“Are you happy you moved?” My response to this often-asked question

The TL;DR (too long, didn’t read) version of my answer is: Yes, I am. I have lived in half a dozen countries and travelled through dozens more and I have learned to be happy wherever I am.

False Creek sunset

I had lunch with several of my friends from when I did my chemical engineering undergraduate degree yesterday, and I got asked the same question that just about everyone in Canada and in Mexico asks me “are you happy you moved?“. For a lot of people, particularly Mexicans who don’t know life in Canada very well (or in any other country, for that matter), my decision to leave Canada behind and move to Mexico seems (hypothetically) unfathomable. After all, Vancouver is the world’s most livable city, yadda yadda yadda.

Yet, what my answer always turns to be is a long-winded version of the Theodore Roosevelt quote:

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

I have learned to be happy wherever I am. I don’t long for Vancouver. I don’t long for Madrid. I don’t long for Paris. I don’t long for Manchester. I don’t long for anywhere where I have lived at any point in my life. I am a citizen of the world. I speak 7 languages and have travelled dozens of countries. I have moved more times than I can remember. And I am happy. Anywhere I am I always find ways to be happy.

Yes, there are things that I miss from Vancouver. My friends, for example. The easier access I had to politicians, bureaucrats and policy makers (I am, after all, a public policy professor – I love giving my students practical examples and access to real-world decision makers in the policy arena). My online popularity (and in Canada, British Columbia and the lower mainland, particularly, my offline popularity). Yes, I miss that. But I don’t long for it.

I am happy with the decision I made and I am making the most of what I have here. I am travelling Mexico and browsing for opportunities to showcase a wonderful country. I would do the same if I lived in France, or in Germany, or in Argentina. I live in the moment, and I enjoy it to the fullest. That’s how I like to live, and yes, that’s why I am happy I moved. I am happy to lean into the discomfort.

I am happy, willing and able to embrace change.

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Comments (12)

Reg CarlsonAugust 26th, 2012 at 2:49 pm

A very long winded way of saying that tweeting a bunch does not pay you enough to afford a home in Vancouver. The cost of living in Vancouver is outrageous, Mexico seems like a much more affordable option. Best of luck down south.

RaulAugust 26th, 2012 at 4:09 pm


I was a professor at UBC when I lived in Vancouver, Reg. I don’t get paid to tweet (and I do tweet quite a lot!). And yes, cost of living in Vancouver is outrageous and Mexico is definitely much more affordable. But I’d still live in Vancouver if my parents were there with me. Thanks for the good wishes!

Katherine BurnettAugust 26th, 2012 at 9:24 pm

We will miss you, but I’m very glad that you’re happy.

RaulAugust 27th, 2012 at 4:23 am

Thank you Katherine! :) I’ll be back to visit soon!

Erica HargreaveAugust 27th, 2012 at 7:55 am

Glad to hear it! Sending a hug, and hope that in the not-so-distant future it can be one in person.
Erica Hargreave recently posted..#RoamancingSF Part II – Outside Lands

RobynAugust 27th, 2012 at 9:26 pm

I miss you Raul, but don’t question your decision for a moment. Vancouver’s not going anywhere.

p.s. Let me know when you’re willing and able to embrace visitors… ;)

RaulAugust 28th, 2012 at 7:58 am

Thanks, Erica! I will be back to Vancouver soon, and we will be able to hug in person!

RaulAugust 28th, 2012 at 7:58 am

I miss you too, Robyn, and I’m always happy to have visitors (probably January 2013 would be a good time!) :)

Peter vT - @PvTAugust 28th, 2012 at 3:20 pm

I’d noticed you tweeting from Mexico though thought you were just visiting. Good for you, I may do the same some day later in life, ie; live somewhere else maybe back to the homeland of my family roots even though I was born in Vancouver, but I have more family/relatives there than here. I would like to stick around for as long as my folks are here and that’s my plan. I’ve had some extended stays in different parts of the world back in the day, but for now I’ll just have to put up with beautiful Vancouver.

RaulAugust 31st, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Thanks, Peter. I have to put up with beautiful Aguascalientes, EVERY DAY :)

Erin EJanuary 11th, 2013 at 11:12 am

Terrific post. You have absolutely the right attitude. I’ve moved a lot as well and find wonderful things about every place I live. If you don’t like it, you can always leave, but it’s much better to embrace the change and enjoy your life no matter what :) .
Erin E recently posted..Olivella, Spain

fotoeins | HenryJune 25th, 2013 at 9:45 am

Raul: “das ist immer so schön, dass Du zurück bei deinen Eltern bist.” :-)

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