“Should I stay or should I go? If I stay there will trouble, if I go there will be double.”
Yes, I realize this song is about a relationship and, even more so, about a sexual relationship; yet, I often find that I ask myself this question on a regular basis. Not necessarily about a relationship, but more so about places. As a traveler, I’m in a constant ebb and flow motion between two (or more) different places. I find that even when I’m particularly happy in one place, I’m still wondering if there is a place that would make me happier, that would fulfill more of my needs and wants, that would make me feel more at “home”.
There are many different factors that play into this decision. Just to name a few: job availability, cost of living, vibe/culture, local friends, relationship status, current weather, and my general happiness. On a good day, I’m an indecisive person. When you add all of these factors into the mix, it’s a recipe for disaster (or at least many sleepless nights wondering “what’s next?”)
Spoiler: I cry nearly every time I leave a place. And I’m not a crier. That’s just how attached I get to places. That’s what makes leaving that much more difficult.
After spending eight months in China, loathing 7.5 of those months, I still cried waiting in the airport for my delayed (no surprise there) flight out of that place. Even with my happiness at an all-time low, I still questioned whether or not I wanted to leave.
I’m three months into my yearlong journey through Australia. I’ve spent the entirety of this time in Melbourne. Now don’t get me wrong, Melbourne is a lovely city. I like it here, I really do. But I’m starting to feel like it’s time to move onward.
Let me break it down.
Jobs: I’ve went from working three jobs six days a week to working one job two days per week. I’m currently working at an organic market, which I’m quite fond of, but they refuse to give me more hours even though they’re short on staff because I’m a foreigner and they’d “prefer to give the hours to locals.” It’s been between me and one other person for three different nanny positions. Each time, I wasn’t selected. The reasons vary, but they’re the same. I’m a foreigner. I wouldn’t be able to work for them long term if the need arose. I don’t have as much experience driving on this side of the road. It’s always something.
Cost of living: Melbourne is expensive. Australia, in general, is expensive. It’s not a real problem if you’re getting consistent work though. I’ve been told that some parts of Australia are less expensive. You know, the outback where deadly animals will exploit me. Or maybe just outside of the big, big (still small, if you ask me) cities.
Vibe/Culture: Melbourne has a laid back, artsy vibe. Street performers are out in the Central Business District (CBD) even on Monday nights. Festivals are a year round thing for this city. Plenty of gourmet restaurants and drinking establishments for every taste bud and budget are scattered around the city and its many suburbs. There’s a lot to see and a lot to do in Melbourne. It’s kind of Australia’s version of New York City. But as much as I enjoy the vibe of the city, I’ve seen most of what there is to see here. (I touch on culture a bit more when I talk about happiness.)
Friends: Aside from the friend who I moved here with and a couple other acquaintances, I’d say that I’m majorly failing in the friend department. If I’m being honest, aside from a boozy Tuesday night couchsurfing meetup that I attend of occasion, I haven’t really put myself out there to make friends. Because it’s not easy to go and have fun when you’re not making more than enough money to cover your rent and food.
Relationships: I’ve done a little bit of dating here. I honestly had no intentions of meeting someone. I just wanted to go out and meet new people, maybe make some new friends. But, I did meet someone, a very special someone. Alas, that someone has no plans to travel the world. He wants to go back to school and start his career, while I think those things can wait until after I finish traveling, if that ever happens. And so, the plot thickens (no pun intended).
Weather: The weather is absolute shit in Melbourne. Seriously, if you’re looking for good weather, steer clear of this place. It’s all clouds and gloom and random rainfall to ruin your everyday life. It doesn’t help that I went from five months of winter in the US to three months of winter (and still counting) in Australia. I don’t think I’ve ever been so pale in my life. I daydream of warm beaches and sunshine on a regular basis.
Happiness: I’m not particularly happy here, but I’m also not unhappy either. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t to live a life full of mediocre. That’s why I chose this life. I want my life to be full of adventure and journeys, challenges and learning experiences. But let’s be honest, Australia (aside from the lack of jobs and high quantity of deadly animals, of which I’ve seen none) isn’t a place full of challenge for me. It’s an easy life, compared to Asia, for me. People sound like me, act like me, and look like me. There’s no real culture shock, the shock value that I crave so much while traveling.
What do you think?
And so, I present to you the question that I keep asking myself: should I stay or should I go?
How do you decide if you should stay or if you should go?