I cannot decide between Berlin and a hollowed-out tree stump on Haida Gwaii.
These are strange times where I live in Toronto. The city is run by a cabal of suburban politicians and a Mayor intent on never spending money on anything but fixing highways and digging expensive one-stop subways because the late Rob Ford promised that no driver should ever be stuck behind a streetcar. The province, which really controls the city, is run by the late Rob Ford's older brother. It's all dysfunctional; they can't shovel the sidewalks or fix zoning and they may well blow the Sidewalk deal. It's all driving people like journalist John Michael McGrath to tweet:
Honest to God living in this city feels less and less like an opportunity and more and more like a trap every day, and the only choices seem to be get angry or get depressed or start packing.— John Michael McGrath (@jm_mcgrath) February 26, 2019
It got me thinking: Where would I live if I could just pack up and move? We all work from home or wherever we are. TreeHugger Mat used to file his posts from India and we would go days without figuring it out. Since I started at TreeHugger I have been blessed with a few wonderful press trips, speaking gigs to Passive House conferences, and two glorious trips with family; I have written about them all on TreeHugger or MNN.com. Here's a roundup of the ones I actually would consider moving to (sorry, Las Vegas).
Perhaps the most amazing press trip I have taken was the first, to Ecuador with the Rainforest Alliance. There is so much variety in the country; starting in Quito, you are a few hours away from the Amazonian rainforests in one direction and mountains in the other. If you like nature, you will never be bored. More:
Sani Lodge: The choice between rainforest and oil field
The Wildlife of Ecuadorian Amazonia
Visiting as a guest of the INDEX: Design for Life organization, I fell in love with everything about this city. The bikes! The architecture! The people! The design! And again, the bikes. More:
How did Copenhagen become Copenhagen?
Living near a bike lane makes you fit
Riding the new bike and pedestrian bridges of Copenhagen
Attending a Passivhaus conference, I totally fell in love with this city. I have not stopped talking about the housing, the transit, the museums. It is a model of how to build a city. The Economist called it the world's most liveable city and I think they are right.
Vienna shows how cities don't have to cater to cars.
How does Vienna build such terrific housing?
The Economist calls Vienna the world’s most liveable city
Somewhere in Portugal
My most recent trip was to speak at a Passive House conference in Aveiro, Portugal, and I stayed in a Passive House in nearby Costa Nova, a kind of beach town which was pretty empty in November. But it was so charming, and such a beautiful beach. It's also really cheap. I always thought that living here or in Spain would be great while working at TreeHugger, because being a few time zones ahead of the rest of the North American market would be a big advantage. Finish by noon Eastern time and then it is off to the beach.
Passivhaus may well become the new standard of luxury for tourism
We are down to my two favourite spots. I loved walking down this street of low apartment buildings, with a sort of private zone next to the buildings for cafes, a walking zone, a totally chaotic strip of bike parking, guerrilla planting, car storage and more. It was like all of Berlin; a little edgy, a lot of fun, affordable, so much to do. If one is going to live in a city where you can get a bit of everything and never get bored, this is it.
Biking and walking in Berlin is a breath of fresh air.
Where would you like to live? Where do you think is affordable but exciting? Leave a note in comments.