Why I Killed Off My Naive Dream of Living Somewhere Warm

Naive Dream of Living Somewhere Warm

When I was 15, I went on a family vacation to Lloret de Mar, a small beach town about an hour north of Barcelona.

It’s a place that’s been popular among Dutch tourists for a long time because it’s always been a cheap destination.

Growing up, we never went abroad because we didn’t have the money. And when my family finally saved up enough to drive to Spain, I was elated.

My father drove 20 hours straight to get there. And when we finally arrived at our vacation rental, somewhere 15 minutes from the beach, I was even more excited.

That day, I told myself, “Dude, you’ve got to come live here.”

It had everything I dreamed of because I saw it in movies. The beach, warm weather, mountains, many restaurants, bars, clubs, you name it.

Those vacation destinations are truly built for teenagers. And that’s when my dream to live in Spain was made.

Good marketing takes decades

When I was in business school, I remember a story one of my marketing professors shared. He was talking about luxury car brands in one class.

He said that when a 45-year-old executive buys a Mercedes car, it doesn’t mean that he was persuaded to buy the car at the dealership. The buyer also wasn’t persuaded to buy a Mercedes when he started looking for a new car to buy, let’s say, a few months prior.

You know how it goes with home appliances, right? If your washing machine is no longer working properly or you feel like it’s time to get a new one, you do some research online and end up buying the one with the best price and reviews.

But when a 45-year-old executive buys a Mercedes, the marketing started 40 years ago. When the exec was a child, the dream was to own not just any car, but the best car. And what does Mercedes say they are? The best.

Their slogan is, “The best or nothing.”

Marketing takes time. A young person develops a desire and sometimes waits years or decades to finally buy the product.

The same is true with cities.

Most people don’t know this, but cities do A LOT of marketing. Everyone knows the I LOVE NYC logo because it’s so obvious. But marketing goes deeper than that.

Here are some marketing campaigns for cities or locations:

  • San Fransisco: This is the place for founders, scientists, and intellectuals. Come here if you’re a genius!
  • Los Angeles: Hollywood. This is the best marketing ever. Just one word.
  • NYC: We are the financial capital of the world.
  • Paris: Fashion.
  • London: Best nightlife and most multicultural place in the world.
  • Barcelona: Beach + city life.
  • Frankfurt: Europe’s financial hub.
  • Amsterdam: Quality of life. Ride your bicycle everywhere.

I can go on like that for a while. Every country has its own marketing around cities. And you shouldn’t listen to it.

A false dream? Or something you really want to do?

In October 2022, I packed up my stuff, loaded up my car, and drove to Marbella, in the south of Spain. It was a 2.5-day drive, which I did together with my dad. It was an awesome experience because I never spent that much time alone with him.

When we arrived at the Airbnb, we spent a few more days together. It was nicely warm for that time of the year. As in, you could go swimming in the ocean warm. My mother and brother came over a few days later to spend a week. Then, it was me. My brother also had the desire to move to Spain at some point. So I thought, “Maybe we’ll all move here eventually.”

At first, I loved the entire experience of living in Spain. It was warm and beautiful. I went running near the beach every day. I felt great. A month after I arrived, I met a girl who I’m still with today.

But I did break up with my old dream of living in Spain.

Why? One Dutch word: Gewenning.

It means getting used to things. After just two months, I no longer looked at the palm trees or the ocean. Even the warm weather became normal.

I started thinking, “Why did I come here, again?” 

When I went back to The Netherlands in February for my brother’s birthday, I found myself no longer getting annoyed by the cold weather. My mindset has changed. Life is not about the weather or where you live.

It’s about what you do and who you have around you.

I realized that my dream was just a dream. It wasn’t something I truly had to do. I found out I cared more about family, consistency, and security than the weather.

Don’t just sit there, do something!

Don’t take this story as an excuse to not move somewhere you dream of. I’m SO glad I made the move. I had an amazing experience and met my girlfriend.

But after six months of living in Spain, I knew it was time to move back to The Netherlands. I’m not an adventurous type. I don’t want to change my routines. Or learn another language. I don’t want to accept a lower standard of living than what I’m used to.

I must be honest with myself. Now that I’m back I feel great. If I didn’t make the move, the idea of moving to Spain would always remain in my mind. But now, I know where I need to be.

I’m still going to visit Spain in the future and always will. It’s a great country. In fact, I’m writing this article on the plane from Barcelona to Amsterdam. 

The difference is that I know that I’m going home.

That’s the best feeling.

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