Where We Live – guest post by Farhan Lalji

Karim Kanji asked me to write a blog post about, well in his words via twitter “I was thinking abt various places u’ve worked (cities) & the great things abt them for u?” for his blog. It’s a topic I’ve thought about, I wrote a bit of a critical post about Monocle magazine’s top 25 places to live a couple of weeks ago. So this blog post appears on both Karim’s site and my own blog.

A little bit about me, for those who don’t know me or haven’t come across my blog before, I’ve been living/working in Switzerland for the last year, before that I spent about 8 years in the UK, working in London. I’m Canadian by birth, but haven’t lived there for almost 10 years. I’ve worked for big brands, small brands, the public sector, start ups, and now I’ve been working for Yahoo! for the last few years.

Ok, so here’s my theory on choosing a place to live where you’ll be happy. I believe there are five major categories to picking a place for work/life. In no particular order these include; professional, social/cultural, personal, financial and functional. All of these have different levels and at different times in your life may take differing heights of importance.

“Professional” is the job you’re in and the ability to find jobs that you’ll love. I came to Switzerland because I enjoyed the job I was in and wanted to stay in it. I went to London because the Brits were more willing to hire a web developer with a Kinesiology degree then the Canadians were.

“Social” is the people and the activities that you can participate in. You might enjoy the British Pub culture, or the outdoors life, swimming, hiking, skiing or snowboarding etc, or you might enjoy a place with culture, many museums (easy to access) or the opera or other social/cultural events or happenings. This criterion can also include the places nearby, being able to travel, explore and have adventure at your doorstep.

“Personal” is about your personal status and life, if you’re young and single, being in a place where you might meet someone is pretty important, when you’re older with children being in a place near your family might be more important.

“Financial” is about how much you can earn and how far your money will go. You could live in a place where you’re earning a lot, or you could be in a place where it doesn’t matter if you earn a lot because living there is not very expensive.

“Functional” it might be important for you to be able to drive everywhere, or to not have to drive anywhere. It might important for you to find a takeaway Chinese meal or a pizza. Or it might not.

Knowing how important the different criteria are to you and how well a place meets the criteria that are most important to you is a good way to figuring out whether or not you’ll be happy working and living in a place. Switzerland wasn’t our choice, but it met some of our criteria and we’re glad we took the chance. So as important as it is to set criteria and know how a place measures up, being open to new experiences and allowing your self to give new places a shot is pretty important too.