Turkey seems to turn out poorly

This site, the OECD’s “Better Life Initiative,” lets you rank how important different components of the good life are to you, and then it ranks the OECD countries according to your weighting of the various factors. Apparently I should live in Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, or Canada.

I haven’t traveled abroad so much that it’s stopped being a fairly amazing experience. My first trip abroad was to Ukraine in a time of terrible economic problems for that country. Even though at first I couldn’t imagine how anyone could stand to live there, by the time I left nearly two years later I could see how much of their way of life was worthwhile and appealing, different but not worse or better than what I’d been raised with. Later trips abroad have all been to various parts of Europe and to Canada; every time there are new little things to learn, like paying for your streetcar ride before you get on board even though they might not check your ticket (Estonia), or always getting a little cookie on the saucer with your coffee (Amsterdam).

Of my top four OECD “better life” countries, I’ve only been to Canada, and I like it quite a bit. If the weather were better I’d probably move there, in fact. The health care system is a big factor, but also a certain calmness to the place (maybe the result of people not worrying about their health care), a politeness and generosity towards strangers. I like the French and Italian ways of taking time for oneself, enjoying the pleasures of the moment. I like that Germans yell at people who walk on bike paths; I’m very much in favor of promoting sensible coordination rules.

Where would you live if you could pick anywhere, and why?

13 responses to “Turkey seems to turn out poorly”

  1. F. P. Smearcase says:

    Hm, it doesn’t exactly match you with a country based on priorities except in a weirdly absolute way. For instance Mexico is never going to float up near Canada unless you only click on life satisfaction, because Mexico gets low scores on a bunch of other things. I got Canada, Australia, and then everywhere in Scandinavia kind of bobbing around. Australia appeals in a fairly experience-distant way but the others are too cold or just too far north. Even in Vancouver I imagine I’d go mad from the early dark.

    My fantasy is still Mexico City, but it’s also completely uninformed. I’ve never been there. I just like big cities with big subways, warm weather, Mexican food and music, and I more or less understand Mexican Spanish.

    The truth is I have far too much of a need to feel anchored. I stopped seriously daydreaming of expatriating a few years ago. The U.S. is fucked up in a lot of ways but it’s home.

  2. Saw the headline and thought “Isn’t it a bit early for a Thanksgiving dinner post?”

    A perennial source of search referrals for READIN is the phrase “bad things about Turkey” and similar — I’m never sure whether people are seeking confirmation of their anti-Anatolian biases or dietary advice.

    If I could live anywhere? San Francisco and Santa Cruz both hold a strong attraction for me… As do Spain and Ireland. Out of places I have never been, well, Greece and Turkey are both high on the list, and Nicaragua — none of these seem like particularly good candidates based on a standard-of-living standard, though.

  3. LP says:

    Yikes, poor Turkey! Yet, based on a two-week visit there a long time ago, I’d live there in a heartbeat. Fantastic natural beauty, historic sites, friendly people, everyone speaks English, great food… what’s not to like?

    I got a lot of northern European countries, too. And Australia / New Zealand. If I could choose anywhere to live, though, excluding the US and assuming no language problems, it would probably be Spain or Italy. Or perhaps Thailand. But then again, I’d live just about anywhere for a temporary stay.

  4. Rachel says:

    Ever since I was a teenager I’ve dreamed of having an apartment on the Ile St.-Louis in Paris, which is kind of a cliche, but there you have it. Many such fantasies are rather common: Nantucket, Capri, Fiji.

    A few years ago Saveur did a story on the fully self-contained, sustainable cuisine of Tasmania that really captured my imagination, but in fact I know very little about Tasmania, other than I’d like to visit.

    What is it about islands?

  5. swells says:

    Wow, what a fabulous question. I found the chart a little hard to use because I ranked everything on it highly–who wouldn’t? (the only thing I could put below a 4 was “income,” which is perhaps a pretty stupid choice).

    I lived in London for a year in the 80s and have completely idealized going back to do it again ever since, but haven’t been able to make it work out–the past few years, though, I’ve gone back for the first times in a long time, and the dream faded a little when overlaid on the reality of the city today. (Not that I’d turn it down, oh no!) The big fantasy for the past several years has been Berlin, and of course Paris is an obvious choice (Rachel, it’s a cliche for a reason–because it’s fabulous). Or Barcelona. Like LP, though, I’d go almost anywhere for six months or a year, though I have to say the island fantasy is less strong for me (been to Capri and Fiji, and I recommend everyone else goes too, but I wouldn’t put down roots there).

    Oh, did I mention San Francisco? I guess I could tolerate that.

  6. AWB says:

    I have a friend who is moving back to home in Turkey this week, and he seems to like it, or at least well enough that he keeps trying to convince me to get a job there.

    I have not traveled very much, and would like to do more. Other than the US, I’ve been to Canada, England, Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, and Belgium, and most of that was on one trip. But I found I’m not very good at traveling. Flying makes my feet swell (something I thought only happened to old ladies), so my feet get blisters and I whine a lot. I get flustered when being addressed in a language I don’t know well enough to respond in. And can someone just please make me a cup of fucking drip coffee? Please? At the end of three and a half weeks abroad, I was no longer charmed by the cookie I got with every cup, and was just desperate for a significant amount of coffee with breakfast.

    I could move abroad–get an apartment, import a real goddamn coffee maker, and live there–but being dependent on restaurants for breakfast is not something I’m good at. It was a great triumph the day I figured out how to order the breakfast I required, off the menu, in German.

  7. AWB says:

    Yes, the OECD fails to have a selection option for “Instant coffee as an acceptable substitution.”

  8. F. P. Smearcase says:

    Oh Paris is on my list too, of course. I realized last week that gauzy, sentimental portrayals of Paris in terrible films are the #1 thing that make me think about getting back on airplanes. And Berlin is supposed to be all that, but I have this impression it’s for ex-pats under 30 plus one of the things I have resigned myself to never learning is German adjective endings.

  9. How are German adjective endings difficult? There are only a couple of them.

  10. LP says:

    9: If your native language doesn’t include declension, it’s absolutely difficult to learn, IMO. From wikibooks:

    “Learning the adjective endings is a central part to the study of German. The adjective endings are frequently one of the hardest topics for new students to learn.”

    I never learned German, but I did Russian. Declension is a bitch.

  11. Rachel says:

    My only experience with declension is from studying Anglo-Saxon (boy, does that come in handy!), and is it ever.

    Also, I would gladly live in Italy if I could ignore the bureaucracy, the traffic, the crime, and the pollution. Then again, maybe I will just enjoy visiting.

    Anyone who has been to Rio: would you live there?

    p.s. Vancouver really is one of the greatest cities I have ever visited, quality-of-life-wise.

  12. F. P. Smearcase says:

    Tedium warning.

    Adjective endings in Russian for me were somehow much easier than in German (where, to be fair, I only studied them a little at the end of my German high school studies.) It was something about the fact that they do or don’t clearly express gender and case depending on what other kinds of words (article, other adjective) are there. der neuE Wagen/ein# neuER Wagen; ich sehe den neuENWagen/einEN neuen Wagen; ich gebe die Blume dem neuEN Wagen*/einEM neuEN Wagen. It’s not at all intuitive.

    *cars like flowers.

  13. Ivy says:

    I think that no matter where you grow up ‘Home’ always exerts an incredible pull. But having said that, I think it is also true that some people aren’t actually born in their home. Oddly.

    As an antipodean, born in NZ, lived in Australia, I can say with some confidence that this part of the world is extremely mellow, relatively speaking. Good social welfare, too. For NZ, I think that the country is quite profoundly influenced by the fact that nowhere is more than 100 miles from a beach. Auckland, the only biggish city, with 1.3 million, has the highest ownership of boats/population in the world. Like Vancouver, it always rates highly in those most desirable city in the world surveys. Australia has it all over NZ in terms of wealth, but I had to leave, because it was never going to be home and I could feel it.

    I’ve been to Tasmania too. I wouldn’t recommend it as more than a tourist destination. It’s not so small as to notice it is an island, and if you go there, you might as well go to NZ and not run the risk of being bitten by any of Australia’s psychotic native animals.

    I think people from the north can find Antipodeans (especially New Zealanders) very irritating because our culture makes us look like we don’t want to try to win. Oh, but we do. We just don’t want anyone to see us doing so.

    Come south for a look! You’ll love it. NZers love Americans, we assume you are all way more windswept and interesting than us. And our idiosyncracies are wildly entertaining. It is the land of the weird. and anyway, after the earthquake, if we don’t get some tourist dollars in, we are all going to have to emigrate to Australia. (And with the laws as they stand, they can’t stop us! ha!)