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  • Writer's pictureLeon de Leeuw

No city is perfect

For a long time I was fascinated by Berlin. I visited in 2001 and loved how free it felt. I went back many times. Basically it's a true metropolis. A city that shows that time heals all wounds. Is it one of the world's most intriguing cities? For me, yes. I love to visit. But I wouldn't live there after seeing beyond the pretty picture. Only when I started reading more into the city and its current state I found out more. Well, Berlin is basically bankrupt, in tons of debt, has high crime rates. It is in many parts worn down and stinks. Berlin runs on a lot of low-paid jobs, social housing. In nightlife I saw a many people reliant on hard drugs and alcohol, big time. Young and beautiful people. I wasn't judging, just observing. Economically, the city is largely kept afloat by the rest of Germany. Which is still the economic powerhouse of Europe. Berlin is fun to party and live for a while, it has some large companies, tons of different people, nobody will judge you. But it’s not where the big money is made generally speaking. Salaries are lower than in let’s say Munich but cost of living went up fast. Then again Munich is boring and basically an old people’s city. There’s no perfect city.

One might say there's a lot to do in Munich as well. But there are hipster places and cool things to do from Turku to Alicante to Plovdiv to Gdańsk nowadays. A party capital where there are practically no limits to anything and any time is not Munich, but Berlin. Of course, Munich has a better quality of life, better family life, more wealth and jobs, and perfect infrastructure. If you're 35+ in general it's more attractive to live in Munich. But then why, if Berlin is far from perfect, does it just have that better nightlife? The free spirit? It's because the city attracts exactly that. It already had the reputation since its rough and divided history. And it's kept attracting like-minded spirits. And these are not typically the bankers attracted to Frankfurt or the pensioners living in the southern border areas near Switzerland.

Like attracts like. And that catalyzes similar behavior. I would move to Frankfurt for a high-paying job, to Berlin for some start-up job and a good party and cultural life. Not necessarily for a great career. I'd already know what to expect. And I moved to Sofia for a laid-back life, professional opportunities in IT, nature all around me. Does it have the perfect infrastructure, the Frankfurt salaries, Munich family life, the Berlin nightlife? No, but it does offer me something not too far off. That's what it does offer to me. If only because the taxes are a lot lower, it's developing quickly, and has the positive mindset of change that Berlin used to be known for. Is Sofia perfect? Anything but. Is Berlin perfect, or Amsterdam? No. Perhaps I like it everywhere and I just can't make up my mind. Perhaps I'll grow to dislike everywhere once I'm there long enough. But that doesn't matter. I have the critical view. I like looking at differences between countries and cities. This post might be very rambling and irrelevant, but it's just some thoughts. Like attracts like. Perhaps you like reading this, I don't know.

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