The Myth of the “Perfect” City

As I stepped off the plane, a sense of euphoria flowed through my veins. A new city. A new adventure. A new culture to embrace.

My mind filled with romantic ideals of the city I was about to embark upon.

I thought of the adventures and misadventures I’d have. The nature I’d explore. I imagined the friends I’d make. The sexy girls I’d meet, date, and hopefully, mate with. Smiling faces and friendly people filled my head. All with a tropical paradise as the backdrop.

I was optimistic – to say the least.

Could it be my city? Is this the city I could spend a majority of my time in and find some sense of real happiness?

True happiness…

Ok, that’s a little much. Getting all sappy and sh*t. But I had high hopes for this place.

I’d always envisioned finding the perfect city. My perfect city. A city filled with endless avenues to enjoy, beautiful nature to explore, and wonderful people to connect with. A city that connected with me on a deeper level than the usual cool people, dating, mating, and pretty stuff to see.

But it turns out that’s a little bit harder to find than one would imagine.

Rio de Janeiro, Brasil — one of my favorite cities, although it’s far from perfect.


F*ck Perfection

Here’s the thing…

I’d love for there to be a perfect city.

Deep down – I want to find a place to call “home” for a majority of the year.

Traveling fast is amazing, but I’m over it at this stage in the game. Productivity levels tend to plummet when you visit a new city every week or month. It takes at least a week or two to get into a rhythm and then you’re leaving in less than a month. You find a gym, a grocery store, a few good restaurants, a coffee shop to work from, some friends, and maybe a cute girl to spend some time with.

Then you leave.

You leave right when things start to get good. You dip out right when you should be putting down roots and getting into the flow of things.

And often, you won’t be back. You can’t really come back – if the city isn’t your “perfect” city. Time isn’t an infinite resource. You only have so much time here. And if you’re spending time in one city, you can’t be in another. Time spent in Bogota, Colombia is time you can’t spend in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.

You simply can’t be in two places at once. Every action has a consequence and sh*t.

So you move on.

You leave the city behind and go somewhere else. You continue your quest for the perfect town. You don’t even know what perfection actually entitles for you.

You think you have an idea, a fairytale in the back of your mind. You believe you’ll know it’s your city when you get there. But there’s no guarantee the city even exists.

Hell…how could it?

Perfection is a fookin’ ideal. You won’t find it in reality.

Not to mention, the “perfect” city is a personal thing based on what a traveler values. And if you’re anything like me, those values change on a yearly, hell, sometimes monthly basis.

Not core values.

I’m talking what you want in any given moment. For example, that beachside paradise featuring slow living and surprisingly good nightlife might be fun for a few weeks, maybe even a month.

But eventually, you’ll crave those big city vibes and energy. Maybe some faster Internet. Decent public transportation. The ability to call an Uber or order food from a delivery app. Sh*t you ain’t finding in some small beach town.

Hell, sometimes you might want to mate like it’s a full-time job. There’s certain cities that are ideal for that.

Other times, you may want to focus on work and productivity. Dating becomes a drag when you’re in this mode.

Or maybe you’re looking for a serious relationship and know that a city that’s ideal when you’re single might not be perfect when looking for forever.

The point is we’re humans. And part of being human is that we change, evolve, improve, whatever you want to call it.  We’re not static creatures. Our wants and needs change over time.

Or at least…

They should.

So even if a city is “perfect” for you, it’s only actually ideal in this moment. A certain timeframe where what the city is offering and what you need are a perfect match.

That one city where you feel you belong. Where even when sh*t goes wrong, you still don’t want to pack up your bags and leave.

If you find that city at the right time in your life, heed my advice:

DON’T LEAVE, FAM.

Seriously.

Cancel your other plans. Tell moms you’ll only be home for a week at Christmas. Do whatever it takes to stay and make it work in that city.

Because the moment will pass.

You’ll never find a city the same that second time around. You change. The city and culture changes. And that “perfect” vibe will be gone forever.

Gone with the fookin’ wind.

And you’ll be stuck chasing those past highs. Looking for perfect around every corner once again. Perfection that’s long gone. A city that was once perfect for you, but has since faded. Ships have sailed and sh*t.

I’ve made this mistake before.  Don’t be like me. If it feels right, almost perfect, then stay put and ride out the wave.

Te lo juro.

I wouldn’t have left Santo Domingo after my first trip — if I knew what I know now.


The Myth of the Perfect City

But until you find that city, the one spot where it feels just right…

Step off the plane with no expectations. Don’t chase perfection until it slaps you right in the mouth. Instead, focus on being present and embracing the positives of anywhere you are on God’s green earth.

While a city may not be the best place you’ve been, there are definitely some amazing aspects to nearly every city. It’s your job as a traveler to find, embrace, and enjoy what the city you’re in does well.

Once you’ve embraced the positive aspects of any city, then decide if you want to stay.

If not, pack those bags and head out to the next adventure. Chase experiences and memories. Forget about perfection and enjoy the flaws.

If you don’t, the myth of the perfect city will hinder your experiences and continually lead to travelers’ indecision.

Destroying the enjoyment of your travels along the way.

Que te vaya bien,

Jake

5/5 (1 Review)
Jake Nomada

Travel junkie turned blogger. Location independent. From the Midwest, but often based in Latin America. Big on beaches, rumba, and rum. Addicted to the gym. Committed to showing a different style of travel - one that involves actually interacting with locals and exploring different cultures.

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