- back and the people are “live first, work second”, type of people. They love their traditional cultures of horses and music and fiestas. All that comes first, and right now, it can, because there isn’t much work for young people in that part of Spain.
You can seek the European culture everywhere you go, and you won’t find it. There isn’t a European culture, and it doesn’t seem to be developing in anyway soon. So nailing things down according to a country is like trying to define what a Rubik cube’s purpose is.
As soon as you head north and stop in Madrid, you are faced with a different type of Spaniard. Madrilenos are workaholics. They are as much work focused as any northern European person. A city of 4 million approximately, with lots of varied districts that reflect a mix up of architecture. Walking in Madrid is a dream, and your mind fills with the potential of what’s on offer.
La Puerta de Europa — Madrid
The Nuevos Ministerios is a gleamingly smart example of modern Spanish architecture, it is also the political/civil servant district. You take a walk along its paths, visit a park and soon realise that it’s not going to offer you much when you get close up. It’s a stand back and gawp at those two leaning tower district , then head down to Lavapies where the bars and clubs are buzzing with the vibes of dancing, food, and people.
Barrio de Lavapiés — Madrid
Madrid consist of Madrileños and guest workers. The guest workers make up about 60% of the population and are mostly from Latin America. This gives you an opportunity to hear how varied the Spanish language is, the dialects and the slang of the many different Spanish speaking people make Madrid colourful.
Business is mostly IT services and is dominated by the top four companies. INDRA is the biggest IT company, and used to be the state tech company during Franco’s reign of unpleasantness. It was financed by the Government to make sure it grew into a dominant company that could throw its weight around in Europe and South America.
It’s CEO was a Mr Burns type of character who lived in the headquarters building in Madrid, He was from the old guard and until the late 2010s, refused to move. The floors below him contained his worker ants who knew he was up there in the clouds, getting old and never to be seen. He had a buzzer on his desk that he used to summon his closest directors of finance. Last time I was there, I heard wind of a plan to oust him and get a modern thinking CEO in place.
The old CEO is a reflection of about 50% of Spanish people who still hanker for the past, and believe that they will one day return to the old ways of Franco’s regime — all the lefties, poets and people who think that life is about fun and enjoyment, will be put in a skip and driven to the nearest city dump. The problem is that Spain has relied on Brussels and European money since committing itself to the European Union, and in spite of its obvious corruption in high echelons of politics, Brussels continued to throw money at it to get some decent growth going.
Other businesses include the clothing shops, dressmakers and handcrafted clothing that rely on North African textiles to finish the work.
Fruit vendors galore with so many types of fruit, it’s a veg-head’s dream world. I loved it, and when I returned to northern Europe, I was disappointed with the lack of fruits on offer in my local fruit and veg shop.
Image by coco parisienne on Pixabay
The reflection on fruit and old guard holds the key to the best place in Europe. We find cities and places to live in, and fall in love with them — normally, just one place. Then we enjoy it, ask ourselves questions about why it’s so good, but can never quite put our finger on the reason why a city or country holds us, and we hold it dear.
If we begin to take a city’s offer for granted, too quickly, we miss the point of living there.
Most European cities have followed set ideas about development of new towns and cities through a “repeat and rinse” architectural scheme. Shopping malls in Madrid are exactly the same as the shopping malls in Berlin and Hamburg. Same floor plan, same dry, sleep-dust filled atmosphere that causes you to just know there isn’t anything exciting or remotely interesting happening within the confines of this European shopping mall.
Europe isn’t one idea, it’s an attempt at getting countries onboard to focus on the same goals. People want to live and enjoy life in Europe. We don’t have a creed of money is everything and the one with the fattest wallet is the best.
Berlin and Culture
We love cultures , so we work to protect those lifestyles that offer cultural depth and the possibility to enjoy a lifestyle that creates a work-life balance — a reason to live, a reason to work.
Berlin Street Musician — York Strasse / Mehringdamm, Berlin. Photo — Sean P. Durham 2020
I live in Berlin. I love Berlin. I once hated living here, the reason? It didn’t seem to represent anything of what I personally thought of as home — then I started to discover things about Berlin city and the German people that contradicted my view point.
Berlin, Mitte — image by Noelsch on Pixabay
I continue to discover thing about Berlin that fit my needs and desires for a lifestyle. I consider myself a Berliner, after 38 years as a resident who has experienced much of Berlin’s changes. Berlin is culturally diverse and still artist friendly, which also means it’s open to new-comers who are seeking something that they haven’t yet found. They might find it in Berlin, or Paris, or Madrid, it depends on their tolerance for diversity, just that idea creates an enormous offer for many different lifestyles.
It depends on what type of person you are, and what you desire. That determines which European city suits your needs.
If you’re all business and low on tolerance to changing landscapes, then don’t choose Berlin, go to London and try your chances in a European city that desires a lot of you.