The Land Of All Things: For Expats There Is No “Perfect” Place

For those of us who like to travel, and have long wanted to live overseas, we often imagine that there’s some country/place out there, some golden, shining bastion of goodness that will cure everything, and be our “perfect” place. Sadly I’m coming to grips with the fact that Ireland will not make me taller, give my hair that added bounce, or whiten my teeth for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite happy that I live here, and can imagine living the rest of my days as an Emerald Islander. But it’s not perfect, and, I’m realizing, never will be. I’m also realizing that I can live with that.

Looking past its faults (dysfunctional government, aging infrastructure, low national self-esteem, lack of financial leverage, and a debilitating deference to “authority”) we are starting to realize that we could compromise a bit on this, and relax our tight-assed ways on that, and maybe, just maybe, appreciate the good things about Ireland (the easygoing way of living, the natural beauty, and the curious nature and underdog resilience of the people) enough to finish our lives here.

That said, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the people we left behind in America. Most of the people I grew up with have not moved more than 40 miles from where they went to secondary school. In fact, the vast majority of people worldwide don’t move very far from the place where they grew up. And, I’d imagine, many of these people live quite happy lives without venturing far afield.

That life is not for me, but thinking about it has left a few questions about “place” and “contentment” sizzling in my brainpan. Why do we, as restless (or forced) migrants expect “place” to be anything more than just the spot where providence set us down to live our lives?

No one place is perfect, and looking for the perfect place is a mug’s game. Would we, as emigrants, be better off taking the top five on our endless list of life priorities, and finding a place that ticks those boxes?

What if we found a city and country that suit us, and that we can live with, faults and all? It’s a bit like finding a life partner (the ultimate life partner). They, and we, all have our faults. But our chosen partners’ faults are the ones that suit us, or they’re the ones that we can live with.

And, remember, among our partner’s “faults” we also find their willingness to accept our own faults – to accept us. And, when a city or country does that for us, it affects us more on a day-to-day (getting to work on time, and buying milk on the way home) level than the “perfection” fantasy ever will.


Things to look forward to in upcoming posts:


Finding the “Right” City For You

About Glenn Kaufmann

I'm an American freelance writer, photographer, and web publisher. I specialize in writing about travel, food, arts, and culture. I also write dramatic scripts for stage and screen. I'm based in Ireland.
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7 Responses to The Land Of All Things: For Expats There Is No “Perfect” Place

  1. Chris Ogan says:

    Hi Glenn: You are right about all of this. Well said. I used to think how cool it would be if I could teleport myself to my favorite spots in the world for lunch or coffee or to see a view or to interact with some old friends—but alas it cannot be. So I have to content myself with my memories of some special experience or other–which isn’t the same, but nearly so. Nobody can take those memories away, so no matter how deficient the place I am in may be in providing certain experiences, the good news is that I have them stored away in my head to summon up at will. Thank you.

  2. James says:

    The spouse analogy has been useful for me too. Living in Ireland means I have to give up a few things that I enjoyed about the US, but in return I get to indulge a few of my passions that got very limited run time back home. So far the “balance of trade” has been positive in my direction, so I’m staying.

  3. Thomas Ryan says:

    Happened to come across and read this article.

    Dublin is the second best place in the world for Americans to live

    -Click link below-

  4. des says:


    Did you just write “Secondary school”? Sounds like you’ve gone native sir!


  5. Martha says:

    I really enjoy all of your posts. Keep them coming!

  6. In agreement says:

    I think, what you and many migrants/expats feel is what being ‘cosmopolitan’ is about. Although, I have to admit, the dictionary’s definition is too positive for me. Lol.

    I have found that the same excuses, corruption and social issues here are like a photocopy of what I had back home (but sorry to say, without the infrastructure, efficiency and modernisation).

    Your last paragraph strikes a chord. I have never believed that I had to like a country in order to be GRATEFUL to it. My personal opinion is I am free to criticise all I want, especially if I have first hand experience and facts to back the criticism up, but the bottom line is I must never get in the way of how the locals want their country to be run, for better or worse.

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